Dell releases reference designs for retail, manufacturing edge solutions

Dell releases reference designs for retail, manufacturing edge solutions

New edge modules to help enable advanced retail solutions like smart vision, as well as simpler system integration.

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Dell Technologies will offer new "validated" designs — a term used for edge devices that have been tested for compatibility in a range of important capabilities in a particular field — for retail edge computing deployments and the manufacturing sector later this year, according to a new announcement.

The idea behind both the retail and manufacturing validated designs is to provide a central infrastructure stack for the numerous individual applications that might be in use in any given location. For retail, that can range from inventory tracking systems and smart labels on shelves, to connected point-of-sale terminals, all the way up through numerous smart vision capabilities.

These last, provided by an integration with Deep North's real-time video analytics platform, can enable functions like behavioural analytics for foot traffic, programmatically detecting events like food spills so that employees can clean them up quickly, and even loss prevention.

Gil Shneorson, senior vice president of Edge Technologies at Dell, said that devices with validated designs will help a brick-and-mortar retail sector struggling with the pressures of online competition and the pandemic.

"If you're a CIO [in retail] and you have a responsibility for what goes into these stores, your job is hard," he said. "We expect an experience we don't get online."

The capabilities enabled by the company's designs aren't necessarily the point in and of themselves. Rather, the idea is to offer a single device that can run whatever a retailer wants without the need for additional edge modules. 

Currently, edge computing in general isn't particularly standardised. This can be a serious problem for retailers with a large number of shops, which might have different levels of technological expertise and different types of hardware across locations.

The idea is similar in manufacturing, as Dell announced support for PTC ThingWorx-based Digital Performance Management technology. That framework is designed to serve as a complete technology platform for industrial IoT, and its integration should provide Dell with a way to offer one-stop shopping for numerous types of edge deployments.

The retail edge technology will become globally available in June, and will be sold both via channels and directly from Dell, according to Shneorson. Validated design for manufacturing edge, featuring PTC support, will be sold in the same way, and the company said that it would become available "later this year."

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