The online interactive magazine of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence

Juan Carlos Augusto, Philippe Lalanda, Massimo Mecella

Intelligent Environments are populated with numerous devices and have multiple occupants, inherently exhibit increasingly intelligent behaviour, support consistent functionality and human-centric operation (humans, as opposed to mere users, have increased requirements from a system, including, for example, intuitive interaction, protection of privacy, fault-tolerance etc.), and provide optimized resource usage. The development of Intelligent Environments is considered the first and primary step towards the realization of the Ambient Intelligence vision and requires input from research and contributions from several scientific and engineering disciplines, including computer science, software engineering, artificial intelligence, architecture, social sciences, art and design. The series of IE conferences have been consistently creating a unique blend of researchers in these disciplines, fostering cross-disciplinary discussions, debate and collaborations.

The 17th International Conference on Intelligent Environments (IE2021) was held on June 21-24 at the Middlesex University Dubai, UAE. The general chairs were Philippe Lalanda of the University Grenoble-Alpes, France, and Juan Carlos Augusto of Middlesex University London, UK. Massimo Mecella from Sapienza Università di Roma, Italy, and Raja Jurdak from Queensland University of Technology, Australia, served as program chairs. This article presents a report of the conference.

The first edition of this event was hosted at the University of Essex, UK (in 2005) and all subsequent editions since them were held on a yearly basis in different countries of the American, European and Asian continents. The event is structured into two days of Workshops and Tutorials followed by two days of conference which includes various tracks: full/short papers, video/demos presentations and doctoral colloquium.

The following workshops were held:

  • 10th International Workshop on the Reliability of Intelligent Environments (WORIE ‘21) organized by Miguel J. Hornos, Juan Carlos Augusto, Carlos Rodríguez-Domínguez and Aditya Santokhee,
  • 3rd International Workshop on Intelligent Environments and Buildings (IEB ’21) organized by Mohammed Bakkali,
  • The first International Workshop on Self- Learning in Intelligent Environments (SeLIE ’21) organized by Antonio Coronato and Giovanna Di Marzo Serugendo, and
  • 1st International Workshop on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for Emerging Topics (ALLEGET ‘21).
  • Many of these workshops have been regularly running with IE conferences, providing a focused forum for open discussion and cross fertilization of ideas on emerging and multi-disciplinary topics. The proceedings of the workshops were published as an Open Access volume by IOS Press.

The following Tutorials were held:

  • “IoT and Home Building Automation Technology” by Ammar Ali Moazzam, The Assembly,
  • “Considering Emotional Requirements in Intelligent Systems” by Dr. Sofia Ouhbi, United Arab Emirates University (UAEU),
  • “Predictive Digital Twin Opportunities in Heritage Management” by Dr. Noha Saleeb, Middlesex University London,
  • “IoT-based Digital Twins Composition and Planning for Smart Factories” by Massimo Mecella, Sapienza Università di Roma; Francesco Leotta, Sapienza Università di Roma; Andrea Marrella, Sapienza Università di Roma,
  • “Microservices: Issues and Solutions” by Dr. Noura Faci, Université Claude Bernard, Lyon 1 & LIRIS Lab,
  • “Artificial Intelligence and Cloud Computing – How deep learning can enhance the user experience” by Basil Ayass, Google

These workshop, well in line with the current technical trends and domains (microservices or industry 4.0 for instance) were very well received and are an asset for the conference.

This year, after a thorough reviewing process by an international committee, 18 papers were accepted for presentation at the main conference,

out of 61 submissions, which means a 36% acceptance ratio in line with the selectivity of the conference series which gained in 2021 the level B in the prestigious CORE ranking. These presentations were spread in the conference program through one and a half days minimizing parallel tracks. The areas of work which were most often referred to in this edition were: healthcare for the elderly, design methods and approaches, planning and simulation of people’s dynamics, environmental applications, security and energy efficiency of the systems. Also, the conference demonstrated the importance of artificial intelligence techniques (especially ML) in the different domains investigated for intelligent environments. All papers were included in the conference proceedings, which were published in digital format by IEEE.

The conference program also included two distinguished keynote speeches by Prof. Edward A. Lee, Robert S. Pepper Distinguished Professor Emeritus, UC Berkeley on the coevolution of humans and machines, and by Bharathan Balaji, Research Scientist at Amazon on sustainable buildings.

In this edition the following awards were given:

  • Best full paper: GRETA: Pervasive and AR interfaces for Controling Intelligent Greenhouses” by Iraklis Bekiaris, Asterios Leonidis, Maria Korozi, Christos Stratakis, Emmanouil Zidianakis, Maria Doxastaki and Constantine Stephanidis,
  • Best short paper: “Experimenting a Healthy Ageing Community in Immersive Virtual Reality Environment: The Case of World’s Longest-lived Populations” by Peyman Najafi, Masi Mohammadi, Pascale M. Le Blanc and Pieter Van Wesemael, and
  • Beatrice Worsley Award to best female research contribution: to Ms Masi Mohammadi, based on the high quality of her two accepted papers: “Experimenting a Healthy Ageing Community in Immersive Virtual Reality Environment: The Case of World‘s Longest-lived Populations” and “Requirement elicitation and prototype development of an Intelligent Environment to support people with early dementia”

The conference was hosted online because of the ongoing pandemics. Still despite the challenging context, the organizers decided to run it in online/virtual mode. The conference was honoured by the Honorary Chair Fehmida Hussain, Middlesex University Dubai, UAE, who addressed the opening ceremony. More than 100 delegates attended the workshops and the conference. These included representatives from academia, industry, and government labs, and from specialties including software engineering, artificial intelligence, human factors, architecture, pervasive computing, and even psychology, art and design. Attendees and authors came from all over the world, with some preponderance of EU based researchers.

This year the conference was endorsed as usual by the American Association for Artificial Intelligence. The 18th International Conference on Intelligent Environments will take place in June 2022 in Biarritz, France (see

Short Biographies

Dr Juan Carlos Augusto (Licenciate in Computer Science-1992, Ph.D. in Artificial Intelligence- 1998, M.Sc. in Higher Education – 2009) is Professor of Computer Science at Middlesex University, London, UK. He is the Head of the Research Group on Development of Intel-ligent Environments. His personal research is focused on the improvement of the intelligence, interfaces and development process of Intelligent Environments. He has contributed to the research community with more than 270 publications, is co-editor in chief of journals addressing the development of sensing systems, their reliability and their application in Smart Cities. He has provided invited keynotes for several scientific events and also chaired several events. He has been a reviewer for the EU and several National Funding organizations in other countries. He is also an IEEE, ACM, AAAI and BCS member.

Dr Philippe Lalanda is a professor in computer science at Grenoble University. His research interests include autonomic computing and pervasive computing, with recent work focusing on smart factories and smart homes. Lalanda has a PhD in artificial intelligence from Nancy University, France.

Dr Massimo Mecella is an associate professor at Sapienza Università di Roma. His research interests focus on business process management, cyberphysical systems and the Internet of Things, advanced interfaces and human–computer interaction, and software architectures and service-oriented computing, with applications in multiple fields, including digital government, smart spaces, Industry 4.0, health care, disaster/crisis response and management, cybersecurity, and digital humanities.