Computing, Data and Insight… at the Edge?

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After some hesitation, I finally embraced Apple’s wearable platform by pairing an Apple Watch with my iPhone. The Apple Watch generates a continuous stream of health data that is stored locally on my iPhone.

From a cloud perspective, my health data is therefore stored “at the edge” which is, out of privacy concerns, the only place where I want it be. What I seem to miss though, is smart analytics or insights based on that data. Is that a consequence of trying to keep everything at the edge?

Insight into my health data

Rocket Community Day 2016

Rocket Community Day 2016

Every year we Rocketeers participate in a community day, and on Dec 15, 2016 my office repaved the paths in the park with about 20 cubic meters (700 cubic feet) of wood chips. As you can imagine, the collected health data for that day broke all trends because I moved a lot more than I usually do.

However, when you look at the health data for that particular day a few months later then you might worry unless you recall it was not exactly the normal routine that day :).

So…why does my iPhone not check sources like my calendar, GPS location, pictures and social media references for that day and tell me “don’t worry, you are fine! Rocket Community Day, remember?”

Not enough “compute” on the edge, or just a missing feature?

My iPhone is able to sort my pictures based on the people it has recognized in those pictures. As far as I know, it does this on its own, using only local resources. With that in mind, I am inclined to think the lack of analytics is just a missing feature in Apple’s Health app. On the other hand, powerful intelligent personal assistants like Siri, IBM Watson and Google Now are only available in the cloud, and not on your local device. I guess the real question is if computing on the edge is currently powerful enough to offer the level of analytics/insight/cognitive I am looking for?

Trade privacy for insight?

So, for now it seems that if I want to get the level of insight I am looking for, I will have to give up (some of) my privacy and feed my all my data into cloud services. This reminds me of the well known project management triangle, where one can ‘pick any two’:

Complex data & privacy means no insight?

Complex data & insight means no privacy?

Privacy & insight means only simple data?

 

Can I really have only two? Should I have selected another wearable platform? Am I too demanding :-)?

Let me know in the comments section below!

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Jeroen van Dun

Jeroen van Dun

Manager of Software Engineering at Rocket Software
Jeroen van Dun is Product Manager in the Rocket LegaSuite Lab.
Jeroen van Dun

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