Yes, You Can Use Edge Computing Beyond Connected Cars

July 1, 2021

Written by Caio Castro
CrowdVision is using the power of edge computing to count people

I’m pretty sure you have heard of how connected and autonomous cars will benefit from edge computing – it is perhaps the most famous use case for such technology. But other industries are also taking advantage of multi-access edge computing (MEC) and applying it to real-life situations that you may have encountered already.

One example is CrowdVision, a pedestrian analytics and insights enterprise whose work was highlighted during MWC 2021 in Barcelona. The company maps and analyses how many people are concentrating in a particular area, making it possible for corporate customers to take actions based on these numbers.

“My team and I work with various sensors to do crowd analytics in large spaces. We combine multiple angles and sensors together so that we generate a very detailed 3D point cloud of the space,” said Ray Gibson, Vice President of Engineering at CrowdVision, during Amazon Web Services’ MWC session “At the edge of innovation.”

“The accuracy of the sensors we use allows us to provide several useful analytics. This ranges from how many people there are in a space, flows, wait times for lines, and also social distancing, where we can measure the exact space between people and get an understanding of how well the crowds are applying social distancing.

One of the biggest challenges the company faces to get its product installed is the vast infrastructure requirement. Typically, CrowdVision needs kilometres of cables and also rack servers.

So they turned to a combination of Verizon’s 5G and AWS’ edge solution Wavelength to avoid installing long cables or on-premises servers, leveraging a 5G network for streaming sensor data and edge computing to perform video analytics.

“So far, we’ve seen some really great results. We see a bright future where we are deploying at venues around the country and using our data to help companies reopen safely,” Gibson said.

Joint Effort for Global Edge

Also during MWC 2021, five companies from across the world have announced a partnership to launch what they call the First Global PaaS (Platform as a Service) collaboration. Operators KDDI and Deutsche Telekom, and partners MobiledgeX, Sturfee, and Mawari will lead the joint effort.

The goal is to make a Visual Positioning Service (VPS) – provided by KDDI’s development partner Sturfee – and deploy it as a PaaS to KDDI and Deutsche Telekom’s MEC network.

In addition, the SDK provided by PaaS will be embedded into the AR app on a smartphone, and a 3D virtual human application called “coh” will be distributed from KDDI and Deutsche Telekom MEC to the smartphone XR app.

“MEC platforms are intended to support AR/VR, automatic driving, robotics, and other applications that take advantage of the low latency of 5G,” the group said in a statement. “Next-generation interactive media apps (XR) require closer proximity to supporting APIs and SDKs in their backend code to deliver the quality of experience and scale that is required.

“However, for developers who want to release their applications globally, using MEC leads to longer lead times and higher operating costs. This is because MEC is provided within the edge networks provided by each telecom operator. It is necessary to individually deploy, test, and operate middleware such as APIs for each MEC provided by telecom operators in each country,” the statement reads.

As solutions like these become commercially available, more and more use cases will arise in several areas, like gaming, and will bring the user experience, well, closer to the edge.

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