For those that missed it next year Dreamforce ’19, November 19–22, 2019. This year Al Gore was in the house, and strangely so was Jeb Bush. The irony makes my head swim. Luckily Metallica and Janet Jackson were there to provide entertainment and bring a new prospective to the multi-day event. “Parties and flash mobs, climbing walls and waterfalls,” ice cream and characters fill the days and nights” Salesforce has introduced Einstein Voice.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is all the buzz among tech geeks and the broader IT world today. In fact, it’s quickly become one of the most powerful technological developments in recent memory, having the potential to change and impact the customer experience in meaningful ways for years to come. Companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft have been developing products with AI for a long time now, most specifically around human language recognition and voice conversion into readable digital formats.
The growth of the AI market isn’t showing any signs of slowing. The AI applications market, for example, is expected to reach a value of over $11M in 2024 while the broader AI market is set to surpass $40M in 2022. This accounts for an annual growth rate of 25 percent across sectors like transportation and health. One thing is clear: AI is here to stay and will soon become an even greater part of the daily lives of consumers, especially among smartphone users.
The Rise of AI in Mobile
Siri was the first mobile virtual assistant, followed by Google Assistant, Alexa, and Cortana. In their infancy, many of these AI-based assistants were thought to function at the level of a six-year-old child’s brain based on indexing, voice recognition, and transcribing capabilities alone. These capabilities soon extended into photo applications where AI allowed for enhanced photo processing and impressively accurate (facial) image recognition.
Since then, the capabilities of AI have only continued to grow. There seems to be no ceiling — software, hardware, internet, or otherwise — with regard to what AI can do or the benefits it can bring to the end-user mobile experience. And it’s my belief that, in as little as three years, AI will impact the customer experience in the following ways:
The next evolution of mobile AI will be to recognize the usage patterns and behaviors of smartphone users. Bionic A11 processors in some of the latest iOS and Android devices are already doing this with a relatively high degree of efficiency. Unfortunately, many applications still fail to take full advantage of what these processors are capable of, even though technologies like iOS ARKit have already started to bring Augmented Reality (AR) to the mobile experience. This is paving the way for enhanced AI to power the in-app experience.
Even though virtual assistants exist today, they are far from being as advanced as they could be (i.e. as you have seen them come to life in the movies, for example). Advancements will soon be made around machine and contextual learning, essentially turning these virtual assistants into our “best friends.” Sure, it may sound creepy, but it’s where the world is going.
Additionally, by being able to learn more about our mobile behaviors and usage habits, these assistants will be better positioned to make recommendations that aim to improve our daily lives. Have you had a stressful day? Your virtual assistant will know to play relaxing music to calm you down. Have you just booked a vacation in Paris? Your virtual assistant can instantly recommend hotels, restaurants, and fun things to do based on your preferences. And thanks to the advancements in the Internet of Things, smart cities, and home automation, it will soon be possible for even your refrigerator to know when you run out of milk and then send out a reminder to restock (or even automatically make the purchase for you).
Geolocation-based services in maps applications are already able to predict with a high degree of precision where consumers are likely to go, whether it’s frequent destinations, places of work, or even home — simply based on past searches alone. AI can take this a step further by automatically recommending routes in real-time based on favorite destinations, typical modes of transport used, and ever-changing traffic conditions, helping consumers to go from point A to point B in the quickest, most efficient ways possible and all in real-time.
Although native camera apps in many smartphones can already recognize objects, scenarios, and faces — these capabilities will continue to evolve as machine learning becomes a core component of the camera app infrastructure. AI will be able to take this to the next level, making it possible for devices to recognize surrounding environments and adapt camera functions instantly to capture the highest quality pictures possible – all without ever requiring the user to manually change the settings on their own (i.e. flash, portrait mode, etc.).
The Face ID functionality of the iPhone X is a good example of AI in action. Its ability to map facial features through a complex series of 3D sensors makes it possible for iPhone users to create a unique and deeply personalized ID for their phones. It doesn’t even matter if a user has a partially covered face, has applied make-up in a different way, is wearing sunglasses, or even has grown out a beard — the sensors learn facial memory over time and can quickly adapt to variations without ever jeopardizing the end-user experience.