To move from an Internet of things to an Internet of actions, we need a “smart” edge composed of a myriad of tiny, ultra-low power and connected devices. Current technologies won’t make that happen, so it’s time to look into alternative ways of computing.
From wearables that monitor our health to systems that enable autonomous driving ... We’re increasingly surrounded by sensors and actuators that intelligently interact with our environment.
But that intelligence is deceiving. Current edge devices mainly rely on a connection to the cloud to do their ‘hard thinking’. And that puts an immense strain on the communication networks.
What if we could throttle down or even sever that connection by enabling those edge nodes to perform their own heavy computing tasks?
Instead of the passive devices that now make up the IoT, active edge nodes would be able to sense, interpret and act – all with minimal conference with the cloud.
The basic idea is that these cognitive edge devices only share insights, not data. This not only solves the bandwidth problem, but offers a host of additional benefits as well, such as:
Is such a cognitive edge within our capabilities? There’s still a lot of work to be done. Cognitive edge devices need to be capable of:
And all that within tiny form factors and on minimal power budgets – a fraction of today’s state of the art.
Such a challenge is not tackled by tweaking our machine learning algorithms. Nor by simply making our devices (a little bit) more powerful and less power-hungry. We need to:
These are some of the research avenues that the imec USA Berkeley team is following to pave the way for the next generation of smart devices. Want to travel along?