Students Staff

19 July 2010

Futuristic living for homes of today

Colchester Campus

Imagine your home being so in tune with your everyday needs that your household appliances learn your habits to know exactly when to turn themselves on and off.

Sounds too good to be true? Well, maybe not, according to research being carried out at the University of Essex.

And volunteers are now needed to help with this state-of-the-art research which could transform the way we live in the future.

Picture the scene. When you arrive home from work the coffee is brewing, your favourite chill-out music is playing and the lights and temperature are set to your ideal level for relaxing after a hard day at the office.

Whilst such futuristic scenarios may seem unlikely, they are not uncommon in the world of ambient intelligence as they help developers visualise possible applications for a range of new technologies which are able to learn from human behaviour and autonomously communicate with each other in order to work together to support our everyday needs.

Researchers at Essex have joined forces with academics and companies in Germany, France and Greece, to lay the foundations for this new and much more intimate relationship between human beings and their personal technologies.

Their work is part of a major EU-funded project, Adaptive and Trusted Ambient Ecologies (ATRACO), which aims to develop the underlying technological frameworks allowing our devices to interact and adapt in changing environments occupied by multiple people.

The project is being tested in the University’s iSpace laboratory – a fully-functioning two-bedroom apartment which is used as a test-bed for future home technology.

Earlier this year volunteers imagined the iSpace was their home and were asked to interact with various aspects of the ATRACO system and then talk about their experiences in order to provide a first benchmark for the new avenues of research.

For the next phase of the project, researchers are now looking for volunteers willing to spend up to four, two-hour sessions in the iSpace between August and December.

Anyone interested in taking part should contact Joy van Helvert at

Note to Editors
For more information please contact the University of Essex Communications Office on 01206 872400 or e-mail

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