Ambient intelligence is an idea from computer science to create an environment of machines that meaningfully interact with people. The idea is that these machines help people solve the problems they have, and that people can interact with the machines in a natural way. An example would be a camera that recognizes the owner of a house or apartment, and that is able to turn off the alarm, and unlock the door. The systems that control the camera, the alarm system and the door lock are all connected to each other. When the camera sees the person, it works with the other systems to make the person's life easier.
In order for the idea to work well:
- Computer hardware should be small
- Different networks of computers and home appliances need to be connected so they can communicate with each other
- Computer networks are easy to control and program. New devices in the networks should configure themselves automatically, or their configuration should be easy to do, without the need to understand how they all work.
- The interfaces to control the devices focus on the user and are easy to use
- The system should be forgiving with errors. It should be secure and work as long as possible, even with errors
Ambient intelligence has also be shown in fiction. The movie Minority Report shows how advertising changes for each user. the book The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams shows intelligent doors that have emotions, which they show when people use them.