Smart Environments and Ambient Intelligence

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Ambient Intelligence is the term to describe an environment that has been enriched by the implementation of technology. It is essentially a smart environment that can be responsive or adaptable to the user’s requirements. In an intelligent environment, devices work in cohesion to support people in carrying out their everyday life activities and tasks in an natural and intuitive way.

Cook and Das are environmental psychologists who define the smart environment as “a small world where different kinds of smart device are continuously working to make inhabitants’ lives more comfortable.”

Smart Environments: Technologies, Protocols and Applications, Diane J. Cook and Sajal K. Das, June 2008

One role of ambient intelligence is to further optimise services by increasing usability, however another role is to enhance the quality of the experience itself. Our perception and interpretation of a space is what dictates our mood, and our mood is hugely dependant on what our perception of the space is. For Ambient Intelligence to heighten our experiences by reflecting our moods, it must therefore be able to control our environment. As society becomes more dominated by technology, things that were once inert become responsive. Architectural elements can now be enhanced by smart devices that transform the environment into a space that can sense.

But what does this mean for the future of architecture? Advances in new technologies can facilitate a reversion to a more user centric time of architectural design, where the environments built are not just containers of activities but they are part of the activities and have influence over the story of the experience.

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