Future Cities Digest #11 (6.02.2014)

by Lukasz Alwast

#vehicle-to-vehicle #communication #sensors #US

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) announced recently that it is finalizing a trial with 3000 cars in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and will soon draft rules that would “require vehicle-to-vehicle devices in new vehicles in a future year”. As envisioned by the agency, vehicles equipped with V2V could send position and speed data to one another (ten times per second over an ad hoc wireless network), so on-board computers could then calculate whether nearby vehicles are a threat and alert drivers. Future protocols might also incorporate information from on-board sensors that are growing more popular among carmakers, creating a road-spanning network of sensors alerting cars to problems that are up or down the road. The NHTSA commented that “anonymous data from connected vehicles will be open to the public and could be used for a myriad of new safety, mobility and environmental applications.” Back in Europe, the Car to Car Consortium is still in the process of developing an open-European standard.

#disabilities #empowerment #tech #Microsoft

Big news for Microsoft this week – the company has announced its new, third in the 40 years history of the company CEO, Satya Nadella. Days before the announcement, during last week’s Superbowl, Microsoft also launched its recent social campaign ‘Empowering Us All’. The company communicates its message with 6 video stories, each presenting a material illustrating lives of people with disabilities and the positive impact technological innovation have had for them. Two videos particularly seem to be worth the attention as they illustrate some of the non-immediately-business-orientated technologies that Microsoft seems to be enthusiastic about. The first story tells us about Steve Gleaseon (a former NHL player, touched with ALS) and his daily use of eye-tracking and text-to-speech technology. The second brings up the story of a medical centre in Seattle, which uses the Kinect controller to browse 3D images of patients X-ray’s during severe surgical procedures (using both 3D imaging & gesture recognition) – good examples to see technological convergence. All the videos can be watched here.

#housing #shortage #agile #spaces

Last month the Economist covered in detail the story of the ‘UK housing problem’ – addressing the challenge of growing urban population, stressed public infrastructure and people having to adapt to smaller living spaces. Next to this, on the other side of the Atlantic architects and designers have been coming up with various designs that  recognize loopholes in city planning regulations and propose using the “if you can’t go up, go out” cantilever system to tackle issues of limited space. This is not a new trend, but fits in a larger picture in architecture with similar designs over the last few years being parasite architecture that latches onto an existing building for support. On a similar topic of space saving, a design studio from Spain – Elii Architects – has come up with an interior layout of moving walls that effectively use space and allow for multiple functions  – a clever solution that addresses the shortage of space by suggesting ways of making small spaces flexible and adaptable.

#underground #retrofitting #farming #subways

From the air to underground, two UK entrepreneurs have set up a 2.5 acre crop farm below the Northern Line, near Clapham North in London. 100 feet under the streets ‘nutrient rich’ water and LED bulbs are being used to grow the plants which are (planned) to be sold to restaurants and supermarkets.  At the same time, in Paris, there are plans to make use of abandoned subway tunnels by turning them into entertainment venues – including proposals for a nightclub, a theatre and a swimming pool. These examples show an interesting design trend in reclaiming parts of the city and giving them a new function to enrich urban space and life.

 Recent reports and publications out there:

This weeks artefacts from the future

Willie Bus

Transparent LCD ‘Willie’ Bus
“A city bus that can be transformed into a mobile billboard displaying advertisements or film clips in the most attractive parts of town or provide passengers with additional information and entertainment such as route plans, weather reports, press and TV coverage as well as tourist information presented at bus stops in an eye-catching way – „Willie” represents minimalistic and elegant design that emphasizes the functional aspect of this mode of transport.“


Your Own AI-Personalized Companion [Her – The Movie]
“Stories of a dystopian future often depict one of two different forms of human slavery. The first invokes the fear of pain; the second points to the appeal of pleasure. “Her” – Spike Jonze’s new film, depicts a dystopia of pleasure, because it casts new light on a phenomenon that is unique to our time: personalization. It shows a story of a man who falls in love with the voice of his computer operating system, and illustrates the simultaneous comfort, stimulation and artificiality of less-than-human connections -– with phones, with tablets, with operating systems of all kinds. “