IoT and AI The Yin and The Yang

When Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) intersect, our real world is impacted. If you haven’t got your head around this yet, you’re behind the eight ball. Just as our five senses feed information to our brain, so too does IoT feed information to the ‘brain’ of Artificial Intelligence. It does this through sensors such as cameras, microphones, accelerometers, thermometers and more.

IoT has the ability to generate enormous amounts of data. This information only becomes of economic value if three things occur:

  1. The data is able to be computed correctly so that an analysis can be provided

  2. The analysis is used to understand how a device, service, object, person or thing is currently behaving or being used

  3. The analysis is used to predict how a device, service, object, person or thing will behave or be used in the future.

This analysis of data is how Artificial Intelligence will show you the money, so to speak.

The more sensors you have collecting information, the larger the amount of data that is available.  Although IoT is capable of streaming terabytes of information in seconds, the data on its own is useless. It needs to be analysed and interpreted in order to be used, and the human brain is simply not built to cope with this much data.

The sheer speed, variety and volume of data that IoT will be capable of generating will make the task impossible. This is why Artificial Intelligence is so important.  

AI has the capacity to analyse data at a much higher rate and on a larger scale than a human being. AI also has the ability to learn, thus improving its own performance and predicting future patterns and behaviour.

Already AI is being used to do this. Here are a few examples:

  • Uber uses a passenger/driver matching system made possible by AI.

  • Movie and music streaming services such as Netflix, iTunes and Amazon use a primitive version of AI to make recommendations based on a user’s past viewing, reading and listening behaviour.

  • Siemens use AI to optimise and automate the operation of gas turbines. This extends the life of the turbine and reduces emissions. They have also improved the operation of wind turbines on wind farms by establishing which direction wind is blowing and then adjusting the rotors to take advantage of it. This is done automatically without the need for human input.

They and quite a few other companies are also using AI for predictive maintenance, allowing equipment breakdowns to be averted and negating the need for costly repairs.

  • Water treatment plants use IoT to detect leaks and send alerts to staff. Some Plants go a step further by using probes and sensors in tanks that generate data relating to the alkalinity and oxygen levels of the water. AI analyses the data and automatically adjusts settings to maintain the ideal environment.

  • AI is being used in the customer service industry through the use of Chatbots. A type of virtual assistant, Chatbots are able to ‘converse’ with consumers and resolve simple queries. Inevitably this leads to fewer calls and emails by consumers and lower costs for the business. In the future it is expected that as AI improves and continues to learn how to learn, Chatbots will be able to resolve the majority of customer queries. This will lead to even more business growth and improved customer satisfaction.

This ability to learn is only in the early stages. If AI can be developed further to learn to consistently find the norm in data, correlate various types of data and then identify and predict irregularities and inconsistencies, it has the potential to change lives.

Imagine the possibilities. In the medical world alone, IoT and AI are already helping in the treatment of patients. Further research and development will see AI monitoring things such as blood pressure, heart rate, brain, lung, kidney and liver function. The data generated will be used to predict a medical event before it happens. This will allow time for medical intervention.

If AI can learn to learn at a greater rate than it currently does, it will be capable of triggering alerts and spitting out suggestions for optimal treatment. And, unlike our overworked doctors and nurses, it will do this for a multitude of patients at the same time.

The internet was the beginning of our brave new world. The integration of the virtual world and the real world has seen us become familiar and increasingly comfortable with technology running our lives. It will be the consummation and marriage of the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence that will give birth in the next 3 – 5 years to immense amounts of data and analysis.

This will truly thrust us into the next age and unlock trillions of dollars in economic value.

By: Eitan Bienstock entrepreneur, an active voice in the innovation ecosystem and the founder & CEO of Everything IoT .

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