When you mention the cloud in conversation, there’s rarely a need to explain. With 94% of businesses actively using cloud computing in some form, “the cloud” is now largely a household term. However, even as cloud adoption reaches an all-time high, a lesser known form of computing — edge computing — is emerging at rapid speed.
By 2025, 75% of enterprise-generated data is expected to be created and processed through edge computing. While the terms “cloud computing” and “computing” are often used synonymously now, edge computing will increasingly become the norm.
So what is edge computing? And how is it tied to text-to-speech technology? Here’s what you need to know about computing on the edge.
What is Edge Computing?
Edge computing is the process of computing data as close to where it is being generated as possible. It brings computation — which includes the capturing, processing, and storage of data — near the network edge, the point at which people consume the data. This means computation can happen right on your computers and Internet of Things devices, or on the servers closest to your business.
Edge computing empowers people and businesses to get the information they need at faster speeds than in the cloud. Whereas cloud computing centralizes data, edge computing distributes it to local data centers (or even the client device) for greater efficiency. Data doesn’t need to travel quite as far to reach its end users.
The concept of edge computing isn’t brand new. Well before cloud services grew in popularity in the mid-2000s, computation occurred directly at our computers. Now, as applications become more powerful and big data becomes a norm, many people are switching back to a distributed method of computing, which can eliminate the drawbacks of pure cloud computing as computing power gets cheaper and client devices get faster and perform better. This is a key reason why edge computing can be beneficial for text-to-speech (TTS) technology.
What is Edge Computing in Text-to-speech Technology?
While TTS technology is typically available as a cloud service — which saves you the hassle of installing software on devices — computing data (including audio files) near your business can be beneficial and, in some cases, necessary. When you don’t want your TTS data sent over the internet, edge computing can be a versatile alternative to cloud computing.
Here are three ways your business or your TTS provider can implement edge computing processes:
1. Licensed Products
Purchasing a text-to-speech license allows you to install TTS software directly on your computers, rather than in the cloud. By fully localizing your software, you can make TTS more efficient.
ReadSpeaker provides two licensing options for businesses. If you want to embed TTS into your software — whether you’re developing a mobile app or bringing your brand’s retail experience to the metaverse — you can license a software development kit (SDK). Or, if you want to quickly add digital voices to your app files, conversational system, or other business solution, you can install ReadSpeaker’s TTS software within your existing platform.
Caching, which is sometimes considered part of edge computing, is the process of temporarily storing files at a nearby server. In the context of TTS, this allows audio to be used for multiple users.
As an example, say one person listens to a webpage. When another person goes to listen to the same page, they can get the audio files pre-computed, or cached from the server. While the server isn’t necessarily closer to the user — hence why some people don’t consider caching to be edge computing — this process allows for highly rapid audio delivery.
3. Distributed Servers
TTS software itself can also be distributed to different servers, which are remotely monitored and controlled by providers.
For example, if your business is located in the United States, ReadSpeaker stores files in a content delivery network, which is a geographically distributed group of servers. This allows your team to quickly get audio content from the server located closest to you (rather than from the ReadSpeaker cloud). Your team members can take advantage of this lightning-fast delivery when they want to use voice AI for training documents, creating custom voice responses, and more.
If you want immediacy without having to store software directly in your company’s computers, a TTS provider that uses this edge computing method can be helpful.
The Rising Need for Edge Computing in TTS
For some businesses — particularly those with an international presence — using edge computing for text to speech is increasingly becoming a necessity. Some governments are enacting strict regulations that bar data from leaving the country or continent it’s produced in.
We’re already seeing these types of regulations in the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Additionally, countries like the United States, Australia, and Japan are implementing and considering similar regulations more and more each year.
In the face of these legal considerations, providers must be prepared to localize data and computing processes. Similarly, users must proactively invest in licensed TTS products. Alternatively, companies can choose TTS software like ReadSpeaker that’s compatible with both cloud and edge computing, offering more versatility and scalability in the long term.
The Challenges of Edge Computing
Edge computing can be difficult to implement. It’s one of the reasons why cloud computing has grown at a far faster pace. If you’re interested in implementing edge computing for text to speech in your own organization, you need to know that it’s not always an easy path.
Instead of centralizing all your software in one computer — which, in cloud computing, could do all the work for you — edge computing distributes software to a number of different places. This can greatly increase your maintenance requirements, since you’ll need to keep up with upgrades and maintain computers separately and consistently.
Plus, since edge computing can require more physical infrastructure, scaling your edge voice AI system may be more difficult. As a result, companies that implement edge computing for TTS must be more strategic with the way they use their resources.
Edge computing may also require significant technical knowledge — including that of hosting and installation — which often means having IT professionals on your team. You can simplify edge computing by choosing a provider that runs things for you. However, edge computing can still require advanced development competence since writing software for distributed environments is usually more complex than writing software for local installation.
How Much Can Companies Save Through Edge Computing?
Despite its challenges, you shouldn’t feel discouraged from using edge computing, whether for text to speech or anything else. Depending on your business needs, edge computing can offer a number of advantages over the cloud that will make your efforts well worth the cost.
Edge computing ensures you don’t have to be in someone else’s cloud more than necessary. When you can use computer software locally or at your own edge servers, you can securely and efficiently send large amounts of data, with or without the internet. This can be transformative if you’re working in areas with low connectivity or if you’re working with high volumes of sensitive data.
In this sense, moving away from the cloud can also help you avoid costly liability issues by enhancing the privacy and security of your data. For example, if you’re using TTS to read aloud sensitive customer information in a website voicebot conversation, edge computing minimizes the chances of data theft by minimizing the distance it has to travel.
When using edge computing for TTS, you’ll also consume less power and reduce internet bandwidth use without any loss of accuracy when generating audio.
While edge computing doesn’t necessarily save you money — since your costs can increase when you use a provider and start to pay for bandwidth — it certainly can save you time and increase reliability. For example, when you’re in a time crunch for a piece of data, such as a last-minute TTS audio file, you can access it without delay.
As the computing landscape develops, make sure your company is prepared for any text to speech needs. Contact ReadSpeaker to discover the benefits of custom TTS voice creation with a provider that supports both edge computing and cloud computing.