Described as ‘mixed reality’, the installation takes its name, and direction, from an app developed by the duo ten years ago. ‘Bloom’ – part instrument, part composition, part artwork – allows anyone to create elaborate patterns and melodies by tapping the screen, creating an infinite selection of compositions and accompanying visualisations. ‘It’s an instrument for non-musicians’, says Chilvers.
That Embody the Essence of Ambient Computing
Smartphone controlled digital oven
Compact and self-contained, the June is a convection oven that contains a internal sensors and a camera to weigh, measure & control temperature and monitor progress of whatever is being cooked in it. Controlled via a smartphone app it's aim is to minimize the margin of error and eliminate uncertainty from the cooking process, while still giving people the pleasure of enjoying a home cooked meal.
Smartphone controlled temperature regulating mug
The only obvious external clue that the Ember is anything other than a regular ceramic mug is a discreet LED beneath the logo that glows different colors depending on what the mug is doing: charging, heating or cooling the liquid in it.
Digitally connected mechanical bike speedometer
The entirely mechanical external appearance of the Omata One belies its digital innards. It uses GPS and other sensors to measure cycling performance, but reports that performance using traditional dials, which their research claims humans understand more intuitively than numerical readouts.
Unreleased voice activated 3G portable music device & digital assistant
Pebble had been an early Kickstarter success story and smartwatch pioneer with their low-cost, eInk device that worked with both iOS and Android, but which also saw a lot of quality control issues with early models. They subsequently refined their products and returned to Kickstarter for a new round to support a new generation of devices that included the intriguing Core, which was billed as a standalone, 3G equipped, voice controlled mini computer for listening to music and interacting with Amazon Alexa while on the go. Sadly, Pebble went out of business and their assets sold to FitBit who shut down development of the Core.
Discontinued life-logging camera
An example of the eventual commercialization of the life-logging work Gordon Bell did at Microsoft Research on the MyLifeBits project. Preceded by the Autographer, the Narrative Clip also failed to gain success in the market but their service lives on. Google has recently launched a similar product with a similar name - Google Clips. A startup called Ubiquiti has recently started shipping the Front Row, which offers a wider feature set and thus requires more user interaction.
Apple wasn't first to market with their wireless earbuds, following offerings that ranged from Kickstarter projects like the Bragi Dash to Samsung's Gear Icon X - but, as has often been the case, they leapfrogged competitors when they did. The AirPods offer a compelling glimpse at the future of wearable computing: they integrate seamlessly into the existing ecosystem (particularly if you only use Apple devices), in particular they feel like a natural extension of the Apple Watch.
Google's take on a virtual assistant began life as Google Now and has started to suffuse multiple Google products, while also existing as a standalone feature (on Android) and app (on iOS). It is at the heart of Google's Home connected speaker range. It's aim is to become a proactive and ubiquitous entry point into Google, providing you with timely updates based on signals gathered from across your digital activity and answers to active queries input by voice or text.
Powered by sophisticated AI that uses continuously trained image recognition to identify and lock on to you. It then pilots itself, using a combination of 12 different cameras and machine learning to avoid obstacles in real time, all the while filming you in smooth, pro grade, HD quality video that's output to your smartphone from where it can be edited and shared.
Ambient Computing represents an emerging field of study which explores the concepts and potential application of products whose technological elements disappear into the background, thereby presenting the user with an “appliance” whose purpose is clear and the user interface of which is obvious.