You can already do a lot with your smartphone. You can find your way from point A to point B on a map. You can watch a trailer for a new movie, then buy tickets to that movie. You can check in to a venue, letting your friends know where you are. You can email, Tweet and post photos on various platforms. You can do virtually anything on your smartphone, but with one current hitch: you need to customize your phone via a series of apps that work apart from each other. You’re doing all of these tasks separately using a curated collection of apps that do not communicate with each other at all.
What this means is that when your friend texts you asking if you want to see a movie that night, you have to open up a browser, perform a web search for that movie to find the trailer, and then, should you decide you want to go, find tickets to purchase. Your smartphone, as much information and access as it holds, does not work like the Internet you seamlessly guide through on your laptop. No matter how many apps you download, if they don’t work together, they don’t create a completely user-specific smartphone. But that’s hopefully about to change.
London-based Weave.ai is one startup hoping to help your smartphone make this pivot, using artificial intelligence (AI), contextual search and deep linking to transform the mobile experience. As its name suggests, it will help “weave” your apps together with a technology that has an understanding of you, the user. Weave.ai is now up and running in Beta, but reports say the company has “a demo of its technology that gives a sense of what it’s building by analyzing the content of Tweets and bringing up related information in other apps on the phone.” They’ll also be able to tell which Tweets have a higher value to you, and which Twitter users you have a closer relationship with. Weave.ai co-founder Stéphane Bura says “the idea is to build software that lets a search engine focus on what you’re doing at a particular moment with your phone —rather than starting with a blank page that you must enter keywords into.”
Google Now On Tap (which is different from Google Now, and coming later this year) also promises this kind of integration — as you customize the app, it will eventually become something like a personal assistant. You’ll be able to get weather and traffic reports, sports scores, or any other information you desire, all in one place — which is constantly evolving as you interact with it. Broken down to a simple explanation: Google Now On Tap would like to read your mind.
Here’s one example of Google Now On Tap’s AI-assisted mobile feature: “The idea here is that if you get a text from a friend asking to meet at a certain place, Now On Tap is smart enough to put that event on your calendar, give you directions to the rendezvous and serve you up a menu. It might even show the best nearby parking areas as well as stores that could be of interest.”
At the company’s annual developers conference earlier this year, Google announced “advancements in deep learning, a type of artificial intelligence, for key processes like image recognition and speech recognition.”
Walter Kuketz, CTO of Collaborative Consulting, believes voice recognition is becoming a big part of the AI formula: "One space that I am watching — and will surely quicken the race to increase AI in our lives — is the emerging use of artificial intelligence for voice recognition being provided by companies such as Expect Labs and api.ai. These companies are enabling app developers, connected home devices, the wearables industry and even automotive manufacturers to use voice recognition Application Program Interfaces (APIs).” Kuketz points out that, as developers collect more data, they can make their predictions more precise. “It creates a virtuous cycle. Voice recognition will continue to become more accurate and valuable to the end-consumer, thus becoming more widely implemented and used.” Basically, the more we use AI, the more intuitive it will become — so the more we’ll continue to use it.
Digital pioneer and futurist Robert Tercek believes this path will unfold rapidly in the next five years, adding, “Digital technology will transform every sector and economic system on the planet in almost unimaginable ways — even those once thought to be immune from its effects.” Tercek points out that “data is fast becoming the most valuable asset of any company…and thousands of startup companies are copying Uber’s example, replacing physical products with on-demand services.” If everything is vaporized (even money— look at Bitcoin), it means our smartphones will become an even smarter, more powerful and more necessary device.
If all of this sounds overwhelming, Kuketz adds, “Artificial intelligence working its way into our day-to-day lives makes for a brave new world indeed. Despite its possible challenges, however, it's one that's well worth living in.”