[Dong Wong Lee] Reimagining the future of consumer electronics with AI

We’ve witnessed the rapid advancement in technology move from pristine laboratories with exacting conditions into the mess of our daily lives. Phones have shrunk to fit in our hands, packing maps, flashlights, and entire libraries into tiny microchips. Seemingly in a flash within our lifetime, we’ve seen TV technology go from massive cathode ray tubes with elongated backs into the slim clearer-than-life displays that adorn our walls today.

The current trend is in artificial intelligence which promises to hasten the pace of development. Although improvements will be incremental, just as seen in the past, they will seem eons faster, especially in the realm of consumer electronics. With AI at the helm, our living spaces are poised to become more intuitive, efficient, and responsive.

Already, AI has made significant inroads into our homes – this was among the key messages on display at this year’s CES event. Each year, the Consumer Technology Association unites industry players in one place to showcase breakthrough technologies and innovations poised to take the world by storm. At CES2024, the power of AI was in full splendour. Manufacturers put on display how the nascent technology is being applied in everything from shaving machines to electric vehicles.

In the realm of consumer electronics, AI’s true potential lies in its ability to create a seamlessly integrated environment where devices connect and collaborate to enhance the lives of users.

This starts with the ability that AI has to personalizing user experiences. With various sensors and nodes installed in the home – either as part of the appliances or as independent parts – AI algorithms can analyse the data coming from the sensors to understand individual preferences and habits. Through AI, a TV can learn the environment it is in by analysing room brightness to provide optimum lighting, and the size of the room to understand the acoustics, as well as the end user viewing and picture quality preferences driving the experience to a whole new level.

AI can also help enhance the efficiency and sustainability of your homes by optimizing the usage of energy and water resources. Consider a smart washing machine equipped with AI. It can determine the optimal wash cycle based on the type of fabric, availability of load and even the type of laundry detergent.

At the manufacturer level, AI greatly helps in innovation and design of products, often leading engineers and designers down paths that they would otherwise haven’t explored. Leveraging AI tools provides insight into customer behavior, preferences, and emerging trends. These insights can then inform the design process, leading to products that are more aligned with consumer needs.

Even with its advantages, deployment of AI in consumer electronics raises ethical considerations. Responsible AI use involves ensuring that the systems are designed and deployed in ways that are fair, transparent and accountable.

Data security and privacy emerge as key considerations to be made in the pursuit of added convenience for consumers. AI models are built by processing vast amounts of data, and its integration into consumer electronics is no different. AI-powered devices collect tons of user data ranging from daily routines to diets and preferences. Ensuring this data is protected is paramount.

To address these concerns, manufacturers employ robust data encryption and secure data storage protocols. Privacy-by-design models that embed privacy features into the core of products is quickly becoming the industry standards. This includes implementing stringent access controls, regular security audits, and clarifying to users how their data is being used.

Further, users require control over their data; they should be able to access, manage and even delete it. Transparent consent mechanisms can help users understand what data is being collected, how it is being used, and what their data rights are. This will give them the opportunity to make informed decisions about their privacy.

By embracing AI responsibly – with the users’ wellbeing in mind – we can create a future where homes not only enhance quality of life, but also uphold the highest standards of safety and ethics.

Mr. Lee is LG Electronics East Africa Managing Director.

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