AI has changed the way people interact online
Even if you haven’t been observing the smartphone industry closely, over the course of last year, you may well have noticed the key change which has happened to the industry. Smartphone manufacturers are adding AI (Artificial Intelligence) in to the phones they produce. The reasons aren’t hard to see,
1) Smartphone manufacturers have run out of new features to add to their phones. Since iPhones got big, really, the only major differences between an old phone and a new one, from a hardware point of view, are processor and memory upgrades.
The result is affecting the sales of the world’s major device manufacturers. See chart below.
As recently as 2014, people held on to their phones for 24 months on average. Now, it’s closer to 30 months. Once their contract has ended, and people own their own phones, many take a SIM Only plan from their phone company and drop their bill substantially. Around 70% of the world market for phones now operates this way.
2) Consumers are coming to expect AI in their products: When you see recommended complimentary products under the title ‘People like you also bought this,’ that’s AI at work. When Netflix recommends a show to you that you might like, that’s AI too. Some estimates suggest that Artificial Intelligence is now part of 85% of the interactions you have online, every day.
Before we try to understand how AI is revolutionizing your smartphone experience, let us first understand what AI really is.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial Intelligence is defined by the ability of software to demonstrate it can ‘learn’ how to perform a task without being taught each step, through the complicated process of coding (programming) for every possible scenario. In effect (although not mechanism) AI’s ‘learning’ is similar to natural intelligence possessed by humans.
Online, AI is used to improve customer interactions on websites – for example, by showing people menu options, pages, products or services that they (that is – specifically they ) are likely to want.
When AI is ‘done right’ by a website, it feels seamless to the user and, in a nonintrusive way, it smooths the path between a visitor to a website and what they want to achieve by being there.
In a phone context, it might be helpful to think of it (AI) as a human being behind your smartphone screen, making the decisions for you.
As your phone works, AI functions understands your ‘user behaviour’. It is able to provide more accurate results for any task you perform, learning over time what it is you want and helping you get it.
AI chips are now being built in to smartphones
Premium smartphones, from the major manufacturers, usually, come to you installed with a dedicated AI chip, these days.
By breaking out AI related tasks to a specific piece of hardware which has been designed to deal with the task, these chips to take the (substantial) load of the calculations required to perform AI, away from the primary CPU. (Central Processing Unit.)
Implementing AI on a dedicated chip is similar to what we saw with the GPUs (Graphical Processing Unit) a few years ago, where those tasks too were segregated passed off to a separate chip.
The names change between device producers, but the core technology is the same. When they say neural networks, they mean AI. One example is the Apple iPhone X which comes installed with a ‘neural engine’ alongside an already powerful A11 chip. Similarly, Huawei’s premium processor Kirin 970 has a ‘neural processing unit’ or the NPU.
Key functions of AI in Smartphones now – and in the future
Industry experts at Gartner believe almost 80% of the smartphones will carry some kind of an on-board AI functionality by the year 2022. By way of a comparison, only 10% phones had the capability just last year.
AI will have an increasing effect on the experience you have with your phone……
- AI is already improving your photos, battery life and security
Artificial Intelligence in your phone is already helping you in ways you might not notice. It removes ‘redeye’ from pictures you take without even telling you! It helps spot some of the tricks hackers use to attach your phone and cloud storage. AI even recognises the ways in which the processor on your device is treated by the applications that use it, diagnosing overlaps of demands on the chip and thereby improving your battery life.
- AI will assist in automating some of the tasks you conduct on your phone
Whether you know it or not, the way you interact with your phone is unique. How you hold it, how you move, the websites you visit, the work you do. Each of theses contains things that are specific to your interaction with the device. Take a simple example of someone who is addicted to Social Media. Several times a day, they take a picture and share it to both Facebook and Instagram. In this context, AI could ‘realise’ this behaviour and, when you took a snap, offer to post it for you. Any repetitive task that you conduct on your phone can be similarly recognised and automated in this way.
- Recognize your emotions and speaking to you differently depending on how you feel
In the future, your smartphones may well even, eventually, become capable of recognizing your emotions, and dealing with you as appropriately as possible given the context. Believe it or not, the way you walk and swipe are extremely telling of your emotional state. It’s likely that, starting soon, we will use voice assistants (which are also based on AI services) instead of keyboards to interact with our phones and that they will laugh with us when we’re happy and console us when we’re not.
The development of AI in smartphones has only just begun
These were a few examples, from a plethora of possibilities of things that AI could help us with, now and in the near future. At the moment, it’s mostly smartphone cameras that are being supported by AI capabilities. Few observer doubt, however, the significance of the steps that have been taken in 2018 or the importance the technology will play in phones, in the future.