There’s a lot of hype and excitement around AI. We see companies hiring AI researchers with six-figure salaries. Self-driving cars are becoming prominent. You might think that AI has nothing to do with your daily life, but we found four examples of AI furniture and smart devices that you’ll soon start to use every day.
Getting through daily work and errands without robust vision is difficult. For years, vision-impaired people have used canes, seeing eye dogs, and other aids. Those methods all have their place; however, AI can help even more. In the past, technology wasn’t that helpful to the blind in their quest to get around. Sure, you could get alerts if you were about to walk into something, but that’s just not enough detail.
That’s where the DuLight comes in. Developed by Baidu Research in China, this device is similar to a Bluetooth headset. It fits in the ear, and when turned on, it gives the user an audio description of the environment. This technology relies upon advances in visual processing artificial intelligence to provide descriptions of the world. Similar technology is already used by self-driving cars and robots.
If these AI-style devices for the blind take off, it’ll have a tremendous benefit. The National Institutes of Health estimates that there were one million “legally blind” (i.e., 20/200 vision or worse) U.S. adults in 2015. It expects that number to more than double by 2050.
Think about the chairs and tables you use every day at home. In design and materials, not much has changed in a century. Sure, there are some new colors and marginal changes, but a time traveler from 1900 would still recognize and know how to use 21st century furniture.
The question is, would they?
In 2017, Swedish furniture giant IKEA announced it was conducting research on bringing AI to furniture. When we heard about this, our first thought went to manufacturing and logistics. Maybe AI could come up with a more durable bookcase. Instead, AI is finally going to solve the agony of assembling furniture.
Researchers in Singapore used two robots to assemble an IKEA chair in 20 minutes in 2018. Manipulating objects in the real world has long been a frustrating barrier for AI. Perhaps AI-powered robots will tackle home repairs next. Depending on the cost and reliability, that might be bad news for the skilled trades.
Reaching into your refrigerator only to find that you’re out of milk and orange juice in the morning is frustrating. Instead of you having to text your spouse to stop at the store, AI is going to solve that problem.
LG unveiled a smart refrigerator in 2018 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Using AI processing, the appliance now responds to voice commands. You can ask it to make ice or make a grocery list. You can also save money by using the low-energy vacation mode option.
In contrast to the furniture-assembling robot, it’s still the early days for AI-enabled kitchen appliances. Within five years, the prediction is that refrigerators will detect spoiled food and make shopping list suggestions. After all, we already have internet-connected sensors to monitor the inside of the appliance.
LG isn’t the only company working on smart refrigerators. Samsung launched a product of its own in 2019: The Samsung Family Hub. Instead of simply responding to voice commands, this product uses AI to recognize each family member’s voice and respond accordingly.
Staying comfortable at home is a chore. You need to tune the furnace in winter and check the air conditioning in the summer. Then, you need to worry about whether you’re spending too much and hurting the environment. This is one area where AI has already made steady advances.
Nest is one of our favorite examples of AI in action. At first, you need to manage it directly and enter your settings. Over time, its simple AI capabilities come online. By connecting it to your phones, the device can reduce your heating bill by cutting the temperature when everyone is out. Expect more innovation in the smart home management space as Google Home and other devices enhance the market.
As sensors become cheaper, smart AI devices are going to make an impact. Just take home security as an example. AI is going to make security more accurate and reduce false alarms. In a few years, we predict that Black Mirror-style robotic dogs will be released.