Future Cities Digest #17 (20/03/2014)

by Lukasz Alwast

#taxi #data #NYC #MIT

More and more questions are floating around the evidence-base for creating and backing-up car-sharing schemes. For that reason scientists at the MIT Sensible Lab decided to request from the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission all the data about the 150 mln+ trips that happened in 2011 – in and out of Manhattan. They asked themselves the question ‘Are people from the same place going to the same destination at the same time, and if so, could they share rides?’. According to their results, nearly 80 percent of trips could have been shared if passengers were willing to travel no more than three minutes out of their way, and the efficiency benefits from car-sharing could quickly kick-in even if only a small share of riders were willing to join. On the HubCab project website (supported also by Audi and General Motors) you can see a nicely done interface for visualizing, and interpreting all of this city data.

#wearable’s #Android #watch #Google

Google announced this week that it has been working on an operating system called Android wear, dedicated for a new generation of wearable devices. The first publically available products are expected to be the LG G Watch and Motorola Moto 360. One of the most communicated advantages of the new devices is that a number of applications that are now only available for smartphones will ‘provide contextual information at-a-glance view’. The backbone of the OS is the Google Now service, marketed as providing ‘useful actionable information whenever a user needs it’ and quite strongly relying on voice-recognition commands. The first devices using the system are planned to be distributed later during the year, however, Google is already releasing software development kits for its maker’s community.  The OS seems to be a consistent part of a larger (and still fairly new) ecosystems for Google’s future services – including Google Glass, Google Tango, and now – the G Watch .

#cars #connectivity #dashboards #Audi

An interesting article in the MIT Tech Review foresees that in the incoming months major car manufacturers will start introducing high-speed Internet connection within their vehicles (similar to those available on fastest smartphones). The first U.S. models with ‘fast’ wireless connection are expected to be deployed in 2015, but other manufacturers, including GM, Toyota and Ford, are also following suit. Taking advantage of internal dashboards and creating apps, car manufacturers are seeing an opportunity for product differentiation. The proliferation of these technologies could also in the long-term support the establishment of vehicle-to-vehicle communication, and ultimately, allow the introduction of semi-autonomous and fully-autonomous vehicles.

#ultravision #lenses #graphene #IEEE

Researchers at the University of Michigan are experimenting with optical capabilities of graphene, a carbon composite material, hoping to enable infrared vision in contact lenses. According to IEEE Spectrum, researchers have already been able to create infrared sensors of the size of a contact lens and are eagerly envisioning its functionality with other types of wearable’s. Not left without any technical challenges, the military and medical industries seem to be the target groups expressing most ‘initial interest’. The interesting aspect to this story is how certain types of scientific outputs are more and more associated with future consumer products (as here, contact lenses or wereable’s) to communicate their foreseen functionality and impact.  

Recent reports and publications:

This week’s artefact from the future:

Master’s Archive (IDEO & MIT Media Lab)
There are skills books just can’t teach. We really need to use tools and materials to understand how they work. But what will a making education look like in the future? We think the recent explosion in camera technologies will create new styles of learning. Imagine a depth camera tracking our movements as a professional gives you guidance. Or seeing your hands super-imposed on a screen as you learn new motions. We wondered how new sensors and new social elements could shape our learning environment. Could you use cameras to track your hands as you learn to knit? Could you use lasers to guide new interactions? Could you learn the nuances of a skill from master craftspeople? We designed the Master’s Archive to understand how mastery might be passed between student and teacher (watch the video).