On-device AI is a whole new way to experience artificial intelligence.

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At Mobile World Congress last week, the show floor was buzzing with AI. It was the same at CES two months ago: the biggest theme of the biggest consumer tech show was that AI suddenly seems to be a part of every product. But hype can make it hard to know what we should be excited about, what we should fear and what we should dismiss as a fad.

“All-encompassing… but also dominant.” That’s how Ben Wood, chief analyst at CCS Insight, described the MWC moment. “For many participants, I felt it was quickly reaching a level that threatened AI fatigue.”

But there was a positive side to it. Wood said: “The most impressive demos were from companies showing the benefits of AI that could be offered rather than describing a service or product as AI-ready.”

At last year’s MWC, the popular generative AI tool ChatGPT was only 3 months old, and on-device AI was the twinkle in the eye of most existing tech companies. This year, on-device was a reality, and attendees – like me – could experience it on the show floor.

I got to experience several demos featuring AI on devices, and the best of them brought artificial intelligence to life in ways I’d never seen before. In many cases, I can see products we’re already familiar with — from smartphones to cars — getting a new lease on life thanks to AI, with some offerings using the technology in unique ways. To differentiate Hoy from its competitors. In other cases, new types of products, such as AI-focused wearables and robots, are emerging that have the potential to do what we know and love.

Above all, it was clear that on-device AI is not the technology for tomorrow’s world. It is available now here. And it can influence your decision about which piece of technology you buy next.

The age of iPhones has come.

My biggest takeaway from MWC was that while all tech companies now have a fleet of AI tools, most are choosing to deploy them in different ways.

Take a smartphone. Samsung has developed Gauss, its big language model (the tech that powers AI chatbots), to focus on translation on the Galaxy S24, while Honor has added eye tracking to its newly introduced Magic 6 Pro. has used AI to do — which I had to try. at his booth. Oppo and Xiaomi, meanwhile, both have on-device generative AI that they’re applying to phone cameras and photo-editing tools.

This shows that we are entering a new era of experimentation as tech companies realize what AI can do, and how it can improve our experience of using their products. .

Samsung’s YJ Kim, the company’s executive vice president and head of its language AI team, told reporters at the MWC roundtable that Samsung has thought deeply about what kind of AI tools it wants to bring to consumers. That will take the Galaxy S24 above the basic. The smartphone experience we’ve come to expect. “We have to make sure that customers get some tangible benefit from their day-to-day use of the products or technologies that we develop,” he said.

Conversely, there is also some crossover in AI tools between devices due to phone manufacturing partners. As the maker of Android, the operating system used by nearly all non-Apple phones, Google has been experimenting heavily with AI features. These will be available on phones made by Samsung, Xiaomi, Oppo, Honor and many others.

Google used its presence at this year’s MWC to talk about some of its recently introduced AI features, such as Circle to Search, a visual search tool that searches for anything you see on the screen. Lets draw a circle around .

Google’s Circle2 Search was heavily featured at the company’s MWC booth.

Katie Collins/CNET

A second, less visible partner that the phone makers have in common is chipmaker Qualcomm, whose chips were across a spectrum of devices at MWC this year. Its Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip, announced in late 2023, can be found in many phones now running on-device generative AI.

It’s only been a year since Qualcomm first showed a basic demo of what AI could look like on a phone. Ziyad Asghar, who leads the company’s AI product roadmap, said phones packing the technology are now on sale.

“From our perspective, we are qualified,” Asghar said. “Each of our partners can choose to commercialize with unique experiences that they believe are more important to their end user.”

At MWC, the company launched its AI Hub, which gives developers access to 75 plug-and-play generative AI models that they can choose to apply to their products. That number will grow, and that means any company making devices with Qualcomm chips will be able to add all kinds of AI features.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra is showing off a new chat translation feature.

