Lighting the Way to Ambient Intelligence & the Internet of Experiences

By Neno
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In cities around the world, street lamps are being tapped as an ideal platform for jump starting smart city development. Initially, cities began replacing legacy street lighting with LED bulbs equipped with motion sensors to turn the lights on only when a human being entered the area, boosting the already considerable energy savings of LED technology. Now, cities are realising they can also equip the LED chipboards on these pervasive networks with an extraordinary range of micro-processors and sensors – among them, smoke detectors, noise detectors, pollution meters, seismic activity detectors, weather sensors and smart video cameras – to dramatically expand their lamp post arsenal’s role in shaping the intelligent, connected cities of tomorrow.

For instance, Shanghai recently deployed trial smart street lamps that function as lighting systems, Wi-Fi hotspots, Internet access hubs and city services links. Residents or visitors can use voice commands or a touch screen to get local information, charge their electric vehicles, check local pollution levels, or call for help via an emergency call button linked to the city’s public service platform.

And now, if the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is any indication, it seems vendors interested in shaping the next generation of smart homes are also turning to light fixtures as a primary sensory platform. Several startups and incumbent lighting vendors showcased Internet-connected LEDs that are beginning to go far beyond just customisation and remote control of home lighting.

For example, Stack Lighting touted LED lights that can sense motion, ambient lighting and temperature. To realise the value in these sensing capabilities, the lights can be networked with climate-control systems like Nest. However, one of most interesting thing about this lighting system is Stack’s claim that its lights are so smart, consumers don’t need a smartphone app to control their features and functions: once configured, the lights, in tandem with other home systems, simply adapt to the customers’ behaviour and the environment to deliver the right ambient home experience for them.

While it may be up in the air as to which “thing” – if any one thing – in the home becomes the central hub for sensing and control, it was clear from CES 2015 that smart home systems are edging toward a new world of “ambient intelligence.”

Ambient intelligence is a concept developed in the late 1990s to describe an era when ubiquitous computing, networked devices, environmental inputs and human behaviour would come together to in such a seamless way as to render technology wholly invisible, with each human being enjoying an experience that perfectly anticipates and adapts to their unique needs and preferences.

This is the world Alphabet Inc.’s (formerly named Google) CEO Eric Schmidt alluded to at the 2015 World Economic Forum in Davos. Asked for his prediction on the future of the web, he responded: “I will answer very simply that the Internet will disappear.” He went on to explain, “There will be so many IP addresses…so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with that you won’t even sense it…It will be part of your presence all the time. Imagine you walk into a room, and the room is dynamic. And with your permission and all of that, you are interacting with the things going on in the room.” The result? “A highly personalised, highly interactive and very, very interesting world emerges.”

As CES 2016 approaches, it will be interesting to see if “No app needed!” becomes a mantra of more and more vendors, to see if technology continues to render itself less and less visible, and if people, places and things continue to synthesise into wholly unique, adaptive experiences.

In short, it will be interesting to observe the degree to which the current Internet of Things evolves into its next natural evolution, the “Internet of Experiences.” To learn more about this evolution, we invite you to explore the cover article for the latest issue of Compass magazine, “BEYOND THE IOT: The Internet of Experiences will change the way the world operates.”

Shifting Design Process: The Cassiopeia Camera Experience

By Estelle
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Understanding the needs of multidisciplinary creative teams

This Article has been written by Teshia Treuhaft and originally appeared at Core 77

The evolution of design as a professional practice is one regularly impacted by developments in other fields. As designers, we often sit squarely between disciplines, streamlining and humanizing products for greater usability and appeal in the end result.

Never has the requirement to work between disciplines been as important as it is today. As industrial design becomes increasingly interwoven with service design, user experience design, engineering, manufacturing and more—designers must act as the bonding agent for teams producing innovative products.

In an effort to further understand these emerging hybrid teams of designers, managers and engineers, companies are going as far as studying the trend of co-creation to optimize for social ideation and more collaboration. Likewise, with the speed of technology and pace of product development, having tools and solutions that allow companies to build faster is proving a greater advantage than ever before.


