The convergence of Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence

May 2016

Not until recent years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) was far from ubiquitous in people’s lives. We celebrated the moment when IBM’s Deep Blue defeated the world chess champion in 1997, and we saw AI applications spread throughout technology industries such as data mining and industrial robotics. Although companies could process data faster than ever, they still struggled with satisfying the vary demands from each customer. Today, Internet of Things (IoT) devices have become an important part of everyone’s life, allowing AI to become “people first” — serving personalized solutions to meet individual’s needs via the intelligences developed around the user.

“Advances in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning will make each and every other human being in the entire world, smarter, more capable, better human beings.” Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Alphabet (Google).

The proliferation of connected devices accelerated the creation of people-centric AI. More data, faster computer, and cheaper storage enabled AI to achieve what was impossible before. IDC predicted that by 2025, there will be 152,200 devices connected per minute; the rapid expansion of interconnected devices and raising accessibilities of sensors paved a way for the exponential growth on the volume of data in every business — as Accenture Technology Vision 2016 indicated in the Intelligent Automation Bold Predictions: “Big Data will become Data.” More data can make the system smarter, a smarter system creates better user experiences, and better user experiences attract more users who generate more data — it is a reinforcement loop.

AI and IoT are becoming inseparable. Without AI, the endless sea of unstructured data streaming from connected devices will be meaningless. On the other hand, without the data from IoT devices, it will be challenging for AI to bring in real-time, personalized solutions.

Business value of using the people-centric AI

This new collaborative relationship sets up a ground to create intelligence at the personal level: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is able to monitor remote patients’ conditions by incorporating Apple’s HealthKit infrastructure to collects data from a variety of fitness apps and devices. In the automobile industry, on the other hand, car makers are testing intelligent accident-preventive solutions by using facial recognition program called Eyeris EmoVu, which uses a tiny camera mounted in a dashboard that continually monitoring facial expressions to detect signs of emotional distraction.

By adopting the people-first AI, every business will gain competitive advantages: better efficiency, higher customer satisfaction, and optimized business performance. Here are two ways to begin this transformation.

AI-as-a-Platform: Leveraging the connected device network

With the tremendous amount of user data, business can utilize “AI-as-a-Platform (AaaP)” that leverages third party connected devices to acquire data and improve intelligence. 82% of global executives participated the Technology Vision 2016 Survey agreed that “Platform will be the ‘glue’ that brings organizations together in the digital economy.” Take a deeper look at Amazon Echo and its virtual assistant Alexa. This intelligent system incorporates other devices in the household to bring personal data into Amazon Web Service; for instance, a user can vocally control Nest to adjust the temperature even when he is not at home. The more customers use Alexa, the more she adapts to speech patterns, vocabulary, and personal preferences. Moreover, developers use the Alexa Skills Kit, which is a collection of self-service APIs, tools, documentation and code samples, to add new skills to Alexa.

“Amazon hopes Alexa is bigger than any device, or even any device type — it’s supposed to be everywhere you are. Any device can use Alexa; anyone can make Alexa do new things.”Said Dave Limp, Amazon’s head of devices. The possibilities that IoT brings to the table are endless.

The rise of intelligent network: Taking advantage of existing assets

Establishing people-first intelligent system does not necessary have to be costly; rather, companies can rethink the possible ways to leverage their existing assets to establish the intelligent system. Modern cars nowadays possess a large amount of smart sensors, which provides a great environment to foster people-first AI technologies. For example, Tesla’s Autopilot system is learning and improving from the detailed mapping and sensor data that the vehicle collects from its driver through wireless connection, as well as from other Tesla cars. The opportunity goes beyond manufacturing companies; hotels, for instance, can connect its security cameras with facial recognition program to understand whether customers are satisfied with the service. The array of retooled connective assets makes personalization easy and feasible.

After years of development, digital transformation is now moving from technology advancement to people-centric solutions. Customers should no longer be served as rule-defined segments, but as single human beings. To remain competitive, enterprise needs to take actions to invest in the rapid expansion of IoT in order to accomplish more with the people-centric AI technology. Are you ready?