Augmented Intelligence: The Key to Success for Our New Normal

May 12, 2020
Seth Oakley Principal, Director - Cincinnati Operations

As Georgia made bold moves forward on the path to reentry, the outcome turned out to be one no model or scientist predicted – despite the state being reopened, people chose to stay sheltered in place. Retail vendors, restaurants, and government officials, all perplexed by this plot twist are all questioning the motives, raising questions on how to make people safe in an open space.

The experience of this pandemic is driving a shift towards a frictionless, low-impact society, creating a shift in the built environment towards less human interaction within a physical space. Reducing friction and offering a low touch but high-impact, fast and efficient experience is going to be a key element of success; however, the need for human connection is greater than ever.

So how does an experience driven by technology while elevating human connection exist? Augmented intelligence.

Evolving from artificial intelligence, where computers analyze, learn, and interact in ways that normally require human intelligence, augmented intelligence is the use of artificial intelligence to supplement and support human intelligence, with humans remaining at the center of the decision making process.

Instead of replacing human intelligence, augmented intelligence technology enhances human ability to process. This concept is the panacea of human connection and technology, incorporating the interaction of both without the reliance on one.

The challenge of the pandemic will change the design of spaces, and in many ways for the better. Technology and machine learning can help us work faster and be more productive, and the use of algorithms can find ways to allow people to have more personalized and meaningful experiences.

As we are consulting clients through this time, we are finding creative and innovative ways to incorporate augmented intelligence, shrinking the gap between humans and technology, and creating even more elevated experiences in the built environment than ever before experienced.

Designing built environments for the immediate future will only be successful if we, as designers, understand how augmented intelligence can be leveraged to help occupants work faster, be more productive, and maintain or improve personalized and meaningful connections while operating within the new norms of social-distancing.

Isolation elevates our need for human connection and quarantine has increased our reliance on technology which leads to higher expectations for its availability and functionality. Customer service is more important than ever, and an immediate use for augmented intelligence is to analyze and improve it. MA’s Research and Innovation team is working through scenarios and activations for this concept and will share some insight from the inside.

Augmented Intelligence in Retail

Augmented intelligence can be programmed to learn consumer’s preferences and personalities and customize their in-store experience. The application of this technology serves as a differentiator for brick and mortar stores, providing an experience that can not be replicated digitally online. This programming serves consumers to regain time back, attracted by a customized experience that in a retail application could look like pre-selected pieces based upon consumer behavior to provide a personalized shopping experience, presented by an engaging sales associate that will facilitate the process.

This technology can also work to control the flow of human footprint and traffic, indicating wait times at our pharmacies and grocery stores so we know when peak hours are, managing the number of occupants and maintaining a semblance of safety to assure consumers. Additionally, it allows sales associates the opportunity to have more bandwidth to support shoppers.

Further, inventory updates and stock can be sent as notifications, making trips purposeful and productive. These concepts serve as ways to upsell and customize consumer’s experiences, facilitating better human interaction by providing insight to the preferences and making more educated recommendations for additional, or alternative, products that serve the needs of shoppers.

Augmented Intelligence in Restaurants

Humans are predictable and, using algorithms that incorporate past orders, preferences, and nutritional requirements, restaurateurs can help navigate the consumer’s journey, making meal recommendations and enhancements to their dining experience. Human hosts guide the consumer through this process which helps with decision fatigue and allows the consumers to make choices that align with their goals and desired outcomes to best exceed expectations. An increase of digital purchasing platforms will decrease the need for point-of-sale stations within the physical space, increasing options for flexibility with the floor plan to explore creative engagement experiences for consumers. Digital activations and campaigns can serve as brand loyalty building tools to create a relationship with the consumer in memorable ways that differentiate a brand.

Augmented Intelligence in Mental Health

In life post-pandemic, the three C’s are the key to success – comfort, choice, and control – and augmented intelligence enables that. As time navigating the pandemic increases in parallel with an increase in mental health concerns, sentiment analysis on tech equipment can recognize facial expressions to monitor and track moods in a noninvasive way. With depression predicted to be the leading healthcare concern in the United States by 2030, emotional well being is a key priority in life post-pandemic, with conversations around loneliness, depression, and an increase in suicides.

Augmented Intelligence in the Workplace

The workplace is an incredible environment for the implementation of augmented intelligence, lending itself to more purposeful interactions by eliminating mundane tasks and managing simple forms of communications. If you think about structural engineers, they used to take a lot of time to do math calculations. Using complex computer simulations and analysis, they now use their brainpower to be creative in designing and testing new theories. Augmented intelligence in the workplace is really about bringing more time for flexibility, and creativity, paving the pathway for innovation.

Augmented Intelligence in Residential

“Smart homes” are happening now, but augmented intelligence is what comes next for residential, allowing for a better tailored lifestyle. We are currently pivoting the conversation with our clients from “Smart homes” to thinking about augmented intelligence allowing for “Helpful homes.” Residents’ “profiles” could even allow an aggregation of data to successfully match renters and owners with homes that best align with their lifestyles and preferences. By allowing for a better tailored lifestyle, demographic marketing and sales becomes easier for developers and property owners, narrowing their scope to their most ideal client. Once moved in, augmented intelligence can further deepen the satisfaction of the resident by introducing them to an expansion of interests you didn’t even know exists. By broadening their scope of interests, amenities can become more intentional and purpose driven, and availability managed by augmented intelligence programs to maintain flow of usage, traffic and design justification.

Augmented Intelligence in Higher Education

As Higher Ed begins to return to the rise of the apprenticeship mentality, students are learning they don’t have to be good at everything. With progressive Universities ditching the notion of well-rounded students and returning to specialties, the integration of augmented intelligence can serve as exposure for a foundational basis. By understanding strengths, and developing areas of expertise, this technology can understand learning styles and gear teachings towards that. Changing class styles subtly to cater to different learning styles expedites the process of making students more specialized, giving them an education that differentiates each individual student when they enter the workplace. Class schedules can be updated based upon performance in other classes, including peak performance times throughout the day to best align with a student’s circadian rhythm to optimize performance and learning.

Over the course of the next decade, everything around us will become more intelligent, more communicative, and more connected. We will no longer be living with our machines, but instead, work in partnership with them. As augmented intelligence grows and evolves, humans and tech will use their respective complementary strengths to work stronger together. Read more about the future of connected living here, and stay tuned for creative ways we work with our clients to bring this reality to life.