A smart environment is, according to Mark Weiser, "a physical world that is richly and invisibly interwoven with sensors, actuators, displays, and computational elements, embedded seamlessly in the everyday objects of our lives, and connected through a continuous network.".
Smart environments are envisioned as the byproduct of pervasive computing and the availability of cheap computing power, making human interaction with the system a pleasant experience.
Cook and Das  , define Smart environment as "a small world where different kinds of smart device are continuously working to make inhabitants' lives more comfortable." Smart environments aim to satisfy the experience of individuals from every environment, by replacing the hazardous work, physical labor, and repetitive tasks with automated agents. Poslad  differentiates three different kinds of smart environments for systems, services and devices: virtual (or distributed) computing environments, physical environments and human environments, or a hybrid combination of these:
- Virtual computing environments enable smart devices to access pertinent services anywhere and anytime.
- Physical environments may be embedded with a variety of smart devices of different types including tags, sensors and controllers and have different form factors ranging from nano to micro to macro sized.
- Humans environments: humans, either individually or collectively, inherently form a smart environment for devices. However, humans may themselves be accompanied by smart devices such as mobile phones, use surface-mounted devices (wearable computing) and contain embedded devices (e.g., pacemakers to maintain a healthy heart operation).
Smart environments are broadly classified to have the following features
- Remote control of devices, like power line communication systems to control devices.
- Device Communication, using middleware, and Wireless communication to form a picture of connected environments.
- Information Acquisition/Dissemination from sensor networks
- Enhanced Services by Intelligent Devices
- Predictive and Decision-Making capabilities
To build a smart environment, involves technologies of
- Wireless communication
- Algorithm design, Signal Prediction & Classification, Information theory,
- Multilayered Software Architecture, Corba, middleware
- Speech recognition
- Image processing, Image recognition
- Sensors design, calibration, Motion detection, temperature, pressure sensors, accelerometers
- Adaptive control, Kalman filters
- Computer Networking
- Parallel processing
- Operating Systems
The Aware Home Research Initiative at Georgia Tech "is devoted to the multidisciplinary exploration of emerging technologies and services based in the home" and was launched in 1998 as one of the first "living laboratories.". The MavHome (Managing an Adaptive Versatile Home) project, at UT Arlington, is a smart environment-lab with state-of-the-art algorithms and protocols used to provide a customized, personal environment to the users of this space. The MavHome project, in addition to providing a safe environment, wants to reduce the energy consumption of the inhabitants. Other projects include House_n at the MIT Media Lab and many others.
- "The origins of ubiquitous computing research at PARC in the late 1980s". 1999.
- Cook, Diane; Das, Sajal (2005). Smart Environments: Technology, Protocols and Applications. Wiley-Interscience. ISBN 0-471-54448-5.
- Poslad, Stefan (2009). Ubiquitous Computing Smart Devices, Smart Environments and Smart Interaction. Wiley. ISBN 978-0-470-03560-3.
- "Aware Home About US". 2007.
- "MavHome". 2004.