It’s in our houses, hospitals, offices, and cars. As it expands throughout our everyday lives, artificial intelligence is growing even smarter – and just in time.

In less than 35 years, some 23 percent of the U.S. population will be at least 65 years old, and many elderly people will be physically or cognitively restricted. Providing appropriate assistance for our aging population and meeting the new demands of our changing world will require innovative approaches, often relying on advanced technologies of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

A leader in designing these technologies is Dr. Diane Cook, Huie-Rogers Chair and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Washington State University. Dr. Cook and her colleagues are creating smart environments, hospitals, apartments, airports, workplaces, and other common settings–that can reason as intelligent agents with the goal of enhancing our quality of life through improved health care, resource management, security, and convenience.

Smart environments are already being used in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of disease. They’re helping people optimize water and energy consumption and providing a variety of safety functions. Smart environment research crosses many disciplines, including robotics, pervasive and mobile computing, middleware, agent-based software, AI, sensor networks, and multimedia computing.

Based on the types of experiments and software Dr. Cook develops at WSU, your home could someday be programmed to tell you when you’re running low on sugar – in your cupboard or in your bloodstream. It could also turn off a forgotten stovetop and warm up a favorite chair.

Features of smart environments are likely to pervade our lives, Dr. Cook says. “They will automate our living spaces, increase productivity in our workplaces, and customize our shopping experiences.” And as world populations change and grow, WSU scientists are designing smarter technologies to meet our evolving needs.


Featuring: Diane Cook

Dr. Diane Cook is Huie-Rogers Chair Professor in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Washington State University. Her areas of interest include artificial intelligence, machine learning, parallel algorithms, and smart environments. She has authored more than 200 publications and edited three books on these or related topics. While at the University of Texas at Arlington, Dr. Cook designed and implemented the MavHome smart home, one of the first fully automated smart environments. Her research is supported by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), NASA, the U.S. Air Force, the Naval Research Laboratory, and various industrial sponsors. Dr. Cook received a NSF Research Initiation Award and a NSF Career Award and numerous other research and teaching awards. She serves as editor-in-chief of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, Part B, and is on the advisory and editorial boards for several international journals.