The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Edge Computing - Moving Through Everywhere to Close to Nowhere

One of the effects of taking advantage of the edge is the increase in information flow coming in through various techniques (e.g., RFID, mobile devices, sensors). There is concern that with all this information flowing in we’ll be overwhelmed, but that’s where smart devices and attention engineering come into play. We’ll need to display information in a context that can be readily consumed based upon the situation of the enterprise as well as the individual.

 

If done properly we can integrate devices into the environment where work takes place, instead of all the additional computing power being visible and actively maintained. A while back Donald Normal wrote a book called The Invisible Computer where he described two types of complexity that is included in every device. There is the:

  • internal – the engineering of how the system works internally
  • external - the engineering of how the system interfaces with the rest of the world

This second focus is where attention needs to shift. Only in this way can we take advantage of the embedded environment of devices without having to endure future shock.

We need to focus on taking advantage of the unique capabilities of the devices and not try to force them into existing models. For example: mobile devices have smaller screens and less computing power, but they also know where they are in the world. Capitalizing of that feature will provide a significantly better interface, since many times when you’re using your mobile phone, you’re mobile. Meshing that location knowledge (at a grocery store) with your schedule (on vacation), can help the enterprise route the information to the person who is mostly likely to be able to act upon it.

 

We need to engineer networks to be not only application aware, but also device aware. The environment needs to work with application and the available devices to deliver the optimal result within the constraints of the combination of the constraints (bandwidth for networks, flexibility for applications, and device characteristics for devices).

 

We’ll desire to transfer tasks from one device to another, like video streams or application entry. It will involve interruptions. It will not be seamless (rather with the capability to pause and continue) and without loss of quality (rather within the constraints of the differing systems), but the focus will be on maximizing the capabilities available and personalizing it to meet the user’s needs.

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About the Author
About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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