As an architect, you often have to predict occupant needs — to design built space that meets those needs with sophisticated and seamless solutions. But, what happens when an architecture is more interactive, and a need arises during an interaction sequence? Can architecture respond to a change in occupant need that happens in real-time?
In essence, there are two types of core reactions — those that stem from predicted events and those that were not predicted at all, but instead occur after a need arises. Thus, the first is a preventative measure, while the second is a reactive measure.
Really, the need for both predictive and reactive behaviors is important within the design of smart environments because not everything happens according to plan. Hence, the design of your building should contain both predictive and reactive behaviors — to help occupants reach their milestones and goals.
A smart environment can begin to pick up on cues in occupant behavior to detect patterns that may lead toward a prediction (like what goal an occupant wants to achieve or how they will need help to achieve it). Patterns of occupant activity can be very revealing — shedding light on what the architecture will need to do, and when it will need to do it. Thus, smart environments can not only help to “fix” needs that arise, but they can also help to prevent needs from ever arising in the first place.
So, the role of prediction in the design of smart of environments is to empower occupants. It isn’t about taking control or privacy from them. Instead, it’s all about helping occupants to achieve what they want, whether it is health, happiness, safety, productivity, or some other goal.
While not everything can be predicted in real-time (there are always margins of error), it does help to know that the future of smart environments may very well help to make life healthier, happier, and safer. Smart architecture can teach, warn, and react to occupant events and behaviors — let’s make sure we use such capabilities for the good of the occupant, to empower them.
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