In order to research the way teams work from the inside out, Dassault Systèmes put together a creative team to design the Cassiopeia Camera Experience. Cassiopeia is a concept for a connected camera that has the functionality of a digital SLR, and allows the user to sketch over photos and scan objects or textures. The team took Cassiopeia from inspiration phase to design validation, allowing Dassault Systèmes to gather first-hand knowledge of the needs of each team member and design solutions that directly enhance social ideation and creative design among the group.

Cassiopeia Camera Experience

Using this research, it becomes clear as the project progresses through different phases, that the requirements of each contributor change and communication between parties gains complexity. While each phase builds on the next, a well equipped team will be able to regularly come together during each phase for design validation.

We decided to take a deeper look at development of the Cassiopeia project for unique insight into the inner workings of a team—one that is not only building a product but a holistic experience.

Inspiration Phase

The inspiration phase of any product demands input from a number of key players inside and outside the company. This is often done by compiling references in the form of articles, visuals, sketches and more. A product manager typically leads this phase, however every member of the team can provide valuable input at this fledgling stage.

Team gathers references and inspiration to define key functions of the product

Communication at the inspiration phase must support amassing source material and then distillation until a key concept emerges. The inspiration phase is particularly important for connected devices like Cassiopeia. In this case, the design team faces not only the task of designing the camera, but also the connected functionality. The complex use cases and physicality of the product must be developed in tandem during this phase for a unified end user experience.

Ideation Phase

Once the inspiration is clear to the team, the work of narrowing the idea down to a discrete set of requirements is the next step. This ideation phase moves the product from discussion of the concept into a physical form for the first time. For this phase, creative designers are tasked to visualize the product for the team, iterate together and repeat.

Rough sketches gives the product a form factor that can discussed and refined at later stages

Sketching in this phase is essential. It allows the team to understand possible variations and begin to make decisions about a number of factors. During ideation, the ergonomic and functional aspects of Cassiopeia merge for the first time into a rough form factor that can be communicated to the team.

Concept Design Phase

Once the product is visualized for the first time using the 3D sketches, the next step is to model the product at scale. An industrial designer will typically model the product in 3D, testing and refining design variations from the ideation phase.

An industrial designer adds scale and refines features of device. 

With Cassiopeia, this is the phase where shapes begins to emerge and the conversation about the product shifts from conceptual to physical. The goals of the design must be clarified and communicated clearly so that the product can seamlessly transition from a design into a physical object that can be considered from a manufacturability standpoint.

Detail Design Phase

Once the industrial designer has taken the design from concept sketch to 3D model, a design engineer takes the model and considers it from engineering and manufacturing perspective. This shift from design of the device to engineering of the device is a careful balance to retain as much of the original concept for the form factor as possible.

Foresight during the detail design phase offers ease of manufacturing and greater success in the final product.

This is a key matter of communication between the engineer and designer in order to deliver a product that not only is aesthetically aligned with the inspiration – but also can be manufactured. For Cassiopeia, this requires a seemingly subtle but highly important refinement of surfaces and geometry.

Design Validation Phase

In the final step, the team must simulate the product in order to engage in discussion and finalize the design. Design validation occurs both in the final steps and at regular intervals during the development. There are two main forms this validation takes, led by a visual experience designer and a physical prototyper. A visual experience designer will create a number of detailed renders, while the physical prototyper will develop physical 3D models.

Visualizing decisions is essential to engage key players inside and outside the team

For Cassiopeia this is a key phase as the camera has a number of complex parts, surfaces and functions. Regular design validation throughout the process gives access to all members of the team to make decisions about the final product. When collaboration is managed well, the multidisciplinary team will arrive at the validation phase having shared expertise at each step of the design process. As a result, the final prototype is a true reflection of their shared vision and is reached more quickly than ever before.

The development process of any electronic device is challenging for teams looking to innovate in their respective spheres. As consumer’s expectations increase for well-designed objects that provide comprehensive product experiences, the ability of teams to collaborate and move quickly will be increasingly valuable. The extent to which teams can effectively collaborate will be a defining factor for success – both for the team and the products they create.

