What is Edge Computer Vision, and How Does it Work?

Edge Computing

What is Edge Computer Vision, and How Does it Work?

Shandra Earney / February 23, 2023

Edge computing brings significant benefits to computer vision

As the driving force behind lightning-fast processing and visual data analysis at the source, Edge computing is propelling computer vision into a new era of smart devices, intelligent systems, and immersive experiences. 

Unlike cloud-based computer vision AI, which relies on internet connectivity and remote servers, Edge computing offers unique benefits, including faster processing, greater security, and real-time insights, making it an essential tool for computer vision applications.

This article dives into the intricacies of Edge computer vision, examining its fundamental principles and techniques, including object detection, image classification, feature extraction, and anomaly detection. 

Furthermore, the article explores the differences between Edge-based and cloud-based computer vision and investigates various use cases for Edge computer vision technology.

What is Edge computer vision?

Computer vision is the process of teaching computers to analyze visual data similarly to humans. But, unlike the human eye, computer vision can find patterns in visual data that people can’t, making it a valuable tool in many industries. 

On the other hand, Edge computing is a distributed computing paradigm that involves moving computational processing closer to the data source.

This means data is processed right where it’s generated, avoiding sending large amounts of data back and forth to the cloud for processing, analysis, and storage.

The technique revolutionizes computer vision by enabling lightning-fast processing and analysis on devices (such as cameras, sensors, and mobile phones) without relying on cloud-based servers.

The result is real-time decision-making, increased security, reduced bandwidth requirements, and lower latency. 

To implement Edge computer vision, a range of techniques can be applied, including object detection, image classification, feature extraction, and anomaly detection, which will be explored in the next section. 

For now, it’s important to know that a key advantage of Edge computer vision is its ability to operate in real-time, making it well-suited to security, surveillance, and robotics applications. 

Additionally, because it operates locally, Edge computer vision can provide a high degree of privacy and security. There is no need to send sensitive data to a remote server where it’s more susceptible to outside interference.

The ability to process and analyze visual data at the source (in real-time) and with enhanced security and privacy has created opportunities to develop innovative solutions that enhance business operations and improve customer experiences.

Edge computing enhances 4 leading computer vision techniques

As mentioned, Edge computing has enhanced computer vision techniques by enabling devices to process visual data in real time without relying on cloud-based servers. 

This section will examine four popular Edge computer vision techniques and discuss how Edge computing enhances their performance.

1. Edge computing brings advantages to object detection

Object detection is a computer vision technique that involves identifying and locating specific objects within an image or video stream.

The technique involves analyzing the features and patterns present in an image or video to identify and locate objects. 

Put simply, object detection answers the question, ‘What type of objects are present, and where are they located?’

With the emergence of Edge computing, object detection can be performed locally on devices such as cameras or sensors rather than relying on cloud-based processing. 

This allows for the real-time identification of objects without sending data to a remote server. 

Additionally, Edge computing enhances object detection capabilities by providing several benefits, such as reduced latency, increased privacy and security, improved reliability, and reduced bandwidth consumption.

2. Edge computing enhances image classification techniques

Computer vision image classification categorizes images into predefined classes or categories. 

This involves analyzing an image’s visual features and patterns, such as color, texture, and shape, to determine its category.

Just like in object detection, Edge computing enhances the capabilities of image classification by allowing it to be performed on devices locally. 

Image classification can be performed in real-time by processing data on-device, and its reliability is improved since Edge computing allows analysis tasks to operate even with poor network connectivity.

Edge-based image classification has numerous applications, such as quality control, medical imaging, and autonomous driving.

For example, it can detect defects in manufactured products, reducing the need for human inspection in quality control use cases. In medical imaging, it enables rapid diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. And in autonomous driving use cases, it quickly and accurately identifies objects such as pedestrians, vehicles, and traffic signals, enhancing the safety and reliability of the system.

3. Edge computing benefits feature extraction

Computer vision feature extraction is typically an early step in the computer vision pipeline, where the goal is to reduce the dimensionality of data and extract relevant information for subsequent analysis.

The key difference between feature extraction and image classification is that feature extraction is focused on identifying important features or patterns within an image. In contrast, image classification uses these features to categorize objects into predefined classes or categories.

Edge computing offers a powerful enhancement to the feature extraction process by enabling local processing. 

This results in speedy analysis, improved latency, privacy, security, reliability, and reduced bandwidth consumption.

4. Edge computing boosts anomaly detection capabilities

Anomaly detection is a computer vision technique that identifies unusual or unexpected events or patterns in a dataset. It’s an essential tool for detecting outliers, novelties, and other data types that deviate from the norm.

