Ambient Narratives

Ambient Intelligence

Ambient Intelligence (AmI) aims to improve the quality of people's life by making everyday activities more convenient and enjoyable with digital media. Technically, Ambient Intelligence refers to the presence of a digital environment that is sensitive, adaptive, and responsive to the presence of people. Electronic devices are embedded in furniture, clothing or other parts of the environment; the technology recedes into the background of our everyday lives until only the function (i.e., the user interface) remains visible to people. At the same time, the human moves into the center of attention, in control of the devices around him. These work in concert to support the performance of everyday activities in an intelligent manner.

Producing such smart ubiquitous computing environments on a large scale is problematic. In the foreseeable future, it is technologically infeasible mass-produce a product or service that generates Ambient Intelligence, given the current state-of-the-art in machine learning and artificial intelligence. The alternative to manually design and produce Ambient Intelligence applications for each person individually is not realistic economically. So the question arises how to customize Ambient Intelligence environments on a mass basis?

Ambient Narratives

Mark van Doorn (Philips) and Arjen P. de Vries (CWI) are creating a system architecture inspired by the web to specify Ambient Intelligence services as Ambient Narratives. Modular Ambient Intelligence descriptions called beats are assembled dynamically into personalized, interactive media presentations in mixed-reality, where multiple devices may participate simultaneously. Ambient narratives have the following characteristics:

Reading an ambient narrative creates a user's own unique, personal experience from a large set of possible choices defined by the author of the interactive narrative.
Situated in mixed reality:
Existing forms of interactive narratives and drama are situated in either the real world (architecture, improvisational theatre, visual art) or the virtual world (virtual reality simulations, adventure games). In contrast, ambient narratives have both a real-world and a virtual component. Reading an ambient narrative corresponds to performing in a mixed reality environment; we skip a "page" as we move from one room into the next. In contrast to augmented reality applications, users do not necessarily need special equipment such as head-mounted displays or see-through glasses to experience these virtual objects. The virtual objects are presented through the individual devices that surround users. Each device generates only a part of the final experience.
Ambient narratives can be designed for pure entertainment or infotainment but will be mostly designed to support people in their everyday life activities and rituals (e.g. brushing teeth, cooking etc.).

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