Telco Trends: Artificial Intelligence in the Smart Home

• • Broadband, Smart Home

Smart homeMany of your customers are using some smart home features and connected home entertainment systems housed in a high-quality network enclosure. They may also be among the millions of North Americans who have purchased an artificial intelligence (AI) assistant in the last couple of years. AI technology is in a phase of rapid development, particularly in the smart home sector.

AI, also referred to as machine intelligence, is any technology that attempts to build machines that behave like humans. In the context of the smart home, an AI device provides services based on intelligence gleaned from observing the environment, particularly the behaviours of the people in the home environment.

Most of the current home control systems require programming. The result may seem like machine intelligence, but in fact, it is the result of a user programming commands such as “when cell phone comes in range – set the household temperature to 72  degrees and play the relaxation playlist on the stereo.”

In a smart home full of AI capabilities, the household operating system would learn associated behaviours and manage the environment accordingly. For example, imagine your customer has a habit of taking a sweater off a hook before programming a temperature increase. The AI system would learn these paired behaviours and adjust the temperature as your customer reaches for their sweater.

We aren’t quite there yet, but the AI assistants on the market today such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home respond to voice commands, and they are getting smarter all the time. And with the explosion of these intelligent projects around the world, it’s evident that sophisticated smart home AI  will be available to your customers soon.

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, spent two years developing Jarvis, an AI assistant that plays music, controls lights and heat and uses facial recognition software to greet visitors at the door. In a post about Jarvis, Zuckerberg describes how the AI assistant selects music based on the person making the request and can respond to open-ended requests like “play me something light.”

One AI offering to watch is Josh made by a startup called JSTAR. Josh responds to natural language and can adjust the temperature in the house, play music and movies on the home entertainment system and conduct online research.

Josh is a particularly exciting development since one of the challenges to smart home adoption is interoperability. Josh is programmed to communicate with any smart home device, effectively solving the problem. Josh is in beta testing right now, and JSTAR continues to develop the system with each new installation to ensure that Josh is compatible with all of the smart features already operating in the home.  

UK’s AI Build is developing a small device with built-in cameras that will allow for a 360-degree view of the room. Using a combination of voice commands and gestures, users can teach the system how to help with household tasks. The company is in its infancy now, but the long-term goal is to sell AI Build to the construction industry to have the devices installed as part of the building control system.

Dyson, a British tech company has made an air purifier that connects to an app. The company is working on a system that uses facial and voice recognition to trigger temperature and lighting changes based on who is in the room.