According to Wikipedia, 'ambient intelligence (AmI) refers to electronic environments that are sensitive and responsive to the presence of people.' In 'Ambient intelligence: snowboarding to the new frontier,' ICT Results reports that ambient intelligence is a key component for future beyond 3G mobile and wireless communication systems. This is why two EU-funded projects are actively trying to integrate sensor networks into wireless communication systems and to 'capture' the user's environment. According to the researchers, potential applications could improve 'the response of emergency services to car crashes and other accidents, as well as leisure and sporting applications.' But read more...
You can see above a figure describing the e-SENSE vision of collaborating networks. (Credit: e-SENSE) e-SENSE was the first EU-Funded project dedicated to the capture of ambient intelligence. It ran from January 2006 to December 2007 for a cost of 10 million euros.
Before going further, here is how Wikipedia defines the concept of ambient intelligence. "In computing, ambient intelligence (AmI) refers to electronic environments that are sensitive and responsive to the presence of people. Ambient intelligence is a vision on the future of consumer electronics, telecommunications and computing that was originally developed in the late 1990s for the time frame 2010–2020. In an ambient intelligence world, devices work in concert to support people in carrying out their everyday life activities, tasks and rituals in easy, natural way using information and intelligence that is hidden in the network connecting these devices."
And here are some explanations provided by ICT Results. "'The idea is to integrate sensor networks into wireless communication systems and to 'capture' the user's environment, perhaps using a mobile phone as a gateway, and then transmit this context to a service platform to deliver a personalised service and act on situations,' says Laurent Herault, project coordinator of a research scheme developing new ways of capturing ambient intelligence in post-3G mobile communication systems through wireless sensor networks."
It is interesting to know what these future networks will learn about us. "The context captured can be an environmental one, such as location, but also the subject's emotional context -- what is known as the 'physiological state.' 'We capture physiological parameters, such as temperature, heart rate and skin conductance levels [measuring sweat gland activity],' says Herault who heads the e-Sense project. 'We analyse the evolution of these signals and the function of emotional input. For instance, we show [people] films and we analyse their reaction via sensors. We can determine if a person is afraid, happy, sad...'"
As you'll see in this e-SENSE overview, the project was focused on three technology oriented research areas.
- Energy and Bandwidth Efficient, wireless sensor communications
- Scalable and Reconfigurable Transport of Data (air-intefaces up to the transport layer in a cross functional optimised approach)
- Distributed Processing Middleware (preparation of data to be presented to upper layers, management of resources and pre-processing of data (e.g. synchronisation)); situation aware applications and services (e.g. positioning)
The e-SENSE has now ended, but a new European project called Sensei "will take research a step further by integrating the powerful network islands made up of different protocol elements into the web." This new project, which doesn't have currently a website, started on January 1, 2008 for a duration of 3 years at a cost exceeding 23 million euros. Here is a link to the description of the project called "Integrating the physical with the digital world of the network of the future," but I cannot guarantee that the link will be permanent.
Anyway, here are the goals of this project. "In order to realise the vision of Ambient Intelligence in a future network and service environment, heterogeneous wireless sensor and actuator networks (WS&AN) have to be integrated into a common framework of global scale and made available to services and applications via universal service interfaces. SENSEI creates an open, business driven architecture that fundamentally addresses the scalability problems for a large number of globally distributed WS&A devices. It provides necessary network and information management services to enable reliable and accurate context information retrieval and interaction with the physical environment. By adding mechanisms for accounting, security, privacy and trust it enables an open and secure market space for context-awareness and real world interaction."
So will soon be able to transmit our emotions via wireless networks? Time will tell.
Sources: ICT Results, January 7, 2008; and various websites
You'll find related stories by following the links below.