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How Edge and Fog Computing Will Revolutionize IoT

Ashley Mangtani is a technical writer from the U.K specializing in Digital Transformation, SaaS, B2B, Cybersecurity, and AI/Metaverse.

A futuristic city in the clouds that represents edge and fog computing.

A futuristic city in the clouds that represents edge and fog computing.

Let's Get Familiar With Edge and Fog

Edge computing (EC) is a new paradigm for processing data in which computation is performed at the network edge, i.e., close to where the data are generated or stored. This approach has been gaining popularity due to its ability to provide better performance than traditional cloud-based solutions while offering more flexibility and scalability. In addition, it can be used as a cost-effective alternative to cloud computing.

Fog computing represents another step forward in the evolution of EC. It extends the concept of EC beyond the physical boundaries of a single device or organization to encompass multiple devices and organizations. The term “fog” refers to the fact that the information flow occurs over long distances rather than being confined within a local area. Fog computing enables the creation of intelligent networks that adapt to changing needs.

This new approach to computing has the potential to transform industries such as healthcare, retail, manufacturing, transportation, and finance. You'll need to become familiar with these technologies to stay ahead of the curve.

A woman engaging with a virtual touchscreen.

A woman engaging with a virtual touchscreen.

What Is Edge Computing?

Edge computing is a model for enabling IoT solutions using low-power, resource-constrained devices capable of collecting and analyzing data from the physical world. These devices can be deployed in any location with network access and may include sensors, mobile phones, cameras, RFID readers, etc.

The key idea behind edge computing is moving intelligence closer to data so that we can process information when it's available rather than waiting until it's centrally stored in a database.

What Is Fog Computing?

Fog computing is an extension of edge computing that focuses on providing additional security and privacy for users. It does this by storing data locally instead of sending it to the cloud.

In addition to reducing bandwidth usage, fog computing provides increased protection against cyberattacks. For example, if your smartphone gets stolen, its data will still be safe because it was never sent to the cloud.

A woman behind a transparent rainbow-colored digital overlay.

A woman behind a transparent rainbow-colored digital overlay.

How Does Edge Computing Work?

Edge computing works by connecting all of the different components of the Internet of Things (IoT). This includes things like sensors, mobile devices, and even vehicles. These connected devices collect data about their environment and send it back to the cloud. In return, they receive instructions and updates from the cloud.

This means you don’t have to go into each room and manually turn on lights, adjust thermostats, or lock doors. Instead, you can do this with a single command from your smartphone or tablet.

The benefits are obvious: You save time and energy. But there are also some less obvious advantages as well. For example, you could use edge computing to help reduce traffic congestion.

Imagine that every car in your city knows how many people are inside and what route they're taking. Then, when the roads get congested, the cars know exactly where to avoid. This would allow them to travel faster without causing accidents.

How Does Fog Computing Work?

Fog computing works similarly to edge computing but adds another layer of security. Instead of connecting everything directly to the cloud, fog computing only connects the most critical IoT parts.

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For example, let’s say you have a smart thermostat that collects temperature data. Your smartphone would connect to the thermostat and update whenever there’s a change.

However, the thermostat wouldn’t connect to the cloud unless it needed to send more detailed data to the cloud. This way, the thermostat doesn’t share sensitive data with anyone except the people who should see it.

Why Should You Care About Edge And Fog Computing?

To stay competitive in today's digital economy, you must learn how to leverage edge and fog computing.

If you want to build apps that work well on desktop computers and mobile devices, you need to understand how edge and fog computing can help you do that. You'll also need to know how to use these technologies to create innovative products and services.

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The Benefits of Edge and Fog Computing

There are many benefits to using edge and fog computing:

  • Faster Response Times - By reducing latency through local resources, edge and fog computing can reduce the time it takes to respond to user requests. For example, if a user sends an image to your app, it could take seconds or minutes to upload the file to the cloud. However, the file could be processed immediately with edge and fog computing.
  • Increased Security - Because edge and fog computing reduce the amount of data that needs to be transmitted over the internet, it also increases the level of security. If someone could hack into your cloud server, they'd be able to access any information stored on it. However, if they hacked into your device, they'd only be able to view what's stored on the device itself.
  • Reduced Bandwidth Usage - When you use edge and fog computing, you don't have to transmit as much data across the internet. As a result, you can save money on bandwidth costs.
  • Increased Productivity - The ability to process data locally means that you won't have to wait for the cloud to finish processing something before you can start working on something else.
A futuristic city at night with bright yellow lights.