To read more about Dassault Systèmes Solutions and Social Ideation and Creative Design, check out their website and webinar.

VIRTUAL SINGAPORE: Creating an intelligent 3D model to improve experiences of residents, business and government

By Akio
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Originally published in Compass: The 3DEXPERIENCE® Magazine, written by William J. Holstein

Powered by sophisticated analysis of images and data collected from public agencies and real-time sensors, Virtual Singapore is designed to give a whole new meaning to the term “smart city.”

By giving the city-state’s citizens, businesses, government agencies and research community dynamic 3D visualizations of wildly diverse scenarios, it can be used to plan everything from emergency evacuations to a perfect night on the town.


Singapore is a small country with a giant plan. In one of the world’s most ambitious information technology experiments, the city-state is building a system that will virtualize the buildings, infrastructures, green spaces and almost every aspect of life in Singapore and then display the results as an interactive, 3D replica.

The project, called Virtual Singapore, is led by the National Research Foundation Singapore together with the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) and Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), and is expected to be progressively developed, with completion in 2018.

Although many cities are working to assemble and analyze their data in hopes of improving city life, Virtual Singapore is unusual because it will allow all users to visualize in 3D how the city will develop and evolve with time in response to population growth, new construction and other major events.

“We will capture the virtualized life of Singapore,” said George Loh, director of the Foundation’s Programmes Directorate, which includes responsibility for leading the Virtual Singapore project. “For example, it will include demographic data about where elderly people are living, where the businesses and shopping malls and restaurants are, and what the transport schedules are. People can have access to all of that information and make sense of it.”

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “We will capture
the virtualized life of #Singapore”

Virtual Singapore will assemble and analyze data that already exists in dozens of government agencies, plus new data collected in real time from smartphones, cameras and sensors, to model and predict solutions to the emerging and complex challenges Singapore faces.

Displayed in the context of a virtual 3D model of the city, Virtual Singapore will enable city planners to test various responses to everything from population growth and resource management to public events and building patterns, and implement those that create the safest, most positive experiences.

“The words they’ve been using to describe it are ‘digital twin,’” said Chris Holmes, managing director, IDC Insights Asia Pacific, who has lived in Singapore for 16 years. “They’re looking to capture all the moving parts of the city and to track what is happening in the city in real time.”


The Virtual Singapore concept combines several hot technological trends, including big data, the Internet of Things, 3D modeling and predictive analytics. The model will provide information to four basic constituencies.

“It can serve government agencies,” Loh said, “but it also can be a platform where people could have access to limited data and they could use applications that make their lives much more convenient.

Businesses also can offer targeted services to their customers.

And the last stakeholder group is researchers, who may have more ideas than government bureaucrats about how to create new technologies and services.”

The Virtual Singapore project will support Singapore’s vision for creating a “smart nation,” but its vision of giving access to citizens and visitors makes it fundamentally different from what other cities, such as Rio de Janeiro, are doing to make their operations “smarter.”

As it prepares for the 2016 Summer Olympics, Rio has created a command-and-control center where information about electricity usage, water and waste management, traffic flow and crime can be collected in real time. But only government agencies will have access to the data.

Singapore’s project is more challenging because it envisions giving multiple constituencies access to the data each needs, with controls to ensure that confidential and sensitive data is protected – a complex security and privacy challenge.

“We need to give the right data to the right people at the right level at the right time,” Loh said.

The system also needs to be able to serve many different devices. For example, individuals will be able to access the system from smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktop computers.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “#VirtualSingapore gives access to all:
govt, researchers, businesses, citizens”


How will Virtual Singapore help the city, recognized as one of the world’s most livable, maintain that status in the face of rapid growth projections?

As an example, Loh cites the planning required for Singapore to host the Formula One automobile races held there every September, when the government shuts down roads at night and the race cars speed through the city. Huge crowds come to watch the races, but city planners have to prepare for the dangers of evacuating spectators in case of a fiery crash.

Virtual Singapore will help by giving city planners the ability to overlay or “stream in” the locations of people based on signals from their smartphones.

