What Is Edge AI?

By James Gordon

Businessman interacts with virtual technology screen

Three very important technologies that have made news in the tech world recently are artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (iOT) and Cloud computing. We have seen many examples of artificial intelligence in our daily lives, and many devices are now available to consumers that integrate some form of this technology.

Here's a look at how this impressive technology will make a difference in our daily lives.

Computers at The Edge

Artificial intelligence applications are included in many of our smartphones now, which is impressive considering these devices didn’t have the computational power to run these applications a few years ago.

The internet of things now includes some very powerful smartphones and small computers that can run AI applications. This is known as Edge AI. Some of the common AI applications include facial recognition for security and voice assistant systems, such as Siri and Alexa.

The “Edge” simply refers to any device that can run an AI application by itself without having to send any data back to a server using an internet connection. AI on the edge is now becoming possible because of a new generation of processors from companies like QUALCOMM and Intel that are very affordable and accessible to researchers, students and companies.

Cloud Computing on The Edge

Cloud computing is used by most of us in everyday storage systems such as Google Cloud, Hotmail or iTunes. The “Internet of Things” is available to all and is free to use in most cases. The recent advances in Edge AI have become possible through the advances on our smart phones, sensors and smart home systems. For example, the iPhone 5s would take three seconds to run an average AI algorithm, compared to about 50 milliseconds of the response time plus network latency of a web server in the Cloud.

An iPhone 6s, released in 2016, would complete the same algorithm execution in 50 milliseconds, and the web server had only improved its response time to 20 milliseconds. This is an exponential jump in the computational power of an everyday device owned by millions of users. Along with advanced CPU’s, running any application on your own edge device provides many advantages over a cloud or server system.

Privacy is a huge advantage that an edge device can provide. Taking your picture and using facial recognition to unlock your smartphone can all be done on your device, rather than uploading your picture to a web server to run the same AI application. With so many major data breaches being carried out in recent years, many smart phone users probably wouldn’t like the idea of their picture being stored on a server to do the same security check.

Everyone Now Can Carry Edge AI

Availability is another big advantage. Our phones are easy to carry and it’s very easy to download an app and start using it within minutes. Once the application has been downloaded, you can run it, get the data you need and then you can put the device back in your pocket. Phone applications that can be downloaded and used to identify songs you hear out and about are a good example of this technology at work. Another advantage of running the application on your Edge device is avoiding any network latency or outage issues. You don’t have to worry about poor cell phone reception or slow wireless speeds when traveling.

We now use camera systems, voice to text translation applications and AI software for facial recognition. Soon we will have Edge AI software for a meeting that will recognize the attendees, track them as they speak with a simple camera and be able to translate their speech to a text document for meeting minutes.

These are just a few simple examples of how Edge AI will be used for increased production in the near future, with other exciting applications also currently being developed. We will see this touch our classroom environments as new teaching techniques evolve around virtual classrooms and improved communications with students that don’t necessarily have to be on campus to pursue their degree. These new technologies will soon touch our online student population and courses with drastic improvement in the way we reach students.

The College of Science, Engineering and Technology welcomes future students who aspire to drive positive change within their fields through a variety of Engineering and Technology programs. Grand Canyon University provides a rigorous, modern curriculum within a supportive learning community. Look for the Request Information button on this page to get started.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.