Ambient intelligence

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An (expected) evolution of computing from 1960 to 2010

Ambient intelligence (AmI) is a term used in computing to refer to electronic environments that are sensitive to the presence of people. The term is generally applied to consumer electronics, telecommunications, and computing.

Ambient intelligence is intended to enable devices to work in concert with people in carrying out their everyday activities in an intuitive way, by using information and intelligence hidden in the network connecting these devices. An example of ambient intelligence is the Internet of Things (IoT). A typical context of the ambient intelligence environment is the home, but it may also be workspaces (offices, co-working), public spaces (based on technologies such as smart streetlights), and hospital environments.[1]

The concept of ambient intelligence was originally developed in the late 1990s by Eli Zelkha and his team at Palo Alto Ventures for the 2010–2020 time frame.[2][3][4][5] Developers theorise that as devices grow smaller, more connected, and more integrated into human environments, the technological framework behind them will disappear into the surroundings until only the user interface remains perceivable by people.


The ambient intelligence concept builds upon pervasive computing, ubiquitous computing, profiling, context awareness, and human-centric computer interaction design. It is characterised by systems and technologies that are:[6]

  • Embedded: Many networked devices are integrated into the environment.
  • Context aware: These devices can recognise people and their situations.
  • Personalized: They can be tailored to people's needs.
  • Adaptive: They can change in response to people.
  • Anticipatory: They can anticipate a person's desires without a person's conscious mediation.

Implementation of ambient intelligence requires several technologies to exist. These include hidden hardware that benefit from miniaturization, nanotechnology, and smart devices, as well as human-centric computer interfaces (intelligent agents, multimodal interaction, context awareness, etc). These systems and devices operate through a seamless mobile/fixed communication and computing infrastructure characterised by interoperability, wired and wireless networks, and service-oriented architecture. Systems and devices must also be dependable and secure, which may be achieved through self-testing and self-repairing software and privacy-ensuring technology.

Ambient intelligence has a relationship with—and depends on advances in—sensor technology and sensor networks.[7]

User experience became more important to developers in the late 1990s as a result of digital products and services that were difficult to understand or use. In response, user experience design emerged to create new technologies and media around the user's personal experience. Ambient intelligence is influenced by user-centred design, where the user is placed in the centre of the design activity and gives feedback to the designer.

History and invention[edit]

In 1998, the management board of Philips Research commissioned a series of presentations and internal workshops organised by Eli Zelkha and Brian Epstein of Palo Alto Ventures. They investigated future scenarios and how consumer devices might advance over the next quarter-century. Zelkha and Epstein described the high-volume consumer electronics industry of the 1990s as "fragmented with features"; they envisioned that by 2020, an industry where user-friendly devices would support ubiquitous information, communication, and entertainment.[8] For this outcome the term "ambient intelligence" was coined.

While developing the ambient intelligence concept, Palo Alto Ventures created the keynote address for Roel Pieper of Philips for the Digital Living Room Conference of 1998,[9] which included Eli Zelkha, Brian Epstein, Simon Birrell, Doug Randall, and Clark Dodsworth. In 2000, there were plans to construct a feasibility and usability facility dedicated to ambient intelligence; these led to the opening of HomeLab on 24 April 2002. In 2005, Philips joined the Oxygen Alliance, an international consortium of industrial partners within the context of MIT's Oxygen Project,[10] which was aimed at developing technology for the computer of the 21st century.

Along with the developing vision at Philips, several parallel initiatives started to explore ambient intelligence in more detail. Following the advice of the Information Society and Technology Advisory Group (ISTAG), the European Commission used the vision for the launch of their sixth framework (FP6) in Information, Society and Technology, with a budget of 3.7 billion euros.

During the first decade of the 21st century, several significant initiatives were started. The Fraunhofer Society started several such activities, including multimedia, micro-system design, and augmented spaces. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology started an ambient intelligence research group at their Media Lab.[11] Several more research projects were started in countries such as the United States, Canada, Spain, France, and the Netherlands. Since 2004, the European Symposium on Ambient Intelligence (EUSAI) and many other conferences have been held that address special topics in ambient intelligence.

Social and political aspects[edit]

The Europe's ISTAG suggests that society may be encouraged to use ambient intelligence, if AmI projects meet these criteria:[12]

  • Facilitate human contact.
  • Be oriented towards community and cultural enhancement.
  • Help to build knowledge and skills for work, better quality of work, citizenship, and consumer choice.
  • Inspire trust and confidence.
  • Be consistent with long-term sustainability – personal, societal, and environmental – and with lifelong learning.
  • Be made easy to live with and controllable by ordinary people.

Business models[edit]

ISTAG concluded that ambient intelligence technologies can contribute to business profitability in a number of ways. The methods identified were:[citation needed]

  • Initial premium-value niche markets in industrial, commercial, or public applications. The group predicted a particular value where enhanced interfaces are needed to support human performance in fast-moving or delicate situations.
  • Startup and spinoff opportunities from filling gaps in existing markets.
  • High access-low entry cost to create economies of scale – possibly using a loss leader pricing structure.
  • 'Free' services at the point of delivery, paid by advertising or complementary services or goods; this ties AmI to the nascent attention economy.
  • Self-provision based upon the network economies of large user communities providing information as a gift or at near-zero cost (e.g. social networking applications).
  • Combining multiple and diverse datasets in one platform to understand consumer behaviour.


