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Effective Edge Computing: 20 Current And Potential Use Cases

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By bringing the process and power of computation right to the source of the data, edge computing promises faster responses and lower latency. It thereby enables near-real-time, instant analysis, providing both machines and humans with the ability to make faster, better-informed decisions.

But what does this mean in practical terms—what, specifically, can edge computing help consumers, businesses and specialists do? Below, 20 members of Forbes Technology Council detail some current and potential use cases for edge computing that may soon revolutionize everything from a trip to the market to how we manage our health—and beyond.

1. Boosting Composable Architectures

Edge computing boosts composable MACH architectures by enabling quick data processing, which is crucial for microservices’ performance and scalability. It’s key for real-time applications and integrates well with the modular nature of composable architectures, which are increasingly used in sectors such as retail and banking to adapt to changing consumer demands by quickly building and deploying new product features. – Nick Kishfy, MojoTech

2. Processing Healthcare Data

The issue is not with technology, but with logistics. Based on my experience, the ideal use case for edge computing technology is in the healthcare sector, since the ability to process health data on premises is imperative today. The key challenge is ensuring that edge computing technology meets the regulatory standards of HIPAA and that the data does not leave the premises. – Gopal Ghaghada, Tillman Digital Cities

3. Recognizing Faces For Payments

Retail stores can use edge computing for tasks such as facial recognition payment processing, running either on point-of-sale devices in the store or the network edge. This improves the customer experience in retail by allowing for faster checkouts. – Rafael Umann, Azion

4. Expanding Mobile Services

Several mobile operators are adopting edge computing to package edge-based services for sectors including ports, healthcare, logistics, manufacturing and transportation. That will help mobile operators become more than just connectivity providers. Edge computing enables enterprises to adopt high-value services such as smart warehousing, aircraft management, flightline operations, critical workload management and more. – Kaitki Agarwal, A5G Networks, Inc.

5. Analyzing Personal Data On Personal Devices

People want insights from artificial intelligence using their personal data, but without giving this personal data away. One solution is to transmit the model to the user’s device and do all the analysis there. We’ve already seen this with biometric data being used to unlock a device and speech-to-text services. As devices can handle larger and larger models, we’ll see even more capabilities. – Luke Wallace, Bottle Rocket

6. Managing Inventory In Real Time

Edge computing use cases with video can help solve retailers’ challenges, such as helping grocers make sure their shelves are stocked. For an example of how this might work, when it comes to shelf stocking in grocery stores, the cameras would need to incorporate object recognition, location data and time series data and then reconcile the information. – Miles Ward, SADA

7. Providing Self-Contained Systems For High-Security Sectors

In sectors such as semiconductor manufacturing, stringent security measures prohibit vendor equipment from cloud access, requiring self-contained systems with robust on-site computing power. This scenario showcases a critical aspect of edge computing, where local processing ensures security and operational autonomy, contrasting with cloud computing’s remote data reliance. – Christopher Nguyen, Aitomatic, Inc.

8. Enabling Cloud-Based Cybersecurity

Applying cybersecurity protections to internet traffic in the cloud—before malware can reach endpoints—is ideal, since it mitigates the risk of sandbox leakage or escape. Edge computing has eliminated the latency issues that were the last barrier to cloud-based security approaches like these. – David Canellos, Cradlepoint

9. Managing Predictive Maintenance

Edge computing with tiny machine learning has had a substantial impact on predictive maintenance in manufacturing. Sensors on machines use tinyML for real-time analysis, detecting anomalies like abnormal vibrations or temperatures. This reduces latency, allowing for immediate maintenance actions, minimizing downtime and saving costs. – Erfan Rostami, Voltai

10. Supporting Tactical Military Response

Edge computing is very important in real-time military systems, where responsiveness can mean the difference between life and death. Primary strategic command and control systems are connected to separate edge networks that control the real-time tactical systems that can communicate on the battlefield. Intelligence and surveillance can then be fed back to the primary network. – Adam Sandman, Inflectra Corporation

11. Enhancing IoT Capabilities

Edge computing is playing a pivotal role in enhancing the capabilities of the Internet of Things by enabling local processing, which addresses bandwidth and latency limitations. This advancement, complemented by efficient data exchange through 5G, resolves critical challenges and expands the computing power crucial for the adoption of emerging technologies. – Christopher Rogers, Carenet Health

12. Protecting Wildlife

Edge computing could enhance wildlife protection in remote areas. It could process data on-site for real-time poaching alerts, enabling rapid ranger response. This could reduce poaching and improve conservation strategies, significantly aiding the protection of endangered species. – Andrew Blackman, EZ Cloud

13. Improving Agricultural Yields

Farming is becoming increasingly tech-driven, but most farms are in rural areas without reliable access to high-speed connectivity. By combining the power of edge computing and private wireless networks, farmers can now benefit from advanced automation and real-time data analytics. This shift allows farmers to improve yields and operational efficiency with minimal equipment downtime. – Christine Boles, Intel

14. Enhancing Energy Efficiency

Edge computing transforms energy management, enabling real-time monitoring and control for enhanced efficiency and sustainability. It cuts down on waste and optimizes resource use, contributing to eco-friendly practices. This technology bolsters smart grids, ensuring efficient energy distribution and a lower carbon footprint, leading to a more sustainable future. – Justin Goldston, Environmental Resources Management – ERM

15. Providing Real-Time Fraud Detection

In the fintech sector, edge computing is proving valuable for real-time fraud detection. Processing data closer to the source enables rapid analysis, enhancing the ability to identify and mitigate fraudulent transactions swiftly. This not only bolsters security, but also ensures uninterrupted financial transactions for users. – Deepak Gupta, Cars24 Financial Services

16. Monitoring Patients Remotely

Edge computing is crucial for remote patient monitoring in healthcare, where the challenge lies in the need for real-time analysis of health data. By processing data locally, the system reduces latency and sends only relevant information to the cloud, enabling quicker medical interventions and improving patient outcomes. – Cristian Randieri, Intellisystem Technologies

17. Powering Smart Devices

Edge computing is already used in a number of common devices and networks, such as smartwatches that collect and store health information. It can also be used to improve the delivery of content to webpages and devices, since storing data locally and reducing latencies allows for improvements, including higher-quality video and more immersive content. – Jordan Yallen, MetaTope

18. Restocking And Personalizing In-Store Shopping

For startups, edge computing is a game-changer. Consider a store where the shelves sense when things are running low and notify staff to restock. Furthermore, when you’re shopping, these smart shelves could recommend products based on your previous purchases. It translates to shorter wait times and more personalized shopping experiences, making it easier to locate what you’re looking for. – Neelima Mangal, Spectrum North

19. Guiding Autonomous Vehicles

One specific use case where edge computing has addressed a critical challenge is in the realm of autonomous vehicles. Autonomous vehicles require instant processing of vast amounts of data, including sensor inputs such as cameras, LiDAR and radar. But now, technology has enabled autonomous vehicles to make immediate decisions based on real-time data from their surroundings. – Phil Portman, Textdrip

20. Optimizing Traffic Management

Edge computing in smart cities optimizes traffic management by processing data locally at intersections. This results in efficient traffic flow, reduced congestion, improved pedestrian safety and prioritized routes for emergency vehicles, leading to lower emissions and enhanced public safety. – Suman Sharma, Procyon Inc.

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