Edge Computing: Power Challenges and Opportunities for Device Makers

Edge computing, like the driverless cars of the future or today’s iPhone, which stores biometric data on the device rather than in the cloud, create significant challenges and opportunities, such as power consumption.
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Think of a self-driving car. It needs to analyze information from multiple sensors instantly. The data it generates can’t be sent to a centralized system, like the cloud, for processing; it must be done internally. Today, most of our devices run off the cloud, so data gets sent to a centralized place then sent back. This inefficiency creates latency and tends to concentrate data and systems in one place, which isn’t good for innovation. This model will soon have to change if we want to enable the technologies we envision for the data-rich 5G world. Edge computing, like the driverless cars of the future or today’s iPhone, which stores biometric data on the device rather than in the cloud, creates significant challenges and opportunities. An often overlooked challenge is power consumption.

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For personal devices, the display gets customers excited. So, the fact that it’s the biggest and most inefficient consumer of power has been tolerated. But now device buyers may want their gadgets to do more, and display technology has improved to allow for both a vivid hi-resolution display and energy efficiency. It’s now possible, but through a technology, you probably haven’t heard of.

One of the biggest innovations in displays, though less splashy than OLED and microLED, has come from the growth in size and resolution of Reflective LCDs or RLCDs that typically don’t employ a power-hungry backlight to illuminate the screen. The backlight is especially inefficient because it wastes most of the light it produces (it gets filtered out). Reflective LCDs use light from the front of a device to light a screen. You don’t need it when you have enough sunlight or ambient light. But there are still times when a device (or any object) will need a light source. Azumo, solves this by making an incredibly thin light guide that can laminate over the front of a display just under the touchscreen. Azumo display modules need as few as one LED to light a screen, unlike a backlight or OLED which need multiple lights that also generate heat.

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As we get closer and closer to the edge, we’ll want our devices to do more. This is going to require engineers to re-evaluate power consumption. For device makers that want to get in front of the challenges and opportunities, there’s Azumo.

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