This weekend I was reading about the upcoming release of the Onion Omega2, a $5 computer specialized for IOT scenarios. The Omega2 is about the size of a credit card, can run a full version of Linux, enable connectivity via WiFi or Bluetooth and support different programming language interfaces. This IOT-specialized computer is the latest development on an old technology trend that is been revitalized with the emergence of IOT: “edge computing”.
As its name indicates, edge computing moves the frontier of software applications, data and services to logical extremes of a network. This model contrast with paradigms like cloud computing that focused on centralizing computing models. While this computing paradigm has been around for a while is just recently that has come back to the forefront of technology innovation.
Edge Computing is the IOT Frontend
Edge computing is an essential element of IOT solutions. In many aspects, edge computing can be considered in IOT to be the equivalent of frontend technologies in the mobile and web paradigms. In that respect, edge computing enables a series of capabilities of perform autonomous computing tasks on individual nodes in an IOT network while also integrating with the centralized IOT hub.
Edge Computing and Decentralized IOT
Edge computing models are relevant in any type of IOT applications but are particularly important in decentralized IOT architectures. In those models, the absence of a centralized hub should make nodes in an IOT network to be able to operate autonomously and interact with each other without depending on a centralized authority. From vehicle telematics to the systems operating aircrafts and oil and gas platforms, decentralized IOT is a fast growing technology area that doesn’t get the same level of publicity of centralized IOT platforms.
Is Edge Computing the Next IOT Battleground?
With the race for backend IOT platforms being consolidated to the handful of vendors, edge computing will become a new area of focus for IOT startups. Conceptually, edge computing has the opportunity to become the next big computing revolution powering entire industries such as robotics, industrial enterprise or autonomous vehicles. For now, the innovation in edge computing is reduced to a number of platforms like Arduino, RasperryPI or Omega2. Building on the foundation provided by those technologies, we can expect edge computing to become one of the most important IOT battlegrounds of the next decade.