Using Ambient Intelligence in UX

What is ambient intelligence, and how can it improve the quality of UX across the board? Well, I originally thought this was another blasted buzz word, and in a sense it is. You may have seen us mention the concept of ambiguous computing and how digital frameworks embedded in all manner of things will allow them all to cooperate with each other, and for environments to react automatically and intelligently to the presence of a user. Early technologies aiming for this kind of user-sensitive automation are automatic doors and other things that act without our direct command, with the stimulus being our proximity alone. The increasing ability for smaller computing designs to handle high powered processing, along with the omnipresence of wireless broadband is leading to this kind of concept taking a new level. Originally, this technology was predicted to be applied this decade, and it may yet still see some serious use within that time, but the ultimate level of deployment and application envisioned is likely going to be over twenty more years, as some new breakthroughs in technology are necessary to take it as far as it could possibly go. Now, how is this going to benefit UX? Well, we’ve seen hypothetical ideas, and conceptual designs where software can learn from a user, detect the user’s needs and behavior, and through these, predict what the user wants, when they want them, requiring less instruction from this user. This kind of ambience is taking the shape of self service onboard systems to train users and provide solid customer service and support. It’€™s being used to recommend social network connections, purchases in ecommerce and much more, as well as helping to create true shaped intelligent targeting advertising and feed dynamics over SaaS. Now, in the near future, we’€™ll see systems that go the next step (alongside the vaunted augmented reality idea) to have a user’s computing experience become all the smarter. Where now it uses browsing metrics and logged searches and entries to predict field values and make suggestions, in the future it will be able to deduce interests by where users go, things they interact with in the real world, conversations they have and a number of other things. This new form of deductive automation, in conjunction with smaller computing, and better sensory devices will bring the ambient computing concept into the entire human environment. It’s not true AI, but this kind of pattern recognition and environmental awareness will make our lives much easier, and make our environments more alive and more suited to our whims at any given point. Right now, this concept is in its infancy, and consists of several very compartmentalized applications, rather than existing as a unified technology. But, this will change in the near future, and understanding this concept, and ergo strategizing how to quickly adopt and make use of this idea will be beneficial to you in the near future. It€’s the stuff of futurism mostly, but ambient intelligence is something that is very quickly emerging. This is an exciting time to be alive, technologically speaking. Too bad we can’€™t say the same for television programming originality, or modern music, eh?


Megan Wilson is user experience specialist & editor of UX Motel. She is also the Quality Assurance and UX Specialist at WalkMe Megan.w(at)