Ambient intelligence: the next generation of user centeredness

XII.4 July + August 2005
Page: 44
Digital Citation

Interactive spaces

Marianne Petersen

back to top 

The vision of ambient intelligence holds promise of a new and changed everyday life of people. There is a range of scenarios depicting how, in the future, our environments will react "intelligently" upon our presence and behavior. Our home will greet uswhen we come home, recipes will automatically be selected based on the contents of our fridge and our personal preferences, and we may remotely control and monitor our homes, etc.

Somehow, many of the above visions seem to be driven by efficiency ideals rather than fundamental concerns of how we may creatively use the technical possibilities to shape and improve quality of everyday life for people of all ages.

At the Center for Interactive Spaces we take a different approach to shaping future interactive environments than what is most often represented in ambient intelligence visions. Our starting points are to:

  • exploit technical possibilities to shape an improved quality of everyday life for people
  • support playful experiences amongst co-located people in interactive spaces
  • make computing remarkable and visible rather than ubiquitous and invisible
  • design for experience in interaction rather than having transparency and efficiency as interaction ideals


Designing Interactive Spaces. Designing interactive spaces implies taking a certain perspective in the design process. Taking activities as the common starting point we co-design space and technology in an iterative design process, where neither defines the other, nor is taken for granted. This is an effort which combines the competencies of architects and computer scientists.

To complement the prevalent focus on connecting remote people and places we have chosen to focus on supporting playful experiences amongst co-located people in interactive spaces.

The concept of connected MediaSurfaces is an example of the results of our research [3]. In response to the increasing digitization of domestic materials, for example, pictures, music, notices, etc. we have developed a system that allow members of a household to exhibit and experience their digital material around their homes. These materials may be displayed on walls, floors, or may be collectively experienced and played around with on a MediaTable supporting multi-user interaction [3].

A second example from the center is the concept of an interactive floor in a public library [2]. The intention behind this floor is to create a new attraction of the physical library; to create a place where people may playfully meet and interact with digital materials. Visitors may post and reply to questions displayed on the floor and they interact with the contents of the floor through pulling a cursor with their bodies. Thus navigating the cursor to a certain point involves collaboration and negotiation among visitors of the library.

Thus the concern for integrating physical and digital space as we strive for in Center for Interactive Spaces implies:

  • having architects and engineers as part of our research team
  • focusing on social interaction amongst co-located people
  • moving interaction from the level of objects to the level of space-plan
  • establishing new means and ideals for human computer interaction

The New HCI. According to Aarts [1], ambient intelligence environments are characterized by their ubiquity, transparency, and intelligence. At the Center for Interactive Spaces we take a different approach to defining interaction ideals of the new type of environments we shape. Rather than designing transparent and efficient interaction, we focus on designing aesthetics of interaction, which implies a focus on how the means of interaction can be surprising, engaging, and serve to establish a new relationship to the materials people interact with.

For example, we have designed a gesture-based remote control that allows people to use their bodies, rather than just the tip of their thumb, to interact with their digital materials. Moreover, interacting with the interactive floor at the library can best be achieved if more than one person is present. The means of interacting with the floor are not directly perceivable but visitors have to play around with the floor in order to explore the means of interaction.

Thus at the Center for Interactive Spaces we seek to investigate how to design playful and engaging interaction rather than efficient and transparent interaction. We see a danger in that people may lose their sense of control in environments where they are seamlessly tracked and profiled. Thus, instead of striving for technology to become invisibly embedded in our environments, we seek to make technology visible and remarkable [4]. After all, we want to exploit that the most intelligent in our environments remain the people who inhabit the spaces.

back to top  Acknowledgements

The research presented above is a result of the collaboration between colleagues in Center for Interactive Spaces—

back to top  References

1. Aarts, E. (2002) "Ambient Intelligence-Experience Technology," Ambient Intelligence in HomeLab. Royal Philips Electronics.

2. Krogh, P.G., Ludvigsen, M., Lykke-Olesen, A. (2004) Help me pull that cursor—A Collaborative Interactive Floor Enhancing Community Interaction. Proceedings of OZCHI 2004, 22-24 November, 2004 at the University of Wollongong, Australia. CD-ROM. ISBN:1 74128 079.

3. Petersen, M. G., and Grønbæk, K. (2004) Shaping the Ambience of Homes with Domestic Hypermedia. In Markopoulos, P., Eggen, B., Aarts, E., and Crowley, J. L. (Eds.) Ambient Intelligence. Second European Symposium, EUSAI 2004, Eindhoven, The Netherlands, November 2004. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 3295, Springer Verlag pp. 218-229.

4. Petersen, M. G. (2004) Remarkable Computing—the Challenge of Designing for the Home. In Proceedings of CHI 2004, ACM Press, pp. 1445-1449

back to top  Author

Marianne Graves Petersen
University of Aarhus

About the Author:

Marianne Graves Petersen is an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science, University of Aarhus. Her research interests are human-computer interaction and augmented reality. For a number of years, she has worked in joint industrial and academic research projects addressing in particular how the domain of the home challenges existing approaches to HCI.

back to top  Figures


back to top 

©2005 ACM  1072-5220/05/0700  $5.00

Permission to make digital or hard copies of all or part of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. To copy otherwise, to republish, to post on servers or to redistribute to lists, requires prior specific permission and/or a fee.

The Digital Library is published by the Association for Computing Machinery. Copyright © 2005 ACM, Inc.

Post Comment

No Comments Found