Edge Devices

Gateway to the Metaverse

Father and daughter sitting at a desk to study earth sciences. The daughter is wearing a virtual reality headset.

Edge devices are the gatekeepers between the physical and digital worlds. With one foot in the local network and one foot in the cloud, edge devices are essential hardware for enabling the next evolution of today’s internet: the metaverse.

The metaverse has the capability to take users beyond 2D browsing to deliver immersive experiences for applications such as gaming, industrial, healthcare, education, and commerce, just to name a few. Virtual reality (VR) headsets are a perfect example of an edge device that has seen booming sales in recent years thanks to the gaming industry, where a subsection of gameplay occurs in the metaverse. But before we know it, the inverse may be true—that gaming will become a subsection of the metaverse.

Intelligent Edge Devices Enable the Metaverse

An immersive 3D experience depends upon macro framework and foundational technologies that engineers are designing today. Analog Devices, Inc. (ADI) provides critical elements to enable this innovation, including cloud, network, and energy infrastructures as well as edge devices.

While accessing this new world isn’t confined to wearing head-mounted devices, a truly immersive 3D experience does require VR, augmented reality (AR), or mixed reality (MR) interfaces and complementary accessories that enhance the sensory, interactivity, and user experience aspects of the metaverse. In the next decade, designers of these extended reality “XR” edge devices will have to overcome major challenges with respect to display technology, rendering capabilities, human-machine interfaces (HMI), battery life, and weight/comfort.

There is a lot of work to be done on the infrastructure side of things, too. XR devices will demand greater compute capacity and network infrastructure will have to keep up. Simply increasing network speed is not enough. Live interactions require low latency, deterministic communications that are not supported by today’s fiber- and router-based infrastructure. Data center energy usage and cooling will also become significant areas of innovation and must be powered by green energy sources.

These challenges call for creative—even radical—architectural solutions to achieve sufficient performance within the extreme power and size constraints of edge devices.

ADI’s Intelligent Edge Devices: A Portal to the Metaverse

Building the metaverse will require a combination of superior hardware and systems that go beyond the architectures and inner workings of devices used today. Analog Devices provides leading-edge technologies to support functions like 3D sensing and immersive audio, face and eye tracking, biosensors, haptics, and high bandwidth, low latency RF communications.

ADI technologies for edge devices include:

Time of Flight

3D time of flight (ToF) is a method of capturing short-range depth information using a type of scanner-less light detection and ranging (LIDAR) technology. In AR and VR headsets, ToF systems use the camera to collect depth information, then process this data to simulate an additional dimension of reality for the user.

ADI provides ToF products and solutions such as high-resolution CMOS imaging chips, depth computation and processing, laser drivers, power management, and associated development tools and software/firmware.

Learn more about 3D ToF

Person with a mobile device face scanning using Time of Flight technology.

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Wearable Vital Signs Monitoring

Wearable vital signs monitoring (VSM) uses noninvasive devices to provide biosensory feedback into XR systems. Monitoring devices may be wrist-worn, brow-touching, chest-worn, or in-ear. Vital signs data can be used to adapt immersive experiences in real time based on users’ reactions and emotions. It could be as straightforward as mapping emotions onto an avatar’s face, or maybe a safety function such as adapting the game differently when an elevated heart rate is detected.

Analog Devices provides optical sensors, highly integrated analog front ends (AFEs), bioelectric AFEs, motion sensors, bioimpedance engines, low power MCUs and motion sensors, power management solutions, and high precision temperature sensors. ADI’s wearable VSM solutions are optimized for low power, space-constrained applications and leverage optimized sensor and connectivity technology to ensure product quality and reliability.

Read about wearable VSM solutions

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Battery Management

XR devices present significant challenges to system architects and industrial designers alike. For the most freedom in XR, devices should be untethered; therefore, powerful processors must be housed on the device itself, which in turn creates battery management issues. Space constraints and optimal weight distribution for user comfort are some additional obstacles to overcome when designing power supplies for XR devices.

Analog Devices offers best-in-class battery fuel gauge ICs that provide transparency into battery state-of-charge and state-of-health. Our low power power management ICs enable low operating current, high efficiency power conversion, and compact form factors with comprehensive lithium-ion protection technology. Our space-saving single-inductor multiple-output power converter architecture uses ultralow quiescent current to maximize run time, standby, and shelf life while maintaining high efficiency. Finally, ADI’s AccuCharge technology enables battery splitting so that battery weight can be more evenly distributed across the device to maximize user comfort.

Explore Our PMIC Solution for VR

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Audio Solutions

Nearfield Surround Sound

Cinematic surround sound can make VR and AR feel even more real—but to deliver it, designers must overcome the limitations of common audio amplifier solutions.

In this design solution, we unpack the challenges and possibilities inherent within the extreme space constraints of VR and AR headsets, alongside the nature and quality of the 3D audio experience required for this type of application. The MAX98360 class D amplifier answers these challenges with high efficiency and low standby power in a tiny package that requires no programming using our plug and play technology.

Look into MAX98360

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Human Machine Interface

How we interact with AR, VR and XR devices is fundamental to the success of the metaverse. Systems will have to understand and interpret our intent, and designers need to increase accuracy and minimize latency of embedded sensors. Whether it’s by voice, gestures, head movements or eye-tracking, high quality sensors could be the difference between a completely immersive natural experience and a frustrating one.

ADI offers a portfolio of solutions in this space. Our Pure Voice technology can remove background noise, so speech comes through clearly. Our hand tracking capabilities have high resolution and understand a user’s motions, and our future solutions could utilize ultrasound, ToF, Electromyogram (EMG), or Electroencephalogram (EEG). Other HMI opportunities include capacitance-to-digital converters (CDCs) to create touch interfaces on devices and inertial measurement units (IMUs) for head-tracking and attached sensors.

Read this HMI article

Doctors in operating room experiencing a 3D virtual reality world and a human machine interface.

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Life at the Intelligent Edge

Experience the Limitless Potential of the Intelligent Edge

Bridging the digital and physical worlds is ADI’s legacy, and as the Metaverse emerges and evolves, we aspire to be leaders at the Intelligent Edge. See how ADI is creating building blocks to help customers redefine how people work, live, and engage.

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Woman shopping for a blouse within a virtual reality metaverse space while wearing augmented reality glasses.

Metaverse: Building Blocks of the Future

When you think about the metaverse, what immediately comes to mind? The potential use cases for the metaverse are as vast and varied as your imagination can take you. But the one thing metaverse experiences have in common is that they all rely on strong underlying and complementary technology.

Read more on Signals+

Signal Chains


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