The central theme of todays ISB (Information Society & Business) Event 2006: AmIGro in the city of Groningen in the Netherlands was Ambient Intelligence. Some of Europe’s leading Ambient Intelligence researchers shared their vision at this event.
According to the Ambient Intelligence vision, devices in our homes , offices, cars and public spaces will be interconnected,adaptative, personalized and context-aware. Most of all, this technology will play an important role in our future daily lives, but stays hidden in the background; it’s integrated with our environment. The users personal convenience will be at the absolute centre of the interaction between man and machine.
The four main lectures were held by:
Mark van Doorn – Research scientist of Philips Research Laboratories Eindhoven, The Netherlands.
Prof. Kevin Warwick – Cybernetics Professor at the University of Reading(Reading, UK).
Nirvana Meratnia – University of Twente, Department of Computer Science – Smart Surroundings
Rob Tow – Researcher of the wireless sensornetworkgroup of the Sun Lab in California (USA) and researcher in the group ‘Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems”
Mark van Doorn: “By putting the user and the experience at the center and technology in the background of our lives, Ambient Intelligence emphasizes the role of the individual who seeks psychological self-determination. To create personalized Ambient Intelligence on a mass basis however, we must also take into account costs”
In his talk he discussed the search for a concept that combines the best of both worlds, the scale of mass production and the scope of customized solutions.
“Many views on the experience economy and Ambient Intelligence start with the behavior of actors in society at large and try to understand and explain their dynamics and subsequently, the consequences for technology. In other words, their focus is on the external, obejective, physical world, But since experiences are inherently personal and only exist in ouw own internal, subjective, mental universe, I would like to start the search from the inside and see what cognitive science can tell us about experience. This story brings us to the experience economy at large and experience environments where individuals are not just spectators but active participants in the creation of their experience, their story. These environments bring us to the concept of “ambient narratives” (interactive narratives situated in mixed reality designed to enhance the performance of everyday life activities). Ambient Intelligence and finally enabling technologies.”
Mark published his views on the literary mind and the experience economy in this great article
Another keynote on AmIGro in the Netherlands was presented by Prof. Kevin Warwick - Professor of cybernetics at the University of Reading, UK.
Many people know the name of Professor Kevin Warwick through his controversial ideas about cyborg technology. His fame may also come from the fact of him being the first human to implant chips into his body. Kevin Warwick explores the boundaries of science and uses the full potential of ICT by combining the human body with electronics. Since many people have ethical objections about this, you can be sure to witness some heated debates about this subject. Professor Warwick’s vision about cyborg technology connects perfectly to the theme of AmIGro, because it will bring about all kinds of new opportunities in the field of intelligent environments, such as thought communication. Kevin Warwick is Professor in the field of Cybernetics at the University of Reading, England and is director of the KTP centre (Knowledge Transfer Partnerships centre), an organisation which strives for better interaction between the academic world and business world.
Nirvana Meratnia lectured on Smart Surroundings. According to Nirvana iIt is foreseen that soon people will be surrounded by deeply embedded and flexibly networked devices that are able to easily provide valuable information about people as well as the environment that they are in. “These devices should perform their tasks in an unobtrusive and intelligent way to result in enriching daily life, enhancing people’s efficiency and effectiveness, increasing productivity and simplifying tasks based on accurately gathered data and reliably extracting information from it. This is the ubiquitous computing vision. Our ambition is to make the ubiquitous computing vision a reality. Therefore, the overall mission of the Smart Surroundings project is to investigate, define, develop, and demonstrate the core architectures and frameworks for future ambient systems“.
The following is the abstract of Rob Tow’s presentation “Clockwork and Steam Engines; Apollo and Rain Forests; Ubiquity and Ambience”.
In early modern Europe two metaphors drawn from technology – clockwork determinism and feedback control in steam engines – competed intellectually and influenced technology, politics and society, leading to differing expressions in Continental Europe and Britain. Likewise, in peri-Y2K modernity, the two metaphors of Ubiquitous Computing and Ambient Computing both provide frameworks for developing technology, agency, and politics – one an Apollonian vision of discourse mediated through distributed displays and UI; the other an emergent ecology of agency distributed among people and machines. I will argue for the power of the latter metaphor, and describe the potential of exteriorizing human agency into active objects that have their own perception/representation/action loop. I will also describe Sun Labs new sensor network platform for exploring and developing such systems – “Sun SPOTS”.