Smart Home Versus Connected Home: The Later Is Happening Today And Artificial Intelligence Can Help Manage The Complexity
A few years back, most people in the tech industry were talking about the “smart home.” Every device would not only be an internet of things (IoT) device, but they would also communicate to provide services. As with much new tech, that was oversold. However, there’s still the issue of the connected home. More and more devices in each home are communicating with the internet, if not with each other. Internet service providers (ISPs) are searching for way to better manage the connectivity, and artificial intelligence (AI) is one tool.
Smart phones, tablets, laptops and desktops are only the tip of the iceberg. Most televisions are web enabled. More and more homes have voice assistants. Nanny cams, security systems, climate controls, and other systems also connect. With the vast expansion of devices comes more data demanded, so ISPs need ways to better analyze usage in homes and neighborhoods in order to meet guaranteed levels of service.
In a related twist, customers will, with no surprise, first call their ISPs whenever there is any connectivity problem. In order to provide service, that means a larger call staff. However, what if the problem is a specific device? Even more complex, what if it’s a specific application being run on the phone? An ISP which can quickly identify the root cause of the issue can either fix its own issues or point the customer towards the appropriate firm to provide service. Doing that efficiently will save enormous amounts of money.
Identifying technical issues is a clear use case for AI. The question that needs to be answered is how close to the devices can an AI system run. On the ISP’s services, there’s a distance that can obscure some issues. It would be much better to run AI on an individual home’s modem or, even better, a router. The question becomes the footprint. Even runtime AI has not been known for highly efficient resource usage, and many companies have been working to address that for many IoT applications.
One such company addressing the issue for the connected home is Veego. They claim to have AI inference that runs on home routers and modems in order to identify performance issues. “The typical router has much lower performance than many connected devices,” said Denis Sirov, Co-founder and CTO, Veego. “We developed processes that provide inference on routers while utilizing less than 0.75% of CPU performance.”
One way they are able to do that is training a robust model in the datacenter, then using part of the runtime code to identify the devices in a specific household. That lets the company narrow the necessary processing to a far smaller dataset than the entire set of options.
A key component of their solution is the ability to not flood consumer or ISP with every issue identified. The context of the problem matters. If there’s a temporary glitch that doesn’t look like it’ll be repeated, that doesn’t require a flag. A small issue in buffering isn’t a problem, but something that is slowing down the presentation of a movie or the graphics in a video game should be identified so it can be corrected.
Another interesting statistic provided was that 81% of replaced routers aren’t the problem, they’re just the fastest way to diagnose a problem using current, limited technology. As mentioned above, one critical issue isn’t finding out the specific problem, but in identifying the problem’s origin. With Veego running in the customer’s location, it can more easily identify which device and which application is causing the problem. That helps in two ways. First, services calls can be diverted from the ISP to the specific provider of a device or application. The implementing ISP can choose to have customers notified by text, in real time, to contact the appropriate support when a problem impacting performance is detected. That speeds the customer’s resolution of the problem, improving satisfaction. Second, the calls to the ISP’s support now have more detailed information to more rapidly provide analysis and response to the customer.
One example of the importance of this need is the announcement that Amdocs is partnering with Veego. Amdocs has a heavy presence in the ISP sphere, and adding their skills will help the smaller company to get into the market. The product will be resold both standalone branded and as part of OEM solutions.
The connected home is becoming an increasingly complex, and sometimes overburdened, network problem. Artificial intelligence has the ability to assist the companies providing hardware and software into the home, saving all stakeholders time and money while providing an improved experience to the customer.