Future Cities Digest #25 (15/05/2014)

by Diana Phiri-Witty

#autism  #inclusive #design #toolkit

Two interesting articles that have emerged recently look at how buildings and cities can be designed to make life easier for people with autism. The first article follows Cairo based architect Magda Mostafa who developed the Autism ASPECTSS Design index whilst designing a school for children with autism. The ASPECTSS index approaches built environment design through looking at different sensory sequences through spaces. It proposes ideas such as ‘escape spaces,’ and ‘sensory havens.’ The index, which is being applied internationally, was developed alongside teachers, parents and caregivers. A second article worth looking at is set in the America where landscape architecture student Elizabeth Decker has developed a toolkit forAn inclusive urban design approach to planning for adults with autism.’ Her project proposes incorporating services for autistic users into existing urban networks and future urban developments.

 #information #hubs #WiFi #NYC

New York City launched recently a request for proposals to build a citywide network of Internet hotspots, that will create one of the largest free Wi-Fi networks in the US, and facilitate a new generation of ‘information hubs’. The idea behind the concept is to use the historic part of the New York street fabric and enhance public availability of ‘increasingly-vital’ broadband access and digital services. In addition to 24/7 free Wi-Fi, the communication structures are expected to offer phone charging stations and touch screens that provide the city additional means of disseminating emergency notifications and information during citywide events. Interestingly, the current request for proposals is an outcome of a quite lengthy public consultation process that began in 2012. The city received more than 125 submissions featuring a variety of innovations – from augmented reality and hyper-local sensors, to voice and gesture controlled kiosks – all collected through ‘the future of the pay-phone’ contest.

 #smart #bike #Vanhawks  #cycle

For those who have ever had to juggle cycling busy streets whilst navigating by looking at a smartphone map, the Vanhawks Valour smart bike might be the solution to a more seamless cycling experience. A Canadian based kickstarter project has unveiled designs for a smart connected carbon fiber bicycle. The bike works by being paired up with a smartphone, which relays preset directions to the cyclist through LED lights built into the left and right hand side of the handlebars. The bike also has sensors on its wheels to detect when cars come too close. Questions have arisen as to whether it is viable to build so much technology into a vehicle that often needs repairs, but creators have at least ensured that the bike parts for the Vanhawks can be serviced at a normal repair shop.

 #V2V #standards #platforms #Nokia

Car manufacturers and third-party suppliers are both competing and cooperating to establish standards that enable cars to seamlessly connect to the Internet. At the beginning of May, Nokia launched a $100 mln. venture fund to invest in companies working on connected car technologies. According to one of the partners at Nokia – “Vehicles are becoming a new platform for technology adoption, very similar to phones or tablet”. And the Finnish company, which sold its mobile phone unit to Microsoft last week, already has a major presence in the car navigation sector. According to Bloomberg, it provides map data to four out of five car-navigation systems and companies (including Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo). Also worth a notice, IEEE Spectrum released it’s special report on the self-driving car, where internal and external connectivity of vehicles are a major feature.

Recent reports and publications out there:

This week’s artefact from the future:
Blood/Meat Energy Future- Book for Parents (Science Museum – Dunne & Raby)
This was part of a 2004 exhibition looking at energy futures – hypothetical products were used to explore the ethical, cultural and social impact of different energy futures. The scenarios include: domestic hydrogen production and child labour with specially designed family uniforms and corporate logos; bio-fuel created from human waste; and meat-based microbial fuel cells. Each scenario is based on a real technology and simply asks what would happen if this became the main form of energy in the not too distant future.