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How AI will make smartphones much smarter

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The future of the smartphone is rooted in advancements of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Through the wonders of AI, your phone will be able to track, interpret, and respond to patterns and trends that it recognizes as “desirable” or “necessary.” It will organize, match, and learn every single day about who you are and how you operate. It might sound alarming, but it’s reality for the 77 percent of Americans who own a smartphone.

From smart to super-smart

Sometimes it’s hard to imagine how our phones could get any smarter, but companies like Apple, Samsung, and Google keep upping the ante. What enables them to do that is artificial intelligence, and more specifically, deep learning. Deep learning is a branch of AI that recognizes sensory patterns as they happen — and it’s the reason image recognition, speech transcription, and translation have become more accurate.

Picture the human brain — it’s a network made up of signals, sensors, and processing algorithms. AI chips, similarly to the brain, can digest massive data sets based on your usual habits, daily patterns, and past behaviors. They can retrieve supporting information from mobile apps, fitness trackers, digital watches, and even browsing history — all to make predictions about what you’ll do next. What’s more, this analysis will be able to take place without internet connection. That is a revolutionary thought.

Another application for AI is augmented reality. That’s where digital effects provide an additional visual layer on top of your camera or captured image. You see this on Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest, where users apply creative effects to images and static or live videos. “Pinning” is another AI-backed tool that will allow users to attach digital objects to specific locations in the real world.

AI’s a good thing — really

While many fear that machines are taking over the world, some pretty amazing things are happening in the meantime. For instance, AI is improving the emotional intelligence of customer support representatives, enhancing predictive algorithms for concierge services, and forcing car manufacturers to rethink who/what will be behind the wheel.

From your phone, you’ll start to see personal assistance like never before — a device that understands your interests and tastes, emotions and moods, even prioritizing notifications. Your health app will scan your body, pull readings from phone sensors, and determine if anything is unbalanced. If it is, you’ll be notified immediately. Soon your phone will be able to detect precursors for illnesses such as dementia, Parkinson’s or cardiovascular diseases. AI-based software makes that possible.

For businesspeople who are constantly multitasking, an improved AI phone can declutter your calendar, schedule your conference calls, even record and transcribe notes from a presentation. It’ll boost battery life, increase storage space, and charge faster. Unless consumer spending on mobile phones and apps slows down — which it won’t — expect to see these features rolled out in the near term.

It needs your data, not your name

The more data your phone collects, the more data it can make use of. When you download an application, you’re agreeing to allow that company to use your data, within reason. AI becomes helpful here because it can learn how you use the service and when you share information. Instead of shooting off your data to a company server for harvesting, AI can analyze your data on-device, which keeps it personal and under your control.

Other ways AI is keeping things private is by crowdsourcing anonymized information of multiple consumers without knowing the individual user in a process known as differential privacy. This process still garners links, vocabulary, and emojis used — it just doesn’t associate a person with them.

It’s important to remember that AI and machine learning is in its nascent stage. In the future, localized learning will privatize data while opening doors to anonymous mining, which in turn will expand its benefits. The most noticeable changes AI will bring are processing speed and efficiency — letting us do things we already do, but faster and without subjecting our phone to multiple charges. In the end, the whole point of AI is to create a more personalized, user-friendly relationship with our smartphones. Based on the advancements in technology and the increased demand for smart applications, it’ll be a perfect match.

Tom Coughlin is an IEEE Senior Member and the president of Coughlin Associates, where he covers the storage industry.

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