Jedi Force or Ambient Technology?
Imagine for a second, that you are a Jedi and have this invisible force for good in your car, a prana, of sorts, watching over you, your loved ones and your possessions while you are driving, parking or pretty much doing anything involving your car.
Imagine, if you will, that this force listens in sometimes, when you need it to, but never interrupts you. You don’t have to interact with it or negotiate with it. You don’t have to address it, or even acknowledge it exists. In fact, you don’t even care if it is there or not, but you feel safe knowing it’s there. Then one day, you forget your wallet in the passenger seat. Your car, wondering if you forgot an important item, sends you a text. You go back and pick up your wallet.
What if this new ambient piece of technology, this force for good, has a sole purpose for existence, to serve you well in its capacity of watching over you, your possessions, and your loved ones. Would that be valuable?
A forgotten wallet, phone, sweater or even purse could certainly be helpful and convenient to most in this age of constant distraction, but what if what’s left behind was a precious pet, or even a silently sleeping child? Whether you’re away from the vehicle for five mins or 50, the results could be very tragic, especially on a hot summer day when the inside of a car can heat up to 110 ºF in only ten minutes. Unfortunately, even as surprising as this is, every year there are hundreds of pets and dozens of children who die of heat stroke as a result of being left in a hot car.
It could happen to anyone, whether you’re in a rush to get through some errands, or become preoccupied with a phone call, leaving precious cargo unattended is always a risk.
Now imagine receiving a text message as you walk away from your car alerting you to the oversight, with a live video feed of your baby in the backseat. Would that be valuable?
If you answer yes, but aren’t actually a Jedi, don’t be disappointed, because what I’m talking about here is what I call Ambient Technology, and it’s here today.
Ambient technology is a highly intelligent system that has a “do-good” only ethos. Its goal is to help. Any “mission creep” outside of simply helping you and your loved ones is pointless, and turns into a nuisance. Good technology gets bogged down in minutia and sideshows all the time. A meaningful ambient technology can not do too many things. It has to focus on the essentials and do a good job at it. Help vehicle occupants avoid hazards and nuisances.
Ambient technology is invisible. You don’t need to interact with it. It will find a way to get to you when it needs to. It will alert you whenever, and about whatever, you need to know. There is no point in wasting time as you negotiate an already demanding day. The technology will be embedded as a result and become standard, like airbags, NAVI, or backup cameras. You won’t know it’s there until you need it one day.
Ambient technology respects your privacy. It doesn’t use your behavioral patterns to target you with more advertisements. We get enough of that in our daily lives already. It doesn’t use your information against you. It cannot be hacked. Above all, it has to have a questioning ethos. Is what I am engaging in meaningful, useful, or just invasive? If it is just invasive, then I need to stop doing it.
Ambient technology solves very serious problems. Children and pets left behind in vehicles, and monitoring distracted driving behaviors like texting are very serious issues that are mostly left unaddressed by the industry today.
Ambient technology also brings joy to people’s lives by communicating the little things that make a difference in someone’s day. Letting folks know that they forgot their wallets, that they left a grocery bag in the backseat, or where their sunglasses are hiding can make all the difference.
Ambient technology is smart. Applying artificial intelligence, deep learning for instance, is used to recognize hundreds, if not thousands of people and objects in the vehicle.
Ambient technology fuses different sensor types together. It combines a bunch of technologies to enable the most accurate input data: Cameras, sonars, passive IR, active IR, mic, mic arrays, etc. Things I call “value nodes” because they add valuable information from the scene, with one technology unable to replace the other.
So, don’t fret if the Force isn’t strong within you, ambient technology has got you covered.