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  • Writer's pictureElisabeth Nebster

The Rise of Ambient Computing. Unlocking New Possibilities for Business Growth

In this Article:

Riding the Wave of Ambient Computing. How Can Businesses Thrive Beyond IoT?


"IoT forms a base for ambient computing, with ambient computing more focused on how devices and intelligent services interact with users."

Jason Low

Principal Analyst, Canalys

The Internet of Things (IoT) has already created a massive impact on the business world. IoT has enabled businesses to streamline operations, optimise resource utilisation, and provide better customer experiences by connecting various devices and allowing them to exchange data. However, as this technology continues to evolve, ambient computing is emerging as the next significant evolution. Below we will analyse the concept of ambient computing. Trace the development from IoT to ambient computing and find out the advantages and challenges businesses may face.

How has IoT progressed into ambient computing?

Ambient computing takes IoT to the next level by seamlessly incorporating technology into the environment to create a more immersive and user-friendly experience. Smart devices, such as home automation systems and voice assistants, like Alexa, have been instrumental in the evolution of ambient computing. These devices use natural language processing and voice recognition to enable effortless interactions with technology. Machine learning and artificial intelligence advancements allow these systems to learn and adjust to users' preferences, offering more personalised and responsive experiences.

The increased availability of sensors and other technologies allows data to be collected and analysed from the environment, creating more intelligent systems that can expect and fulfil users' needs. Ambient computing thus enhances users' quality of life by delivering a more personalised and seamless experience. As technology progresses, we can expect ambient computing to become even more sophisticated and seamlessly integrated into our daily routines.

How ubiquitous computing works

The notion of ambient computing and its major components?

Ambient computing is a computing environment integrated into our physical surroundings and blends seamlessly into our daily lives. The term arose in 2020 with great hopes put on it. Ambient computing is a term used to describe an ecosystem of interconnected smart devices, data, and artificial intelligence that work in tandem with human activity. It aims to enable computer actions to blend seamlessly into everyday life without direct human commands or intervention.

The technology makes computing an unobtrusive and intuitive part of daily routines. In other words, computers constantly work behind the scenes to take care of tasks without disrupting human activity or requiring explicit instructions. It creates an immersive, responsive, and personalised experience using a network of intelligent devices, sensors, and artificial intelligence to expect and meet our needs.

The primary elements of ambient computing

Smart devices. These interconnected devices can communicate with each other and users such as smartphones, wearables, and smart home appliances. These devices can be controlled through natural language processing, touch, or gesture, creating an intuitive and seamless user experience. For example, Google has introduced Google Assistant SDK, allowing businesses to integrate it into their hardware products.

Sensors. Ambient computing systems use sensors to collect data about the environment, such as temperature, light, and sound, and use this data to create a more responsive and personalised experience for users. For example, a smart thermostat can adjust the temperature based on user preferences and occupancy patterns. The Echo Auto is a gadget that you can attach to your car's sun visor, allowing you to take a voice assistant along with you on your journeys. This voice assistant offers a range of features, including music playback, making phone calls, and, most significantly, linking back to your smart home. This makes all your devices effortlessly connected, creating a cohesive and streamlined experience.

Artificial intelligence. Using artificial intelligence to interpret data collected from smart devices and sensors enables ambient computing to make informed predictions and offer personalised recommendations based on user behaviour. These systems continually learn from user interactions, which results in an increasingly tailored experience.

Cloud computing. Ambient computing systems depend on cloud computing to manage and process massive amounts of data sensors and smart devices generate. This enables real-time data processing and analysis, enabling systems to respond quickly and accurately to user needs. By leveraging cloud computing, ambient computing can deliver users a more intelligent and responsive experience.

How can businesses benefit from ambient computing?

Ambient computing offers several benefits to businesses, including improved customer experience, increased efficiency, real-time analytics, and cost reduction. By utilising ambient computing technologies, companies can provide personalised and immersive experiences for their customers, creating an environment that responds to their needs and preferences. For example, smart retail stores can offer recommendations to shoppers based on their browsing history and past purchases.

The technology can automate manual processes, reducing the need for intervention and increasing business efficiency and productivity. Smart sensors can monitor inventory levels, automate restocking orders, and reduce delays in the supply chain.

Ambient computing can also provide real-time insights into customer behaviour, preferences, and trends, helping businesses make informed decisions, adjust their strategies, and remain competitive. For example, a food delivery service can use real-time data to optimise delivery routes, reduce delivery times, and enhance the customer experience.

Finally, it can also help reduce costs by optimising resource utilisation, reducing energy consumption, and automating processes. For instance, smart lighting systems can adjust lighting levels based on occupancy, resulting in lower energy consumption and reduced costs. Overall, ambient computing offers numerous benefits to businesses, helping them improve their operations, increase customer satisfaction, and improve expenses.

Source: Deloitte

The obstacles and risks of using ambient computing in corporate operations

Ambient computing systems are highly interconnected, creating security risks and vulnerabilities. Using sensors and smart devices that collect and transmit data might expose sensitive information to unauthorised parties, leading to security breaches, data theft, and other cyber threats.

Implementing the technology often requires integrating multiple devices and software, which can be complex and challenging. Managing these systems requires specialised expertise, and failure to integrate these systems correctly can lead to system downtime, data loss, and other operational issues.

Introducing new technology can create resistance from employees who may not be familiar with it or see it threatening their job security. Customers may also resist this technology, especially if it disrupts their routines or requires behaviour changes.

Ambient computing rely heavily on data collected from sensors and smart devices. If this data is not accurate or reliable, it can lead to incorrect business decisions, ultimately hurting the company's bottom line.

Enterprises should take a strategic approach to implementing ambient computing to overcome these challenges. It involves conducting thorough risk assessments, investing in the right technology and infrastructure, educating employees and customers, and ensuring data privacy and security measures.

Ambient Computing: Top 4 risks

To sum up

Ambient computing seamlessly blends technology into the environment to create a holistic ecosystem that responds to human needs and preferences and is the next major evolution of IoT. The technology is expected to enhance the quality of life for users by creating a personalised experience. As it strengthens, we can expect ambient computing to become even more sophisticated and integral to our daily routines.


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