Innovate With Edge AI

March 20, 2019

Contributor: Kasey Panetta

How Dominos, Ford Motor Company, Marriott International and Toyota used edge computing and AI to adapt in a disruptive world.

What if instead of opening the door to a delivery driver, customers used a mobile code to unlock a compartment in an autonomous vehicle? What if the hotel room knew you wanted an early wake-up call with a shower already started at a precise temperature? What if a robot could help those with limited mobility get out of a car? What if emerging technologies could change an entire business?

“ Edge computing and AI can raise innovation capabilities, operational excellence and customer engagement”

Shorter corporate lifespans and increasingly fast-paced emerging technologies force CIOs to constantly innovate and re-examine current uses for technology. Small, incremental changes to existing products are common, but true disruptors explore how technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and edge AI can offer continued and consistent growth.

“The combination of edge computing and AI provides significant opportunities to survive in an increasingly disruptive world,” says Michelle Duerst, Senior Director Analyst, Gartner. “Many executives do not understand how edge computing and AI can raise innovation capabilities, operational excellence and customer engagement.”

Innovate with edge AI

Edge AI or AI at the edge is the use of AI techniques embedded in Internet of Things (IoT) endpoints, gateways and other devices computing data at the point of use. CIOs can leverage edge AI and edge computing with augmented and virtual reality, autonomous things, connected cards, digital twins, smart factories, geolocation sensors and visual image recognition. For the business it can raise innovation capabilities, operational excellence and customer engagement.

In 2017, Domino’s and Ford Motor Company actually developed a delivery system that uses autonomous vehicles to deliver pizzas. The system tracks the vehicles with GPS, notifies the customer on order progress and uses a mobile app to send a code to retrieve the food. The companies used edge AI to provide data, geolocation, predicted time frame and personalization for the updates.

Edge AI enabled Domino’s and Ford to gather valuable insight into customer experiences ranging from whether customers minded walking outside for the pizza to if it made a difference if the car was in the driveway or at the curb. For Ford, success meant increased self-driving car sales and for Domino’s increased operating efficiency and improved customer experience.

Read more: Immersive Technologies Are Moving Closer to the Edge of Artificial Intelligence

Disrupt with edge AI

Recently, Marriott International partnered with Samsung and Legrand to use IoT and edge AI to create the world’s first IoT-enabled hotel room. The rooms are highly personalized in multiple locations, allowing customers to set up their rooms exactly as desired based on information stored in the app.

CIOs should begin to have conversations about innovation and emerging technologies with business units. To encourage innovation and outside-the-box thinking, try a “Yes, and” approach instead of a “Yes, but” outlook. Ask business-unit leaders to consider a few questions:

  • How the world is changing, and what are the impacts of those changes?
  • What is the customer experience like and what do customers want?
  • How can they increase personalization?
  • Which are the best companies or organizations to partner with?  

And the big question: How can our product, service or customers benefit from AI edge implementation? For Japanese carmaker Toyota, the innovation started with existing technology. As car sales in Japan decline, and the need for healthcare options for an aging population increases, Toyota realized it could leverage existing AI edge robotics designed for car manufacturing to assist people with limited mobility.

“ Look outside traditional models and industries and decide how to best leverage edge AI”

The company created the Welwalk WW-1000, a wearable robotic leg brace that enables people with partial paralysis to walk, and Project BLAID, which helps those who are blind or low vision gain better environmental awareness. In addition, Toyota is still dedicated to autonomous car development, committing $1 billion to a robotics and AI research center.

Domino’s, Ford, Marriott and Toyota invested significantly in edge AI, but organizations can opt to innovate on a smaller scale. For example, insurance companies have started using drones to assess roof damage. It’s a much smaller investment, but one with a potentially large impact on the business. No matter the size of the initial investment, organizations should look outside traditional models and industries and decide how to best leverage edge AI.

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