• Edge artificial intelligence (AI) is decentralized computing that allows data-led decisions to be made by a device at the closest point of interaction with the user.

  • The benefits of this kind of technology include improved privacy and cost savings, but data is typically discarded after being processed.

  • Upcoming advancements, including 5G technology and less costly processing chips, will make edge AI increasingly useful for certain applications – from smart home devices to medical technology.


Copyright: weforum.org – “At the edge of innovation: What can edge AI do for you?”


Imagine you want your new smart thermostat to quickly turn up the heat so that your house will be warm after your get home from work on an unusually cold day. You connect from your smartphone and ask it to act. You won’t know it, but that action may take several seconds as it moves your request to the cloud and receives instructions back.

Now imagine the self-driving car you’re in suddenly senses a dog running into the road in front of you. The car needs to react in milliseconds to avoid a disaster. That kind of reaction requires edge artificial intelligence (AI) – technology that can make a decision at the closest point of interaction with the user, in this case, the car’s sensors. It’s the definition of a split-second decision.

Data in motion

With today’s Internet of Things (IoT), data is always in motion. It flows from legacy systems to the cloud, all the way to edge devices and beyond an organization’s systems to partners and customers. Answers need to be delivered in real-time and so it’s not always effective to use centralized computing power when data can be processed via edge devices. A self-driving car doesn’t have time to wait for a decision to be made in the cloud when it has mere seconds to react.

Vast amounts of data can be fed into AI algorithms on the edge wherever the device happens to be – and the benefits are plenty. Data in motion can deliver critical patient information to doctors, shorten lines in amusement parks, alert power companies of a potential outage, and make a self-driving car react in time to prevent a tragedy.

Edge AI allows a device to make these decisions on its own, at the device level. It doesn’t necessarily have to be connected to the internet to process the data. Consider a watch that can monitor your sleep patterns, but instead of pushing the data into the cloud for storage and processing, it records the data for processing on the watch itself.[…]

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