IoT and Edge Computing 101: How are they Related?

IoT and Edge Computing 101: How are they Related?

Troy Cogburn

Chief Technology Evangelist

March 2, 2022

4 Minutes

The internet has created opportunities to develop many internet-enabled technologies. The Internet of Things (IoT) is one such innovation. IoT is the technology behind many modern smart devices, including wearables and smart digital assistants such as Alexa. IoT devices connect to the internet to allow the exchange of data for analysis and storage. In contrast, edge computing places the onus of data computation and storage on the device itself. These two data-driven computing paradigms are based on centralized and decentralized/distributed computing models that are part of a broader ecosystem of technologies that enable and enhance modern-day living.

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

The Internet of Things is behind some of our most loved technologies: Alexa, Google Nest, the Ring doorbell, and the variety of healthcare wearable monitors are all examples of IoT devices. IoT devices come in many physical forms and include hardware gadgets, sensors, and appliances; they all transmit data over the internet or other networks such as machine-to-machine (M2M) networks. The IoT device works by gathering information about the physical world; for example, a diabetes IoT wearable would take glucose readings from the subject wearing the device and send these readings to a central server for analysis and evaluation. The IoT technology stack can exchange data using several standard protocols, including HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol), WiFi, and Bluetooth. Many IoT devices, especially those targeting the consumer market, have companion apps that help set up, manage, and visualize the output of an IoT device.

a graphic phone and computer icon and other internet of things devices

Types of IoT

There are several subcategories of IoT, each covering specific areas:


Industrial IoT (IIoT) is used to digitally transform industrial processes as part of Industry 4.0.


Consumer products such as smart home technologies and self-driving cars are covered under the Consumer IoT (CIoT).


Healthcare wearables and medical devices that are internet-enabled come under the umbrella term of medical IoT (MIoT)


Enterprise IoT (EIoT) is used within business processes to increase efficiency and reduce manual work.

What is edge computing?

Edge computing moves from the centralized data processing model of the IoT and cloud computing to a model of processing and storage of data on the device itself. Gartner Inc., predicts that the current figure of 10% of enterprise data processed outside the centralized model will increase to 75% by 2025. The reason for this shift from centralized models to the edge is that the data systems underlying data processing are now much more energy-efficient, capable, and cost-effective.

Virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR) are ideal partners of edge computing. AR glasses such as Google Glass need to process data locally and are a likely candidate for edge data processing. 

Latency is the biggest hurdle for cloud-based IoT computing to overcome. Edge computing excels over IoT because it provides low latency and real-time processing. In terms of advancements such as the metaverse, edge computing is perfectly primed to enable companion technologies such as AR and VR. 

Other applications of edge computing include healthcare, where speed is of the essence. Edge computing applications in surgery, for example, allow for millisecond responses to sensor feedback, crucial for robotic surgery.

The symbiotic relationship of IoT and edge computing

IoT and edge computing are complementary and can provide different functions across a more expansive data ecosystem. Smart city initiatives are likely to use a mix of IoT and edge computing helped by supporting technologies such as 5G, AI (artificial intelligence), and analytics. Edge computing and IoT are symbiotic in the types of complex networks of interconnected devices and data that make up the modern technology landscape.

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