The COVID-19 pandemic has sped up much of the technology change that was already underway. People have found themselves working and learning at home, which is usually at “the edge” of computing networks operated by their employers and schools.
While at home, many employees are also substantially increasing their consumption of entertainment content. The changes in working conditions and the transformation that comes with it will continue, complemented by innovations in AI, processing, and connectivity, empowering new capabilities and services at such edges.
What is an edge network?
In a sentence, what might qualify as “edges” of networks will continue to evolve into collections of devices that work faster and more often locally versus relying on cloud connectivity. Staying away from some of the connectivity will also make devices safer, more reliable, and more energy-efficient.
The transformation has immense implications for the world, some of which we’ve already witnessed.
Here are five reasons smart technology at the edge is here to stay.
First, technology at the edge gives us participation.
Technology has proven itself to be an indispensable tool for getting people together at times and in ways that may once have seemed impossible.
Work teams and families no longer have to physically share the same room to exchange their thoughts and feelings. Even more profoundly, people who were once locked out of the job market because they couldn’t physically show up for a 9-to-5 job can use tech to work where and when it’s best for them.
Having the ability to access all variations of people and their skills has and will bring many new people into the workforce, such as those who spend a large amount of time caring for children or the elderly, or for those who a commute to work, is not an option.
Second, it enhances productivity.
Stay-at-home orders have meant that people have discovered just how much time they spent commuting to work, which is time they can now utilize being more productive.
The time saved that was once lost to being “in transit” can be put to productive use thanks to edge technologies, which replicate many of the functions (access to data and one another, for instance) that was once exclusively available only at work sites.
It also can deliver greater productivity without a commensurate increase in harmful emissions, not to mention the emotional wear-and-tear that comes with sitting in traffic.
Third, edge computing is more protective of our privacy.
Privacy is better protected since more data collected on our devices is processed and used locally, too, the risk of hackers accessing personal data is reduced.
Additionally, if data is distributed in this way — in homes and offices versus collected on giant shared servers or other platforms – it is a less attractive target for criminals.
The effort required to hack a single home will likely outweigh the benefit of whatever might be uncovered. Further, there are significant security protocols (both hardware and software) that make these events very unlikely.
Fourth, it provides us with safe personal spaces.
It has been amazing how many people have found refuge in driving their cars during the pandemic (as “safe spaces” to be while experiencing the outside world).
The idea of that physical movement, from Point A to Point B, as useful personal or professional time, means a greater need for automation and security.
People are looking at these spaces and “moments” as a personal safe time, and also using these spaces and moments productively creates greater urgency for offloading active driving tasks to smart technologies such as ADAS.
The purposes for our use of vehicles may well be changing, as should our expectations for them. We should be able to expect that our time in our vehicles is as safe, both from viruses and traffic incidents, just as our time at home is both personal and protected.
Finally, the edge creates more possibilities.
Putting computing intelligence and faster processing at the point where data are sensed and collected provides benefits. That suggests a variety of new uses, such as smarter security and environmental controls or, in vehicles, more tools to make driving safer.
Doing so more securely makes it possible to consider novel applications for user data, especially in the areas of Machine Learning and lifestyle services.
Imagine digital home assistants that really and truly understood the needs and expectations of their users. The possibilities are endless.
As the pandemic has focused all aspects of our lives into our homes, the edge has broken down barriers that previously segmented or limited what we could experience in our homes.
Now we can do things faster, more conveniently, more securely, and therefore more often than ever before. Experiencing smart technology at the edge has only begun to show us the possibilities of a world that anticipates and automates our needs.
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