One in three smartphones sold this year use artificial intelligence (AI) in the form of virtual assistant applications, such as Apple’s Siri or Google Assistant, according to a new report from Strategy Analytics.
In Global Artificial Intelligence Technologies Forecast for Smartphones: 2010 to 2022, the research company’s analysts point out that these are common in most high-end smartphones today. This year, some 93 percent of premium models priced over $300 come with a virtual assistant straight out-of-the-box.
This penetration will quickly extend to lower-cost, even budget, smartphones, according to the market research firm’s analysts – largely down to the rise of Google Assistant.
“Google has a narrow lead in total smartphones sold with onboard virtual assistants in 2017,” said Ville Ukonaho, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics. “That lead will only grow as Android smartphone sales, with Google Assistant onboard, continue to expand into lower price tiers.”
This has relevance to the IoT in general, as voice interfaces will increasingly become the way we interact with a vast range of smart devices, from our own connected cars, to smart home and smart building platforms, to machinery on manufacturing plant floors. In other words, where smartphones lead, other connected devices are likely to follow.
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Speed of performance
As the technology becomes more widespread, 80 per cent of smartphones costing over $100 will have artificial intelligence and virtual assistant technologies built-in by 2020.
Increasingly, the speed at which they can interpret requests, accomplish tasks and return results will become key differentiators.
Right now, very little actual computation is conducted on the phone itself. Instead, it’s cloud-based, which can result in slower response times, says Ville Ukonoho: “This requires a solid data connection, which isn’t always available.”
But smartphone technology evolves quickly, and advances in smartphone CPUs suggest that speeds and accuracy will better support AI-based virtual assistants in the near future. “A number of vendors have created more advanced processing engines or are combining the power from the CPU, GPU and DSP to form a subsystem capable of handling complex machine learning and other computational AI tasks,” said Strategy Analytics director Ken Hyers.
Software enhancements, too, will play their part, added Neil Mawston, executive director at the firm: “By combining software enhancements through machine learning and hardware enhancements in the form of AI engines, we can expect the abilities of virtual assistants to improve significantly over the next several years.
“This will result in increasingly responsive virtual assistants and more interactive experiences from the devices,” he said.