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The Latest Buzzword - Ambient Computing is on the Rise

October 09, 2020 | Information & Technology

Ambient computing is basically an evolution of interconnected concepts such as artificial intelligence, cognitive processing, and internet of things (IoT). It is considered as one of the incredible developments that has occurred in the computing space, where machines and human can work together seamlessly to create a better working environment. The interoperability and communication standards used in IoT environment not only impacts the current functionalities but also the future possibilities. Therefore, technology providers need to establish improved communication network that enables seamless communication among devices in IoT environment such as smart homes, digital offices, among others.


Establishing best practices for the communication networks is expected to drive the potential of ambient computing. The ability of ambient computing to impeccably communicate and integrate with other energy-generating and consuming devices helps in creating positive network effects, optimizing the value of each device in the operating space.


Ambient computing for personalized healthcare and healthcare monitoring is proving to be a promising solution to provide efficient medical services, especially to those who cannot visit doctors frequently. For instance, in a hospital environment, ambient computing can be used to monitor the heart rates of patient to deliver real-time information to cardiologists. The doctor can then send updated information regarding the medication needs to patients’ pharmacist. After receiving the update from doctor, the pharmacist can then send an alert to patients’ smartwatch letting them know when their medications are ready. All the devices and applications in such scenario are fully integrated, that helps in creating a seamless flow of information and communication.


Further, to assist the doctor to pay complete attention to the patient, without distressing about writing everything down, a speech-recognition company named, Nuance, is working on ambient computing for healthcare called ACI (Ambient Clinical Intelligence). The ACI will work through a camera-enabled smart speaker which would be mounted on the wall of a doctor’s examination room. With the help of deep learning, speech technology and visuals, ACI will be able to document every visit of doctor.



Source: Intel


Are Ambient Computing and Internet of Things Related?


Yes, the ambient computing and internet of things are directly related. IoT describes how the smart devices are connected and ambient computing is what happens when devices get connected. Ambient computing uses an ecosystem of IoT which includes sensors, smart devices, machines, among others that signals a change and acts as triggers. In other words, ambient computing is the backdrop of devices, sensors, agents, and intelligence that puts the IoT to work. Leveraging the enriched connectivity of the IoT and increasing capabilities of ambient computing are likely to lead to the development of several application domains such as healthcare, energy management, transportation, education, emergency services, and others.


For instance, smart thermostat can be controlled from user’s phone instead of controlling it directly or manually. With ambient computing, the smart thermostat is able to predict the temperature based on the temperature, season and schedule. The time is near when ambient computing will assist the smart home and office to run itself based on external factors such as weather, daily schedule, time of year, and owners’ needs and mood.


 



 


Future Aspects of Ambient Computing



Ambient computing is not only the future of smart homes but is expected to bring new machine age to the smart world too. It will be functioning to help everyday lives unobtrusively and calmly. Several  industries have already witnessed  how connectivity is benefitting their business processes through industrial IoT. Businesses are trying to understand how they can integrate ambient computing into their back office and business processes to gain seamless access to relevant and real-time data across industries and vertical markets. Companies like Google, Microsoft, Samsung, Amazon, and Apple are rapidly investing in next phase of computing which is the infrastructure and foundation for ambient computing.


After smart homes, modern day cars are expected to leverage the benefits of ambient computing. More than 250 companies including automakers, tech start-ups, technology providers, and services providers, are already investing in making self-driven or driverless cars a reality. This will accelerate the deployment of this technology as self-driving or autonomous cars make maximum use of IoT and ambient computing. For instance, activity and emotion detection sensors in cars will not only detect the drunk or drowsy driving states, but will also pay attention and identify the interaction between people in the car.


In the next couple of years, the healthcare, retail, banking, and manufacturing industry are expected to harness the power of ambient computing. Ambient computing in retail would enhance and modify – product searching, product displaying, information accessing, payment processing, and vendor-client relationship. The customers can be uniquely recognized and identified by ambient computing sensors. Based on the analysis of individual data, sellers will be able to offer customized services depending on factors such as previous purchase history, location, or other personal traits. Amazon Go is one of the examples of ambient computing where customers can walk into a supermarket, pick up the required groceries, and walk out without halting at the check-out register.


Key Developments:



  • July 2020:  Google acquired North Inc., a smart-glasses startup, to extend its reach into ambient computing. With this acquisition, the North’s expertise will help Google to progress in ambient computing area.

  • December 2019: Google introduced the latest version of Flutter, an UI framework, to fit its larger vision for ambient computing. The ultimate aim of this new version is to help developers build user interfaces that would deliver a unified experience across all kinds of platforms and devices, including watches, phones, tablet, and other wearables, and smart displays.

  • June 2019: Alibaba signed an agreement with Audi, Renault, and Honda to enable integration of Tmall Genie Auto in-car smart speaker into the automaker’s infotainment systems. Drivers of this vehicles will be able to use the in-car voice assistant to access navigation, news, weather, entertainment, and others.


Conclusion


As world is progressing towards a fully-integrated smart environment, ambient computing is likely to become the norm and a crucial technology in everyday life. It will ensure that communication and collaboration tools in the environment are always one step ahead of humans. This will help individuals to make better decisions and be more efficient as they strive for better performance. Besides, growing investments by tech giants in computing technologies, IoT, artificial intelligence, sensors, among others will boost the adoption of ambient computing in the future.

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