Machine Awareness

February 19, 2009

So here are the results of the machine awareness survey:

  1. GPS
  2. motion sensor (infrared?)
  3. thermostat
  4. light intensity sensor
  5. rain detector
  6. weather sensors (wind, barometer, humidity, etc)
  7. RFID
  8. weight-sensitive (like the mats that open supermarket doors)
  9. traction control
  10. volume of cell-phone traffic
  11. accelerometers (wiimote, Macbook sudden motion sensor)
  12. accelerometers for tilt detection (turn sideways to change mode)
  13. wi-fi (presence of and use of for location tracking)
  14. circuit breaker
  15. camera
  16. camera + object recognition, facial recognition
  17. microphone
  18. microphone + voice recognition, noise recognition
  19. switches in the hinge (Macbook sleeps when closed)
  20. Clock/calendar

So what is this for?

I’ve become convinced that we are not using all of the resources available to make augmented communication effective and seamless.

Much of our electronic lives have become a sort of augmented input and augmented communication. We use GPS and maps to augment our awareness of our surroundings. We text people, allowing us to communicate anywhere. All of this is a gradual blurring of the boundary between the machine and our reality (cyberspace and meatspace as it were).

AAC users already rely on machines for communication. They are a generation ahead of all of us in terms of the merging of computer and interpersonal communication. The next step in the evolution of AAC is to make the devices more responsive to all aspects of the environment. Right now, the only input to an AAC device is the user and perhaps a programmer (like teachers/parents/SLPs). This is okay, but it requires too much time and energy to input everything involved in communication. How can we make the machine do some of the work?

AAC researchers are not the only ones working on this problem. I am hoping that by looking at how other fields are blurring the boundaries between cyberspace and the real world we can use some of their lessons and tricks.

2 Responses to “Machine Awareness”

  1. JP Says:

    Adam, hey. Found this through a series of links that originated at Warren Ellis’ blog on The Unbook. Am not recommending the book per se, haven’t read anything more than the following link, but it’s intriguing and I immediately thought of this post when I read it. I’ve been on half a dozen sites/blogs tonight, I’ve done a fair bit of reading without a lot of processing, so this might be way off … anyhoo …

  2. G.Fraggle Says:


    Great word.

    I’ve been pushing the “ubiquitous computing” idea in AAC. Why is AAC a single device if there are many computers in the environment?

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