We may not see it, we may hardly notice it, but both artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) are driving massive innovation in consumer and business environments. The smartphones in our pockets, for instance, are equipped with some 9-13 sensors, and have been running machine and deep learning on device firmware and in the cloud for years. But to begin to ascertain the broader impacts of these trends– on consumers, businesses and ecosystems– we must consider how they converge and wherein lie the implications. What follows are three examples:
1. AI fosters a more “human” IoT
Although connected devices and even robots have been around for years, they have struggled to transcend the typing, clicking, touching interface of the mobile and laptop world. Their utility has remained largely tethered to another device or power source. They have struggled to achieve mainstream adoption. While an estimated 15 billion IoT devices are forecast to be in consumers’ hands by 2020, the market has been scratching its head as to what will inspire such a significant growth trajectory.
Thanks to advancements in machine and deep learning, natural language processing and understanding, the advent of reliable voice recognition is redefining how we interact with machines. The ability to simply talk to an IoT device or environment means human-machine interface looks a lot more like human-human interface. From a technological adoption standpoint, this doesn’t just improve the interface—speaking over typing or tapping; heads-up, not down— it unlocks entirely new markets. Consider how this enables elderly folks to use home care apps, disabled folks to enjoy internet services, or welcomes less tech-savvy users.
Not only are humans innately wired to learn and produce language with relatively little effort, voice conveys umpteen unseen elements of communication—emotion, tone, cultural nuance, etc.—which we naturally absorb and use to gauge interactions. This is the inherent personalization we employ in social interaction, alongside our long-held tendency to imbue our objects with human characteristics. We trust and identify with things when we anthropomorphize them. Add to these interactions adjacent advancements in processing speed, and devices respond dynamically, incorporating context from diverse data sets, customer preferences and real-time contextual signals. This unlocks a new era of personalization wherein our devices become trusted partners, concierges, media curators, maybe even… friends?
2. AI + IoT = New modes of enterprise scalability