Today the conference on ambient intelligence 2011 (AMI2011) has started in Amsterdam. Emile Aarts reflected on what Ambient Intelligence is and was.
He looked back of some of the concepts that were well received in the research community but did not make it to the market (e.g. iCat). He made a very important point on how to involve users in the research: Don’t ask the customer –look at what he is doing. (he attributed it to someone from booking.com but it has been around for a while, e.g. in Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox 2001). Even if this is well known I think it was great to remind us again! It is still the most important points in user centered research that is often completely missed!
He suggested that the most important topic in ambient intelligence is lighting. It seems very simple but he had some very interesting example (e.g. a hospital or an airport) where light has a measureable impact on people’s experience.
For some more impressions of his talk, see the random slide selection below.