Lisa Adecco/CNET

Along with deciding which AI features to develop, one of the next big challenges for phone makers will be getting AI into their affordable devices. For now AI is mainly reserved for top-end phones – the Galaxy S24s of the world – but that will change over time. There will be a trickle-down effect where this tech ends up on the company’s wider range of devices.

Asghar said there will naturally be differences in quality and speed between the most expensive and cheapest devices, as is the case with phone camera tech currently.

AI is changing how we interact with our devices.

AI improvements to our phones are all well and good, but we’re already seeing artificial intelligence being used in ways that have the power to completely change how we interact with our devices—with It’s also likely changing which devices we choose.

In addition to enabling companies to bring AI into their existing device lines, Qualcomm’s tech is powering concept phones like the T Phone, created by Deutsche Telekom and Brain.AI. Together, they’ve tapped Qualcomm’s chipset to completely reimagine your phone’s interface, better suited to your needs and the tasks you’re trying to accomplish. Based on what you see on the screen, it responds to you, whatever you see on the screen. go

This interface was developed based on the request to find flights in real time.

Andrew Linkson/CNET

In the demo I saw at MWC, the AI ​​showed that it has the potential to end days of constant app switching as you try to make a plan or complete a task. “It really changes the way we interface with our devices and becomes much more natural,” Asghar said.

But, he said, this is just the beginning. He wants to see the same concept applied to mixed reality glasses. He sees the big advantage of AI in allowing new inputs through gesture, voice and vision that don’t necessarily rely on us tapping on a screen. “Technology is a lot more interesting when it’s not really in your face, but it’s solving problems for you in an almost invisible way,” he said.

His words reminded me of a moment at the MWC keynote presentation when Google DeepMind CEO Demas Hassabis asked an important question. “In five-plus years, is the phone really going to be the best form factor?” Hasabis said. “All kinds of wonderful things can be invented.”

As we saw with the Rabbit R1 at CES and the Humane AI pin at MWC, these things are starting to become a reality. In my demo with the AI ​​Pin — a wearable device with no screen that you interact with through voice and touch — it was clear to me that AI is making room for experimentation. It allows us to ask what success the phone can have as a dominant piece of technology in our lives.

See it: Human AI pins hands-on: The wearable phonelet lights up like R2-D2

It’s also opening up new possibilities for tech that’s been around for a while but for whatever reason hasn’t quite caught on with consumers and found success outside of specific use cases.

Many of us have now played with creative AI chatbots like ChatGPT, and we’re increasingly familiar with the idea of ​​AI assistants. One company, Integrit from South Korea, brought a robot to the show that demonstrated how we can interact with these services in public settings, such as hotels or stores. Its AI and robotics platform, Stella AI, features a giant stone-sized display on a robotic arm that can rotate to address you directly.

Where it differs from previous robots I’ve encountered in customer service settings, such as the popular Pepper, is that Stella is integrated with the latest AI models, including OpenAI’s GPT-4 and Meta’s Llama. This means it is capable of having sophisticated conversations with people in many different languages.

Instead of featuring a humanoid robot face like Pepper, Stella uses creative AI to project a photorealistic human on its display. It’s entirely possible that people will feel more comfortable interacting with a human, even one who isn’t real, than a humanoid robot, but it seems too early to know for sure. Is.

Integrit’s Stella combines robotics with AI in a new way.

Andrew Linkson/CNET

What is clear is that this is only the beginning. This is the first generation of devices to truly harness the power of generative and interactive AI, and the floodgates are now wide open.

“I think we’ll see MWC 2024 as a seminal year for AI on connected devices,” said Wood, CCS Insight analyst. “All the pieces of the jigsaw are falling into place for developers to start innovating around AI to deliver new experiences that will make our interactions with smartphones and PCs more intuitive.”

If this is just the beginning, I’m curious to check back a year from now to see how AI continues to transform our devices. Hype aside, there’s already a lot happening to get excited about.

Editors’ note: CNET is using an AI engine to help generate some stories. For more, see This post.

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