Ambient intelligence: Making buildings and organizations smarter

office building

“Smart” buildings and offices provide a number of benefits to enterprises, including increased employee productivity and satisfaction and lower utility costs. By leveraging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI), enterprises can optimize lighting, HVAC systems and security in an entire building or floor as well as individual rooms and work spaces.

The technologies involved in smart buildings collectively are referred to as “ambient intelligence,” a term that actually has been around for a couple of decades. Frank Lee, co-founder and CEO of DeepPhoton Inc., writes that ambient intelligence (AmI) environments, as initially envisioned by the European Commission’s Information Society and Technology Advisory Group and Philips, include these properties:

  • Awareness of the presence of individuals
  • Recognition of the individuals’ identities
  • Awareness of contexts (e.g. weather, traffic, news)
  • Recognition of activities
  • Adaptation to changing needs of individuals

You can see immediately the impact that these properties — powers, really — could have on enterprise employees and their ability to be comfortable and productive in an office environment. Imagine AmI being able to set the temperature of a room to match the comfort level of a specific employee, or even create zones in a conference room that each are automatically tailored to an individual’s environmental needs. That would be pretty cool! (Or warm, depending on your personal, AmI-discerned preference.)

As far as security goes, being able to identify individuals through facial recognition not only is more efficient (no one has to insert or swipe a card key to enter a restricted area), but also ensures that unidentified people won’t be able to breach a security point.

Ambient intelligence also can make construction sites and factories safer by providing “a continuous god’s eye view of the environment and the workers,” Lee writes. “It can generate immediate alerts to the manager or worker for safety rule violation.”

The raw technology ingredients of AmI — embedded sensors, AI, video cameras, Bluetooth low energy, RFID, biometrics, nanotechnology, software, analytics, and more — are intended to work in concert and automatically. But technology isn’t foolproof, so it will fall to IT professionals and building managers to fix problems, keep AmI systems running smoothly and manage the huge amounts of data these interconnected technologies will generate. It will be no small challenge, but the payoff to enterprises could be huge.

Is your organization embracing ambient intelligence? If so, let us know how in the comments section below.

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