Thursday, November 19, 2009

Visiting AmI in Salzburg

After a rather short night ride on the train I arrived in Salzburg to visit Ami-09.
The session started with keynote prepared by Emile Aarts but hold by Frits Gotefris. He looked back into the history of ambient intelligence and reported about the electronic poem, a combination of architecture music and light dating back to the 40ies. The mentioned requirements of AmI, such as miniaturization, provision of connectivity, displays, textile
. The definition of AmI as environments that are sensitive and responsive to presence of people appeared to me as a rather outdated vision where users are centrally positioned but the entire system is guessing magically the users desires and serving him accordingly. The examples given such as virtual presence and the virtual tapestry, for me, did not add much to credibility of that vision. Interestingly, the year 2015 was mentioned as a milestone where not just environments but also things could be networked, forming an internet of things. I was almost jumping out of my seat – why wait, we will have the 2nd Internet of Things Conference next year in Tokyo…

Besides the common challenges of coming up with new user interfaces and real world trials, two ‘dark scenarios’ have been mentioned to take care about: people building well engineered technology with bad intentions and people building bad technology with good intentions. The keynote outlined the goal of designing ambient intelligence in eco-affluent manner that allows people to flourish. The examples given where, firstly, light in your hand, a planar flashlight the allows reading books anywhere and anytime at zero cost – well, at least at zero energy costs due to solar power (after 10 years ambient intelligent research the result is electric light!?). Secondly, ambient care was mentioned, where an MRI gets turned into a into multi-dimensional theater that can be designed by children patients and their relatives in order to remove the fear of treatment. Sense-making applications would be key to let ambient intelligence evolve. This indeed would be a healthy turn for the community, trying to get away from designing for luxurious experience only but looking more into ‘real’ problems. The final messag was to put the human into center, nobody in the audience would have ever questioned that...

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