Google to fund, develop wireless networks in emerging markets
Google Inc. is working to build and help run wireless networks in emerging markets such as sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, connecting a billion or more new people to the Internet. The networks also could be used to improve Internet speeds in urban centers. As part of the plan, Google has been working on building an ecosystem of new microprocessors and low-cost smartphones powered by its Android mobile operating system to connect to the wireless networks.
Internet  Google  Networks  Connectivity  Africa  Kenya 
may 2013
Is This Virtual Worm the First Sign of the Singularity?
A far-flung team is trying to build the first digital lifeform to work out the basic principles of the brain.

These are exciting times for "executable biology," an emerging field dedicated to creating models of organisms that run on a computer. In between the cell-on-silicon and the brain-on-silicon simulators lies a fascinating and strange new project to create a life-like simulation of Caenohabditis elegans, a roundworm. OpenWorm isn't like these other initiatives; it's a scrappy, open-source project that began with a tweet and that's coordinated on Google Hangouts by scientists spread from San Diego to Russia. If it succeeds, it will have created a first in executable biology: a simulated animal using the principles of life to exist on a computer.
Virtual  Singularity  Biology  OpenWorm  OpenSource  Life 
may 2013
MIT engineers are working on a four-seater, plug-in hybrid car that can go from your driveway to the sky
Terrafugia, an aerospace company founded by MIT engineers, is working on a four-seater, plug-in hybrid car that can go from your driveway to the sky. After it's on the ground, it folds up and converts back to a car within seconds. It's legal to drive down the street, and it fits in a standard single-car garage. The design is just a concept for now; the company is doing feasibility testing, and talking with the FAA to figure out necessary approvals. In eight to 12 years, the company expects the flying car to be available to buy. As a plug-in hybrid with both batteries and an internal combustion engine, it's undoubtedly more sustainable than a standard airplane. If it could be made fully electric, and if users plugged into renewable electricity.
Cars  cities  Aviation  Transportation 
may 2013
A building designed to eat smog
The Manuel Gea González Hospital has installed a 2,500-square-meter facade that helps purify the air. The project, funded by Mexico’s Ministry of Health, is part of a three-year, $20 billion investment into the country’s health infrastructure. The modules, designed by Berlin-based Elegant Embellishments, are coated with a special pigment that, when hit by ambient ultraviolet light, reacts with urban air pollutants, breaking them down into less noxious compounds like carbon dioxide and water.
Buildings  Facade  Environmental  Environmental/Green  Pollution  Design&Architecture 
may 2013
Glimpsing the Future of E-Health Care From a Rio Favela
Your doctor may not be the biggest fan of the coming electronic health care wave, but marrying mobile technologies with medical know-how has the potential to save lives, dramatically improve patient care, and slash significant costs, even in the poorest urban communities in the world, a new study finds.

Researchers at the New Cities Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Paris that seeks to tackle the most intractable issues facing the world’s fastest-growing cities, joined by a small team of health-care workers from Rio de Janeiro, recently concluded an 18-month trial in one of the poorest parts of the city, the favela of Santa Marta, a community of 8,000.
Healthcare  Favelas  Brazil  Technological  MobileTechnology 
may 2013
Crowd-sensing apps tap every stranger's eyes and ears
HAS the headliner come on-stage at Madison Square Garden yet? Any free washing machines at the laundrette around the corner? It would be impractical to rig up electronic sensors to answer such questions about every place on the planet, but the people in those places already know the answers, if only you could ask them.

