The Smart Future Initiative (SFI) was founded in January 2009 by Dr. Dr. Norbert
Streitz, a Senior Scientist and Strategic Advisor with more than 30 years of experience in information and communication technology. He was previously (among
other affiliations) Division Manager and Deputy Director of the Fraunhofer-Institute IPSI, Darmstadt, Germany, and is now the Scientific Director of SFI.
The goal of the Smart Future Initiative is to establish a forum for triggering, developing and communicating innovative ideas and concepts as well as providing expertise on technology developments and trends determining our current and future life in a fast changing society. While the emphasis is on trends and developments in information and communication technology (ICT), the work is grounded in a multi- and interdisciplinary approach considering also social sciences as well as architecture, design and art. The overall guideline is
" Keep the Human in the Loop".
While all areas of ICT are contributing to the overall goal, the main focus is currently in the area of Smart Environments, Ambient Intelligence, Ubiquitous and Pervasive Computing, and on the concept of the Disappearing Computer, although the activities are not limited to them. These technologies are becoming a de facto key dimension of the emerging information and knowledge society, because new generations of industrial digital products and services are clearly shifted towards the vision of a comprehensive smart computing environment. Another important dimension is the use and combination of these technologies with a variety of application domains, for example work, home, leisure, entertainment, education, health care, social engagement and responsible citizenship. For all these applications, it is important to address the issue of privacy in sensor-based environments. The context is provided by the umbrella scenario of Urban Life Management in future Hybrid Smart Cities which have to be designed as Humane Cities in order to reconcile humans and technology. The Humane City is a city where people enjoy everyday life and work, have multiple opportunities to exploit their human potential and lead a creative life.
The multidisciplinary approach is especially reflected in a strong emphasis on placing people and social contexts at the center of our considerations and recommendations for future technology development. An important guideline is "keep the human in the loop." This implies to overcome a purely technology-driven approach by taking multiple disciplines into account. We argue for a collaboration of computer scientists and electrical engineers with psychologists, ergonomists, product and interaction designers, architects, artists and representatives of other disciplines that play a role for a specific application domain under consideration. This approach implies the following two requirements:
First, it requires to take a close look at human-human communication and collaboration and the resulting implications for the design of human-computer interaction or more general human-artefact, resp. human-environment interaction. A key aspect is the anticipated shift from information design to experience design.
Second, it requires to take a comprehensive perspective on a wide range of application settings and scenarios starting with smart artefacts and smart rooms, continuing to smart and cooperative buildings, public spaces, etc. and putting it all together in the context of smart and ubiquitous cities and metropolitan areas and regions. The guiding objective is the ambition of developing a Humane and Sociable City within the overall framework of reconciling humans and technology.