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How artificial intelligence will transform mobile in the next five years

AI is set to be a technology partner that can support every aspect of your daily life.


Artificial intelligence technology has transformed rapidly over the last few years. And that trend is going to pick up speed over the next few years as well. Whether you realize it or not, you're probably used to interacting with artificial intelligence, or AI, on your mobile device. Ask your phone's personal assistant to report the weather, and she'll answer in plain English-she might even make a joke. Use an app to order a latte from your local coffee shop, and it'll suggest your usual muffin to go with it.

In the coming years, AI will drive some of the biggest advancements for mobile. Innovations in how AI understands and learns, new connected devices, and massive investments in infrastructure will completely transform how we live, work and play.

You can already talk to your mobile AI assistant, but it usually requires hitting a button or saying a specific phrase. For more information, that button needs to be hit again and again. 

Pretty soon mobile AI assistants will be able to decipher more details in the ways people communicate, picking up verbal nuance and colloquial phrases. With contextual awareness and the ability to hold natural conversations, next-generation AI will understand questions in any situation.

"Conversational and voice interfaces are going to get a lot better," says Mark Bünger, VP of Research at Lux Research. "Every smartphone maker is looking at image recognition and analysis on device." This means devices that can not only hold up a conversation, but also see and sense their full surroundings to share targeted, personalized information.

Knowledge Before You Need It

In the near future, AI will not just be able to complete tasks, but use its "brain" to predict future tasks based on past behaviors. Imagine a mobile device that plays a music request, but is listening too, in order to anticipate what additional information the user may want. Before even asked, the device will be able to complete a query to share facts about the band or suggest concert tickets in an instant.

Next-gen AI will also learn how to automatically share information at the right time and place, instead of waiting for a request. Once AI learns about your weather, news and sports preferences, it will give you daily updates built for your tastes. These "unstructured" interactions will feel more human, and fit more naturally into daily tasks as the technology evolves.

Devices Working Together  

According to Bünger, "Voice and vision will get integrated with other types of data in the immediate vicinity of the phone or wearable." Mobile device will not only pick up on the cues they're given, but also begin to sense other nearby data points, including information from nearby devices.

By connecting across a personal network, devices can work together to create more complete experiences. Start your day with a smart alarm that's not only attuned to your sleep schedule, but also serves up customized news and weather info pulled from your mobile search habits. Automatically connect your phone's calendar with your smart car, to make commutes less painful. When smart devices starting talking to each other, the benefits are endless.

The Mobile Ecosystem Gets a Power Boost

Effective AI requires a lot of processing power to access all the data it needs to make decisions.

"The one big thing to expect is movement of AI chips out to the 'edge,' to your device. Processing is currently centralized and located in the cloud, and requires a lot of resources and power," shared Bünger. "Many of the typical use cases for AI will go to the device, with benefits to efficiency as well as privacy and security."

Expect that phones, tablets and connected devices will feature hardware dedicated to AI functionality within five years, enabling faster responses and real-time data processing without needing to wait on the cloud.

Mobile devices are not the only areas demanding new investment. Verizon and others are building next generation fiber optics and mobile networks to let information flow fast. This new networking technology will be able to more readily handle the high volume of information used and created by AI. Bünger highlighted innovations in 5G mobile networks, which will not only improve overall network speed and reliability, but will also "enable better car to car communications" vital for smart transportation.

So what's next when your phone can think on its "feet," just like a real person? Could your device interact with you, not just intuitively, but emotionally? Bünger predicts that we probably do not even know exactly which innovations are on the horizon. "There are other forms of interaction that we do not currently expect our devices to do that we can explore," he says.



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