Ambient intelligence

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ambient intelligence

What is meant by ambient intelligence?

Ambient intelligence (AmI) is a multidisciplinary approach that seeks to make our everyday environments intelligent and sensitive to us. It draws on the advances in pervasive computing, artificial intelligence, sensors, and sensor networks, promising to transform our lives by making our surroundings flexible and adaptive.

Artificial intelligence and ambient intelligence are very closely related to each other. Some people even say that ambient intelligence is essentially artificial intelligence in the environment.  

Ambient intelligence is all about environments that are sensitive and responsive to the presence of people. 

Here is how ambient intelligence is defined:

“Ambient Intelligence is a multi-disciplinary approach which aims to enhance the way environments and people interact with each other. The ultimate goal of the area is to make the places we live and work in more beneficial to us. Smart Homes is one example of such systems, but the idea can also be used about hospitals, public transport, factories, and other environments.”
-Juan Carlos Augusto and McCullagh

Ambient intelligence is essentially the ability of technology to make decisions and act on behalf of the users, taking their preferences into consideration on the basis of the data that is available to it from all the connected sensors and systems embedded into the everyday devices surrounding the user. AmI is intuitive and pervasive, rather than needing to ask the user for explicit commands, it can understand the users’ context. It takes actions that are tailored to the users’ preferences.

It is tied very closely to ubiquitous computing and pervasive computing, along with human-centric computer interaction design and context awareness. Here are the characteristics of such ambient intelligence systems:

  • Embedded: There are many networked devices that have been embedded within the environment.
  • Context-awareness: The systems recognize users as well as the user’s situational context.
  • Personalized: These systems can be customized to the user’s requirements.
  • Adaptive: The systems can adapt their performance according to the user’s mental or physical state.
  • Anticipatory: AmI systems are capable of anticipating a user’s desires without needing any conscious mediation.
  • Non-invasive: They act on their own, without requiring users to take any sort of action.
  • Unobtrusive: The systems are discrete and do not provide any information about the user to other devices and humans other than that which is necessary.
ambient intelligence
Source: IOS Press


What is ubiquitous computing?

Ubiquitous computing refers to a situation where computers become far more numerous and fade into the background. It involves adding intelligence in everyday objects which would deliver information to human users.

It is an ultra-interdisciplinary field and has the potential to greatly impact all spheres of human life. 

What is the difference between ambient intelligence and artificial intelligence?

Artificial intelligence (AI) also known as machine intelligence (MI), refers to the intelligence that is demonstrated by machines, in constrast to the natural intelligence (NI) that humans and other animals demonstrate. Artificial intelligence implements human cognitive functions like perceiving, processing input from the environment and learning. 

But the difference between ambient intelligence and artificial intelligence is that when intelligence is demonstrated by machines in the environment surrounding a user, it is known as ambient intelligence (AmI). Ambient intelligence focuses on humans and the environment, because of which it represents much more than just a large number of AI application areas. Instead, it is a network of different areas


What is the vision of ambient intelligence?

The vision of ambient intelligence (AmI) is to have intelligent computing in the future for which explicit input and output devices will not be needed at all. Rather than these devices, sensors and processors would be embedded into everyday devices and the environment will adapt to the user’s needs and desires in a very seamless manner. Ambient intelligence systems will make use of the contextual information collected via the sensors embedded into these everyday devices and apply Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques to that data for the purpose of interpreting and anticipating the users’ needs and preferences. The whole point of ambient intelligence is to make technolgy easier to use and more human-centric.

How does ambient intelligence work?

Ambient intelligence is a multi-disciplinary and works by combining multiple technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT), Pervasive-Ubiquitous Computing, Networks and Human Computer Interaction (HCI).

It senses the environment and user context via various intelligent digital systems installed in everyday devices making use of IoT sensors and devices. The system then processes the data gathered from these sensors and devices. 

After processing and analyzing the data, the ambient intelligence system interprets it to understand user proximity, state, intent, and behavior. 

Next, it intuits through insights derived from the current data, prior learnings as well as pattern identification. The ambient intelligence system will then pick the next best action and respond to the user via an intuitively designed natural interface of a smart device.


What are the applications of ambient intelligence? Where is ambient intelligence used?

What are the applications of ambient intelligence?

Here are some of the applications of ambient intelligence:

1. Smart homes

Smart homes refer to houses that can bring advanced services to their users. Many items in homes can have sensors embedded in them, gathering information about their use and sometimes even allowing the items to act independently without human intervention.

2. Public transportation

The public transportation sector can make use of ambient intelligence in technologies like GPS-based spatial location, vehicle identification, image processing, etc.

3. Emergency services

They can help identify the location where an incident took place, directing the emergency response team (eg. a fire brigade) with greater accuracy. They could also show them the fastest way to reach that location.

There are many other applications of ambient intelligence, ranging from the healthcare industry to production-oriented environments.

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