Today, we are living in a smart digital era where technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and Augmented Reality promise to disrupt our lives for better. Our homes are now equipped with intelligent virtual assistants like Alexa and very soon there will be a plethora of smart home appliances and connected devices that can be controlled via simple voice commands or mobile apps.
Our cities have become smarter and safer too. There are traffic cameras at every intersection with video analytics capabilities to detect traffic rule violations and number plate recognition. Our daily commute will see a major digital transformation too as automobile industries compete to launch autonomous vehicles and connected cars, powered with deep learning, computer vision, conversational interfaces and cognitive intelligence.
Concept stores like Amazon Go promise to revolutionize our shopping experience through computer vision and IoT. Autopilot drones with video intelligence, have already found more practical use-cases beyond toy-stores, in defense, agriculture, logistics and transportation industries. Almost every industry sector, whether it’s retail, manufacturing, health-care, transportation, or entertainment, is gearing up to embrace AI in 2018.
Artificial Intelligence is no longer just a stand-alone software program that runs on our desktop or laptop machines. As the devices and appliances we use become connected, and our homes and automobiles come powered with AI, we see a major shift in cloud intelligence and hardware platforms that run and support AI algorithms. Embedded AI through Edge Computing has become one of the major trends, as specialized hardware platforms and GPUs like Nvidia’s Jetson, Tegra, Quadro, Drive PX become a popular choice for consumer electronics, automobile, 3D animation and virtual reality. Access to affordable hardware kits from Raspberry Pi or Arduino has also promoted the growth of embedded AI and IoT based solutions for developers, engineers, hobbyists and tech start-ups.
While Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) continue to evolve separately, we expect to see a lot of synergy between these two fields over the next few years. AI / ML algorithms for voice, face, image recognition, and audio-video analytics will be integral part of many IoT devices and security cameras that come equipped with on-board intelligence and edge analytics. Wearable devices and accessories like our watch, headphones, shoes, sunglasses or backpacks are also becoming high-tech gadgets from Hollywood spy movies with sensors tracking our location, movement, heart beats, footsteps, sleep patterns and more.. In the last few years, we already saw some innovative gadgets like google glass with augmented reality, and smart watches with activity trackers. The next few years promise to bring many such wearable devices embedded with computer vision, voice recognition, augmented reality and IoT sensors.
While robots helping around in kitchens may seem like a far fetched imagination, companies like iRobot have already sold over 20 million units worldwide, by finding more practical and domestic usage for its robotic vacuum cleaners that sweep and mop floors. Humanoid robots are also making their way into consumer electronic shows (CES), impressing visitors with their cognitive and emotional intelligence. As partnerships continue to develop between robotics manufacturers and AI software industries, we expect to see more and more robotic concierges assisting customers in banks, hotels, airports, shopping malls, hospitals and other places.
One of the most popular robotic manufacturers Softbank Robotics has sold over 10,000 units of it’s popular humanoid robot NAO. NAO is already greeting hotel guests at the reception of the Hilton McLean hotel in Virginia, providing information about local attractions and hotel amenities.
Whether deriving its cognitive intelligence from cloud-based platforms like IBM Watson or open-source solutions like iCub, robotics industry has a promise to thrive exponentially in the coming few years, as multinational corporations like Honda, LG, Sony, Amazon or Bosch invest their big bets on robotics. These machines not only have the cognitive ability to see, hear, talk, reason or feel emotions like humans, but also the physics and mechanics that allows them to walk, run, jump, lift objects or even play soccer. Whether it’s Sony’s adorable robotic dog, Aibo participating in RoboCup competition, or Boston Dynamic’s Spot, Handle and Atlas doing backflips and high-jumps, the field of robotics has truly impressed us by demonstrating “what robots can really do”.