The interconnected, intelligent hub. The smart home that weaves together the fridge, the television and the kitchen sink to create the ultimate in home management and entertainment. These are just some of the consistent promises that have been made by artificial intelligence (AI) solutions and predictions, but are they really where the true value of AI lies?
Are connected cars, kitchens and homes really the epitome of AI value? Well, maybe…
The smart home does add immense value. There’s quality of life, reduced admin, improved budgeting, better use of resources and many other simple benefits to using systems that optimise, transform and improve. But these are only one part of the AI puzzle. There are as many different ways to apply AI to the cracks of life as there are algorithms that shape how AI responds to human need. As Tom Rich, Financial Services Consultant at BJSS, points out: “We are now really starting to witness just how and where AI can improve our home lives, and we are only just beginning to scratch the surface. Heating and lighting were two early and easy targets, but soon we could see smart homes featuring doors that lock themselves when nobody is home, groceries that are automatically delivered, and voice functionality for banking services.”
Smart security systems that can lock the doors, detect intruders and manage camera feeds while homeowners are away have the potential to reduce insurance premiums and improve individual safety. This value was highlighted in a World Bank Report that pointed to how AI represents ‘an enormous opportunity to design, build and operate the homes of tomorrow in intelligent ways’. These intelligent ways defined as reducing carbon emissions, lowering energy consumption, cutting costs, and improving health and safety. An example of this technology lies in Wallpad, a COMMAX smart home device that uses Fluent.ai’s voice AI technology to provide voice-enabled security. The device can control lights, thermostats, alarm systems, digital locks, cameras and, quite possibly, anything digital enough to connect to it efficiently. What’s interesting here is not so much the ubiquity of the devices, but the multi-lingual capabilities – this device can understand any existing language, accent or combination of languages and accents.
Then, AI can creep into the cracks that help people to make long-term financial decisions. John Michaelis, author of You++, says: “Predictive AI could readily be used to analyse and predict house prices in an area based on historical data and current trends; this may be useful for property developers to locate possible locations for investment, and even the type of property that performs best in order to achieve optimised returns.” It can also be used to embed actional, contextual feedback to individuals in the form of coaching apps that help with budgeting, personal finance and investments. This level of AI taps into vast lakes of information and expertise to provide high-end financial advice to people who couldn’t normally afford so experienced a financial advisor.
It’s a view shared by Alexandra Foster, Director: Insurance, Wealth Management and Financial Services at BT: “AI can be seen to be playing a larger role when it comes to personal finances. For example, AI is being used by financial institutions to determine a borrower’s creditworthiness and to handle tasks such as renewing application forms. AI is also helping to reduce insurance costs inside the home and change the dynamic of insurance with a usage-based model, otherwise known as Pay-as-You-Go.” Real-time engagement with assessors using video and photo tools can reduce physical contact in a pandemic world, and improve the speed at which claims are processed. This value can also be felt in smart assistants and devices that go beyond the Siri, Alexa, Google Nest solutions that currently snuggle in homes and perform mundane activities on demand.
And then, there are the ways in which AI can help people as employees, as they work from home and juggle the myriad of complexities that come with that. In some cases, the remote working paradigm will remain a consistent reality which means that people need stability and support as they focus on doing business in the home. According to Mark Crichton, Senior Director of Security Product Management, OneSpan: “With a large percentage of the population forced to shift to remote working this year, we’ve seen cybercriminals and fraud adapt likewise, and it appears the trend is set to continue for the time being. There’s no magic 8 ball that can predict exactly what threats will be facing employees working from home in the future and in banking, advances in AI and ML have been instrumental in reducing fraud, as the algorithms can analyse huge amounts of data, enabling banks to detect and prevent cyberattacks.”
Then, there’s the solar-powered telematics device that uses AI and voice to talk to a driver in a collision to expedite support called ThingCo. The device uses serverless technology to enable real-time data collection. Not to mention Lucy, a robot that moves around the house and detects unwanted visitors using built-in surveillance software, and the Apple watch that can actually carry out an electrocardiogram. In all, it seems that AI is infiltrating parts of human life in useful and measurable ways that go far beyond the fridge and well into health, happiness and wellbeing.