Ambient Intelligence, Smart Environments and the Disappearing Computer
Speaker: Dr. rer.nat Dr. phil. Norbert A. Streitz, Senior Scientist and Strategic Advisor, AMBIENTE - Smart Environments of the Future Fraunhofer IPSI, Darmstadt, Germany.
Date: 06 April 2006 Time: 15:00-16:30
Location: "Stelios Orphanoudakis" Seminar Room, FORTH, Heraklion, Crete.
Host: Prof. C. Stephanidis Director ICS-FORTH


It seems like a paradox but it will soon become reality: The rate at which computers disappear will be matched by the rate at which information technology will increasingly permeate our environment and our lives [5]. Computers are increasingly becoming an important part of our day-to-day activities and determine many physical and social contexts of our life. The availability of computers is one step, soon to be followed by the integration of information, communication and sensing technology into everyday objects resulting in "smart artefacts".

I will present and critically comment the associated visions and resulting challenges for the design of future smart environments [6]. This is grounded in an approach that exploits the affordances of real objects augmenting their physical properties with the potential of computer-based enrichment. Combining the best of both worlds requires an integration of real and virtual worlds resulting in hybrid worlds [3]. In this approach, the computer "disappears" and is almost "invisible" but its functionality is ubiquitously available and provides new forms of interacting with information [2, 5]. I will also comment on related issues that cause a change from designing primarily interaction with information to designing experiences by being exposed to ambient displays and/or immersed in smart environments [4].

In order to demonstrate what is possible already today, I will present several examples of prototypical developments. One example is the so called Roomware


Dr. Dr. Norbert Streitz (Ph. D. in physics and Ph.D. in psychology) is a Senior Scientist and Strategic Advisor with more than 20 years of experience in information technology. Until recently, he was is the head of the research division "AMBIENTE - Smart Environments of the Future" at the Fraunhofer institute IPSI in Darmstadt, Germany, where he also teaches at the Department of Computer Science of the Technical University Darmstadt.

He was a post-doc fellow at the University of California, Berkeley and a visiting scholar at Xerox PARC as well as at the Intelligent Systems Lab of ETL-MITI, Tsukuba Science City, Japan.

He was the Chair of the Steering Group of the EU-funded research initiative "The Disappearing Computer" and was/is involved in many other EU-funded projects and efforts. His research interests include Ambient/Pervasive/Ubiquitous Computing, Interaction and Experience Design, Human-Computer Interaction, Hypertext/ Hypermedia, Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, and Cognitive Science.

He has published/edited 16 books and (co)authored more than 100 technical papers, e.g., recently in IEEE Computer and guest-edited a special issue of Communications of the ACM.

He serves regularly on the program committees of national and international conferences and on several editorial boards and is often invited to present keynote speeches to scientific as well as commercial events in Europe, USA, South America, Malaysia, Singapore, and Japan.

Selected publications on the topic:

  1. T. Prante, N. A. Streitz, P. Tandler (2004). Roomware: Computers Disappear and Interaction Evolves. In: IEEE Computer, December 2004. pp. 47-54.
  2. D. Russell, N. Streitz, T. Winograd (2005). Building Disappearing Computers. In: Communications of the ACM, Vol. 48 (3), March 2005. pp. 42-48.
  3. N. Streitz, J. Gei?ler, T. Holmer (1998). Roomware for Cooperative Buildings: Integrated Design of Architectural Spaces and Information Spaces. In: Streitz, N., Konomi, S., Burkhardt, H. (Ed.): Cooperative Buildings - Integrating Information, Organization, and Architecture. Proceedings of CoBuild '98, Darmstadt, Germany, LNCS Vol. 1370, Heidelberg, Germany, Springer, 1998. pp. 4-21.
  4. N. Streitz, C. Magerkurth, Th. Prante, C. Rocker (2005). From Information Design to Experience Design: Smart Artefacts and the Disappearing Computer. In: Special Issue on Ambient intelligence, ACM interactions, 12 (4) July + August 2005. pp. 21-25.
  5. N. Streitz, P. Nixon (2005). The Disappearing Computer. Guest Editors' Introduction to Special Issue. In: Communications of the ACM, Vol. 48 (3), March 2005. pp. 33-35.
  6. N. Streitz, C. Rocker, Th. Prante, D. van Alphen, R. Stenzel, C. Magerkurth (2005). Designing Smart Artefacts for Smart Environments. In: IEEE Computer, March 2005. pp. 41-49.
  7. N. Streitz, P. Tandler, C. Muller-Tomfelde, S. Konomi (2001). Roomware: Towards the Next Generation of Human-Computer Interaction based on an Integrated Design of Real and Virtual Worlds. In: J. Carroll (Ed.): Human-Computer Interaction in the New Millennium, Addison-Wesley, 2001. pp. 553-578.

© Copyright 2007 FOUNDATION FOR RESEARCH & TECHNOLOGY - HELLAS, All rights reserved.