The emergence of cognitive interaction technology offering intuitive and personalized support for humans in daily routines is essential for the success of future smart environments. Social robotics and ambient assisted living are well-established, active research fields but in the real world the number of smart environments that support humans efficiently on a daily basis is still rather low. We argue that research on ambient intelligence and human–robot interaction needs to be conducted in a strongly interdisciplinary process to facilitate seamless integration of assistance technologies into the users daily lives. With the cognitive service robotics apartment (CSRA), we are developing a novel kind of laboratory following this interdisciplinary approach. It combines a smart home with ambient intelligence functionalities with a cognitive social robot with advanced manipulation capabilities to explore the all day use of cognitive interaction technology for human assistance. This lab in conjunction with our development approach opens up new lines of inquiry and allows us to address new research questions in human–machine, human–agent and human–robot interaction.