Brussels, 05 April 2002
A report on the future of Information and Communication Technologies, carried out last year by a group from the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), is currently being publicised in the UK to highlight funding opportunities available under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).
The IST (Information Society Technologies) programme is to be awarded 3.6 billion euro, the largest programme allocation in the FP6 budget. This report looks at some possible future results of that investment; specifically, how new technologies could integrate microcomputers into everyday objects, making interaction with people as natural as possible.
Some of the report's thought-provoking contents are being publicised by 'UKISHelp', the UK's advisory service for British organisations seeking funds from the EU's IST programme.
The report draws on current EU-funded research and uses real life scenarios to describe what living with 'Ambient Intelligence' could be like for Europeans in the year 2010. Commissioned by ISTAG (the Information Society Technologies Advisory Group), the scenarios were developed by the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies of the JRC.
One of the scenarios predicts what life could be like for a fictional character named 'Dimitrios' in 2010. 'Dimitrios is wearing, embedded in his clothes (or in his own body), a voice activated 'gateway' or digital version of himself, familiarly known as 'D-Me' or 'Digital Me'. D-Me is both a learning device, learning about Dimitrios from his interactions with his environment, and an acting device offering communication, processing and decision-making functionality.' Dimitrios has partly programmed it himself, at a very initial stage but he now relies upon its 'intelligent' reactions, rather than feeling the need to upgrade it. Phone calls of secondary importance are answered formally but smoothly by Dimitrios' D-Me with a reproduction of Dimitrios' voice and typical accent. If a call is interpreted by his D-Me as sufficiently pressing to mobilise Dimitrios, it 'rings' him using a pre-arranged call tone.
The preface to the ISTAG report warns against misinterpretation of its content: 'Scenarios are not traditional extrapolations from the present', it says, 'however, they do offer provocative glimpses of futures that can (but need not) be realized... the specific scenarios should not be read as end-objectives in themselves. They are, rather, ways to uncover the specific steps and challenges in technology... that have to be taken into account when anticipating the future'.
Peter Walters of 'UKISHelp' is more concerned about how the report can stimulate British interest in the Commission's IST programme, as UK companies 'help to make the ISTAG report's predictions become a reality'.
He concludes: 'With a new 3.6 billion euro European IT funding opportunity called the Sixth Framework expected later this year, the DTI (the UK's Department of Trade and Industry) is advising UK business decision makers to find out more now about the business benefits of positioning their companies at the forefront of European technological innovation.'
For further information and access to the 'Ambient Intelligence' report in full, see; http://www.cordis.lu/ist/istag.htm
For further information on EU IST funding, from a UK perspective, see http://www.ukishelp.co.uk
Or contact Richard Glynn E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org , Tel: +44 1772 767522