The adoption of the internet of things is ramping up considerably thanks to the emergence of many smart, connected devices. By 2020, there are supposed to be about 30 billion IoT devices in use across the globe.
Many of the platforms mentioned above house some smart assistant, be it voice or digital-centric. Smart speakers like Amazon's Echo series or Google Home include voice-enabled assistants that can carry out a variety of commands. Mobile devices and smartphones include the same type of assistance, as well. Smart thermostats or smart home technologies use a more silent form of assistant to deliver recommendations and insights.
But while many of these so-called 'assistants'; are convenient — and exciting — it's not without the help of AI that they will genuinely become practical. For example, right now the devices can be used to place an order or reorder items that have run out — Alexa is excellent at this, and she will order automatically through Amazon.
Future assistants might be able to take that one step further by monitoring supplies through IoT sensors and then ensuring the item is on your doorstep the instant you need it. Furthermore, they might also make sure the supplies come from your favorite storefront, not just any retailer.
You can program assistants to learn habits and preferences, too, delivering much more personalized experiences for you and your family. This is achieved through an offset of AI called machine learning. It involves a neural network or digital intelligence platform expressly designed to grow through experience, much like the human brain.
We have far surpassed the automated voice assistants of the old you may remember getting frustrated with over the phone. Today’s technology is designed to respond and react to more natural, conversational language and commands. IBM’s Watson powers an assistant called Josie Pepper, who you can find in the Munich Airport. The digital assistant will help passengers with a variety of queries, including flight info, weather and natural small talk.
Josie derives her functionality from IBM's Watson Assistant, a smart enterprise framework backed by the power of IoT, AI and cloud computing technologies. It's compatible across many industries like healthcare, hospitality, customer support and even banking. Platforms like Watson are driving a monumental shift in AI and machine learning adoption — Google has DeepMind, Microsoft has Azure and Amazon has Alexa or AWS.
Imagine talking to an AI assistant without ever knowing it’s a machine or computer? In a recent survey, only 33 percent of people believed they use AI-enabled technology. In reality, the number is much higher — 77 percent of them use an AI-powered service or device.
More natural human-like assistants are precisely what we're going to see in the near future. Voice assistants aren't the only form of this technology in use. Many companies have deployed AI chatbots and messaging tools through platforms like Facebook Messenger and Slack.
There's also a significant transformation happening in the business and enterprise world, too. Today, merely 15 percent of enterprises are using AI, but 31 percent plan to implement it within the next 12 months. It offers an incredible solution for automating tasks and processes, without compromising quality and accuracy.
But back to voice and smart assistants. AI is going to open up a world of new opportunity, particularly when it comes to interfacing with computers and making them more accessible. Instead of swipes or clicks, we'll be calling out to our devices and homes, delivering commands with a few simple words.
It’s not unruly to think you’ll soon be able to control your home — and everything in it — with nothing more than a voice command.
“Alexa, please turn off all the lights in the house.”
Bio: Nathan Sykes is the editor of Finding an Outlet. When he’s not writing about technology, he enjoys reading, travelling and a good beer.