Convenience is just one benefit of
edge computing. Beyond that, it can help us build a better society, one that’s more
socially responsible by reducing energy consumption, keeping us safer,
protecting our data privacy and improving productivity. In this episode of the
Smarter World Podcast, Nitin Dahad, editor at embedded.com and EE Times,
discusses the topic with NXP’s Gowri Chindalore, head of edge strategy and
Amanda McGregor, head of product innovation for applications processors.
We’ve come a long way since we converted mechanical devices into smart devices
and connected them to enable the Internet of everything. With processing
prowess, the edge was created for computing to occur closer to where the
data is created in the physical world. It’s here at the edge where devices can
respond incredibly fast, without being slowed by latency introduced by faraway
cloud processing. And now, with advancements in machine learning and inference
capability in edge processors, we have the intelligent edge, which can offer
massive efficiency gains.
The anticipated tens of billions of connected devices must be designed to use
as little energy as possible, Chindalore says. A 5-megabyte image from your
smart doorlock sent to the cloud to be processed 20 times a day is thousands
of times more energy-expensive than if the image is processed locally on the
device. But for intelligent edge devices to be truly efficient you must investigate
how the device is designed to use energy. You should be able to turn power on and
off in different parts of the devices where only the active part
of the device gets power. The device can remain in a deep sleep,
low-power state but still be alert of its environment. It can always listen
for a wake word, for example, but power on the full system only after prompted.
The next evolution is the aware edge where intelligent devices connect and
collaborate with each other across a network, sharing insights and
interacting. This awareness is the key to unlock real energy efficiencies,
safety and productivity.
Edge technology also unlocks tremendous opportunities to improve safety in our
homes and at work. McGregor points out a unique example of edge processors
embedded in smart hardhats that process sensor data in real-time to provide
industrial workers crucial insights on heat, oxygen levels, fatigue, toxic
conditions and other stresses for safety on the job. The data collected from
sensors on the hats and in the environment can be processed in real-time at
the edge without a network connection.
There’s also increasing concern about protecting consumer data and personal
privacy. The edge helps address those concerns because it processes the data
where it is generated rather than sending it to some remote location where it
could be vulnerable to attacks. It can be taken one step further by adding
machine learning and intelligence to the edge so that it not only processes
the data but also makes a decision based on the information that it just
collected, making sure that all the data, processing and information is
stored within that local system. That's where a trustable system comes into
play, Chindalore says.
He also explains how the next evolution is the aware edge where intelligent
devices connect and collaborate with each other across a network, sharing
insights and interacting. These devices are context-aware and they communicate
with each other to make meaningful decisions. This awareness is the key to
unlock real energy efficiencies, safety and productivity.
We're seeing real-world examples of the aware edge being put into play now.
The opportunities are accelerating because we're helping build the
technology that can bring this vision to reality.
We're seeing real-world examples of the aware edge being put into play
now—McGregor adds. The opportunities are accelerating because we're helping
build the technology that can bring this vision to reality. It comes with
challenges, though, such as how we deploy efficient ML on devices, as many of
the models still need to be trained in the cloud. They must be optimized and
deployed to run at the edge.
To make the aware edge a reality, it's vital that the ecosystem,
regulations and standardizations are built where different products from
different companies and different players can interact with guiding
Listen to the full podcast, Building Up The ‘Edge’ for a Responsible
Society with host Nitin Dahad, editor at embedded.com and EE Times,
NXP’s Gowri Chindalore, head of edge strategy and Amanda McGregor, head of
product innovation for applications processors.
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