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How Artificial Intelligence is Transforming the Consumer Electronics Sector

“AI is the new electricity”

– Andrew Ng (Entrepreneur and Co-founder of Google Brain)

The use of AI (Artificial Intelligence) is becoming prevalent — the recent advancements in education, healthcare, marketing, telecommunication, transportation, consumer electronics, and many other sectors had AI as one of their main ingredients.

Today, the consumer electronics (CE) industry thrives because of three major innovations: advanced analytics with insights to support the decision making process; autonomous business processes, eliminating manual process to achieve faster time to market; and AI-powered immersive, conversational, and continuous interfaces that help deliver a ‘wow’ experience and achieve more involvement from the user.

Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence and machine learning have permeated almost every aspect of the CE Industry. Consumers’ constant demand for bigger, better, personalized experience has led to innovation across a wide range of products. These products, apart from being affordable and solving day to day problems, have the capability to capture the attention of the users and provide a delightful user experience.

What is fueling the adoption of AI solutions in the CE Industry?

1) Explosion of data:  We have been finally able to tap the opportunity that data provides us. The enormous storehouses of data – images, videos and audio files – scattered across the hide within them undiscovered secrets related to the desire of the consumers.

As it turns out, this data is vital to making neural nets work well (a most basic part of AI) which in turn makes deep learning possible. The availability of user data across social media and other online platforms, plus the ability of businesses to track user data on their own properties, makes it possible for the CE industry to go beyond statistical analysis and glean actionable insights and intelligence from the data.

2) Availability of specialized hardware: Advancements in hardware have provided the much-needed support for more rapid, efficient, and accurate AI processing. Today, we have access to faster Hardware augmented by specialized arrays of processors (GPU), neural network processing units (NNPUs), field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) supported by frameworks to distribute workloads and perform faster computations in real-time.

For example, NVIDIA launched Jetson TX-2 with Jetpack 3.0 to enable server-class AI computer performance on edge devices.

3) Changing demands of the customers: People at large interact regularly with many apps and devices that are powered by AI. They expect a similar or better experience while dealing with other consumer electronic products.

This has made it necessary to infuse AI with emotions so that it can empathize with consumer needs and communicate solutions conversationally, across interfaces. Needless to say, it has become a major challenge for the industry to generate better, simpler and more user-centric products that are powered by AI.

Challenges faced by the CE industry

How important is it for CE companies to build innovative products with AI? When you look at the challenges faced by the industry at this point in time, you begin to realize just how critical AI-powered products are.

  • Extreme pressure on product margins; growing consumer expectations; and demands for greater options with respect. Example: Consumers now want their TV to have options for internet browsing and want it to work in conjunction with other video streaming services.
  • Competition and disruption by small and niche CE firms that are revolutionizing distribution models by using straight-to-consumer, e-commerce-first strategies.
  • As the consumer preferences shift towards personalized products, it becomes essential for companies to craft consumer-centric experiences. For example, people who use wearable devices expect the product to offer more information than just the amount of calories burned, steps taken. They want recommendations on their diet, suggestions for fitness workouts and a workout schedule.

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Companies that perform well on the above challenges will generate value, establish trust and build better consumer relationships. A number of CE companies have consumer data but are still not able to deliver personalized experiences across a large number of product and services. By combining machine learning and AI, it is possible for them to overcome this challenge and stay competitive in a rapidly changing market.

The success of AI solutions in the CE industry can be measured by the value it provides to the consumers. For example, an automated suggestion of the best playlist for music based on the current mood of the consumer can help companies add value to their offerings and increased their chances of retaining their consumers. Applying this type of concept in respective products can help a CE company lead the pack and corner a lion’s share of the market.

How artificial intelligence is influencing consumer electronics

What type of AI solutions can CE companies provide? Let’s take a look at its application in five different electronic devices to gain a deeper understanding.

Smart mobile phones

What is one of the biggest difference between today’s smartphones and the ones in use a few years back? Today’s smartphones have integrated cloud-based AI with built-in AI on the hardware.

Mobile Phones accumulate a large amount of raw data and by extending the analytics services at the edge can help in precise decision-making and quick actions. With the help of Machine learning, handsets can undergo learning based on the habits of its user and develop personalized profiles rather than generic profiles.

For example, iPhone X, powered by AI is now able to identify images, perform searches based on photos clicked by the users, convert a person’s movement and voice into emojis in real time. Huawei’s latest devices not only identify some objects but they can also auto-adjust the camera parameters to capture the best possible image. Samsung’s assistant software, Bixby, has a ‘Bixby Vision’ feature lets users identify objects, provides guidance on where and how to buy them, translate languages and more.

Smart refrigerators

Gone are the days of the fridge serving just one function – maintaining the temperature. It is now able to track the contents placed inside it and develop inferences based on it.

With the help of object recognition, a smart fridge can detect the quantity of food available and make orders on behalf of the user. The intelligent refrigerator apart from monitoring and determining the current quality of the food can relay notifications to the user via SMS.

It helps in maintaining a smart inventory along with a list of food items that are to be purchased with minimum involvement from the user. The smart fridge is also integrated with voice assistants so that can be set into operation with one simple voice command.

Smart ovens

With the help of an onboard camera, the smart oven can detect the type of food that a user has. Using machine learning, it can populate all possible options of recipes that the user can cook, using the items that are already available.

It can also automate the cooking process for a specific user, taking into account the user’s profile, preferred temperature & settings for cooking, and available ingredients. The oven can extend its functionality to switch between roast, broil, and bake settings as required without human intervention and can also learn from the user and make changes as desired. All this is possible with minimal inputs from the user: one simple voice command can help to automate the complete dining process.

Smart washing machines

Ability to complete the laundry work easily and from any location, without compromising on washing performance, fabric care, and energy efficiency are some of the major reasons for the introduction of AI in washing machines. The smart washing machine can identify the type of clothes, adjust the number of spins and predict the time required for the washing cycles.

The machine can also undergo self-diagnosing and remind owners about maintenance and by continuously monitoring supplies. In addition, it can automatically place orders for washing powder or dishwashing liquid, and undergo a self-cleaning process.

The smart washing machines can be connected with voice assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant, and specific mobile apps. The user can use these to control the machine, set washing cycles and make any necessary adjustments.

Smart camera-based security systems

Most of the cameras currently in the market today are capable of recording video, but it’s impossible for them to distinguish between different types of activities and take necessary actions. Through the power of AI and physical object monitoring, users can train the camera to monitor specific locations, generate alerts and take real-time actions to safeguard their assets.

Such systems can also provide facial recognition to control access, detect motion, detect sound, and connect with smart home systems and devices like Alexa, Amazon Echo, and Google Home. Based on specific user preferences, the cameras can send personalized alerts for specific incidents.

CE industry’s path to success is paved with AI

Devices will continue to become more autonomous and get better at assisting consumers in completing non-cognitive and repeated process. Consumers will no longer be satisfied with traditional UIs and demand for abstract user interfaces (voice-based, gesture-based) will increase.

As algorithms automate away routine decision-making, people will see both an increase in the time they have for tasks related to critical thinking and creativity, allowing them to focus on activities that the value more. It will allow humans to be more human.

eInfochips is a member of the Open Connectivity Foundation and we focus on solving the challenges of interoperability, security, and connectivity of devices. If you wish to make smarter appliances, we can team up to start your home automation journey.

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