What is edge computing?

What is edge computing?

What is edge computing?

In its simplest terms edge computing is a cloud-based solution that is augmented by the deployment of a specialized computing device “close to the action” in order to save bandwidth and increase performance, often for resource intensive applications related to AI and machine learning. An example is the Neal Analytics StockView application, where an Azure Stack Edge device handles the visual AI components that detects stock outs and provides alerts, and the cloud is used for data storage, BI, and training AI models.

I’ve always thought a gaming console was a good analogy for edge computing. Think about it: most games, even if not explicitly online, are supported by at least two cloud services:

  1. The console manufacturer’s cloud service that enables game purchases, tracking trophies, backing up saves and when applicable facilitates the connection to the game publisher’s online gaming service.
  2. The cloud service for the actual game that enables online play, tracks in game collectibles, world states, customized characters and the like.

While games “can” stream with varying degrees of success, one of the benefits to using a console is that the complex and data intensive computations can happen locally before the relevant data for online gaming is sent over the internet. When playing games that require quick reactions, the time efficiency of a console can be the difference between winning and losing.

Edge computing works in much the same way: AI and machine learning workloads are deployed at “the edge”, right up close to the relevant business process, customer transaction and the like, saving you precious seconds, removing connectivity issues from the equation, and ensuring greater performance overall.

Edge computing business scenarios

Business scenarios that can benefit from speed and performance aspects of edge computing include the following:

  • Manufacturing safety: In situations where machines need to be shut off as fast as possible to prevent injury or damage, the performance gains from edge computing can be the difference between someone getting seriously injured or just having a close call.
  • Retail stock management: Solutions like StockView from Neal Analytics can provide retailers with real-time tracking of products on shelves, which can be extremely useful for retailers providing online ordering and in-person pickup. Deploying the visual AI workload at the edge will give you faster detections and a better customer experience for people who order online, pick-up in person, and for customers who might leave if the item they want isn’t in stock.
  • People counting: Neal Analytics has built solutions that will count the number of people entering and exiting your retail space, which can be a critical part of how your company manages safety regulations during the Covid-19 pandemic. Deploying this type of visual AI workload at the edge ensures you have the most up to date information and can keep both your employees and your customers safe.
  • Medical: using an edge device to develop and operationalize medical AI solutions (visual ones especially) can both protect patient data and reduce the strain on internet bandwidth that is needed for other mission critical applications.
  • Security: whether it’s a potential intruder or just someone wandering into a dangerous area, seconds count when it comes to detecting that someone is where they shouldn’t be. The edge can be a critical part of security and safety solutions that can provide rapid alerts of potential intrusions or safety violations.

In short: edge computing can enable a variety of use cases and business scenarios that can revolutionize your business by deploying AI and machine learning resources “right up close”. Neal Analytics has co-developed a variety of edge solutions with many of the world’s leading technology companies for retail, medical, and industrial applications, and can help you figure out how your business can best leverage the combination of AI, machine learning, and the edge.

Contact our team to learn how your business can leverage edge computing.

Further reading: