AI at the Edge Report. Chapter 3: Applications & Case Studies

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19 Mar, 2024

Image credit: Continental

Image credit: Continental

Wi-Fi-enabled Edge AI is redefining how technology is leveraged in real time.

Our new report, AI at the Edge: Technology Accelerated by Wi-Fi Services, dives deeply into the convergence of Wi-Fi services and Edge AI and explores how a technology model like WaaS can accelerate the adoption of AI at the edge. 

Below is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of the report. To read the full report, including in-depth case studies, download it now.

The applicability of Wi-Fi Edge AI is fairly expansive and is growing by the day, spanning various industries and application areas. The most central aspects of this intersection of technologies are the real-time insights they provide, how these insights impact the speed and type of response, and how they are communicated across the network. Whether it is in smart healthcare, education, retail, or other application areas, Wi-Fi-enabled Edge AI is redefining how technology is leveraged in real time. Relay2 utilizes several Edge AI platforms to enhance the functionality of AI applications on the edge. In this chapter, we will take a look at some interesting use cases of Wi-Fi Edge AI, and we will see the impact of this technology convergence and the new opportunities it is opening in new and emergent technological spaces.

Education / Smart Campus

Wi-Fi Edge AI plays an important role in education-related applications, among which is remote learning integration, facilitating seamless and interactive remote education and bridging the gap between on-site and remote learning experiences. With localized content engagement pattern analysis and personalized experiences for students, Wi-Fi services and edge computing can help enhance and refine education content delivery. 

Campus facilities can also benefit significantly from integrating such technologies, especially in terms of security and surveillance, where Wi-Fi Edge AI can help analyze surveillance videos locally and in real time to recommend timely actions for security staff. It also powers use cases like attendance automation and traffic patterns, streamlining attendance tracking for educators and student flow analysis for operation enhancement. 

Another use case of Wi-Fi and edge computing can be seen in revenue generation, in which they enable intelligent, location-based advertising through audience behavior analysis for commercial partners. By leveraging these technologies, educational institutions can help promote campus services better, boost product marketing across campus premises and beyond, and enable efficient digital transactions.

One example of applying Wi-Fi and edge computing in education is by WENet, an OEM partner of Relay2 in Vietnam. In order to support the University of Transport Technology in Vietnam in developing a digital technology infrastructure platform, WENet deployed Relay2’s Wi-Fi-enabled edge computing solution, making use of the advantages provided by Relay2 ServiceEdge Platform compared to conventional Wi-Fi networks. From stable bandwidth to fast processing speed, short deployment time, minimal service interruption time, and optimal operating costs, the features brought about by Relay2’s ServiceEdge Platform were highly effective. As a result, over 17 thousand students across three campuses were able to benefit from this platform, especially in terms of the following three key functions:

  • Digital signage interacting with mobile devices to support two-way communication (university-to-student communication and student responses to university requests)
  • Students’ access to digital education materials from Relay2’s Service Points
  • Students’ ability to order food digitally from the cafeteria

Such functions have not only enabled students to benefit from a Wi-Fi-powered edge computing platform but also helped collect analytic data for future AI processing at the edge. Read more about the WENet use case on the Relay2 website.

Smart Healthcare

Undoubtedly, one of the most important aspects of healthcare is real-time monitoring and real-time decision-making. However, as we have seen over the recent years with pandemic-caused crises, healthcare workers are more often than not overworked, and hospitals are resource-limited, which can limit their abilities to provide timely care. In order to ensure patient safety and health within hospital spaces and elsewhere, it is crucial to track, monitor, analyze, and act in real-time. All this can be made available by incorporating Edge AI and Wi-Fi. Whether it is remote monitoring and management, patient activity tracking, patient care, or even assistance during healthcare crises, hospitals, and medical personnel can benefit significantly from integrating Wi-Fi Edge AI into their processes.

Smart healthcare comes in the form of connected healthcare, where AI-based smart devices, healthcare management software, and digital instruments are integrated into a “connected” healthcare system using a network protocol like Wi-Fi. As such, medical personnel would have access to all the medical-related information they need to provide the patients with the necessary medical treatment in the most effective and convenient way possible. This has been made possible by utilizing Edge AI and Wi-Fi technologies to empower the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT). In other words, healthcare personnel can leverage the low-latency capabilities of Edge AI processing and the ubiquity of Wi-Fi connectivity to access real-time data from diverse medical sensors, enabling timely decision-making and interventions and fostering a proactive approach to patient care.

Consider intensive care units (ICUs), operating rooms, or other healthcare spaces, the use of Edge AI and Wi-Fi can augment the work of doctors, nurses, and clinicians by minimizing limitations, redundancies, and time allocated to activities away from direct patient care (such as documentation). As a result, medical workers can benefit from an emerging ambient intelligence , powered by edge computing, AI capabilities, and Wi-Fi. This can even be expanded to daily living spaces, which would support independent living, chronic disease management, mental health, and physical rehabilitation, particularly of elderly individuals.

Smart Retail

Global retail is almost always in flux, and both retailers and suppliers are grappling with the complexities of ever-changing consumer demand, behavior, and expectations. The continuous shifts in these dynamics create uncertainties in predicting future trends and exert significant stress on international supply chains and store operations. Navigating these challenges necessitates real-time adaptability to stay ahead in the retail industry.

Edge AI emerges as a potent solution, offering retailers the capability to swiftly and precisely forecast daily demand while automating crucial aspects of supply chain logistics, customer engagement, and operational agility. This not only addresses challenges related to in-store supply management but also tackles issues in last-mile delivery costs, aligning with consumer expectations regarding timely deliveries.

Within physical stores, retailers leverage Edge AI to combat issues such as shrinkage and stockouts, optimizing inventory management. Simultaneously, the application of Edge AI and Wi-Fi contributes to the creation of frictionless in-store experiences while prioritizing the health and safety of both employees and shoppers. The integration of AI in retail is thus transforming operations, offering a multifaceted approach to address the intricate challenges posed by the dynamic retail landscape.

D.Phone, one of the largest cell phone retailers out of China, has deployed in-store Wi-Fi to enhance its customer experience and promote engagement as a way to offer a differentiated experience that would distinguish its  D.Phone stores from competitors. They opted for Relay2’s wireless broadband solution, taking advantage of its unified native-cloud wireless networking and edge-service delivery.

By leveraging Relay2 access points, D.Phone was able to offer high-quality customer experiences and deliver value-added services in-store. With its fast and reliable coverage in demanding environments like customer-dense spaces, including shopping centers and large venues, Relay2 access points enabled D.Phone to meet its customers' expectations and offer them the high-speed connectivity they desire. Moreover, with Relay2’s Edge services, D.Phone was able to run sales-generating applications and computation-intensive services locally and place content right at its  D.Phone customers’ fingertips, thus reducing content download time to just seconds. This helped streamline the customer purchasing experience and circumvent bandwidth bottlenecks. It even enabled D.Phone to deliver new services to its customers, including app delivery and couponing. This has displayed an accelerated go-to-market process for D.Phone’s digital merchandise and a reinforced branding strategy. Read more about the D.Phone use case on Relay2’s website.

“Relay2’s plug-and-play access points and cloud-based platform [have] given us a solution that lowers the cost of deployment and management.” - Wu Huan, CIO, D.Phone

Smart Buildings

With the recent growth in smart homes and building automation systems, edge computing, AI, and Wi-Fi have become increasingly popular in this space. The integration of Edge AI with sustainable architecture and smart buildings has been rapidly gaining momentum and transforming the manner in which we construct and interact with our built spaces. With advantages like enhanced energy efficiency, optimized systems, personalized occupant comfort, and streamlined building maintenance, smart buildings are leveraging the real-time analysis capabilities of Edge AI and its integration with IoT and developing potential for more sustainable architecture and digital integration.

Acting as a centralized intelligence hub, AI processes and interprets data obtained from an array of edge devices (IoT devices) such as sensors and actuators scattered throughout the building. This network of devices forms a comprehensive information system, providing valuable insights into various aspects of the building's operations. Through the implementation of AI algorithms, smart buildings gain the ability to efficiently monitor and regulate crucial functions like lighting, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, security, and energy consumption. Such an integration results in an environment that is not only responsive but also adaptive, catering to the dynamic needs and preferences of the building occupants.

This can be further supported by Wi-Fi connectivity and cloud-based Wi-Fi services, in particular. Cloud-based Wi-Fi services enable centralized management and control of Wi-Fi networks. This centralized approach simplifies the deployment and maintenance of Wi-Fi connectivity across the building, ensuring a more streamlined and scalable infrastructure. Furthermore, the cloud facilitates the storage and analysis of the vast amounts of data generated by IoT devices in Smart Buildings. AI algorithms require substantial data inputs to make informed decisions, and cloud-based services offer the computational resources needed for processing and interpreting this data. It enables more sophisticated analytics, allowing for better insights into building operations, occupant behaviors, and energy consumption patterns. 

Similarly, the cloud's scalability can easily accommodate the dynamic nature of Smart Buildings, especially when the number of connected devices grows or changes. Just as importantly, cloud-based services enable remote monitoring, management, and updates of Wi-Fi networks and connected devices. This remote accessibility is invaluable for building administrators, allowing them to troubleshoot issues, implement updates, and optimize network performance without physically being on-site. In this regard, smart buildings can benefit meaningfully from Relay2’s innovative solutions. With advanced networking capabilities, Wi-Fi Edge Computing power, and intelligent analytics, users of Relay2’s ServiceEdge platform can ensure seamless connectivity and optimized operational efficiency.

Smart Agriculture

The Internet of Things (IoT) and edge computing have influenced the agricultural and farming industries quite extensively over the past decade, especially with the rapid rise of low-power wide-area networks (LPWAN) . Wireless communication protocols are, in fact, a vital part of smart agriculture systems, especially since the fields cover large areas that necessitate system components to be placed at remote locations. The integration of Wi-Fi and edge computing has been key to expanding the digital functionalities in agriculture, especially with the advent of AI at the edge, thus increasing the possibilities of smart agriculture over large areas.

One type of smart agriculture that has been propelled by Edge AI and Wi-Fi services is precision farming. By deploying sensors and cameras in fields, farmers can gather real-time data on crucial factors such as weather patterns, soil conditions, crop growth, and pest infestations. This localized data processing enables farmers to modify and regulate their irrigation, fertilization, and pest control without delay, leading to an increase in crop yields and resource efficiency. The implementation of edge devices equipped with sensors extends beyond crop monitoring to include livestock health and behavior. Wearable devices on animals, such as cattle, provide early indications of illness or oestrus, empowering farmers to take timely actions, resulting in improved animal well-being, reduced rates of mortality, and higher farm productivity all around. 

Furthermore, the incorporation of Edge AI has paved the way for autonomous farming machinery, where tractors and drones equipped with edge devices can analyze field data in real time. This enables them to refine their routes, control planting depths, and identify and eliminate weeds in an autonomous manner. Not only does autonomous farming machinery reduce labor costs, but it also minimizes the use of chemicals, aligning agriculture with more eco-friendly practices. This is further empowered with the integration of Wi-Fi Services, allowing for centralized, remote monitoring and seamless connectivity between edge devices across large fields and in remote areas. The seamless integration of Edge AI and Wi-Fi technologies is proving transformative in making agriculture smarter, more efficient, and more sustainable over expansive agricultural landscapes.

Relay2 offers smart farms state-of-the-art solutions that can help transform crop production, efficiency, and sustainability. These solutions seamlessly connect and monitor agricultural devices, collect real-time data, and leverage advanced analytics for informed decision-making. By optimizing resources, automating processes, and implementing precision farming, Relay2 empowers farmers to maximize yield and sustainability.

This was an excerpt from Chapter 3 of the AI at the Edge: Technology Accelerated by Wi-Fi Services report. If you would like to read the full report, including in-depth case studies, you can download it below.  

More by Samir Jaber

Samir Jaber is an editor, writer, and industry expert on topics of technology, science, and engineering. He is an online content specialist with an academic background in mechanical engineering, nanotechnology, and scientific research. Samir has comprehensive experience working with major engineerin...