Thinking offices, intelligent protective clothing or helpful smart glasses. Such things are no longer the stuff of science fiction. The smallest of networked technology already encompasses our everyday life. It aids us independently, lying hidden and unnoticed in objects or rooms.
What opportunities these invisible helpers provide, what research into the latest technology looks like and whether technology can at all be "intelligent" are subjects which the "Beautiful and Intelligent Working World. An Exhibition on Ambient Intelligence" show will be tackling at the DASA Working World Exhibition in Dortmund.
From 11 September until 23 November 2014, the exhibition will be presenting everything that intelligent technology has to offer over five different areas ranging from clothing to smart glasses.
Ambient intelligence technologies are systems which aid people. They are decentralised and designed to be modular, are embedded into other objects, adjust to suit the situation and work without being commanded to.
However, a completely intelligent environment is still a vision. Yet research institutes are already working on making this vision a reality. Whether blinds that move as if by magic, cars without drivers or refrigerators that do their own shopping: Our environment is learning to network more and to "think" independently.
The Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) is conducting research into the actual effects of this kind of technology on people and their work. Dr. Lars Adolph, Scientific Director of "Division Products and Work Systems", describes it as follows: "Ambient intelligence is changing our working world. In the future, we will be using technology that won't perhaps be as transparent and easy for us to understand, but which will be able to help us in a range of different ways or even help production processes to run more efficiently. The working world will be taking an enormous leap in development."
The Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has been researching the opportunities and risks associated with ambient intelligence-based technology in the working world since 2009. At the heart of its research is the effects this technology has on people, because, as amazing as it may be to literally have your eye on the whole world by wearing smart glasses, very little is actually known about their health aspects.
Scientists are looking into which occupational sectors would benefit from intelligent technology, and what the physical and mental effects of this might be. Challenges regarding data protection are also being put to the test.
Using their results, researchers provide information for assessing the risks that are involved in company practice. Innovative technologies are tested before they are introduced for widespread use to ensure that they are used in a safe way.
Research into occupational health and safety predates ambient intelligence. At the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Occupational Physiology, for example, research has been conducted into providing better working conditions since 1913. The Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) has been in Dortmund since 1971. Back then, the Institute was still called the "Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Accident Research".