Ambience Design

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Ambience design communicates with all senses. Holistic experiences which take into account hearing, sight, taste, scent and touch are created using transdisciplinary design. Ambience design means a shift from mere visual impressions to lived experiences.
Smart materials and spaces can be successfully exploited in ambience design. The goal is to increase the interaction between environments and their users.
The central feature of ambience design is to create a changing identity. Tapio Mäkelä has stated:
“We need to design for time and place, or rather, for situations, durations, and different localities. Because the rhythm of life is accelerating, design has to better take into account fast user interactions while people are mobile and the varied multisensory and social conditions we inhabit. Furthermore, slowing down the pace of life and creating more static spaces can counterbalance the increasingly fragmented and dispersed everyday urban work and leisure. In my opinion, realizing this is central in order to design for increased welfare”
(Mäkelä 2006

New Spatial Thinking

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New spatial thinking projects are very useful in understanding how new relationships are being developed between information in interfaces and users controlling or interacting with these interfaces.
Real-time customization is being applied to an increasing number of new UI projects and creates a unique experience as it allows users to dynamically manipulate the organization
of information without needing to refresh a specific page (giving a user an uninterrupted experience).
Picture shows the ability to move modules on Facebook – giving the user freedom of control

Control and Authority

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Atomisation and Ambient Intelligence raises questions of authority and ownership. Do we want decisions to be taken from our control? Do we prefer the captivating moments created by an adaptable environment or do we prefer the predictable conversations we have with ordinary light switch? The difficulty in the introduction of a new ambient system is the uncertainty of its effect in the society. The benefit of IT systems appears when it is implemented deeply into the society and impacts social activities in a large scope. Traditionally technologies slowly integrate themselves into society, allowing for a gradual adaptation period where eventually the exercise becomes intuitive. The key to designing intelligent environments is to design not too far removed for our normal practices.

The Information Society Technologies Advisory Group (ISTAG) who have been set up as a European advisory body for the overseeing of new technologies, suggests that the following characteristics will permit the societal acceptance of ambient intelligence:

  • AmI should facilitate human contact.
  • AmI should be orientated towards community and cultural enhancement.
  • AmI should inspire trust and confidence.
  • AmI should be consistent with long term sustainability
  • AmI should be made easy to live with and controllable by ordinary people.

ISTAG 2008, Annual Report Password

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