What is Ambient Intelligence?

Ambient intelligence, often shortened to “AmI,” is an emerging technology that aims to bring pervasive computing, artificial intelligence (AI) sensors, and sensor networks to our everyday lives. This technology is human-centric, as it is highly responsive to the presence of humans within its environment.

Ambient intelligence is a sophisticated AI system that detects and reacts to human presence. One concrete example of ambient intelligence is Siri or Alexa that responds to you once it detects your voice.

The concept of ambient intelligence was first developed by Eli Zelkha and his colleagues in the late 1990s. They initially aimed to create devices that would work with humans to make the latter’s everyday life easier.

The devices would use data and intelligence carefully collected and stored in connected devices, such as those powered by the Internet of Things (IoT).

Features of ambient intelligence are:

  1. Sensors and devices are embedded in the environment
  2. The system, acting as a whole, is context-aware
  3. Each environment is personalized to space and to the user’s needs
  4. The system is adaptive and evolves over time
  5. The system has anticipatory capabilities
  6. Intelligence is distributed across the environment (like smart dust)

Ambient intelligence systems act in four ways: sensing, reasoning, acting, and interacting.

  1. Sensing: This could be wired or wireless. Sensors are either independent or embedded in a device (such as wearable or smartphone).
  2. Reasoning: Systems will be programmed to ‘reason’ and deliver user functionalities such as:
  • Activity recognition and prediction
  • Ability to interpret and recognize the context of each activity
  • Suggesting a decision or course of action
  • Centralized sending and computing versus distributed sensing and computing
  1. Acting: This generally refers to changing an attribute of the environment (like turning off the lights or opening a door). It can also refer to a robot movement, like vacuuming, or a user notification, like prompting someone to make a decision.
  2. Interacting: There are multiple forums through which ambient intelligence will interact with users. These include devices (like web, mobile, or wearable), home fixtures (like washing machines, refrigerators or wall panels), and natural user interfaces (speech, gestures, touch, motion, facial expressions, and emotions.)