“You will know where all the entrances and exits are, and you know how the crowd will be moving based on the historical data of previous years,” Loh explained. “If something really bad happens, through 3D predictive and intelligent agents modeling you can see how people would disperse and how they would behave. You create a plan for how you would evacuate people.”

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “Imagine an evacuation plan
based on how people behave in emergencies”

Virtual Singapore will also develop a common data exchange platform, making much of the data that already exists in government ministries easier to access and share in a secured and controlled environment.

Visualization is a major goal of the project so that the aggregated and integrated data from different sources can be “seen.”

Related: Civil Design for Fabrication


One implication of the Virtual Singapore project, and of similar efforts around the world, is that the way governments work will change for the better, IDC’s Holmes said.

“You’re going to see a more integrated approach in government. If there is a sewage leak somewhere in the city, for example, you need to alert transportation authorities, you need the police to block the roads and you need the engineers to attack the problem. If all those agencies can ‘see’ the problem on the same platform, they will be able to better coordinate their efforts.”

Ultimately, the biggest challenge smart city projects face is that of involving average citizens, said Carlo Ratti, director of the SENSEable City Lab at the Urban Planning Department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

“Crucially, the work must demonstrate concepts that promote interaction and debate,” said Ratti, one of the world’s most renowned smart city experts. “The goal of design is to generate alternatives and open up new possibilities. The momentum of the crowd can project ideas into the future and spark development; as a result, our work is meaningless unless it ignites imaginations. This implicates each and every citizen.”

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “The goal of #design is to generate alternatives
& open up new possibilities @SenseableCity”

Ratti argues that the best smart city projects are bottom up, not top down, because they enlist average people in creating them and then using what is created to deliver tangible benefits.

“The overall goal of real-time information in cities is to help people make better decisions,” Ratti said. “Giving data back to those who generate it allows them to be more in sync with their environment.”


Virtual Singapore also gives its leaders an opportunity to inspire the city’s young people to take up science and technology subjects through projects such as the National Science Experiment (NSE).

The NSE has a dual goal of exposing students to real-world applications of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) while collecting environmental data that can be used to populate Virtual Singapore.

Organized by the National Research Foundation Singapore and the Ministry of Education, in partnership with the Singapore University of Technology and Design, the Science Centre Singapore and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, the program began in 2015 with a pilot project involving more than 300 young Singaporeans. By the time the NSE ends in 2017, more than 250,000 students are expected to take part.

Each participant is equipped with a simple device called SENSg, which can capture data, including temperature, humidity and noise levels, wherever the devices go. The information is transmitted wirelessly to a central computer server.

Students can go online and log in to see their own data, including their number of steps taken, time spent outdoors and travel patterns. They can also compare notes with friends while discovering the relationship between travel patterns and carbon footprints.

As the students mature and begin to enter the workforce, organizers hope that projects like the NSE will have made using big data second nature for them.

“This is the first step in crowdsourcing of data,” Loh said. “The people must be smart. The people must be able to leverage the massive amount of data we are going to make available.”

Much of the data that Virtual Singapore will display is already available, although not integrated, in numerical form on computer screens.

One of the key goals of the project is to display that data visually in ways that do not require a user to whip out a calculator to understand the implications.

That’s where 3D modeling becomes critical.

“A picture speaks a thousand words, even without doing any analysis,” Loh said. “Singaporeans should be able to access those images on their handheld devices. A visual display of a crowded train or bus station, for example, should communicate more information more quickly than mere numbers.”

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: #3D Modeling is key: “A picture
speaks 1000 words, even without any analysis”

Related Resources:

Civil Design for Fabrication

Virtual Singapore: A Platform to Solve Emerging and Complex Challenges

Virtual Singapore and the Economy of the Digital Twin


George Loh, who leads the Virtual Singapore project as director of the National Research Foundation’s Programmes Directorate, has a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio) and a master’s degree in Industrial Systems Engineering from the University of Southern California (Los Angeles).

He has more than 20 years of experience in information technology, research strategy, high-tech security and systems engineering for the Ministry of Defence Singapore, the Defence Science & Technology Agency and the NRF, where he also manages programs that include National Cybersecurity Research and Development and the Land and Liveability National Innovation Challenge.

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