AI and IoT: Shaping a Better Future

There’s no doubt that the future is computer science. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things(IoT) are two very relevant technologies that will have a very big role to play in the future. The proof is in the present. But we’ll get to that. Let’s first talk about what AI and IoT really are.


What is IoT?

Internet of Things or IoT refers to a network of devices like laptops, smartphones, microwaves etc that are equipped with sensors and other microchips. It is with the help of these microchips that these devices can exchange information and can communicate.

What is AI?

Artificial intelligence is a field of computer science which involves getting machines or any device to think as human beings do. It’s based on our nervous system with a similar structure involved. But what does this actually do? Well, with advanced AI algorithms, devices and software can operate on their own judgement. This means less human interaction. Less manual labour. Ultimately, less cost.

What Makes These Two So Special?

Both IoT and AI have grown to become very important and relevant fields in this day and age. It’s crucial to keep in mind that what makes these two fields so powerful is how much they reduce costs and increase efficiency. In industry and in businesses, one looks to maximise profits and minimize liabilities.


With IoT and AI, automation receives a major boost. This reduces manual labour and makes the system more efficient. With any form of manual intervention, some imperfections are bound to be present. Machinic processes are not like that. The chances for error become smaller. So you get increased efficiency and reduced costs.


With more than 1,500 train sets running more than 7,000 routes per day, Trenitalia, Italian service operator, shifted from corrective/reactive activities and maintenance plans to a system that reflects the real conditions of each train’s components through AI.
Working together with SAP, Trenitalia built a robust set of IoT use cases, associated business benefits and financial models related to optimizing train maintenance, and the team obtained buy-in from key internal stakeholders. These efforts resulted in a clearly defined three-year implementation blueprint for the Dynamic Maintenance Management
System (DMMS), which partners with Italian system integrator AlmavivA
for IT implementation and SAP for the data platform and analytics.

“Initially, leaders viewed the IoT as a silver bullet, a technology that can
solve the myriad of IT and business problems that their organizations faced. Very quickly, though, they recognized that without the proper framing of the problems, the IoT was essentially a solution looking for a problem.”

Mark Hung, research vice president and lead analyst for IoT research.

But How Do They Work?

The core of both these fields is data. Without data, it is impossible to do anything. AI’s machine learning assists with analysing the heaps of data that is collected. There has been an increased focus on an improved analysis of unstructured data in particular. Unstructured data refers to data that has not been pre-defined. It is generally very text heavy and does not necessarily follow a particular format. Majority of the data generated on social media, like a tweet, is essentially unstructured data.

For example, take a smart home. All the devices will be connected to one another in a network. That’s how they’ll be able to communicate. Each device will produce some type of data at any given point of time. In fact, intercommunication between devices is also data. This data is processed using machine learning algorithms. With the help of these algorithms, it is possible to detect patterns and commonalities within the data. Through this pattern detection, certain behaviours can be predicted.

For example, once a bowl has been taken out of the microwave, the microwave can automatically sense the same and switch off on its own. The moment you walk into a room, the lights can switch on. All devices turn off once you leave the house. This is just a small part of what AI and IoT can do together.


A Smart Assistant

We’ve already seen how AI can be used to develop smart assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google’s Google Assistant. Combine that with IoT and we get a lot more. Imagine Alexa connected to all your home or office devices. Communication becomes easier. Alexa becomes your command centre. All you have to do is give instructions. The 2013 film Her (won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay) focusses on a romantic relationship between virtual assistant Samantha and a human. Not to say that this is what can happen but it just goes to show how far AI and IoT can take us together.

IBM’s Watson Assistant

IBM is already working on their smart assistant. Their Watson Assistant can be accessed via text or voice mode and assists businesses with making data more secure. It also helps increase brand loyalty and improve customer experiences. Powered by a cloud-based back-end, the Watson Assistant can be accessed very easily. An example of the Watson Assistant is the ‘Josie Pepper’ that assists passengers at the Munich Airport’s Terminal 2. ‘Josie Pepper’ is also capable of holding small conversations from talking about the weather to giving directions.

Creating A Secure Environment

Banks have started tapping into AI and IoT’s abilities to create a much safer experience for their clients. Through AI algorithms, it has become easier to detect spam messages and automate certain actions. This helps against preventing cyber attacks. With IoT, better security measures can be implemented. By using sensors and other microchips, it becomes easier to manage security concerns at a physical level. An automated system to call the police when a certain sensor is triggered is an example of an anti-theft system powered by AI and IoT.


Risk Management

Risk is an unavoidable part of any business or organisation. Like in other departments, AI helps by creating an automated system that can predict outcomes of certain actions and business decisions. While this may not be entirely accurate, it does give a sound idea of what to expect when going forward with a particular proposal. Through this, it is also possible to detect and pre-empt such risks which further helps with risk detection and elimination. Automated risk monitoring processes can also be set up.

“Move beyond viewing the IoT as a general technology wave by applying an industry lens to identify relevant use cases.”

Chet Geschickter, Gartner Research Director

The Future

According to a study conducted by Gartner, we expect to see 20 billion internet-connected things by 2020. These “things” are not general-purpose devices, such as smartphones and PCs, but dedicated-function objects,
such as vending machines, jet engines, connected cars and a myriad of other examples.

As the world moves towards increased digitisation of services, artificial intelligence and internet of things thus begin to emerge as powerful technologies that will help shape a better future.

“The IoT will have a great impact on the economy by transforming many enterprises into digital businesses and facilitating new business models, improving efficiency and increasing employee and customer engagement. ”

Mark Hung, research vice president and lead analyst for IoT research.
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