A futuristic city at night with bright yellow lights.

Examples of Edge and Fog Computing

Edge and fog computing are used in various industries, including healthcare, retail, manufacturing, transportation, and finance. Here are some examples of applications that use edge and fog computing:

Healthcare

A company called HealthTap uses edge and fog computing to provide real-time medical advice to patients. It does this by sending patient data to doctors' smartphones so they can give immediate treatment recommendations.

The company is backed by Google Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures, and others. HealthTap's CEO says that the company has reduced its costs of providing care from $1 million per month to just $100 a month. "We're not trying to replace doctors," he said. "Doctors are still very important."

Retail

Retailers like Walmart use edge and fog computing to keep track of inventory levels. They use sensors to detect when items are running low and adjust their stock accordingly.

The retail industry is a good example of how IoT can be used in the real world, but there’s also plenty of room for it in other sectors. For instance, manufacturing companies could use IoT to monitor production lines or even automate assembly tasks.

Manufacturing

Companies like 3D Robotics use edge and fog computing to make drones safer. Their technology helps prevent drone crashes by detecting obstacles and avoiding them.

The company’s CEO, Chris Anderson, told the BBC that “the future of robotics is going to be about robots working together with humans.” 3D Robotics has also developed a new type of camera called the Pixhawk, allowing more precise control over drones. The company says it can help reduce the number of accidents caused by human error.

Transportation

Uber uses edge and fog computing in its self-driving cars. Its software processes sensor data at the car's location instead of transmitting it all the way back to the cloud. This allows the car to react more quickly to changes in traffic conditions.

The company is also using a new type of computer chip called an FPGA, or field-programmable gate array, which can be reprogrammed on the fly. The chips are used for tasks like image recognition that require constant tweaking as they learn how to recognize objects. "We're trying to make sure we have enough compute power to do this," said Chris Urmson, Uber's head of self-driving research.

Finance

Financial institutions like Bank of America use edge and fog computing for fraud detection. Instead of having to send every transaction to the cloud, they process transactions on the spot.

If a transaction seems suspicious, it can be flagged immediately without sending all the data to the cloud. This means you don’t have to wait until your bank account balance has been drained before you notice something wrong.

Graphic of a small blue circle with faint dynamic ripples.

Graphic of a small blue circle with faint dynamic ripples.

How Will Edge and Fog Computing Revolutionize IoT?

Edge and fog computing are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to IoT. There are many others, including 5G networks, artificial intelligence, and blockchain. But these technologies are only useful if they can be implemented efficiently. That's where edge and fog computing comes into play. They let us connect billions of devices to the internet while keeping costs down.

Edge and fog computing has the potential to transform our lives. Smart cities could become safer places to live. Self-driving cars could eliminate road deaths. Drones could deliver packages faster than ever before. We might even see the end of the smartphone — or at least the days of carrying around a bulky device everywhere we go.

In the future, edge computing may seem commonplace. It already is in certain industries. But it won't take long for edge and fog computing to permeate almost every aspect of our daily life.

Getting Started With Edge and Fog Computing

There are several ways to get started with edge and fog computing. You can either build it yourself or buy a ready-made solution. Here are some options:

Build Your Own Solution

Building your own edge solution isn't difficult. All you need is a Raspberry Pi, a few sensors, and a Wi-Fi connection. You'll then need to write code allowing your computer to communicate with the sensors. Once you've done that, you're good to go!

Buy a Ready-Made Solution

Plenty of ready-made solutions are available if you want to skip the coding part. For example, Amazon has an AWS IoT Core platform that lets you create edge devices without writing any code.

The Future of Edge and Fog Computing

In the digital age, edge and fog computing are an important part of any business strategy. Edge and fog computing have become increasingly popular because they provides businesses with increased productivity while reducing business costs.

By using these technologies, you'll be able to reduce the number of servers you need to run, which will allow you to cut down on energy usage and maintenance costs. The future of edge and fog computing looks bright, but it's up to you to decide if it's right for your business.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Ashley Mangtani

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