At the modern pinnacle of human innovation, it sometimes feels like digital evolution has emerged on the brink of a new era: ARTIFICIAL intelligence is in the early stages of large-scale deployment in many fields; Smart devices connect people and things in ways never before possible; Technological progress is advancing at an unprecedented rate.
Edge computing, an emerging field that puts digital Internet infrastructure traditionally at the center of a region directly into increasingly smart devices, is becoming a social norm and a pillar of 21st century development, including smart cities.
"Everything happens on the edge," Sanjeet Pandit, Global head of Qualcomm Smart Cities, said during his keynote at the International Wireless Expo 2022 (IWCE) in Las Vegas. The fair began Monday and will run through Thursday.
"People have been talking about smart cities for years -- year after year," he said. People talk about it so much that the term has become a sort of catchphrase that doesn't quite capture what's really going on. But beyond the hype, the smart City initiative is a specific movement focused on "harnessing the power of digital," he said. "You don't want to deploy technology for the sake of deploying technology."
At the heart of this digitalization is edge computing.
"From drones to robots to police cars to even wearables -- the amount of computing built into the devices" is impressive, says Rob High, IBM researcher and vice president and CHIEF technology officer of IBM Network and Edge Computing. "As a general rule, the closer you bring the computer to the person, [the closer] you will perform the task."
When combined with artificial intelligence, automation capabilities are multiplied tenfold.
"AI and IoT(Internet of Things); This is the future, "Pandit says." This is what drives the industry forward."
As an example, High describes a real-life process in a manufacturing center where an automatic infrared camera monitors welding on a factory production line. Traditionally, welds need to be inspected personally, which can mean taking apart recently manufactured products to ensure their integrity.
Instead, automatic cameras track welds as they occur and alert welders when they are weak.
The camera filters a steady stream of video data "to check that the welding was done correctly when it was done," Says High. "The advantage is we don't have to do destructive testing, we can do it in real time."
In broad terms, edge computing allows for the digitization of "an analog world," Says High. And because real-time data is necessary for AI to operate in "wild" environments, "without edge computing, we can't get the lower latency needed to make decisions."
From the macro point of view, the edge computing industry is expected to explode in the next few years. There are already 1.8 billion cores in industry, smart cities and connected cars. High expects 21.5 billion devices to be connected by 2025. At least in part, High attributes the boom in such devices to the pandemic, which has caused many organizations to suddenly rethink everyday interactions like ordering coffee or going to the grocery store.
"It actually accelerates the transformation of processes that we think are relatively similar in nature -- processes that we developed to protect people from each other have people thinking about how to automate processes," he said.
But despite the expected expansion, there are sticking points the industry must overcome. Two significant obstacles Pandit identified were fragmentation of devices and the lack of a unified vision. To meet the challenge, it was necessary "for a solid consortium to get in there and respond; You can't solve this problem by yourself, "he said.