Technology is All Around
Don Philmlee July 17, 2019
Topics: Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics, Efficiency, Law Firms, Legal Innovation, Practice Innovations, Process Management, Risk Management
Computers are everywhere and have gotten smaller and faster. With easy availability of the Internet, these little and powerful computers grew to form an “Internet of things” collecting, processing and presenting useful information to us.
Today these little computers can now draw on enormous banks of collected online data (big data) and, backed by advances in artificial intelligence, they are quickly transforming into a new form of technology generally called ambient computing (or sometimes ambient intelligence, ubiquitous computing, or pervasive computing).
Ambient computing is not a specific technology, but a pairing of many and varied technologies based on need. It is concept that represents a profound shift in how we get things done with computers and may even ultimately have a long-lasting impact on our culture.
The Invisible InterfaceTraditionally our interface with computers has been via a desktop, a laptop, a smartphone, a tablet, or some other device. However, “ambient” computing represents something that surrounds you or is in the air. Ambient computing means the interface is transparent, intuitive and may require little interaction by a user.
Historically, use of any computer has required a cognitive shift by the user to adapt to a computer. Users used to have to learn commands and syntax to interact with a computer. A graphical interface made things easier, but users still need to interact with a mouse and on-screen windows. Touch screens made things even easier by just requiring the use of a finger. Ambient computing seeks to change all of that by making an interface so easy and natural it becomes invisible.
Ambient computing could use any combination of technologies, including voice, speech recognition, haptics, visual cues, gestures, augmented reality, environmental factors, wearable devices, the internet of things, and cloud computing, all tied together with artificial intelligence.
The end result is an amalgam of technologies that seamlessly work together guiding and reacting with the user so easily and invisibly that the user forgets there is an interface. Such an invisible interface would work in the background and constantly monitor, listen and respond to our needs as required and learn to do it better as it works with the user over time. Such technology may even make decisions on our behalf and provide smart suggestions for whatever we are trying to accomplish.
Good examples of sophisticated ambient computing abound in science fiction:
In a few years, ambient computers may be all around us. They may whisper to us, augment our reality through our eyeglasses, all while gauging and reacting to our moods and needs. The idea of sitting in front of a laptop or physically working with a tablet or phone will seem quaint and old fashioned.