UI4ALL logo
European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics        ERCIM Working Group "User Interfaces for All"

From Human–Computer Interaction to Human–Environment Interaction: Ambient Intelligence and the Disappearing Computer"

Dr. Dr. Norbert Streitz

Fraunhofer IPSI
Darmstadt, Germany

“It seems like a paradox but it will soon become reality: The rate at which computers disappear will be matched by the rate at which information technology will increasingly permeate our environment and our lives” (Streitz & Nixon, 2005). Computers are increasingly becoming an important part of our day-to-day activities and determine many physical and social contexts of our life. The availability of computers is one step, to be followed by the integration of information, communication and sensing technology into everyday objects resulting in “smart environments” (Streitz et al, 2005 b).

The associated visions result in new challenges for designing interaction and experiences of people with their environment ((Streitz et al, 2005 a, b). Our approach is based on exploiting the affordances of real objects by augmenting their physical properties with the potential of computer-based enrichment. Combining the best of both worlds requires an integration of real and virtual worlds resulting in hybrid worlds. In this approach, the computer “disappears” and is almost “invisible” but its functionality is ubiquitously available and provides new forms of interacting with information (Russell et al, 2005). Another challenge is the shift from designing primarily interaction with information to designing experiences by being exposed to ambient displays and/or immersing in smart environments (Streitz et al, 2005a).


Russell, Streitz, Winograd (2005). Building Disappearing Computers. Communications of the ACM, Vol. 48 (3), March 2005. pp. 42-48.

Streitz & Nixon (2005). The Disappearing Computer. Communications of the ACM, Vol. 48 (3), March 2005. pp. 33-35.

Streitz, Magerkurth, Prante, Rocker (2005 a). From Information Design to Experience Design: Smart Artefacts and the Disappearing Computer. In: Special Issue on Ambient intelligence, ACM interactions, 12 (4) July + August 2005. pp. 21-25.

Streitz, Rocker, Prante, van Alphen, Stenzel, Magerkurth (2005 b). Designing Smart Artefacts for Smart Environments. In: IEEE Computer, March 2005. pp. 41-49.


Dr. Dr. Norbert Streitz (Ph. D. in physics and Ph.D. in psychology) is a Senior Scientist and Strategic Advisor with more than 20 years of experience in information technology. Until recently, he was is the head of the research division "AMBIENTE – Smart Environments of the Future" at the Fraunhofer institute IPSI in Darmstadt, Germany, where he also teaches at the Department of Computer Science of the Technical University Darmstadt. He was a post-doc fellow at the University of California, Berkeley and a visiting scholar at Xerox PARC as well as at the Intelligent Systems Lab of ETL-MITI, Tsukuba Science City, Japan. He was the Chair of the Steering Group of the EU-funded research initiative "The Disappearing Computer" and was/is involved in many other EU-funded projects and efforts. His research interests include Ambient/Pervasive/Ubiquitous Computing, Interaction and Experience Design, Human-Computer Interaction, Hypertext/ Hypermedia, Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, and Cognitive Science. He has published/edited 16 books and (co)authored more than 100 technical papers. He serves regularly on the program committees of national and international conferences and on editorial boards and is often invited to present keynote speeches to scientific as well as commercial events in Europe, USA, South America, Malaysia, Singapore, and Japan.


For questions or comments concerning this site, contact: ui4all-web@ics.forth.gr
This page was last updated on: 27 November, 2007
The URL of this page is:

Page quick-links:
Page header | Navigation bar | Page content | Page footer.
Return to the top of the page.