Future Cities Digest #14 (27.02.14)

by Lukasz Alwast

#emerging #technologies #futures #WEF

The World Economic Forum introduces annually a list of 10 emerging technologies which are considered as ‘high potential’, but still experience gaps in investment streams, regulation frameworks and public understanding. Within the group of 17 decision-makers – including scientist from top international research institutions and tech organizations – was also Sir David King. Not surprisingly, the majority of the listed technologies can be considered as impacting the way people might experience future cities – ranging from body-adapted wearable electronics, nanocarbon structured composites, through grid scale electricity-storagenano-wire lithium batteries to screen- less displays and predictive analytics for the quantified self. The particularly interesting aspect of some of these technologies is their potential for convergence – eg. one could imagine a novel application of lithium batteries to a certain group of wearable’s that further unlock quantified-self (or bionic) functionalities [etc.]. Having said that, it’s worth having a look into the 2013 list and see what came across as accurate, and what didn’t.

#context #awareness #mobile #Google

The big news from Google this week is Project Tango – ‘a project to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion’. Highlighted in this week’s IEEE Spectrum, it is said to add an additional layer of depth to mobile phones, as it ‘allows to create 3D maps of whatever someone points out’. According to Google, the current prototype is “a 5” phone containing customized hardware and software designed to track the full 3D motion of the device, while simultaneously creating a map of the environment. These sensors allow the phone to make over a quarter million 3D measurements every second, updating it’s position and orientation in real-time, combining that data into a single 3D model of the space around you.” In the next days, Google is to release 200 development tools, which are addressed at professional developers ‘with dreams of creating more than a touch-screen app’. The kit is supposed to be used in projects in the areas of indoor navigation/mapping, single/multiplayer games that use physical space, and new algorithms for processing sensor data. If you find a few spare minutes, it’s worth watching the product launch video.

#design #incubator #co-working #NYC

New York is the host city for the first museum-led cultural incubator– a shared workspace for ‘kickstarting the business of design’. The new workspace called New Inc intends to attract artists, designers and technologists from various disciplines to collaborate in a lab-like environment. With New York being the place with the largest number of graduate designers in America, New Inc wants to be a place that brings together mentors, graduates, museum artists in residence and professionals to co-work, share resources and utilise the working museum. The non-profit incubator hopes to focus on themes such as Architecture and Urban Planning, Fashion and Wearable Tech, Interactive Installations and Web and Mobile Development.

#fountains #public #spaces #London

The British magazine Architects’ Journal and a tile company Turkishceramics challenged some of London’s top architects to design water fountains across sites in Kensington, South Bank and Soho. The six participating design studios were Zaha Hadid Architects, Studio Weave, Hopkins Architects, ADAM Architecture, Eric Parry Architects and Alford Hall Moaghan Morris. Although the designs served as a tool to advertise Turkish tiles, the idea questioned how city facilities and services can challenge the way we use public space and the meaning of public facilities. One advantage presented for the use of water fountains was the possibility of cutting down the costs and waste created from the use of plastic water bottles. After all, according to the authors, one of the reasons water fountains have fallen out of favour is the wide availability and popularity of bottled water. The design gallery is available in the FastCompany article.

This week’s reports and publications:

  • Infrastructure Investment Policy Blueprint – Feb 2014, World Economic Forum (highlights: a practical set of recommendations for governments on attracting private capital for infrastructure; policy and regulatory enablers for strategic infrastructure visions)

This week’s artefact from the future:
Future Control (Dor Tal – Bezalzen Academy)
Israeli designer Dor Tal has designed a set of gadgets that monitor data generated on social networks to help users predict the future and take action ahead of time. Dor Tal’s Future Control project imagines a personal horoscope built on your data that could predict everything from when you’re most likely to go to the gym, to what mood your partner is going to be in when they get home. Dor Tal‘s concept works in two ways. The first requires the user to download an app on to their smartphone that scours social networks for any data generated about the user, or other people and organisations that might affect them. An algorithm then detects any patterns of behaviour that could be forecast ahead of time. The more accounts the user adds, including credit card information, Google, Apple and Facebook, the more intelligent the device becomes.