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2016 could be called the year of Artificial Intelligence: from better improved Data Analytics, to Smart Homes, Cars, and more. Every day seemed like the world of tech was making a step closer to true AI, like AI comes a little step closer to being human. Who knows, within the next 10 years we could have something approaching a real life WestWorld!

AI is taking over the world, to the point where our developers are surprised when a project doesn’t involve AI or Machine Learning to one extent or another. But AI is so diverse a term that it can be (and is) applied to any industry, sector, business, etc. So, to celebrate the end of 2016, and to bring in the New Year, we thought we’d cover the biggest areas AI impacted in 2016. Plus, we’ll cover where each area stands today, and what may lie in wait for 2017.

Digital Assistants

AI for Virtual Personal Assistants run the Gamut:

1. Smart Home;

a. This includes Amazon’s Echo and Google Home. Both services provide a central location for you to access every aspect of your SmartHome. When you throw in system’s like Mark Zuckerberg’s Jarvis, you get what is essentially a Live-in Digital Butler.

b. Other takes on this include Asus Zenbo, which is like Echo, Home, or Jarvis but moves around the house and uses a digital display to show facial expressions and emotion.

Smart Business

2. Softbank Pepper is a Japanese robot that looks like a half formed albino Cyberman (obligatory Dr. Who shoutout!). Despite its half wax appearance, Pepper uses Natural Language Processes (NLP) to understand human speech AND body language (including gestures). Already, Pepper is being demoed in retail stores as a Sales Assistant.

3. Otto Trucks turn ordinary semi trucks into Smart Vehicles capable of driving themselves. Similar to Google’s Self Driving cars, these Smart Trucks use AI to help them make complicated decisions, faster than a human can. These trucks can also change routes to optimize for efficiencies.

4. Aethon Tug and Fetch Robotics both use AI to help retrieve objects that their users need. Tug’s emphasis is on the Medical industry and is trained to deliver supplies and medicine to Patients. Fetch works in warehouses, following workers around. When a worker needs something the robot can lift it off the shelves and carry it around for them.

Drones

5. We’re starting to move beyond the view that Drones are terrifying heralds of death, (and even beyond them being a tool for creepy stalkers) to having true effectiveness in this area. Amazon is diving headfirst into this and made headlines recently with their drone delivery system. But Amazon is taking it a step further, with recent plans to potentially launch “Airborne Fulfilment Centers” (AFC).

These AFCs are planned to be giant floating warehouse deployed over cities during times of high need (we’re pretty sure Amazon isn’t trying to take over the world, but sometimes you’ve got to wonder). From the patents Amazon filed, it appears that these will use complex Machine Learning algorithms and a complicated Drone Delivery System. The purpose behind these AFCs is to add more value to their business and it brings them into more direct competition with Brick and Mortar Retailers (as does their other project, Amazon Go).

6. But Drones are being built for all types of research. AI and Machine Learning algorithms help programmers create code that has never been before possible. This leads us to my personal favorite Robot on this list, Boston Dynamic’s SpotMini. SpotMini is a research drone: it was built to help scientists in a lab. The drone uses sensors and cameras to help it see, but it’s greatest resource to a scientist is its precise grasping and holding motions. Most robots 5 years ago couldn’t even hold a mug without shattering it. SpotMini can not only pick up, hold and move about with a glass, but it can do it with something as delicate as a wine glass.

7. DJ Mavic Pro is a drone is going to take the place of Action Sports Reporters. Using an exceptionally complicated series of sensors and Artificial Intelligence to be able to make instant mid flight corrections to avoid objects in it’s way; and this is in free movement, not a preplanned flight. This makes it excellent for capturing Action Sports, from tracking a baseball mid-flight to following cross country runners.

So what does this mean for 2017? Well, obviously the first thing is you can’t avoid AI anymore. It’s more than just a passing fancy. It is quite literally changing the foundation of not just the world of business, but everything about our lives. We’re at a tipping point, where historians will look back and point to this era as when it all began.

The question you need to be asking is: can your business afford to be late to this game? Can you afford to ignore this tipping point in history and continue operating business as usual.

The good news is that SDI has spent the last few years preparing for this point, and we have the tools to modernize any business. Still working on turning your idea into a business? Give us a call at 408.802.2885/408.621.8481 and we can discuss how AI can turn your idea into a thriving business. Not a phone person? No problem, our can contact us digitally as well.

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