In what may well be the shape of things to come Huawei showcased Honor at a media gathering in Hong Kong in December 2017. Honor is a family of affordable smartphones with one distinguishing feature – they come with artificial intelligence (AI) built-in to the device.
As the smartphone market shifts from selling technology products to delivering compelling and personalized experiences, AI solutions running on smartphones will become an essential part of vendor roadmaps over the next two years.
Gartner predicts that AI features will become a critical product differentiator for smartphone vendors helping them to acquire new customers while retaining current users. The research firm predicts that by 2022, 80% of smartphones shipped will have on-device AI capabilities, up from 10% in 2017.
On-device AI is currently limited to premium devices and provides better data protection and power management than full cloud-based AI, since data is processed and stored locally.
Gartner research director CK Lu notes that smartphones are increasingly becoming commodity devices forcing vendors to look for ways to differentiate their products.
"Future AI capabilities will allow smartphones to learn, plan and solve problems for users. This isn't just about making the smartphone smarter, but augmenting people by reducing their cognitive load. However, AI capabilities on smartphones are still in very early stages," he added.
Gartner lists 10 high-impact uses for AI-powered smartphones:
User’s digital twin: Smartphones will be an extension of the user, capable of recognizing them and predicting their next move. They will understand who you are, what you want, when you want it, how you want it done and execute tasks upon your authority.
User authentication improves usability and self-service capabilities: Smartphones can capture and learn a user's behavior, such as patterns when they walk, swipe, apply pressure to the phone, scroll and type, without the need for passwords or active authentications.
Emotion recognition: The proliferation of virtual personal assistants and other AI-based technology for conversational systems is driving the need to add emotional intelligence for better context and an enhanced service experience. Emotion sensing systems and affective computing allow smartphones to detect, analyze, process and respond to people's emotional states and moods.
Natural-Language Understanding: Continuous training and deep learning on smartphones will improve the accuracy of speech recognition, while better understanding the user's specific intentions. Natural-language understanding could be used as a near real-time voice translator on smartphones when traveling abroad.
Augmented Reality (AR) and AI Vision: One example of how AR can be used is in apps that help to collect user data and detect illnesses such as skin cancer or pancreatic cancer.
Device Management: Machine learning will improve device performance and standby time. For example, with many sensors, smartphones can better understand and learn user's behavior, such as when to use which app.
Personal profiling: As smartphones collect data for behavioral and personal profiling, users can receive protection and assistance dynamically, depending on the activity that is being carried out and the environments they are in (e.g., home, vehicle, office, or leisure activities).
Content censorship/detection: Restricted content can be automatically detected. Objectionable images, videos or text can be flagged and various notification alarms can be enabled. Software can detect any content that violates any laws or policies.
Personal photographing: Smartphones are able to automatically produce beautified photos based on a user's individual aesthetic preferences.
Audio analytic: Using the smartphone's mic to continuously listen to real-world sounds, AI capability on device is able to tell those sounds, and instruct users or trigger events.
“Over the next two years, most use cases will still exploit a single AI capability and technology,” said Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner. “Going forward, smartphones will combine two or more AI capabilities and technologies to provide more advanced user experiences.”