Imagine a world where cell phones are replaced by wearable devices such as glasses, watches, and even clothing. These fast and intuitive devices will bring mobile computing to applications such as healthcare delivery, security systems and education. In the year 2034, pervasive computing via “fog networks” will enable a new era of productivity and user experiences.
The migration of computation and data storage into the “cloud” has been a key trend in information technology throughout the past decade. But now the cloud is descending to the level of the individual user’s devices. Within the next 20 years, in addition to the communication between a device and a fixed Wi-Fi or cellular network, this communication will happen among devices — smartphone to smartphone, smartphone to Google Glass, smartwatch to “smart shirt” — whether on the road or at home. The cloud is becoming the fog.
Fog networks will breathe life into the Internet of Things, in which our household appliances, medical devices, schoolbooks, clothes and other ordinary objects are networked to each other and to the Internet. Over the next 20 years, future iterations of today’s “connected wearables” — such as Google Glass, smartwatches and mobile fitness monitors — are poised to transform the consumer experience as well as the business environment.
Bringing data down from the cloud and into the fog will increase the speed and power of mobile devices. With today’s networks, users must download much of their data – movies, documents, emails – from the cloud. Fog networks will enable users to store data close at hand, speeding up the personalized retrieval and usage of data.
Fog networks will also enhance the processing of data gathered by these devices at the “edge” of networks. The mining of real-time data through “edge analytics” could yield more accurate descriptions of where the traffic jams are on your commute or of the behavior of a crowd in a stadium. The fog networks could also enhance data privacy by allowing users to spread personal information in different physical locations.
By incorporating the latest advances in devices and data science, fog networks will reshape the balance of power in the information technology ecosystem in the next two decades.