Unlocking the power of AI at the edge - the next evolution for smart systems

Unlocking the power of AI at the edge - the next evolution for smart systems

January 2024

by the 42T Smart Systems Team

In 2024, the rapid adoption of AI at the edge in smart systems will not just be a technological trend, but a strategic necessity. Within the last year, AI has dominated the headlines. However, the extensive nature of this phenomenon means that very few businesses know how to use AI effectively to maximise responsiveness, security and functionality within smart systems. This article addresses the increasing ubiquity of AI in smart devices and the potential consequences to businesses that will be left behind if they don’t recognise the benefits of this technology.

The integration of AI in smart devices is shifting from an innovative feature to an essential component. Manufacturers have already started embedding AI into chipsets, signalling a significant shift in the industry. As we progress into 2024 and beyond, the presence of AI in a device will increasingly be seen as a standard practice of technological relevance and sophistication. In this context, devices lacking AI capabilities risk becoming obsolete against the backdrop of rapidly advancing technology.

“Edge computing is a shift of computing power and storage to locations closer to the source or creation of data.” Wipro

This trend is further emphasised by the remarkable growth of the edge AI chip market, which is experiencing a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) estimated at 16% from 2022 to 2030. This significant expansion highlights the increasing importance of AI at the edge, reflecting a broader industry movement towards more intelligent and autonomous technology solutions.

In such a rapidly evolving market, the absence of AI in any smart device could lead to a notable competitive disadvantage. Devices without AI-enabled capabilities will appear less appealing to an increasingly tech-savvy consumer base that expects smarter, more responsive, and more efficient technological interactions. 

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AI at the edge brings several key benefits:

Improved responsiveness

Local processing, as seen in Amazon’s AZ1 and AZ2 neural edge processors, reduces latency, enhancing immediate device interactions.

Data privacy and security

Edge processing limits cyber threats and allows devices to operate securely. By processing data on the device itself, the need to transmit sensitive information to the cloud is eliminated, thereby reducing exposure to potential cyber threats. This capability is especially crucial in applications where data security is paramount, and in scenarios where devices might need to operate in secure or isolated networks, even offline.

Energy and cost efficiency 

Edge AI consumes less energy compared to cloud processing, reducing operational costs and aligning with growing environmental concerns and the push for greener technology solutions.

Enhanced user experience 

AI at the edge enables advanced features like computer vision, transforming the ways in which users interact with devices.

AI at the edge is not limited to high-end technology products; it is increasingly found in everyday devices such as robot vacuum cleaners, healthcare devices, smartphones, wearable devices, smart cameras, and automotive systems. With edge AI development tools becoming much more common, this widespread adoption is reshaping how we interact with technology, making AI an integral part of our daily lives.

The integration of AI with the Internet of Things (IoT), known as AIoT, differs from embedding AI within a device. AIoT involves sending data from the IoT device to a server, data centre or cloud, for processing. This distinction is crucial as untethering the device from a data centre or cloud enhances responsiveness, security, and scalability. AIoT goes beyond connectivity. It accelerates responsiveness and adds layers of security and scalability, making a nuanced approach essential in today’s privacy-conscious market.

Ignoring the AI edge trend will result in a loss of competitiveness, heightened security risks, and operational inefficiencies. In contrast, devices with edge AI offer secure, responsive, and personalised experiences, setting new industry standards.

The future will see an increase in functionalities and performance enhancements in devices with edge AI, without significant cost, size or power consumption increases. AI integration at the edge is a critical shift in smart systems. 42T is dedicated to guiding our clients through this transition, ensuring they keep pace and lead in this new era of intelligent, responsive, and efficient smart devices. By partnering with experts in this field, businesses can confidently embrace the AI edge, securing their position at the forefront of this technological revolution.

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