Connected devices, also known as the Internet of Things (IoT), will transition to cognitive, predictive computing over the next 12 to 18 months, according to research firm Frost & Sullivan.
IoT, overall, is also about to grow rapidly, the firm says. It predicts a 20.3% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) worldwide leading up to the year 2023. That will be a jump to 45.3 billion devices, up from 12.4 billion IoT devices in 2016, it claims.
Cognitive computing, which is when a machine is programmed to simulate human thought processes, will partly drive that growth, along with further microelectronics development and “ubiquitous connectivity,” says Frost & Sullivan, a research and consulting firm that specializes in business disruption.
We are about to shift to the “use of artificial intelligence to transform smart devices,” the firm says.
IoT devices will “react to changes in the environment without human intervention,” Frost & Sullivan says in a recent press releaseabout analysis it did on the subject.
The next leap in computational systems: sentient computing
But it won’t just be predictive or cognitive AI that rolls in over the top of IoT. That cognitive computing wrapped into the IoT will be augmented by sentient tools, the firm says.
Sentient computing adds perceptions, awareness and even feelings to machines.
If this prediction of IoT forking to more sentient functions is correct, we will see sensors perceiving their environments and acting accordingly. IoT could become mindful of location and social situations. That’s a step beyond a device or a platform’s backend merely thinking like a human.
Experts say sentient tools will be the next leap for computational systems overall, anyway.
Situational awareness, intelligence, social awareness and the ability to communicate are all to be considered parts of a sentient tool, wrote futurist Brian David Johnson, in a paper published on Frost & Sullivan’s website.
“These tools are ‘what comes next,’” Johnson says. They “emerge from a base of computational, sensing and communications technologies that have been advancing over the last 50 years.”
Local and networked sensors will envisage the outside world through both expertise sharing and data, Johnson says. That will be coupled with processing, comprehension and “making sense of the world.” Tools will understand what they are working with from a social point of view, and communication will be enhanced. Johnson uses the examples of voice and haptic feedback.
Interestingly, Johnson says in his September 2016 paper for Frost & Sullivan that sentient tools are not meant to copy humans exactly, but merely provide an augmentation — working alongside humans.
To get there, data becomes everything. It’s the most important element of cognitive and sentient IoT AI, the researcher says.
Incidentally, Frost & Sullivan says data collection, storing and communication need to be standardized across varied industries. That would be good for large platform vendors, it suggests. If that comes about, expect to see perhaps just a handful of IoT platforms in the future.
But of data itself, the firm says: “AI will get smarter with data, and the IoT will become useful with AI.”
In other words, data and IoT will go together as a matter of course.
“No company will be around in 20 years’ time without a fundamental understanding of this fact,” Johnson says.