Artificial Intelligence of Things, how things plan to make our lives simpler

AI of Things    23 March, 2021

Just as in the Grimm Brothers fairy tale where two little elves teamed up to help the cobbler have a better life, Artificial Intelligence and IoT, Big Data technologies join forces to make up the Artificial Intelligence of Things, so that “things plan how to help us and make our lives safer, more efficient, more sustainable and more human”.

Tomás woke up that morning feeling a bit under the weather; he simply didn’t seem to have slept well. Maybe it was the change of season or maybe he had been worrying too much that night about things.

Indeed, his smartwatch was informing him that his sleep had been poor. Fortunately, Tomás knew that soon his whole house would conspire to make him feel better: the room temperature would be adjusted to the best level for him, the temperature of his coffee and toast would be just as he preferred at that moment, even the volume of his television would be adjusted so that the news would reach him in a more pleasant way.

After this self-care and a quick shower, he was ready to face another exciting day of work. And it was exciting because Tomás was well aware of how technology was transforming the world in so many ways. 

Not only was his home taking care of him in an almost invisible way, but his entire social and professional environment was being profoundly transformed.

On the way to his office, he recalled how technological solutions just a few years ago were focused on sensing machinery, physical elements, tools, vehicles, etc. with the aim of being able to “see” what was really going on and act accordingly. 

A few years ago, in the days of the dashboard

There was a time when having a dashboard was a very legitimate aspiration for most businesses. Factories, vehicle fleet management of all kinds, shops or customer service areas, cities or the countryside and mining… all of them were beginning to be digitally transformed through the use of what was known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Operators were observing reality (e.g. that engine that vibrates more than normal, where delivery drivers should go to be more efficient, how a medicine or food has been preserved in a cold chain and taking corrective action. But now we have gone beyond this. 

In parallel with the IoT explosion, another great technological revolution has emerged: the use of data as a source of knowledge and decision-making. The capacity for ever faster and more complex processing of large volumes of data (well-known as BigData), together with new artificial learning techniques, all with names that evoke something that we thought was purely human until now (e.g. Machine Learning, DeepLearing, Generative Learning, etc.), positioned us before a quantum leap. Behind it, things, those inanimate but connected things, began to learn and decide in a more autonomous, efficient, safer and sustainable way. 

The next step: Artificial Intelligence… of things

Now we have to talk about the next step: the Artificial Intelligence of Things (AI of Things). Things are now able to learn, share information with each other and make decisions in an almost unattended way. The dashboard was nothing more than a representation of reality and of how things helped each other to manage a business more efficiently, helping all kinds of businesses in a selfless way (it could not be less coming from things).

And it is not that all ‘thing’ have to be a super brain or implement a computing power several orders of magnitude greater, but that this ecosystem of change is supported by other technological pillars that are being born adjacent to this combination of IoT and BigData/AI. 

Here we consider elements such as;

  • The immediacy of new connectivity technologies (e.g. 5G) that provide high bandwidths and minimum latencies,
  • The flexibility and scalability of deployment models in the Cloud together with the distribution of computing capabilities closer to the things themselves (e.g. Edge Computing),
  • Increasingly advanced models of predictive (i.e. things know what is going to happen) and prescriptive (i.e. things tell us what to do to make certain things happen or not) analytics.
  • Distributed computing models (swarm intelligence) in which, similar to a colony of ants or bees, small pieces of information distributed among many subjects (in this case, our connected things) are able to generate superior value.

And that’s how Tomás spent the pleasant drive to his office. His connected car was talking to other cars and elements in the city to generate the connected traffic model that had made the city so comfortable in recent times. 

His office was already aware of his arrival and the presence of his colleagues and clients in the building to start the first meeting of the day just in time. Of course, the room was automatically adapted to the needs and preferences of lighting and sound that its occupants had in profile.

And Tomás was able to explain to his customers how his new AI of Things proposition was going to save them thousands of dollars: through motors that help each other to adjust their performance and efficiency; call for maintenance well in advance of failures they won’t be able to repair; and even indicate how to evolve the layout of the manufacturing plant to adapt to changes in demand.

A connection that brings us closer and inspires new and better solutions for everyone.

Over the years, Tomás and his team have focused on bringing together the capabilities of IoT and Artificial Intelligence to deliver technology that further connects things with people, in a connection that brings people closer together and inspires new and better solutions for everyone:

  • From smarter, more flexible connected factories, to mobility solutions based on data collected from thousands of cars. 
  • From patient care solutions using predictive metrics to improving crop quality efficiently.
  • From the personalisation of the entire customer experience to improvements in the overall sustainability of cities… 

They had worked very hard (and continue to do so) to drive that intelligence connected to things to help organisations make decisions that improve people’s lives.

Or as he saw it, this AI of Things was like letting things plan how to help us and make our lives safer, more efficient, more sustainable and more humane, across the board. 

More humane, yes, because that is precisely how things plan to help us do what really matters to us, what differentiates us and shapes our true essence: to invent, to build, to be creative, to thrill and excite, to make us laugh? In short, to live.

Original post written by Bernardo Campillo, translated by Patrick Buckley.

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