Google’s tiny chip represents a big bet on IoT

Google is taking two steps – one in hardware and one in software – to bring its analytics and machine learning capabilities to edge networks and even to individual internet-of-things devices to better deal with the data generated by a growing number of IoT devices, the company said at its Cloud Next technology conference.

The first step is Google extending the features of its Cloud IoT software platform to edge networking. The second is a tiny chip that could be integrated in IoT devices themselves and process the data they collect before transmitting it.

Edge computing – which describes an architecture where a specialized computer sits very near to the IoT endpoints themselves to perform analysis and data processing from those endpoints, as opposed to sending that information all the way back to the data center – is very much the up-and-coming model for IoT deployment, particularly in use cases that have strict requirements around latency.

However, Christian Renaud, IoT research director for 451 Research, said that the technical advantages of edge computing are secondary to a much more human factor – managers of the operational technology implementations (factory floors, fleets of vehicles, etc.) that stand to benefit from IoT tech simply aren’t comfortable moving important management and analytics functionality to a cloud, even a private one.