Systems in context

Tomorrow’s systems have to operate in a dynamic and rapidly changing human and technical operating context, including situations and configurations that were not envisioned at design time. These circumstances require context-aware and adaptive behaviour to incorporate impact by the physical environment, the availability of services, and social or machine-to-machine interactions.

Systems operating smartly within their context is an enabler for ubiquitous computing, ambient intelligence, the internet of things, and cyber-physical systems. These technology visions on the verge of becoming the norm open various application fields that address pressing societal concerns, e.g., smart buildings that assist but also conserve energy, intelligent traffic that stops waste and pollution, smart manufacturing that raises efficiency, and situational awareness that provides safety and security. This provides a new scope for embedded systems: It links tightly into processes and decision making, interweaving the physical domain with information processing, and thus fuses embedded systems technology with network/communication technology and high-level information processing, such as in big-data.

In the field of systems in context, the TNO-ESI research programme focuses on information-centric architectures in which embedded intelligence reflects and reasons on both the system’s own operations and that of its environment. We complement this work with research on adaptability, e.g., via dynamic system re-configuration and situation-dependent behaviour and control. This addresses both application goals, like comfort in a smart building, and system-level goals, like higher energy efficiency. Furthermore, we investigate cross-domain system interoperability and interaction in systems-of-systems, where we explore the use and impact of data and information, ensuring understanding, trustworthiness, integrity, and privacy.

Methods developed in the field

of systems in context


Business manager:

Frans Beenker


+31 (0)88-866 5420