Toshiba has its eye on the wearables and edge computing space

Japanese giant Toshiba aims to provide a platform for making integration between the edge and the network easy.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing at a rapid clip. Gartner estimates there will be over 11 billion connected devices this year, up from 8 billion the year before. Optimistic estimates predict there could be as many as 50 billion internet-connected devices by 2020.

But that many devices – whether sensors, robots, cameras, TVs, wearables, etc – all collecting data poses a conundrum for the companies deploying them: sending all that data to the Cloud just isn’t practical. There’s too much to send and too much to process, leading to bottlenecks and higher costs. One autonomous car creates around 4,000GB of data per day; imaging trying to send and process a whole fleet’s worth of data in the Cloud in real time.

One solution to this is the concept of edge computing; processing data locally – whether on the device itself or on a nearby hub for multiple devices – and then only sending what is completely necessary to the Cloud to be stored and acted upon as needed.

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A number of companies including Dell, Intel, Amazon, Microsoft, have all made announcements and investments into the IoT & edge computing spaces. But there’s plenty of opportunity in this new market. IDC says spending on IoT [devices, software, services] will reach $772.5 billion in 2018 and will surpass the $1 trillion mark in 2020.

“At the moment in IoT, you've got millions of sensors out there recording raw data and that data is set up to the cloud,” explains David Sims, Solutions Sales Specialist at Toshiba.

“And that's OK when you talk about maybe a million devices, but when you start talking about the future where they reckon it's going to be six billion-plus devices.”

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“Imagine sending up all that raw data, what you are going to do is suddenly think of the cloud as a reservoir you have fill up with data and it's going to be really hard to fish out the right data.”


Toshiba moves to the edge

While the company looks to sell its memory chip unit Toshiba is at the same time trying to use its computing know-how to make a play for the edge computing market.

“What we believe in is intelligent edge computing, and a lot of people believe in this too. It enables you to collect the local data and pre-process it, filter it, do something with it, and then you send it to the Cloud.”

“Because of the edge’s processing capabilities, we can run applications like face recognition, which is heavy duty processing power. If you think of lots of sensors in an environment, you don't really want to know if it's 20 degrees, you want to know when it's 17 degrees, so you action something but you can do it at the edge of the network.”

“And from a security point of view if you feel you have to manage six billion devices out there, that's going to be really hard to do. But if you filter the data there, secure the data at this point, and then send it to the Cloud it's a lot easier.”

“Also certain applications, for example self-driving cars, you're not going to send all the data up to the Cloud because by the time you do that you'll have crashed, so that's why a lot of self-driving cars have computing power inside the car.”