An application called MoboQ does exactly this by linking social networks with location data to let users ask time-sensitive questions about specific locations, and get them answered by complete strangers on the spot. This is crowd-sensing: a way of tapping into networks of distributed human beings. This hip social-media app is not the offspring of Silicon Valley, but the product of a Shanghai technology incubator called Diggerlab. It is only available in China with Sina Weibo, a Twitter-equivalent which boasts 400 million members.
Crowdsourcing  crowdsensing  Data  cities  Tracking  China 
march 2013
Hong Kong looks to build underground datacentre caves (Arup feasibility study)
With more than seven million people squeezed in to around 1,100sq km of land space, and property prices regularly ranking among the highest in the world, Hong Kong has realised it needs to get inventive if it wants to attract more big IT business. The answer: cavernous underground datacentres that remain naturally cool. According to a feasibility study by the special administrative region's (SAR) Civil Engineering and Development Department and engineering firm Arup, two thirds of land space in the region have a "high to medium suitability" for cave-digging, with five regions over 20 hectares homed in on as ideal starting points. Arup's report went on to say 400 government facilities have already been identified as having the "potential for rock cavern development", so it might not just be datacentres taking the journey down under.
Arup  Datacentre  IT  HongKong  Business 
march 2013
Solar-powered mobile health centre rolls into Cape Town
Samsung unveiled a $250,000 (£168,000) vehicle in Cape Town, South Africa. At the back of the truck is a small soundproof booth with a chair, light and pair of headphones. Outside the door sits a "screening memory audiometer" with a laptop and printer. This is an ear clinic on wheels, designed to reach the far-flung corners of Africa.

The ear clinic is just one element of what is billed as Africa's first solar-powered mobile health centre. The seven-metre truck also contains a fully equipped eye and blood clinic and a dental surgery. Its target is the six in 10 people in sub-Saharan Africa who live in rural areas, often lacking the time and money to travel long distances to reach health services.
Healthcare  Africa  Siemens  SolarPower  Social 
march 2013
With less ice, growing seasons shift in Arctic
As snow and ice cover shrink in northern latitudes, researchers say temperatures and vegetation increasingly resemble those found farther south. The findings, published in the journal Natural Climate Change, are based on newly improved ground and satellite data sets. Of the 10 million square miles (26 million square kilometers) of northern vegetated lands, 34 to 41 percent showed increases in plant growth (green and blue), 3 to 5 percent showed decreases in plant growth (orange and red), and 51 to 62 percent showed no changes (yellow) over the past 30 years.
Data  ClimateChange  Arctic 
march 2013
Darpa sets out to make computers that teach themselves
DARPA thinks we can build machines that learn and evolve, using algorithms -- "probabilistic programming" -- to parse through vast amounts of data and select the best of it. After that, the machine learns to repeat the process and do it better.

But building such machines remains really, really hard: The agency calls it "Herculean". On 10 April, Darpa is inviting scientists to a Virginia conference to brainstorm. What will follow are 46 months of development, along with annual "Summer Schools", bringing in the scientists together with "potential customers" from the private sector and the government.

Called "Probabilistic Programming for Advanced Machine Learning," or PPAML, scientists will be asked to figure out how to "enable new applications that are impossible to conceive of using today's technology", while making experts in the field " radically more effective", according to a recent agency announcement. At the same time, Darpa wants to make the machines simpler and easier for non-experts to build machine-learning applications too.
AI  Technological  Darpa  Research 
march 2013
Cancer research to be aided by smartphone game developed at hackathon
Cancer Research UK is bringing together the charity’s world-leading scientists alongside technology gurus – such as Amazon Web Services, Facebook and Google – to design and develop a smartphone game to let average users help with cancer research. Forty ‘hackers’ are taking part in a weekend hackathon called ‘GameJam’ aiming to identify new, engaging and scientifically robust ways for the public to help analyse gene data. With a working title of GeneRun, the game for citizen scientists is to be launched in summer 2013.
Gaming  Technological  Healthcare  Crowdsourcing  Data 
march 2013
First private Mars mission aims to launch in 2018
The first people to visit Mars will get there in five years – if an audacious plan for a privately funded fly-by of the planet actually comes to fruition. the Inspiration Mars Foundation, a newly formed non-profit organisation, announced plans for a mission to Mars launching on 5 January 2018 and arriving at the planet in August of that year. Dennis Tito, who in 2001 became the first space tourist to visit the International Space Station, heads the foundation. The 2018 launch window coincides with a predicted solar minimum, with radiation levels from the sun at their lowest.
Space  Travel  Mars  Technological 
february 2013
New map pinpoints cities to avoid as sea levels rise
Sea levels have been rising for over 100 years - not evenly, though. Several processes are at work, says Mahé Perrette of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. Perrette has modelled these effects and calculated local sea level rises in 2100 for the entire planet. While the global average rise is predicted to be between 30 and 106 centimetres, he says tropical seas will rise 10 or 20 per cent more, while polar seas will see a below-average rise. Coasts around the Indian Ocean will be hard hit, as will Japan, south-east Australia and Argentina.
Resilience  Environmental  Global 
february 2013
How to transform LED lighting into wireless networks
Researchers have begun working on technology that could bring high-speed Internet to LED technology.

