Where does the “thinking” happen?
You might think the Edge is just that: the outer limit of a network. But often when tech companies talk about the Edge, it is actually an initial data clearinghouse. It may be distributed from the central cloud, but still a gathering point for IoT devices to relay their information through. What is conventionally described as the Edge is still a long way from the originating stimulus signal.
For us, the Mist is the extreme limit of an IoT network. As close to the material sensor as possible, often integrated into the same physical device. This is happening far from the cloud, down at field level where sensors are directly interacting with the environment. Before any data is relayed wirelessly, the Mist presents an opportunity to gather data intelligently.
Mist (Edge) computing
Mist computing is putting computing power on the extreme edge of a network, on the actual sensors of the device. The computing power is provided by the micro-controller in the embedded device and uses this power to process, precondition, filter and optimize the data before feeding it into the cloud.
Some people use the term “edge computing” but often the “edge” is the central gathering point for IoT data in the field, not the sensor itself. For us, we talk about the mist as the extreme edge of the network.
There are many benefits to mist Computing:
- Data transfer uses 20 times more battery power than an equivalent computing process. So, by having computing power on the sensor, the size of the transmitted data can be minimized before being transmitted. The resulting data will be much smaller and consumes less power in the transfer. Mist computing is a great fit for low power situations where extending battery life or transmission cost (LTE) are a core concern.
- Because mist computing is closer to the sensors, real time analytics is available.
- Mist computing provides agility which makes it possible to react on change because the behavior of the devices can be changed over time.
- Mist computing makes decoupling of sensors and devices possible. If a new sensor is connected to a device the device needs to be load new program, which requires Mist computing. Decoupling devices and sensors are a cost-effective solution for smaller quantities and for less standard sensors. There is no need to design and manufacture a completely new device.
There are also disadvantages to mist computing worth acknowledging:
- The smaller embedded processors often require firmware which is much more complicated to develop. The mcPlatform mitigates this disadvantage by providing devices with a simple software object-oriented scripting tool and a modern event driven multi-threaded environment.
- Applications in the mist layer need to be deployed to thousands of devices and need to be synchronized so they all change the same time. The mcPlatform mitigates this disadvantage by providing a portal and Web-API that can update thousands of devices with a simple command. All devices switch over at the same time to the new application.
All mcThings end-node devices are mist computing devices and can be programmed by the user with mc‑Studio™ which is the integrated development environment for mcScript™ and includes features for authoring, modifying, compiling, refactoring, deploying, and debugging of the software on the device.