A variety of technologies can be used to enable ambient intelligence environments, such as:[13]


The ambient intelligence concept is subject to criticism.[14] Ambient intelligence can be immersive, personalised, context-aware, and anticipatory; these characteristics bring up societal, political, and cultural concerns about the loss of privacy. Proponents of AmI argue that applications of ambient intelligence can function without necessarily reducing privacy.[15][16][17]

Critics also discuss the potential for concentrations of power in large organisations; a fragmented, decreasingly private society; and hyper-real environments where the virtual is indistinguishable from the real.[18] Several research groups and communities have investigated the socioeconomic, political, and cultural aspects of ambient intelligence.

Appearance in fiction[edit]

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, 1979 novel by Douglas Adams: The doors have emotion and express this when people use them.
  • The Diamond Age, 1995 novel by Neal Stephenson: It depicts a world completely changed by the full development of nanotechnology that is present everywhere.
  • Minority Report (2002 film): One scene illustrates adaptive advertising where the future-consumers are identified via retinal scans and receive targeted ads.[19]
  • Her (2013 film): The opening scene depicts the protagonist commuting home. Upon arriving, the various lights throughout the apartment are turned on as the character moves through the rooms (automated lighting control). A later scene shows that an artificial entity can also control these systems, changing a song in the background to lighten a situation and for humorous effect.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ambient Intelligence within a Home Environment". Retrieved December 14, 2017.
  2. ^ Arribas-Ayllon, Michael. "Ambient Intelligence: an innovation narrative".
  3. ^ Aarts, Emile H. L.; Encarnação, José Luis (December 13, 2006). True Visions: The Emergence of Ambient Intelligence. Springer. ISBN 9783540289746 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ Nolin, Jan; Olson, Nasrine (2016). "The Internet of Things and Convenience (PDF Download Available)". Internet Research. 26 (2): 360–376. doi:10.1108/IntR-03-2014-0082.
  5. ^ "Ambient Intelligence Knowledge Center .:".
  6. ^ Brian Epstein, Digital Living Room Conference Keynote 1998, (17 June 1998: revised script) accessed 14/12/17
  7. ^ Cook, Diane J.; Augusto, Juan C.; Jakkula, Vikramaditya R. (August 1, 2009). "Ambient intelligence: Technologies, applications, and opportunities". Pervasive and Mobile Computing. 5 (4): 277–298. doi:10.1016/j.pmcj.2009.04.001. ISSN 1574-1192. S2CID 2751401.
  8. ^ Olson, Nasrine; Nolin, Jan; Nelhans, Gustaf (2015). "Semantic web, ubiquitous computing, or internet of things? A macro-analysis of scholarly publications". Journal of Documentation. 71 (5): 884–916. doi:10.1108/JD-03-2013-0033.
  9. ^ Aarts, Emile H. L.; Encarnação, José Luis (December 13, 2006). True Visions: The Emergence of Ambient Intelligence. Springer. ISBN 9783540289746 – via Google Books.
  10. ^ "MIT Project Oxygen". Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
  11. ^ "Fluid Interfaces Group". MIT Media Lab. Archived from the original on May 10, 2012. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
  12. ^ Burzagli, Laura; Emiliani, Pier Luigi; Antona, Margherita; Stephanidis, Constantine (2022). "Intelligent environments for all: a path towards technology-enhanced human well-being". Universal Access in the Information Society. 21 (2): 437–456. doi:10.1007/s10209-021-00797-0. ISSN 1615-5289. PMC 7956403. PMID 33746688 – via PubMed Central.
  13. ^ Gasson & Warwick 2013.
  14. ^ See, for example, David Wright, Serge Gutwirth, Michael Friedewald, et al., Safeguards in a World of Ambient Intelligence, Springer, Dordrecht, 2008)
  15. ^ Hildebrandt, Mireille; Koops, Bert-Jaap (2010). "The Challenges of Ambient Law and Legal Protection in the Profiling Era" (PDF). The Modern Law Review. 73 (3): 428–460. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2230.2010.00806.x. ISSN 0026-7961. JSTOR 40660735. S2CID 55400364.
  16. ^ Lopez, Mar; Pedraza, Juanita; Carbó, Javier; Molina, José (June 4, 2014). "Ambient Intelligence: Applications and Privacy Policies". Highlights of Practical Applications of Heterogeneous Multi-Agent Systems. The PAAMS Collection. Communications in Computer and Information Science. Vol. 430. pp. 191–201. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-07767-3_18. hdl:10016/27593. ISBN 978-3-319-07766-6.
  17. ^ Streitz, Norbert; Charitos, Dimitris; Kaptein, Maurits; Böhlen, Marc (January 1, 2019). "Grand challenges for ambient intelligence and implications for design contexts and innovative societies". Journal of Ambient Intelligence and Smart Environments. 11 (1): 87–107. doi:10.3233/AIS-180507. ISSN 1876-1364.
  18. ^ "No Ads on Orkut, but Come". ClickZ. October 8, 2007. Retrieved December 14, 2017.
  19. ^ Parker 2002.


External links[edit]

  • SAME Series – Semantic Ambient Media Series Workshop.
  • STAMI Series – Space, Time and Ambient Intelligence (STAMI). International Workshop Series.
  • Sensami – a congress on ambient intelligence.
  • AITAmI – Workshop on "Artificial Intelligence Techniques for Ambient Intelligence".
  • IJACI – The International Journal of Ambient Computing and Intelligence.
  • JAISE – The International Journal of Ambient Intelligence and Smart Environments. ISSN 1876-1364
  • AISE – Book Series on Ambient Intelligence and Smart Environments.
  • – Internet of Things: mainly based on Ambient intelligence.
  • AmI – International Joint Conferences on Ambient Intelligent.