Themes and Issues

The themes and issues addressed by the Smart Future Initiative are resulting from the mission and goal statements. In the following, we provide selected prominent examples.

Human in the Loop and in Control

The design of Smart Environments and Smart Cities is often determined by a technology-driven approach resulting in an overwhelming automation. This is to be contrasted by an approach of "keeping the human in the loop and in control" which results from a perspective of providing People-Oriented, Empowering Smartness where the empowering function is in the foreground and which can be summarized as "smart spaces make people smarter". The realization requires to address the corresponding design trade-offs. More details can be found

Smart Cities as Humane Cooperative Hybrid Cities


The notions of Smart Cities sometimes also called Ubiquitous Cities (u-cities) are defining a new area for the application of concepts and developments in Ambient Intelligence and Ubiquitous Computing. In a way, it is a natural consequence of extending the scope of work on smart rooms and smart and cooperative buildings to the next level addressing, e.g., public spaces but, in the end, covering comprehensively all activities related to living and working in an urban environment.
In the context of the work on the "white paper" formulating future research agendas, urban life management was introduced as an umbrella scenario and the concept of a Cooperative Hybrid City proposed. An interesting aspect is the role of self-driving cars. More details can be found

Smart Airports

Special cases of the general notion of smart urban environments are Smart Airports. Airports serve as “transient spaces and hubs” providing support for “polyphasic activities”. Translating this in an overall design rationale, one can state: “designing airports is designing transient smart cities". Our focus here is on designing the Passenger Experience. More details can be found


Smart Islands


Rethinking ‘Smart’ Islands Towards Self-Aware and Cooperative Hybrid Islands. Similar to the critical reflection of "smart-only" cities, there is the need for a counter proposal to "smart-only" islands. This requires a human-/citizen/islander-centered design approach for moving beyond ‘smart-only’ islands towards humane, sociable, and cooperative islands, based on the properties of self-aware hybrid islands, thus applying the lessons learned from smart cities to smart islands. More details can be found here.

Smart Privacy as Privacy by Design

An important theme to address is the issue of privacy in sensor-based environments. It has been considered relevant already now, but is mostly discussed in the contex of virtual on-line environments as, e.g., social medai networks, etc. We are now at a turning point where it will become of prime importance when our real, physical spaces are transformed into Smart Environments and become a regular part of our living environments. We summarize this set of issues and potential solutions under the term Smart Privacy. More details can be found

Smart Hybrid Food and Experience Design

There are many connotations related to the term "smart food". The focus here is twofold:
First, it emphasizes the multi-sensory and cross-modal experience of food (and beverages) and how to design it in the real world. This experience can be enhanced and transformed by multimedia augmentation and embedding it in an ambient intelligent environment. Thus, experiences can be facilitated in a local virtual/ digital world, but also communicated to remote sites for distant participation and sharing of the experience. The food experience will be a hybrid experience composed of real and virtual features.

The second issue is the augmentation of products in general and food (resp. beverages) in particular in order to record, store and communicate information about the product ('product memory'). The food has a self-description of its features and "knows" when and under which conditions it was planted, harvested, packaged, cooled, and transported to the market where it is sold. More details can be found here.

Ambient Computing and Communication Environments

This theme was addressed by the Working Group "Ambient Computing and Communication Environments" (chaired by Norbert Streitz) which is part of the EU-funded Coordinated Action "
InterLink" (International Cooperation Activities in Future and Emerging ICTs). In this context, Norbert Streitz coordinated a team of international experts preparing a "white paper" that identifies current deficits and new challenges that provide the basis for a research agenda of future work in this area. More details can be found here.

Disappearing Computer

The goal of the Smart Future Initiative corresponds very much with the goal and rationale of the EU-funded proactive initiative "The Disappearing Computer (DC)", a cluster of 17 projects that were conducted by interdisciplinary groups of researchers. The Steering Group of the DC-Network was chaired by Norbert Streitz. More details can be found


Roomware® was defined and realized by Streitz and his Ambiente-Team at IPSI as the integration of information and communication technology in room elements, such as doors, walls, and furniture. They are part of their approach that the ‘world around us’ is the interface to information and for the cooperation of people. More details can be found