Both Microsoft and Google held keynote events this month. One major takeaway from the news these companies shared is that recent advancements in technology will have a dramatic effect on how people will use AR and AI in the near future.
Here are a few of the game-changing things being discussed.
Augmented Reality will become a part of daily life
At the end of Satya Nadella's keynote at Microsoft Build, he teased a new Minecraft game for mobile devices. What was different about this version was that it appeared to be running in AR -- similar to last year's runaway hit, Pokemon Go.
Microsoft has made huge leaps lately with its HoloLens technology. The new versions of the AR headset will have serious business applications in the healthcare, sciences and design industries. The US Military also ordered 100,000 HoloLens devices to use in training and operational situations -- a decision that was seen as controversial by some in the tech industry.
At its I/O keynote, Google's CEO, Sundar Pichai, spoke about making search more visual. Users could speak a search request into Google, then see images or videos of their request through their phone's camera. Google Lens is also getting an update that will bring more AR capability to its Google Maps integration. Lens will be able to pull up a menu and display pictures of specific dishes pulled from Google maps. Hovering Google Lens over certain magazines, like Vogue and Bon Appétit will bring elements off the page that users will be able to interact with.
It's too early to tell which AR advancements will have the most traction and long-term use, but the developments being made by Microsoft, Google, and other tech giants point to a more AR-filled future for everyone with a mobile device.
Artificial Intelligence continues to get smarter and more conversational.
The expectations for AI technology keep rising. In a recent Microsoft blog post about the build conference, Chris Stetkiewicz, author of the AI blog said, “Just a few years ago, artificial intelligence was largely relegated to universities and research labs, a charming computer science concept with little use in mainstream business. Today, AI is being integrated into everything from your refrigerator to your favorite workout app.”
Microsoft continues to seek ways to integrate AI into its popular Office 365 subscription. Both Outlook and Word will get new AI processes with their updates. Using AI to better analyze emails or automate tasks is a big part of Microsoft's focus on helping end users to be more productive.
Microsoft has created a machine reading comprehension tool for its search that can find a paragraph from a document related to a user's question. An example from the AI Blog was if an employee wanted to know “Can I bring my dog to work?” They'd be able to use Microsoft Search to find the relevant paragraph from the human resources manual and discover the answer. Not only understanding a question, but also being able to locate an answer from thousands of words of text is certainly an advancement in this emerging technology.
Following in the steps of Microsoft's success, Google also sees the value in focusing on productivity tools, “We are moving from a company that helps you find answers to a company that helps you get things done," Sundar Pichai said in his keynote.
Virtual assistants like Google Assistant and Microsoft's Cortana are aiming to make AI use more like a discussion, rather than a series of prompts.
Microsoft is re-imagining Cortana as a skilled tool that can run anywhere, as opposed to a direct competitor to the more established Google Assistant and Amazon's Alexa.
What this means for users, is that AI will become more widely adopted as it transitions from just following a set of commands to being conversational and taking actions based on human behavior.
These leaps in AR and AI technology, along with the real-world practical use cases they are being developed for, puts us at the brink of the next tech revolution.