Future Cities Digest #26 (22/05/14)

by Lukasz Alwast

#vibrant #cities #preservation #diversity

new study from the US argues that neighbourhoods and commercial areas with a mixture of small and old buildings are more vibrant, walkable and foster businesses diversity. Research conducted by The National Trust for Historic Preservation analysed three cities and forty metrics of economic and social life including: income, jobs per square foot, number of businesses owned by women and minorities, the mix of big chains and small businesses. The findings revealed that the areas with older and small building stock attract more restaurants, shops and thus more foot traffic. Not surprisingly, there are also opposing voices. Edward Glaeser argues that ‘preservationists who oppose new developments restrict the supply of new housing’ and thus drive the prices up – the authors argue that ‘smaller older buildings don’t lend themselves well to formulate chain stores’ and they ‘keep cities affordable for local businesses and lower income renters’.

#virtual #reality #Oculus #Rift

The virtual-reality headset company Oculus Rift attracted significant attention back in April when Facebook announced its purchase for the $2bln price tag. Following on this Wired published recently an insiders account of the birth emergence of the company and how ‘virtual reality is becoming a reality’.  The article lays out how the 21-old hardware geek (Palmer Luckey) and virtual-reality veteran (John Carmack) came together to develop what is now described as the first VR “no-motion sickness experience” and “one of the five or six tech-demos that make you think the world is about to change: Apple II, Netscape, Google, iPhone…and now Oculus”. Worth noting that for Zuckerberg the device is ‘not just a gaming tool, but a full-fledged communications platform – something that will allow to ‘share experiences’ on a unprecedented scale’. Expected applications for the Rift include: immersive gaming, teleconferencing, healthcare and education.

#architecture #competitions #bus #stops

Seven international architects were invited to design bus stops in the small town of Krumbach in Austria. The project was a collaborative effort to bring together foreign architects and local crafts people for an ‘international exchange of ideas’. Initiated primarily as a tool to encourage tourism in the area, it was supported with funding from local sponsors, businesses, craft workers and hotel and inn owners. The architects came up with a range of designs that took into account the landscape and views of the surrounding area. Some reviewers didn’t feel comfortable with the designs and questioned the functionality of the bus stops seeing them as ‘structures that split the difference between architecture and sculpture’  – however, the authors argue that the bus stops move beyond being ‘conceptual flights of fancy’ as they are generally ‘grounded in quotidian purpose’.

#data #visualisation #retail #innovation

An interesting blog post appeared recently on HBR discussing how data visualisation is supporting retailers in understanding consumer behaviour and  ‘movement patterns’ in shopping spaces. By using existing security cameras and BLE technologies retailers are striving to track the movement of their customers and identify commercially valuable insights. Color-coded data visualisations are said to allow them to turn a store floor into an analytics narrative, as conveying information on customer movements on heat maps makes it much easier to recognize what paths are people choosing or how much time they spend at certain parts of the shop. This helps owners to test out their sales assumptions and adjust staffing level and space allocations. That said – “companies are just starting to experiment with how location analytics can improve a shopper’s experience and boost their own sales”.

Recent reports and publications:

  • The Internet of Things Will Thrive By 2025 – May 2014, Pew Research  (highlights: extensive analysis of opinions about the likely expansion of IoT, a combination of 1600 survey responses and in-depth expert interviews)

This weeks artefacts from the future
Caddy Suitcase
Caddy Smart (Jihyun Seo)
[original description] “Caddy Smart Carry-on Suitcase is a high-tech suitcase equipped with an app for people to travel smarter. The concept features ‘unbreakable OLED’ on its cover and provides essential travel information. It is equipped with a movement detection system and two screens. One is a ‘quick screen’ which is activated when Caddy is stationed – to provide information about local time, exchange rate, current location, Wi-Fi, and the ‘background-screen’ shows the current weather. The bigger screen displays more specific information about travellers’ flight, navigation, world clock, world exchange rates, world weather, scheduler, and facility.”