The appearance of edge computing turns impossible into reality, and the use cases related to edge computing are flourishing like blooming flowers. This article introduces several of the most popular use cases in the market, which includes vehicle autonomy, traffic management, healthcare, content delivery, predictive maintenance, smart cities, smart homes, smart grids, video-related functions, cloud gaming, VR (Virtual Reality), and AR (Augmented Reality).
What is Edge Computing?
In brief, edge computing is to do the computation at the location near the site of a data source. Different from computing data on a cloud server that is far away, edge computing can reduce latency during data transmission.
The Overview of Edge Computing Use Cases
1. Vehicle Autonomy
Vehicle autonomy has been a hot topic for a long time, and edge computing is essential to realize it. To ensure a car autonomously operates safely, huge amounts of data such as driving speed, driving direction, location of the car, surrounding circumstances, weather conditions, and emergency/accident information, all must be gathered, processed, and analyzed in real-time. Moreover, cars need to have the capability to communicate with each other to exchange useful information as well.
According to the statistics, an autonomous vehicle generates 5 to 20 TB of data per day; with such an overwhelming amount of data, only edge computing can guarantee the data had been transmitted completely before any decision has been made. Centralized cloud servers are way too far to eliminate the transmission latency, and latency is not acceptable on a moving car. The ultimate goal of autonomous vehicles—driverless vehicles—can not be realized without edge computing after all.
2. Traffic Management
Along with vehicle autonomy, traffic management is also another important use case of edge computing. Public transportation control, extra lane management, connected vehicle management, even autonomous vehicle management, are all included in traffic management. To manage a complicated thing like traffic, edge computing is super helpful.
Medication development is surging in decades; however, individuals’ medical records and health status are dispersed everywhere in hospitals, clinics, other places, or even in each patient’s wearables (this kind of data is known as PGHD, patient-generated health data). Through edge computing, the data can be collected, analyzed, and provided to medical professionals for a complete understanding of each patient’s physical condition. Due to the timely information delivery characteristic, edge computing can also be used in robot-assisted surgeries in real-time.
4. Content Delivery
Applying edge computing to the content delivery application is a useful way to eliminate the latency of data transmission. It is known that storing and processing data in “edge” networks provides improved performance of content delivery use case as these infrastructures are close to the end users’ devices. Sometimes, people are confused about the difference between edge networks and CDNs (Content Delivery Networks). In fact, CDNs are a series of servers and can only store cached data, while edge networks can run on different devices like servers, smartphones, or sensors and can both process and store data. In other words, edge computing broadens and extended the capabilities of CDNs.
5. Predictive Maintenance with Industrial Manufacturing Process Monitoring
Edge computing can help industrial manufacturing to process normally, efficiently, and effectively. In the oil and gas industry, for instance, if a leaking pipeline is detected, a valve can isolate the leaking region and a warning can alert the maintenance people, both automatically. In the agriculture field, if the weather is detected badly, an automated protection mechanism may be initiated to protect the farm. In other manufacturing processes, all the failures and problems can be discovered before any damage happens, no matter they are on machines, products, or assembly lines. And this is how predictive maintenance has been realized.
6. Smart Cities, Smart Homes, and Smart Grids
As IoT sensors and devices are gradually implemented into every corner of an urban area, data collection and analysis become more important than ever. Through gathering, filtering, and analyzing these data by edge computing, infrastructure conditions, public service quality, traffic patterns, and other city-related information can be provided to the government. Therefore, the use case of smart cities can be completed with edge computing since central servers can’t deal with such large data.
Other than smart cities, smart homes, smart buildings, and smart grids are all great for edge computing implementation as millions of data need to be collected in these areas and most of them are not important or problematic. Edge computing can handle the first step of data filtering and processing in real-time, then sending the processed data to central servers if necessary.
7. Video-Related Functions: Surveillance, Recognition, and Conferencing
Video-related data requires high bandwidth to transmit and process. Using a distant central server to compute the data may not be as efficient as placing an edge computing device near the videos. Edge computing can help those videos function with high quality and normal speed. For instance, a person intrudes a house, the smart cameras can identify if the person is trusted or suspicious with edge computing and notice the house owner immediately. It strongly enhances the safety and security in houses, offices, and even outside of buildings. Not only video surveillance and recognition, but edge computing can also be beneficial on video conferencing by providing better video performance.
8. Cloud Gaming
Cloud gaming with multiple players is the best use case for edge computing. Numerous gaming choices and smooth gaming experiences are desperately needed for players, and all these require high bandwidth service with low latency. If the players can be satisfied with the gaming experiences in the cloud, a new game console put at home may not be necessary for the future.
9. VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality)
VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) can be used in a lot of practical applications like training employees for using new equipment, assisting workers on new jobs, and teaching students about abstract concepts. However, VR or AR headsets are not capable of doing complicated calculations by the limitation of sizes and weights, edge computing can help to process the intensive data with low latency due to the proximity between edge computing devices and VR/AR device locations.
The edge computing use cases addressed above are common ones that are discussed widely in the market. Of course, other use cases are existing and still increasing. With the reduction of data transmission latency, edge computing brings people’s imagination to the next level.
Find Edge Computing Solutions at TECHDesign
Multiple world-leading suppliers are now at TECHDesign, and you can definitely find edge computing solutions here. Microprocessors from Nuvoton and memory ICs from Winbond are all solutions that can help you realize your edge computing projects. Don’t hesitate, come take a look immediately to discover more!