What is Ambient Sensing?

Although smart homes have been around for several years now, this industry is rather nascent. Even though we are familiar with the use of Amazon Alexas and Google Homes as smart devices, but for smart homes, they have their limitations.

Smart devices do use technologies promising levels of interoperability and convenience that were unheard of a few years ago. However, they have not been able to fulfill current expectations. For instance, they struggle if there is no home network, cannot use unprocessed data, and are typically standalone devices.

Movies provide a better concept of a smart home. They present a futuristic building with levels of autonomy and comfort far beyond what the current technology can provide. In the real world, our ability to interact with them is rather limited.

For instance, the smart technology available at present allows interaction with voice commands only, thereby limiting their autonomy. Although the current technology boasts of voice recognition, this is still frustrating and cumbersome to use. Most people seek a seamless experience that comes with higher intuitive or human interaction.

For instance, it is still not possible to unlock a smart home simply by improving voice commands. Although audio sensors do form a crucial element for intuitive interaction with a smart home, making them a part of a sensor array for providing better contextual information would be a better idea. For genuinely smart home, the devices must provide a more meaningful interaction, including superior personalization for contextualized decision-making.

While it may be possible for manufacturers to pack in unique sensor arrays in devices, some sensor types could prove to be more useful. For instance, cameras provide huge amounts of information, and smart systems could make use of this fact to perceive the smart home in a better way. Adding acoustic sensors, and gas sensors along with 3-D mapping could be one way of bringing smart environments to the next level.

By collating these inputs, smart devices can understand and implement individual preferences better. For instance, depending on who has entered or exited the room, a smart device can change the sounds, lights, safety features, and temperature matching that person’s profile. Smart devices must not limit themselves to comprehending the ambient alone, but be capable of changing the environment, even without direct inputs.

These features could go beyond providing comfort alone. For instance, with motion sensors, the device could extend security. Along with motion sensing, individual recognition, and 3-D mapping could make homes much safer. For saving energy, sensors for presence, daylight sensing, and temperature measurements could dim lights or adjust air conditioning for better comfort on hot days.

One of the issues holding back such implementation is consumer privacy. While homeowners have grown accustomed to smart speakers, endless examples are available of data-mining organizations that observe the consumer’s daily interaction with these devices. For instance, Amazon’s Astro robot has been accused of data harvesting and there is criticism of Facebook’s smart glasses by the Data Privacy Commission in Ireland. As devices get smarter and use more ambient technology, consumers will have to share greater amounts of data than they are doing at present.