The “things” in the Internet of Things are getting smarter, with profound implications for organizations and the way people work and live.
A rapidly emerging force, artificial intelligence (AI), is taking computing at the edge to a whole new level, in which insights and analysis are provided on the spot, in real time. With the IoT now front and center of business and technology strategies, the ability to analyze data streaming through edge computing devices and systems means significant improvement in visibility and awareness of events across a network. Already, the IoT is opening up new avenues of opportunity for businesses seeking to deliver enhanced levels of service. IoT capabilities have been achieved through data streaming from edge devices to core analytics systems. But things really begin to take off when edge devices themselves start becoming more intelligent.
The potential of AI at the edge is vast. A report from Tractica estimates that AI edge device shipments will increase from 161.4 million units in 2018 to 2.6 billion units worldwide annually by 2025. The top AI-enabled edge devices, in terms of unit volumes, will include mobile phones, smart speakers, PCs/tablets, head-mounted displays, automotive sensors, drones, consumer and enterprise robots and security cameras. There will also be more AI incorporated into wearable health sensors, building or facility sensors, and networks of sensors planted around facilities or entire cities.
When the cloud and the IoT first developed across the enterprise landscape, the prevailing model was a centralized approach – “dumb” devices fed data to core analytical systems. Now, with intelligence moving to the edge, systems at the edge can quickly process data for inference and pattern-matching. Ultimately, smart IoT devices will support unsupervised machine learning, in which systems and sensors adapt their internal algorithms based on the latest data.
“The IoT is getting smarter,” report David Schatsky, Navya Kumar, Sourabh Bumb in a special report from Deloitte. “Machine learning, an AI technology, brings the ability to automatically identify patterns and detect anomalies in the data that smart sensors and devices generate—information such as temperature, pressure, humidity, air quality, vibration, and sound. The powerful combination of AI and IoT technology is helping companies avoid unplanned downtime, increase operating efficiency, enable new products and services, and enhance risk management.”