AI and IoT
IoT deals with accumulating data from the network connecting different devices; AI deals with processing data from different sources. The combined potentialities of the two are enormous, which businesses can utilize to their advantage.

AI and IoT blended — what it is and why it is important

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We live in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by two important technological innovations: Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT deals with accumulating data from the network connecting different devices, and AI deals with processing data from different sources. The combined potentialities of the two are enormous, which businesses can utilize to their advantage.

The Internet of Things (IoT), what is it?

In simple words, IoT is a set-up of “things” or objects, ranging from phones to complex industrial hardware. These things are interconnected, in that, they are embedded with Unique Identifiers (UID) and share a common network to facilitate the transferring or receiving of data.

IoT technology pervades every industry, from agriculture to automobiles. The data collected through IoT will be of staggering proportions, and of use only when they result in actions, which is where AI comes in. 

The increasing popularity of AI and IoT

The number of IoT devices is increasing around the world every day at an alarming rate. Business Insider predicts there will be 47 billion IoT devices by 2027. In this new environment, AI and IoT are emerging as the top priority investments for businesses. Pioneering IoT developers like Cisco and IBM are augmenting IoT capabilities with the addition of AI to give their products the edge.

Comprehending the role of AI in the IoT revolution

IoT has forayed into every field, right down to our very homes, in the form of smart TVs and voice assistants like Alexa. These devices rely on the internet connection to exchange data pertinent to users like behavior, preferences, habits, etc. Data processing is time-consuming and poses a threat to the efficient functioning of IoT.

AI in this context helps to make the devices not only connected but intelligent. It derives insights and solutions from the collected data with minimal human intervention, making the devices smarter and better at efficient decision-making.

In the words of Maciej Kranz, Vice President of Corporate Strategic Innovation at Cisco: “Without AI-powered analytics, IoT devices and the data they produce throughout the network would have limited value. Similarly, AI systems would struggle to be relevant in business settings without the IoT-generated data pouring in. However, the powerful combination of AI and IoT can transform industries and help them make more intelligent decisions from the explosive growth of data every day. IoT is like the body, and AI the brains, which together can create new value propositions, business models, revenue streams, and services.”

Benefits of AI and its potential to unlock IoT

IoT devices work in five stages: creating, communicating, aggregating, analyzing, and acting. The final action stage is dependent on the preceding analytical stage, where the help of AI is crucial. 

AI technologies in the IoT sphere work towards answering three main questions : 

  • What will happen? (Predictive analytics)
  • What should be done? (Prescriptive analytics)
  • What is the best thing to do, and what can be done to work better? (Continuous analytics)

AI technologies like Machine Learning and Voice recognition are easing industrial processes from end to end. Major benefits of AI in IoT are:

Increased operational efficiency

Traditional operating methods are time-consuming and no longer feasible. Machine Learning technologies provide valuable services in processing and analyzing real-time and existing data to identify correlations in the most complex ways, sometimes in the unlikeliest places. Through the resulting insights, enterprises get a clear picture of the present and future condition of the operations. 

Better products and services

New products and enhancing existing ones are a direct result of merging AI and IoT technologies. NLP (Natural Language Processing) technology is constantly evolving to better facilitate communication between humans and devices. Alexa and Tesla’s self-driving cars are  great examples of AI working in tandem with IoT. 

Eliminating costly unplanned downtime

Sudden breaks in operations mean businesses suffer huge losses. Using AI in predictive maintenance has been proven to save businesses from such losses by providing warnings of obstacles like equipment failure much ahead of time, and minimize the time needed to organize maintenance procedures.

AI startup MAANA has helped a leading transportation and logistics company reduce time spent on port omission decisions by 99.7%, cutting a 6-hour port rerouting analysis down to 60 seconds.

Risk management

A lot of industries are pairing their IoT applications with AI to detect and address potential risks from all spheres like cybersecurity and industrial safety. With the help of AI, automated warnings and responses are triggered, enabling efficient risk management and saving valuable time.  

For example, Tata Group has developed smartwatches as wearables for industrial safety, with sensors to monitor the health and environmental risks.

Impact on various industries

Some industries undergoing transformation are :

Airlines

Sensors are being used for different purposes such as monitoring and error prediction to avoid future hazards in time. Maintenance issues are also sorted out in time to avoid delay or cancellations of flights.

Manufacturing

All kinds of manufacturing industries such as automobiles, mining and household appliances are integrating smart devices like sensors into their factory units for efficient analytics and operations.

Oil rigs

Oil rigging involves highly expensive equipment needing constant monitoring, as unforeseen faults can lead to huge losses. With predictive analytics and smart sensors, equipment is constantly monitored and potential faults avoided ahead of time. 

Smart homes

The smart home market is growing, aiming to provide increased comfort at the homes of consumers. Appliances can be connected to a network through IoT, and by using AI they can take commands from the owner to produce the desired action. With this technology, you can decide when the TV is switched on or the lights dimmed. Devices can even take their own decisions like switching off lights when the room is empty, thereby cutting electric costs.

Smart buildings 

Buildings use smart sensors to increase security by preventing accidents and risks such as fire and short-circuit. By monitoring the movement of people, optimum temperatures and energy levels are maintained.

The future of IoT is AI

The disruption caused by AI and IoT is now becoming normal, with more and more industries tapping into the transformative powers of the two technologies combined. A study by the Broadband India Forum predicts that AI and IoT will generate 2.8 million jobs in rural India in the coming decade. AI-driven IoT is definitely going to be the norm in the coming years.

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