Anomaly detection can be performed using various techniques, including statistical methods, machine learning, and pattern recognition techniques. By comparing current and historical data to identify unexpected patterns, anomalies can be identified and flagged for further analysis and action.

Anomalies can occur for various reasons, including errors, fraud, equipment malfunctions, and security breaches.

With Edge computing, anomaly detection becomes even more powerful, as it can be performed locally on devices, allowing for real-time identification of anomalous events without relying on cloud-based servers.

This allows companies to detect threats quickly, prevent accidents in industrial settings, and improve the overall efficiency of systems in the workplace and customer devices around the home. 

Anomaly detection is a vital tool in computer vision, and with Edge computing’s real-time capabilities, it can significantly improve efficiency and safety.

Edge computer vision vs cloud-based computer vision

Edge-based and cloud-based computer vision are two approaches to processing and analyzing visual data, with their own advantages and disadvantages.

As discussed, Edge computing is a distributed computing paradigm that involves processing data at the edge of the network, closer to the source of the data. In the context of computer vision, Edge computing involves using specialized devices such as cameras or sensors capable of processing visual data and making decisions without relying on cloud infrastructure.

Since Edge devices can process visual data locally, they can quickly analyze and respond to environmental changes. This is especially important in applications such as autonomous vehicles, where even a slight delay in processing visual data could have serious consequences.

Edge computing also offers improved privacy and security as it limits the amount of data that must be transmitted to the cloud or a central server, thus reducing the risk of data breaches and cyberattacks during data transfer.

Cloud-based computer vision, on the other hand, relies on remote servers to process and analyze visual data. 

While this approach has advantages, such as handling large volumes of data and scaling resources as needed, it is only sometimes practical or cost-effective.

Processing large volumes of visual data requires significant computing resources, which can be expensive to provision and maintain. Furthermore, transmitting data to a remote server for processing can introduce privacy concerns (associated with data vulnerability during transit) and latency, a significant drawback in applications where real-time processing is critical.

While both Edge-based and cloud-based computer vision has their strengths and weaknesses, Edge computing is a compelling approach for applications that require real-time processing and high levels of privacy and security. 

As the demand for intelligent vision systems grows, we will likely see a shift towards Edge-based computing solutions that can process and analyze visual data locally. However, cloud-based computer vision will continue to play an important role in applications requiring large-scale processing and analysis.

The top 5 Edge computer vision applications

From healthcare to transportation, retail to manufacturing, Edge computer vision has many applications across many industries.

By leveraging the power of AI and machine learning, Edge computer vision is transforming how people work, live, and interact with the world around them. 

Here are the most compelling use cases for Edge computer vision.

1. Autonomous vehicles: Edge computer vision can help autonomous vehicles navigate and make real-time decisions. By processing visual data on the Edge, autonomous vehicles can react quickly to changes in their environment, helping to prevent accidents.

2. Smart retail: Edge computer vision can be used in retail settings to track customer behavior, improve inventory management, and optimize store layouts. By analyzing customer traffic patterns and monitoring product placement, retailers can gain valuable insights into consumer behavior and preferences.

3. Security and surveillance: Edge computer vision can be used in security and surveillance applications to detect and prevent unwanted or criminal activity. By analyzing video data in real-time, Edge devices can alert users to threats like intruders, unauthorized access, or suspicious behavior.

4. Industrial automation: Edge computer vision can be used in industrial settings to optimize production and improve safety. By monitoring production lines and detecting potential safety hazards, Edge devices can help to prevent accidents and improve overall efficiency.

5. Healthcare: Edge computer vision can be used in healthcare settings to monitor patient health and assist medical professionals with diagnoses. By analyzing patient data and providing real-time feedback, Edge devices can help improve patient outcomes and reduce medical errors.

These are just a few examples of the many Edge computer vision applications currently used. As the technology continues to evolve, new and exciting use cases will emerge.

Edge computer vision is a worthwhile business investment

Edge Computer Vision is revolutionizing traditional computer vision techniques, allowing the processing and analysis of visual data at the edge of the network.

The four popular computer vision techniques: object detection, image classification, feature extraction, and anomaly detection, are crucial for enabling the processing and analysis of visual data, and Edge computing enhances the performance of each technique exponentially. 

With the unique benefits of faster processing, greater security, and real-time insights, Edge computing is becoming an essential tool for many applications, making it an excellent choice for businesses looking to invest in this area.

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About the Author

    Shandra is a writer and content marketer working in the B2B space. She enjoys learning about new concepts and ideas surrounding cutting-edge technologies and brings a passion for researching and writing about how the digital world influences society.

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