What is ambient computing, and how does it affect communication?
Computers have evolved drastically over the years. Huge, inefficient and complicated machines have transformed into smaller, more cost-effective tools. You can walk around with a miniature computer in your pocket every day.
As computer technology continues to accelerate, surrounding innovations have begun to form too, introducing the world to everything from the Internet of Things, to artificial intelligence. Today’s computers can interact with each other and crucial software systems at an incredible pace. As a result, the way we live and work in the digital age has evolved.
Ambient computing is one of the latest incredible development to occur in the computing space. More than just a specific piece of tech, ambient computing pairs many technologies together to create an environment that responds to individual needs. Ambient computing is an exciting concept that represents an essential shift in how we get things done.
What is Ambient Computing, and How Does It Work?
As mentioned above, ambient computing is a concept that covers applications that incorporate things like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cognitive processing. Ambient computing creates an environment in the digital world where companies can integrate technology seamlessly into everything that we do, enhancing the usefulness and reducing the demand for human attention.
According to Five9’s Rowan Trollope, Ambient computing and artificial intelligence will deliver “radically” improved experiences in the workplace. Ambient computing already provides some of the intelligent services that are becoming “every day” in the modern environment, such as the voice-driven speakers in your living room, and your smart thermostats. Virtual agents and chatbots are also a component of the ambient computing environment.
Ambient computing is helping to drive the age of intent when machines can start to look at context when delivering useful tools for everyday employees and consumers. Properly designed, the latest bots can improve everything from user and customer experience to bottom-line value.
In a hospital environment, ambient computing might use a heart monitor in your clothing to deliver real-time information to cardiologists, who can send updated information on your medication needs to your pharmacist. Your pharmacist can then send you an alert to your smartwatch letting you know when your medications are ready. All the applications and devices in that scenario are fully integrated, creating a seamless flow of communication and information.
Characteristics of Ambient Computing
Although the definition of ambient computing often depends on who you ask, there are certain characteristics that are often linked to this principle. While not every product has these characteristics, they do help to offer a template for ambient computing.
The first characteristic of ambient computing is that it should be “invisible.” Many of the biggest technological innovations that we see today aren’t noticeable, though they’re happening behind the scenes. For instance, in a business conference room environment, an AI system could be gathering information and taking notes on a conversation without you realising. At the same time, your camera and speaker system will be adjusting to improve image quality, focus on the person talking in the discussion, and block out unnecessary noise. Other characteristics of ambient computing include:
Data: Data centres are at the heart of ambient computing, as the more data intelligent systems have, the better their ability will be to use context to understand certain situations. In a call centre, your customer data could support virtual assistants as they make suggestions on how to improve a conversation
Embedded: Technology in ambient computing is embedded into your environment, so it feels as natural as possible. For instance, in the communication environment, your intelligent assistant could be embedded into your collaboration tools, helping you to find information and set reminders that keep you productive
Familiar: Ambient computing needs to be simple to drive adoption. In the communication environment, intelligent tools are becoming more natural, particularly now that users can choose whether to communicate with them using voice or text. You can find the experience that works best for you
Inclusive: Ambient computing tools need to integrate seamlessly with all aspects of the environment. For instance, an AI bot that can gather information from your CRM system and help desk and bring it into your collaboration tools is far more useful than a system that doesn’t integrate
The Evolution of Ambient Computing
At its heart, ambient computing is an evolution of interconnected concepts like the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence. Ambient computing describes the environment that we can create when systems are connected and able to learn from each other.
In a meeting room environment, connected cameras could use facial recognition to determine who walks into a room to start a conference. That camera could then communicate with the conferencing software the person is using and tell it to implement the settings that the employee prefers. The same tool could also send immediate alerts to people that are set to join the meeting through a calendaring app and let them know that the conference is about to begin.
The concept of ambient computing paves the way for an environment where humans and machines can work together more seamlessly to create a better experience for everyone. Gartner referred to the concept of ambient computing as a kind of device mesh in the digital environment, where devices create a more immersive back-end and remove the silos that have traditionally prevented digital transformation.
Most of us have already begun to explore the world of ambient computing without realising it. We already have interconnected smartphones, thermostats, speakers, and other tools that we use on a daily basis. Voice-activated digital assistants and other forms of smart technology are entering the work environment, too, helping to create more collaborative and immersive environments, even in an age where employees might not be present in the same office space.
Ambient Computing is On the Rise
As we progress towards a fully-integrated smart workplace environment, ambient computing is set to become the norm and a crucial place of how we communicate and innovate. Ambient computing will ensure that our environment, including our communication and collaboration tools, are always one step ahead of us. This means that they’ll be able to help us to make better decisions and remain more efficient as we strive for better performance.
With ambient computing in the communication and collaboration space, we’ll be able to work in a way that works best for us and have more time to focus on essential tasks. The future is in the interconnected mesh of people and devices that ambient computing can create.
Industry: Unified Communications
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