When Sensors Met Artificial Intelligence

When Sensors Met Artificial Intelligence

I used to think that 2014 was the year that Artificial Intelligence crested in the public’s awareness with the release of Amazon’s voice-activated assistant, Alexa, and others like it.

The cylinder with a little bit of backtalk and a lot of listening to its user’s questions heralded the arrival of a form of AI, albeit in what is known as “narrow” AI – a set of decision-tree answers. But the Alexas of the world are fast-learners and gaining.

Every year is about AI now, especially as AI merges into embedded sensors in all kinds of infrastructure.

By all accounts, 2017 was a land-grab year for AI players after all the funding AI companies got in 2016.

According to Gartner’s Top Tech Trends for 2018:

  • CB Insights reports that more than 550 startups that use AI as their core product raised $5 billion in funding in 2016. There were also 658 deals in 2016.
  • Venture Scanner says it’s tracking 1,852 AI companies — 940 of them funded — in 13 categories and 70 countries. It says those companies have raised total funding of $16.8 billion.
  • TechSci Research projects, in a June 2016 report, that the AI market will grow at a compound annual rate of 75% between 2016 and 2021.

Look for big software players such as Microsoft to bake in more AI in Office 365, the online version of the traditional Microsoft Office suite of productivity tools.

If you want to understand how fast AI is spreading into software and embedded hardware systems that we rely on in our critical infrastructure, keep an eye on the maturity of predictive analytics, ensemble learning and natural language processing.

It’s not just AI as a major trend. It’s what AI is marrying up with in this latest phase of development, such as Internet of Things (IoT) sensors collecting data and pumping it into AI software. This will absolutely transform manufacturing and product lifecycle management (PLM) across many sectors in our economy.

Gartner’s trend report says:

“As people, places, processes and “things” become increasingly digitalized, they will be represented by digital twins. This will provide fertile ground for new event-driven business processes and digitally enabled business models and ecosystems.

“The way we interact with technology will undergo a radical transformation over the next five to 10 years. Conversational platforms, augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality will provide more natural and immersive interactions with the digital world.”

IBM’s Chris O’Connor talks through the concept in a simple but detailed explanation.

So that’s my Big Trend to Watch in 2018, which, I hope, makes me blogger-compliant for January.

Here’s a digital twin demo by Colin Parris of GE’s software division:

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