The Internet of Things has become a ubiquitous buzzword today. Backed by the added horsepower of artificial intelligence, we are living in an age of intelligent and interconnected systems that have enormous predictive capabilities. From smart devices that surround us in our home to the fitness wearables we wear during our daily runs, the convergence of AI and IoT is gaining velocity. Especially for consumer brands, AIoT is the key to understand the evolving aspirations of customers, pushing the boundaries of innovation, and unlocking a world of opportunities and possibilities.

Some emerging trends that we see taking shape are:

Healthy and safe living, at your fingertips

It is safe to predict that, even when the pandemic subsides, ‘social-distancing’ will be deeply embedded in our consciousness owing to its drastic impact. As a result, brands will increasingly introduce AIoT solutions that will enable consumers to maintain social hygiene and well-being. We are looking at a world of products that will guide us toward a holistic lifestyle—from smart sensors in homes that monitor air pollutants and signals an alarming rise to occupants to fitness trackers which alert you to maintain a safe distance from your fellow joggers at all times.

A new definition of connected living

There is always a risk of exposure to the virus while operating physical objects. With ‘contactless’ becoming a way of life, electronic brands will have to shift gears to meet emerging needs. Imagine that as you step into your home, smart lights, and smart plugs switch on immediately, thanks to the voice command you send through Alexa. Automated heating sensors fitted in your car or home can adjust the temperature according to the surrounding environment, without you having to regulate it manually.

Television dons the role of a smart hub

Smart TVs, since their introduction in the early 2000s, have lent a new patina of ease and convenience to everyday life. Not only has the genre found popularity with users browsing social media platforms, streaming music, listening to podcasts, video calling en masse, but advanced tech features such as 4K UHD streaming has also found favour. Soon, we will see smart TVs becoming new smart hubs, through which consumers can operate and control multiple ‘smart’ AI and IoT devices.

Mapping the digitally savvy shopper

The rules of engagement in retail are changing. As we see a surge of omnichannel shopping in a post-pandemic future, brands will find innovative ways to attract consumers and retain lasting loyalty. With intelligent solutions and AI-driven data analysis, brands will be able to understand consumption patterns, lifestyle goals, immediate requirements, and cater to them at a more personalised level, bringing products and services to the doorstep of the consumer with high agility and nimbleness. Retailers are already using RFID and beacon technologies to offer highly curated, personalised experiences for shoppers in-store.

With the hitherto accepted definition of a new normal changing, brands need to make ‘targeted innovation’ a lynchpin of their consumer outreach strategy. The lethal combination of artificial intelligence and IoT will help garner vast pools of data at a granular level, using which brands can get a 360°, deep-dive view into consumers of the future.

Views are personal. The author is CEO, realme India, and vice president, realme.

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