Being Smart about Product Design with IoT and AI

AI and IoT are both drivers of business disruption, and our well-known panelists sharing insight at today’s “Being Smart about Product Design with IoT and AI” hangout had lots to say about the underlying implications and hidden potential of each.

In our eleventh “Innovation By Design” series hangout, panelists explored how artificial intelligence (or AI) is impacting smart product design and creating new opportunities for those working in the Internet of Things (or IoT) space. Beyond that, we discussed the implications and hidden potential that marrying AI and IoT can have on your product design efforts – and at what cost.

Our panelists included:

THULIUM – Tamara McCleary, CEO — and thought leader ranked top 5 Robotics, Top 10 Augmented Reality, Top 25 Artificial Intelligence, and Top 3 in IoT influencer globally.

NIELSEN – JP Abello, Senior Director of Global Engineering R&D – and sits on the Privacy & Security Task Force in the IoT Consortium, on the IoT World and AI World Advisory Boards and the W3C Advisory Committee.

FIRST ADVANTAGE – Ann Marie Dumais, VP of Strategic Programs – who has launched many new products and services in her current role and previously while at GE and Nielsen.

IOT and AI Defined

“IoT encompasses everything connected to the internet—even simple sensors,” shared Tamara. “We have had machines talking to machines for a very long time. It is our ability to not only harness the data but to make sense of it that is key here. This is where AI steps in because an intelligent algorithim helps make sense of all this data…to be helpful to humans.”

She gave an example of what Tesla does with artificial intelligence, machine learning and IoT inspired design. “Tesla cars are built around autonomous driving that requires an extraordinary degree of AI and machine learning interfaced with an always on IoT connection between the vehicle and Tesla.” Tesla vehicles actively learn from each other while driving on the road and the data is shared to continually improve each Tesla driver’s experience.

JP added that personal virtual assistance is important in the auto industry because it enables a new class of device: the screenless device. “A limiting factor of IoT is it adds devices and buttons which makes your life more complicated. Now with AI, you’re able to say things like ‘turn on the lights’ instead of pushing buttons, and it makes life simpler. It is the AI layer of natural language processing that helps IoT improve our lives… The primary goal of AI and IoT needs to be to make your life simpler.” We must deliver the right message to the right person at the right time.

But there are some caveats to keep in mind . . .

IoT and AI “Gotchas”

IoT is an industry with lots of hype and yet it is not fulfilling its expectations. As JP put it, “we need to take IoT from a hardware to an internet industry.” And it’s a real hurdle to jump.  Check out his interview.

“People get mesmerized by the device that talks to you, but the bloodstream in the body is really data,” shared Annmarie. “You find disparate data pieces and try to make correlations. It is important to think through the cleanliness of the data.” She stressed that you, “must have good, clean data to have AI. When you have disparate data sources then you must be sure they harmonize with one another otherwise you have junk in and junk out…Consumers need to be empowered to take control over their info.”

Tamara stressed “Human. Human. Human.” JP and Tamara pointed out that people need to be intimately involved with what they want to receive, for example from the ads they’re served – and what values should be included in those ads.

The panel agreed that data sharing can scare consumers – and businesses as well. JP shared that keeping the data in the cloud can be risky because if the cloud goes down, you may not be able to turn off your light switches in your house, for example. The panel agreed that there needs to be ways for the user to control who gets their data and how it’s used. And businesses take on a huge burden when they harness these data points. It all comes down to how the information is used – and that is why keeping IoT and AI top of mind during design is so critical.

How Design Is Impacting IoT

Today many devices do not change when you bring them home. They aren’t constantly learning, that is. But AI with IoT adds the ability to learn your habits and usage over time. Tamara said that “products need to have the ability to update based on your preferences. And for designers this means thinking ahead to features consumers may want added on in the future. Designers need to put on a ‘futurist hat’. Whenever a new product is designed we can’t look at today only. We have to be future-forward and look at what’s coming around the corner. So we can upgrade and improve down the road.”

And doing so requires a unique set of skills.

Annmarie stressed the important of having skillsets on the innovation/IoT/AI team that “can see more broadly to help integrate the hardware and software and culture management pieces”. And she shared that the #1 characteristic needed is “emotional IQ” or the ability to be empathetic, though this is probably something every career path could use some extra training in these days. Either we can master empathy or AI will do it for us, it seems!

Check out the complete hangout “Being Smart about Product Design with IoT and AI” for more of this riveting and lively discussion.

Gretchen Hoffman

Posted By: 

Gretchen Hoffman

VP Marketing