Ambient devices are a new genre of consumer electronics characterized by their ability to be perceived at-a-glance (also called "glanceable"). Ambient devices use pre-attentive processing to display information: the ability for the brain to perceive information without any apparent cognitive load.
The New York Times Magazine announced ambient devices as one of the Ideas of the Year in 2002 on the heels of a start-up company, Ambient Devices, releasing their first product Ambient Orb, a frosted-glass ball lamp which maps information to a linear color spectrum and displays the trend in the data. Other products in the ambient genre have since been produced, such as the wifi-enabled 2008 Chumby, and in October 2012 the more sophisticated, 52-LED device MooresCloud (a reference to Moore's Law) from Australia.
Initial research on ambient devices began at Xerox Parc with a paper co-written by Mark Weiser and John Seely Brown entitled Calm Computing. Associated fields include Ubiquitous computing (also known as Ubicomp) and Calm technology.
- Thompson, Clive (December 15, 2002). "The Year in Ideas; News That Glows". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-23.
- Lyons, Daniel (March 24, 2008). "Chumby and the Ambient Web". Forbes. Retrieved 2008-06-23.
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