Guest Column | March 7, 2017

Artificial Intelligence: What Is It And Why You Should Be Paying Attention To It

Steve Reinharz, Robotic Assistance Devices

By Steve Reinharz, Founder and CEO, Robotic Assistance Devices

For many, artificial intelligence seems like a far-off, futuristic term referring to flying cars or robots that mimic human emotion and can run a hotel’s front desk. But artificial intelligence, or AI, is far from fantasy and the uses associated with it are growing exponentially day-to-day. But what is it? And why should you care about it?

AI is more than simply the art of creating computers that make intelligent choices. In essence, AI works towards the goal of finding ways to give a computer the same aspects of intelligence and learning humans have. In practice, however, AI research is spread over a very broad spectrum. Research on sight for computers (judging distances, material texture), hearing (distinguishing noise from speech, and words from each other), and creativeness (drawing pictures, composing music) are all important areas being examined.

Dr. Mahesh Saptharishi made an interesting point in an article published by WIRED, writing, “AI is transforming how we operate and rely on technology, enabling humans to work more efficiently and effectively than ever before, making our jobs simpler, our efforts more calculated, and our outputs more accurate.” The same can be said for AI within the realm of security, guard services, and business optimization applications.

AI is already in use in many of today’s advanced surveillance deployments through the use of video analytics. Automated processes that supplement human abilities are now monitoring real-time surveillance footage. For example, large organizations with thousands of cameras can set various cameras to view on identification of a person/persons approaching. This is extremely useful if the organization has dozens or hundreds of facilities and thousands of cameras. As these AI-powered analytics alert security teams to incidents, enterprise organizations can increase operational efficiencies, identify risks more proactively, and ensure informed, rapid response to situations.

AI also makes it possible to augment traditional guard service efforts through the use of integrated robotic systems. These types of solutions are being deployed in a wide variety of situations, leveraging advanced navigation capabilities, obstacle avoidance sensors, and intelligent mechanics to support human guards in potentially dangerous situations. Like video analytics, the use of robots improves safety and security, increases situational awareness, streamlines operations, reduces liability associated with dangerous tasks, and provides operators with intelligent information to better identify and investigate threats.

The first step to implementing AI in your business is preparation. A recent survey from Infosys found 60 percent of business and IT decision-makers worldwide were making investments in IT infrastructure, which is a critical component of implementing new technology. AI, for most companies, seems daunting, but the same survey found many respondents claim there is a need to build AI into their company’s long-term plans, and preparation is critical to its success.

As evidenced by AI’s growing pace of integration into our daily lives (driverless cars and even fashion), you must strive to understand customer attitudes when assessing and implementing these types of technologies. The question for AI has firmly shifted from, “What is AI?” to, “Which AI applications can most improve my customer and employee experience?”

Steve Reinharz is the Founder and CEO of Robotic Assistance Devices (RAD), where he oversees the development, sales and marketing, and strategic vision for the company. Reinharz has more than 20 years of experience in various facets of the high-tech industry — as the founder of security integration firm Security Zone, Inc., and a strategic leader at global enterprises. Reinharz has extensive knowledge of a diverse portfolio of technologies, developing practical, effective solutions for end-user customers. As CEO of RAD, Reinharz leverages his extensive knowledge and interest in robotics and artificial intelligence to design and develop robotic solutions that increase business efficiency and deliver cost savings. Reinharz is a native of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and attended the University of Western Ontario, where he earned dual bachelor of science degrees in political science and commercial studies. Follow him on Twitter: @SteveReinharz