The potential of the Internet of Things seems endless, but it will require greater advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies. Learn more about the Internet of Things and why future progress relies so heavily on the expansion of artificial intelligence.
Understanding the Internet of Things
Once a fairly ambiguous term for the idea of a universal connection between multiple machines and objects, the Internet of Things (IoT) has rapidly become a tangible technological goal. At the most basic level, the IoT is a system of objects and machines featuring advanced data collection technology that the objects then use to communicate amongst one another.
This machine-to-machine (M2M) collection and transfer of data has many potential uses, but is most commonly associated with determining the status and health of living and inanimate objects.
The IoT can be boiled down into five basic steps that must happen in order for any IoT service to work correctly: sensing, transmitting, storing, analyzing, and acting. It emerged rapidly over the last few years thanks to significant advances in the first three steps of the chain: sensing, transmitting, and storing.
The connectivity, software, and computer hardware needed to perform these tasks are very cheap, efficient, and widely available and made the IoT a reality.
One great example of the IoT at work can be found in the Amazon rainforest. The companies Gemalto and Cargo Tracck teamed up to monitor and track logging thieves in the Amazon by embedding wireless GPS equipment to alert authorities when someone moves the tree within 20 miles of the connected cellular network.
Other examples of how the IoT can be used include the collection of data that helps city officials better predict crimes and accidents, that give physicians real-time information from biochips and pacemakers, that improve productivity within any industry through predictive maintenance on machinery and equipment, that will provide vital interactions between self-driving cars, and lead to the actualization of the truly smart home.
The Problem with the IoT
As tech manufacturers incorporate the IoT in more new technologies, the amount of data to be processed will increase as well. Consider how many items you possess in your home already. Now imagine all those items connect to the IoT and give continual feedback. How do you then sort through multiple terabytes of machine data to get valuable insight and analysis so home appliances work together correctly and pacemakers do not fail?
The Importance of Artificial Intelligence
The answer lies in machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). Machine learning refers to the study and construction of systems capable of learning from acquired data to produce a result instead of following strict internally programmed instructions. Think about how Pandora or Spotify use the songs you already like to recommend new ones for you. That is machine learning in action. This also forms the basic operating system of an AI machine.
In the case of IoT, machine learning and AI would allow companies to deconstruct the trillions of data points collected by the various sensors into the most meaningful data connections that allow for the final step, acting. There is no point to the IoT if the system cannot completely regulate and take action itself.
AI and machine learning are integral to the analysis step that allows for the final step of acting to occur. A good example can be found in the healthcare industry.
Immediate analysis of data as it is collected from thousands of patients at any given time could not be done by a simple written code since it would be extremely time consuming and limited to identifying only already established patterns.
An AI machine can learn about normal patient behaviors on the individual and larger scale while processing the data. Therefore, it can more quickly and accurately uncover and flag any anomalies indicating a severe health issue or potential epidemic.
The ability to not only recognize established patterns, but to see newly presented ones, how they compare to the established ones, and how to act based on the given information is what makes artificial intelligence essential a commercially viable IoT.