Edge computing is revolutionizing how tech companies handle, process, and transfer data worldwide. This has major implications for the metaverse, which involves high-volume data processing at low-latency speeds.
Just as affordable broadband connectivity provided an advantage for expanding the internet globally, edge computing could play a similar role in the rise of the metaverse.
What Is Edge Computing?
Edge computing brings data closer to where it is received on-site, rather than processing it at data centers or the cloud, using hardware and software solutions. This means that networks can process information faster and more efficiently without as much bandwidth, since there is no need to move data between servers and clients.
It has major use cases in data-heavy applications such as the Internet of Things (IoT). Edge computing is what allows IoT devices to collect, process, and analyze data in real-time and generate insights for users without having to share information on a centralized platform.
In the Metaverse, the cloud enables data processing and user reactions with minimum lag or delay. Unlike traditional data centers, edge devices are dispersed across multiple platforms and administrative domains.
Understanding Edge Computing in Relation to the Metaverse
Edge computing technology reduces latency and increases the quality of service (QoS), resulting in a better experience for users. Since it provides for densely scattered data-gathering clients, edge computing is well-suited to real-time analytics and real-time big data.
For example, in a 3D virtual metaverse, the user can observe a virtual object and raise their hand in response. Edge computing would allow the metaverse platform to understand the hand raising gesture immediately, process the data in real-time, and trigger a corresponding action like lifting the object or drawing over it with 3D sketches. Thanks to edge computing, this interaction would take place with less than a millisecond delay, which is necessary for the Metaverse to be responsive and lifelike.
5 Benefits of Using Edge Computing for Immersive Reality
The importance of edge computing will only continue to grow as the metaverse expands. Its five key benefits include:
1. Reduced latency
In terms of performance, edge computing can provide significantly faster response times. This is because bringing critical processing capabilities closer to end-users to drastically reduce latency.
Data is often collected at the edge and then transported to centralized servers for processing in a traditional networking topology. These servers provide commands to the edge devices if a response is necessary.
In contrast, edge computing frameworks handle this processing much closer to the data source. As a result, mobile VR devices can respond faster since data packets do not have to travel as far from the edge to the base and back.
Latency has been a longstanding issue with VR devices and platforms like the Metaverse. Not only can latency negatively impact the quality of immersive experiences, but it can also lead to motion sickness. Edge computing could offer a solution to this challenge and improve metaverse adoption.
2. Improved data management
The edge aims to bring data closer to end-users rather than storing it in data centers further away. The information gathered at the edge networks is particularly valuable since it gives insight into user behavior.
Unfortunately, the majority of the data collected today comprises “noise,” necessitating advanced analytics techniques to sift through unstructured data and find key trends. By merging local devices with edge data center capabilities, a well-structured edge computing network may better handle that data.
3. Reduced network bandwidth usage
Computation at the edge implies minimal data transmission since edge devices do much of the heavy lifting. Instead of sending raw data to the cloud, most of the job is done at the edge. Only the final result is sent to the cloud, lowering bandwidth requirements for data transmission.
The ability to cache information in local edge servers dramatically decreases stress on the network when delivering data-intensive digital media. Eventually, this will make immersive technologies more accessible due to lesser network requirements.
Keeping more data on the network edge also reduces the overall traffic volume traveling in and out of central servers, freeing up much-needed bandwidth across networks by eliminating inefficiencies and non-essential processes.
4. Increased reliability
Edge computing is more reliable than centralized systems. Some remote regions are still in the development stage and have less-than-ideal internet coverage, let alone the ability to access VR or a metaverse platform.
When edge devices can store and process data locally, reliability improves even for these regions. According to recent estimates, combining edge computing with 5G technology can bring latency down to as little as 10 milliseconds and improve reliability.
5. Considerations for Using Edge Computing for XR
When implementing this technology for XR use cases, one should remember the following:
- The cloud and edge are mutually beneficial.
- To scale, edge innovation needs a well-coordinated data strategy.
- A good edge approach relies heavily on networking.
The Metaverse is a perfect example of an use case that would greatly benefit from edge computing, as it would allow for low-latency and high-bandwidth interactions between users.
This is why leading metaverse firms are paying close attention to edge networks, such as Croquet Corporation, Microsoft, Meta Platforms, NVIDIA, HTC VIVE, and many others.
Edge computing also can improve security and privacy in the Metaverse, as data would not need to be stored centrally, providing unrivaled and borderless metaverse support.