IoT and AI for Economic and Social Good

May 27, 2019

Since computers were first invented people have been looking for the next big thing. Now, almost half the world owns a phone faster than the earliest supercomputers, a future where people will come home after work and ask their TV to turn on and the washing machine to wash clothes in the economy mode does not seem so distant – we can already talk to virtual assistants like Siri or Alexa to search for a movie or order a new scarf to be delivered right to our front door!

For those not already aware, the technology making the most mundane objects smart and internet accessible is called the Internet of Things. IoT uses sensors which are embedded into devices of all kinds, and provide streams of data via internet connectivity to one or more central locations. The main purpose is that that data can then be analyzed and acted upon in some way that is beneficial to the user.

It is here at the data analysis step that the true value of any IoT application becomes clear. This is also  where Artificial Intelligence plays a crucial role by making sense of data streamed from devices. AI serves to detect patterns in this data from which it can learn to adjust the behavior of IoT device’s service.

Here some of the best example of AI and IoT successfully working together.

  • Self-driving cars by Tesla Motors
    Cars act as things and use the power of AI to predict the behavior of other cars, objects, and pedestrians in various circumstances. Moreover, all Tesla cars operate as a network – when one car learns something they all learn it. As Musk explained, each driver using the autopilot system essentially becomes an expert trainer for how the autopilot should work. As the car becomes smarter, it becomes safer for passengers.
     
  • Roomba by iRobot
    Automated vacuum cleaners are a good example of AI embodied in a robot. iRobot by Roomba can map and remember a home layout, adapt to different surfaces or new items, clean a room with the most efficient movement pattern and dock itself to recharge its batteries. Saving busy home owners time and energy, because we all know, everyone hates vacuuming!
     
  • Smart thermostat by Nest Labs
    Nest’s device analyzes temperature preferences and the work schedules of its users, adapting home temperatures accordingly. The temperature can be checked and controlled with the smartphone integration from anywhere. Not only does Nest allow homeowners to come home to a house that is already warm (or cold), but also to save energy, and money too!

Applications where IoT works together with AI are only growing: both investments and acquisitions in startups that merge AI and IoT have climbed over the past two years. Google has been acquiring AI startups like DeepMind, while others such as Pointr and Prowler.io have both raised Series A funding of more than £5 million.

How IoT and AI Make Our World Better

Although attention has been paid to consumer and business applications, many people remain unaware of the ways IoT and AI are making a positive economic and social impact, transforming society, supporting the environment and increasing the sustainability of our food supply chains. Here are just a few examples.

  • Monitoring and reducing air pollution
    In Oakland (California), tech startup Aclima helped equip Google Street View vehicles with special IoT-connected sensors that measure air pollution levels block by block. As the vehicles map the city, they are also helping scientists identify air pockets where pollution is higher than expected. They hope the data can be used to make changes that will help fight climate change and improve citizen health.
     
  • Cutting food waste
    Throughout rural Africa startups such as Farmerline and AgroCenta and are using mobile technology and Big Data platforms to empower smallholder farmers who need access to market data quickly in order to cut waste, improve operations and digitize their supply chains.
     
  • Fighting breast cancer
    The iTBra – developed by Cyrcadia Health – could help doctors diagnose breast cancer much faster. By applying machine learning and predictive analytics to this data, doctors could identify abnormal patterns indicative of early stage breast cancer.

These are just a few examples of the many ways that IoT and AI can transform our world for the better. As internet-connected devices and sensors become smaller, cheaper and more prolific – and as technologies like fog computing, machine learning and advanced data analytics become more widespread – we will be able to leverage IoT and AI in even more new and innovative ways to improve lives, sustain resources and help our planet.

So, the question is,

are you ready to be a game changer by merging IoT and AI?

Header Image Courtesy of: pixabay


Other news