As IoT continues to grow in both demand as well as functionality, the eventuality of crossing paths with artificial intelligence (AI) increases exponentially. While debate will last for years about whether or not the combination of AI and IoT is a good thing, it is hard to ignore the potential. Let’s take a look at how both of these technologies coming together will change the future.
What Are AI and IoT?
Understanding AI will play a critical role in recognizing the benefits of the Internet of Things. A strict definition of AI is hard to come by, and it really depends on who you ask or where you look. AI is intelligence demonstrated by machines which contrasts the natural intelligence humans display. As machines become more capable, tasks require “intelligence” to complete.
IoT is quickly defined as taking “things” that are currently offline and putting them online. What this means is that billions of physical devices can easily be converted into smart IoT devices. All it takes is an Internet connection. A lightbulb that can be turned on and off through a smartphone app is a perfect example of what IoT can do.
Now that we have loose definitions of AI and IoT, let’s jump right into areas where they will help consumers. Companies like Tesla are a good starting point. It is one of the leading proponents of self-driving vehicles. Combining AI and IoT will help cars adapt to a variety of traffic situations. As these cars learn through AI, they understand how to adapt to real-world conditions which will make things safer. Ultimately, the success of these two technologies integrating will be dependent on overall performance. Can a self-driving car perform as well as a human-driven vehicle? Companies like Tesla are confident the answer is overwhelmingly yes.
One of the biggest advantages all types of businesses will look for with AI and IoT is the ability to increase overall efficiency. Whether or not that is related to machine or human workers is up to each individual business, but the benefits can apply in both cases. For example, Fujitsu is using a new AI-based algorithm that is powered by IoT to estimate ongoing heat stress in their workers. IoT is being utilized in this instance to “support on-site safety management.” Curbing the risks to employees in Japan is of significant value to companies dependent on employees who work in extreme environments. The partnership of AI and IoT can quite literally save lives in this case.
Transportation companies are another example of where the cross of these two technologies will provide increased opportunities. Businesses are not going to stop relying on large fleets of vehicles anytime in the future. Sticking to strict schedules and on-time delivery is fundamental to success and profits. Adding AI will help each company improve route management, cut operational expenses and perform work more efficiently. All of that will take place without any human interaction. Add in self-driving vehicles powered by both AI and IoT, and the benefits increase exponentially.
While smart cities are certainly familiar to anyone who has tracked IoT over the years, combining with AI is relatively new. The ability to create sensors of networks as part of a city’s infrastructure has massive potential. For example, incorporating AI into these IoT avenues will help increase energy efficiencies and help reduce air pollution. It can also help improve traffic conditions and even begin to eliminate a variety of noise pollutants.
The collaborative work between AI and IoT is reshaping the smart home in big ways. The Google Nest or Ecobee utilizes IoT to allow control over temperature from a smartphone anywhere in the world. A product like the Nest can manage temperatures in a home by itself thanks to AI. After a few weeks of daily use, the system will begin to learn the preferences and schedules of its users. This begins the automated process that will adapt home conditions during different parts of any given day. The benefits for smart thermostat owners can go well beyond convenience. AI and IoT integration can also lead to energy savings and thus more money in their pockets.
This is one example that isn’t likely to outshine smart thermostat uses but one that deserves even more attention. Endangered species are benefiting tremendously from the marriage of IoT and AI. Companies like WildTrack are using the Footprint Identification Technique that incorporates IoT and AI algorithms to identify species. The data gleaned from the AI algorithm is used to formulate patterns that can help preserve an endangered species. As too many animals still require old school tracking methods, this AI technology is increasingly more useful.
Ultimately, both of these technologies will likely play critical roles in our day-to-day lives, for better or worse. There are definitely privacy concerns to figure out, but that isn’t stopping the tech industry from looking at every angle where AI and IoT fit together.