Not many of us realise that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already in our midst today and has been augmenting our capabilities and improving our lives in more ways than one.
But let’s not fret; the machines haven’t taken over…. Well not yet.
We’re only just discovering how Artificial Intelligence Technologies such as ‘Machine Learning’, ‘Deep Learning’ and ‘Natural Language Generation’ can be used to ‘automate’ our tasks and to enhance the quality of our lives.
From the self-driving Google and Tesla cars, delivery drones and the voice powered personal assistants like Siri and Alexa to chatbots and intelligent Google Algorithms- AI is powering everything from the Apps in our smart phones, refrigerators and appliances in our homes to bringing a more ‘personalised’ and interactive consumer experiences in the ‘digital’ plane.
With big brands like Google, Facebook, IBM, Tesla, Coca Cola, Lenovo, Starbucks, Adidas, Uber and Amazon, already using AI in their marketing strategy; it is no wonder that by 2025, the artificial intelligence market is headed to surpass $100 billion.
Another prediction from Gartner says that by 2020, 85% of customer interactions will be managed without a human – here chatbots or ‘customer digital assistants’ being at the frontline in customer service will recognize customers by face and voice across channels and partners.
Without further ado, here are some of the ways in which Artificial Intelligence is being leveraged by brands around the globe:
1. Lowe’s LoweBot
LoweBots are the new AI infused ‘roaming robots’ that you’ll find in the aisles of the giant home improvement retailer Lowe’s.
The LoweBots are equipped with Natural Language Processing and can efficiently respond to queries like, ‘Where are the hammers?’ In fact, it can even detect a person idly standing by and offer to help by engaging them in a talk.
The rolling robot is not only adept at finding things for the customers, it also aids in Inventory Management as it monitors inventory in real time as it cruises the aisles, and essentially provides data on the shopping trend.
2. STARBUCKS - My Starbucks Barista
Starbucks has recently introduced its AI-powered, voice activated app, ‘My Starbucks Barista’ with which you can place your order by simply talking to your smart phone.
The coffee giant calls this chatbot infused App, an ‘innovative conversational ordering system’. The chatbot with its voice recognition technology is highly capable of interacting and asking contextual follow up questions to take even the most complicated order.
When announcing the new technology at a Starbucks event, a video demo showed customer placing an order for “double upside down macchiato half decaf with room and a splash of cream in a grande cup” - and the voice recognition technology accurately understood and placed the order.
Once the customer places an order by talking to the virtual barista, the order is then pinged to a nearby store, where an employee makes the drink. Customers can then pick up the drink within minutes by bypassing the long queue at the cash registers.
3. Under Armour & IBM Watson Partnership
The AI Technology of IBM with the name ‘Watson’ found its fame when the supercomputer’s cognitive computing capabilities made it a winner of $1 million in a game of ‘Jeopardy’.
In its attempt to take the technology to the consumer, IBM partnered with sportswear maker Under Armour to power its health and fitness App, ‘RECORD’.
Record helps its users track their health and fitness activities, sleep data and nutrition, along with importing data from other fitness tracking apps. The intelligent component of the App is its ability to provide personalised recommendation and coaching on nutrition and training requirements.
With Record, you have your personal digital ‘trainer’ who can give your fitness advice 24/7, based on your nutritional and physiological database, as well as drawing from people who have similar health/fitness profiles as yours.
4. Sephora’s Visual Artist
Beauty brand Sephora has come up with its new tool, Visual Artist to allow customers to experience and interact with their product through ‘augmented reality’.
The customers can try on (virtually) the brand’s range of cosmetic products such as, eyeshadows, lipsticks and other highlighting palettes, through the Sephora App or their website.
The Visual Artist powered by Modiface AI Technology can map and identify facial features, after which it can apply the user’s selection of products and shades via ‘augmented reality’. The technology is also smart enough to automatically apply suggested shades based on the user’s skin tone.
The App is also hosted on Messenger – when shoppers send a picture of themselves to the Sephora Chatbot, it comes back with a range of suggested product, along with an augmented reality preview of how the customers will look, when it is applied.
5. ASOS Image Recognition
Fashion retailer ASOS has come up with its new ‘visual search technology’ through its app to engage its customers for a ‘fashion hunt’.
Say you’re commuting on a busy train and suddenly see someone wearing a jacket or a pair of shoes you fancy. Now in that fleeting moment, it may not be possible or rather awkward to engage in a conversation about the items your fellow traveler is wearing; but how about taking a picture of those shoes and finding a replica online?
Yes, that’s where ASOS is taking you with their app and the power of ‘image recognition technology’.
You can either upload an image or click a photo directly from their app – Then you need to adjust the image to focus on what item you want to look for; and the app will recommend you similar items with pics from the retailer’s inventory.
To Sum It Up…
While the technological giants and big brands are already stepping up to integrate AI in every aspect of innovation and consumer experience; it is but given that Artificial Intelligence is growing to be the next revolution; possibly even bigger than the ‘electricity’ or the ‘internet’…
Which brings us to what Elon Musk once aptly said, “We’re going to have the choice of either being left behind and being effectively useless or like a pet—you know, like a house cat or something—or eventually figuring out some way to be symbiotic and merge with AI.”
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