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Edge AI chips: enabling faster, secure processing of biometric data for Smart Cities



Companies are finding new ways to build chips with enough processing power for super-accurate machine vision, including facial biometrics – chips that will make their way into phones, robots, and other devices without sending data to central clouds. That privacy-enhancing capability will be key as companies like Qualcomm partner with consulting and infrastructure investment firms to advance Smart Cities projects.

Market research company Omdia forecasts that global AI edge chipset revenue will grow from $7.7 billion in 2019 to $51.9 billion by 2025. Edge inference has emerged as a key workload and many companies have introduced chipset solutions to accelerate AI workloads.

The development of new chip technologies for edge AI is linked in part to the fact that running AI on the device means there is no need to send large amounts of data to brawnier servers at a central cloud.

One of the key drivers in analyst forecasts for the AI edge chipset market is the emergence of Smart Cities initiatives around the globe. Dell has been assiduously marketing its capabilities in this market, for example, and is part of a long list of companies that includes wireless providers (AT&T, Verizon), broadband providers (Comcast), chip companies (Nvidia, Intel, Qualcomm), networking vendors (Ericsson, Nokia, Cisco) and many others.

Advocates like Dell say Smart City initiatives can help reduce traffic congestion and air pollution and enable safer living spaces through the use of vehicle tracking and video surveillance systems. Privacy issues notwithstanding, video data traffic is expected to comprise 40 percent of all IoT data in Smart City programs.

Edge AI chips will be key to analyzing data while minimizing privacy issues, but some critical data will still need to be transported and stored in a central location. That’s where 5G and other wireless technologies will be essential to these initiatives as well.

Qualcomm, of course, has recognized this but like other players in the market will need to work with a variety of stakeholders, including local and state governments, project developers and real estate owners, and a variety of public and private construction and engineering entities. To facilitate Smart City programs, Qualcomm has recently announced a partnership with JLC Infrastructure and Ignite.

Qualcomm started a Smart Cities Accelerator Program in 2019 to enable better cooperation between all the aforementioned entities. JLC Infrastructure is an investor and asset management firm focused on sustainable energy, utilities, transportation and social infrastructure. IGNITE is a global consulting practice focused on connected city development projects.

Among the early actions planned, Qualcomm and JLC are working on developing products and services that will allow construction to resume in cities while following enhanced worker safety guidelines, including social distancing and mask wearing.

Learn more about edge computing at Edge Industry Review.

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