The Marriage of IoT and AI

Published: Nov 14, 2019
Modified: Feb 12, 2020

By Jamiel Sheikh

The widespread collection of data is no longer an insurmountable problem. With everything from smart refrigerators to smart toothbrushes and thermostats, there has never been more information available. Instead, the problem we face at this point is creating a cohesive picture when there is data coming at you from dozens of disparate sources.

This is where artificial intelligence (AI) comes into its own. Artificial intelligence systems are increasingly becoming masters of data and with the number of Internet-connected devices on the rise, through the proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) technology, there are a lot of exciting developments in the works. Let’s explore some of the most promising applications of AI and IoT for future industry.

IoT and AI for Healthcare

With the number of IoT-connected health-related devices growing, AI systems are busy aggressively finding interesting patterns in this treasure trove of data. From smart watches that monitor heart rate and movement to smart scales that track a user’s weight over time, these devices and others will eventually help to create a comprehensive picture of a person’s health. They will also predict when someone is most likely to become ill.

Beside prediction, the data that these interconnected devices collect can be fed to doctors and nurses who will be better able to evaluate a patient’s health. We know that AI diagnosing systems are already better at catching certain types of cancer than humans, but they may also become better at predicting the most effective cures. To get there, however, will require massive amounts of data, collection of which is already under way today.

AI Catered to your Lifestyle

Imagine coming home 5 minutes after your house reaches the perfect temperature. At night the water heater is turned off, saving energy, and it’s only reactivated 30 minutes before you wake up for a shower. The timing is never off because your AI system knows what time your alarm goes off. By the time you get dressed the coffee is ready. When you step out your front door your car is already heated, or cooled, depending on the season. The list goes on.

Technologies like these exist now—but they are clunky and unconnected. You have to program the coffeemaker, the car, the thermostat, and none of them have a “big picture view” of what is happening; but, AI has the power to change that. It will understand your habits as a whole and control the household accordingly. If it detects an unusual amount of traffic, it may wake you up 15 minutes early so you can get to work on time. This level of sophistication is not there yet; however, it’s coming sooner than most people realize.

Predicting Disasters

One of the more interesting results of the marriage between AI and IoT devices is the increased ability to predict disasters. For instance, using machine learning and the analysis of billions of pieces of data, AI systems may come to recognize some interesting correlations between events like earthquakes, tsunamis or tornadoes. Based on inputs from millions of IoT devices, an AI disaster system could recognize leading indicators and send out advanced warnings.

AI systems paired with data coming from all of the cars and buses in a city could predict when smog and unhealthy levels of pollution will become a problem, giving citizens a warning so that they can stay inside. This same data could also be used to alleviate congestion, especially if an AI system has some degree of control over the route that self-driving cars take.

Learning How to Drive Cars

Speaking of self-driving cars, AI is already helping to evolve the technology to a point where it’s ready for mass adoption. With Tesla specifically, AI systems analyze data coming from tens of thousands of Internet-connected cars. They use that data to improve the self-driving mechanism, a mechanism that can be updated in real time.

As Elon Musk has pointed out, “The whole Tesla fleet operates as a network. When one car learns something, they all learn it.” This self-driving system would not be possible if it wasn’t for all of the Internet-connected cars feeding data back to a master AI system.

A New Way to Think about Security

Researchers are already working on AI systems able to detect loiterers and differentiate between the innocuous, homeless man leaning against a building and potentially dangerous man with a gun waiting for a VIP to arrive. To work effectively there need to be hundreds or thousands of IoT cameras and a sophisticated AI system to parse the data in real time. London may have a leg up on this.

Similar technology could be used to catch trespassers and determine security threats at airports and train stations. In time, as these systems become more sophisticated, we may see less onerous and draconian security precautions as advanced AI systems paired with Internet-connected cameras become the best way to prevent crime.

Widespread Transformation?

In conclusion, although we’ve only explored a handful of ways IoT and AI combined can transform our daily lives and business processes, there are numerous untold benefits of the marriage between these two emergent technologies. In the future, we will likely see IoT and AI technology integrated into many aspects of our personal and professional lives.

About the Author

Jamiel Sheikh is CEO of Chainhaus, an advisory, software development, application studio and education company focused on blockchain, artificial intelligence and machine learning. Jamiel has more than 15 years of experience in technology, capital markets, real estate and management working for organizations like Lehman Brothers, JPMorgan, Bank of America, Sun Microsystems, SONY and Citigroup. Jamiel is an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School, NYU and CUNY, teaching graduate-level blockchain, AI and data science subjects. He runs one of the largest blockchain, AI and data science Meetups in NYC.