AI and IoT: The ultimate marriage of technological advancement?
If you’ve kept pace with technological advancements, you’ll know that the internet of Things (IoT) is bringing devices and their data closer and closer together. It is predicted that there will be 75 billion such devices by 2025. Meanwhile, AI applications range from automating human tasks to analyzing data. A more exciting discussion, however, is how these technologies can be combined to provide even more powerful solutions—sometimes referred to as artificial intelligence for the Internet of Things (AIoT).
Let’s take a look at some of the applications of AIoT in manufacturing, smart cities, autonomous vehicles, and more, and some of the businesses driving this innovation.
Understanding the Rise of AIoT
At the end of the day, IoT is all about organizing and sharing data. IoT devices typically acquire data through sensors or software and share it with a wider network or through the cloud. A simple example is a smartwatch that collects heart rate data from the wearer while exercising and sends it directly to an app connected to it.
The problem is, raw data by itself isn’t particularly useful. Do you want to know your heart rate throughout the day, or what those numbers mean for your fitness and health goals? For most people, it’s the second option — and that’s where artificial intelligence comes in. Artificial intelligence can process and analyze data, enabling it to draw conclusions, predictions, and even decisions. This leads to more powerful insights and applications, and removes the need for humans to oversee certain processes.
But the potential of combining AI with the Internet of Things is far more exciting than a smartwatch. Here’s a look at where the most promising opportunities are, and which businesses those looking to invest should be looking at.
Smart cities use technology to improve efficiency and sustainability. By using sensors to collect data about different infrastructures and behaviors, and implement changes based on this information. For example, cameras and sensors can show that a certain area of a city has congestion problems and change traffic light patterns to help resolve the problem. IoT takes care of the data, but AI is needed to understand the data and make decisions without human intervention.
Another exciting innovation in this area is the “digital twin,” which creates a digital simulation of a city to test different policies or models. For example, examining how equipment or buildings can operate more sustainably. Many cities are already using it, including Las Vegas and Mannheim.
Companies such as Microsoft offer software that allows companies to create digital twins. Microsoft Azure already has several partners in this area, including the city of Valencia, which uses the software to model lighting upgrades. General Electric (GE) is also the market leader.
Self-driving cars also require artificial intelligence and IoT for optimal performance. It needs to be able to analyze data in real time based on factors such as sudden traffic stops or changes in the weather. This also applies to other autonomous vehicles.
Tesla is one of the most visible leaders using this technology, but the automaker isn’t the only beneficiary of this innovation. The companies that make the chips play a vital role in guaranteeing the required level of performance. For example, semiconductor company Qualcomm has included the combination of artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things in its future roadmap.
Like smart cities, manufacturing uses sensors to collect data on information such as inventory in warehouses or the location of items in supply chains. Therefore, the manufacturing industry can also use AI to improve efficiency and performance. AI can provide recommendations based on shortages or problems noticed in the supply chain and identify ways to modify the process.
For example, Siemens has developed a service solution called MindSphere for Industrial applications. It uses IoT and artificial intelligence to help factories optimize processes and develop better products.
IoT and AI technologies can also be used to increase the productivity of individuals and create more comfortable workplaces. Google Nest has developed a smart thermostat that combines artificial intelligence and IoT technology to adjust the temperature based on an individual’s work hours and preferred climate.
So far, most of the Robots created by humans are quite crude and unable to perform tasks that humans can easily do. However, as artificial intelligence becomes more sophisticated and able to obtain more data from sensors and cameras, autonomous robots are feasible.
Autonomous robots can be used in industry to increase efficiency and create a safer environment for humans. Some estimates suggest that as much as 40% of the workforce could be replaced within 15 years due to the potential of AI and similar innovations. Moreover, companies such as Amazon are already preparing for this transition, re-educating employees they believe will be eliminated.
Wherever this technology takes us, investors have many different opportunities to pursue.
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