Why Edge Computing is so Valuable for Mixed Reality Applications
The lack of computational and graphical performance of mixed reality glasses narrowed down the range of use cases for quite some time. Using edge computing, developers from Holo-Light now have found a way to visualize complex 3D models with every detail, in life size and real time. Prerequisite for the widespread deployment of edge architecture is its stability and performance efficiency. The PLEDGER project of the EU (Ref.871536) has been set up to bring edge networks to an advanced level.
No longer a utopia: Boundaries between the digital and the physical world start to blur. Buildings, factories or other complex forms can get visualized in life size. And even real-time interaction with this massive virtual content is possible. The key to this scenario lies in edge computing: an architecture, which brings processing and graphic power closer to the edge or less metaphoric: to a server, which is geographically adjacent to the end device. For example, data processing no longer takes place on the AR glasses itself but is outsourced to a nearby high-performance server.
Rendering processes in AR or VR are heavy, especially when it comes to data-intense 3D models. While a self-sufficient AR data goggle smoothly manages CAD models up to 1.000,000 polygons, edge architecture enables the visualization and manipulation of content that greatly exceeds the polygon scope of smart glasses. Through the edge network solution from Holo-Light, consortium member of PLEDGER, it was even possible to interactively stream a true to scale model of the International Space Station (ISS) with 80 million polygons.
Immersive Technologies Challenge Latencies
Latencies play an important role, when it comes to interacting with 3D models. Since high immersion can only get achieved, if all of the movements are transferred exactly from real to virtual space, real-time is a prerequisite for all computational and graphical performance in AR and VR.
Cloud computing latencies are short, especially by means of 5G. But currently Edge computing latencies are even minor: the transmission path from the end to the high processing server is quite short and latencies of about 16 ms milliseconds are possible.
But short latencies are not the only advantage over cloud computing: XR adopters appreciate the high bandwidth as well as the trustworthy data processing and storage. Critical data is protected as the streaming takes place in own networks. The data also never resides on the mobile device. A crucial security feature in the event of loss of the glasses or hacker attacks.
What is still Missing in Edge Networks?
After this list of edge computing advantages, a skeptical voice might ask, why the architecture is not so widespread yet. What is still missing? Problems lie in their stability and performance efficiency – here, edge computing architecture still lags behind cloud infrastructures. In order to further develop the upcoming architecture and bring it to the next level, the EU initiated the PLEDGER (Ref.871536) project.
PLEDGER is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. The interplay of leading research institutions, industrial stakeholders and SME’s aims to combine the benefits of low latencies and safety on the edge with the robustness and resilience of cloud infrastructures.
In times of Covid-19 the topic edge computing gets more dynamic. Massively increased and latency free processing performance enables new ways of remote collaboration. And also XR does its part to make remote collaboration more substantial and natural. The rise of edge computing in combination with immersive technologies enable manifold industrial use cases for enterprises, which can be rolled out across a large number of users. Exciting times lie ahead.