Based at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland, the scientists’ product — known as Li-Fi — is being developed in order to transmit the Internet through visible light instead of micro waves.

As part of a four-year program, funded by the U.K. Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), it is hoped that lighting components can be used to include wireless transmission as a complementary component in LED-based products.
Internet  LED  Networks  Innovation 
february 2013
Knome puts genome analysis into one appliance
As the price of mapping a person’s genome has dropped from a quarter million dollars to $6,000 over the last few years, the need to interpret those results has grown. And Knome, a Cambridge, Mass.-based company has created a computer outfitted with software that can do just that.

The appliance, called the knoSYS (TM) 100 and priced at $125,000, is the size of a filing cabinet, and can parse DNA data from sequencing companies such as Illumina and Complete Genomics to look for variations that could be important. Labs that order it can pay an additional, annual fee of $25,000 to get technical support and software updates.

Several researchers are considering ordering it to be able to search for the genetic relationship to cancer and rare diseases.
Medicine  Technological  Innovation  Healthcare 
february 2013
A look inside the EU's new cybercrime unit
A growing dependence on the internet is putting Europe in increasing danger from cyber criminals, senior European detectives have warned.

They say individuals and businesses in the EU will face a rapidly growing threat from African fraudsters, as the IT infrastructure there improves. The warning comes as a new European cybercrime unit opens in Holland. The facility includes a sealed room that blocks wireless signals preventing criminals from remotely wiping incriminating data.
Cybercrime  Technological  Political 
january 2013
Toward the walkable city
Walkable City, the new book by Jeff Speck, has been lauded by the Los Angeles Times as nothing less than a primer on "pedestrianism as a baseline for urban life." Planetizen recently named it one of their 10 best planning books of 2013.
Cities  Transport&Travel 
january 2013
MSU's robofish glides for miles, monitoring pollutants
A new species of robot fish has been spotted in the Kalamazoo River in the state of Michigan, where more than a million gallons of oil spilled in July 2010. Developed primarily by Xiaobo Tan, an associate professor at Michigan State University (MSU), the robot's sensors detected crude oil at various sites along the river.

Its buoyancy is controlled by a battery-powered pump, which forces water into and out of its body. This is combined with a sliding weight (its battery) inside its fuselage, which changes the robot's center of gravity, causing it to dive or surface on command. By surfacing at regular intervals, it can send a steady stream of sensor readings to researchers over a wireless connection. It's one of a handful of projects that could help protect and monitor aquatic environments in the future.
Environmental  Technological  Sensors 
january 2013
Air pollution in China breaks the scale
In the last several days, the air pollution in Beijing has gone literally off the charts: the levels are so bad that they go well beyond the worst possible rating on the official air quality index. Every day, at roughly the same time, our site China Air Daily documents China’s air pollution in five Chinese cities. I thought the new year had started out well. Beijing, for one, had quite a few clear days with blue skies. Then the new year’s record of clean air was swept away. The air got so bad that friends have told me the filthy air actually has been waking them up in the middle of the night.
Pollution  China  Environmental 
january 2013
Has Europe reached a 'peak-car'?
The difficult truth for Europe’s auto industry, the people who own it and the many thousands who work in it, is that Europeans are driving less and are likely to continue doing so.

It’s a phenomenon dubbed as “peak-car” by analysts at Morgan Stanley.

As well as a declining population in many of Europe’s richer countries, car markets are close to saturation because of the relatively young age of Europe’s passenger-car fleet, a long-running tendency for European drivers to spend less time in their cars, and the increasing durability of modern cars which is squeezing demand for new vehicles. Add Europe’s economic malaise, where rising unemployment and increased taxes have hit demand for consumer goods in the region, and EU car demand may be on the same course as in Japan, where car demand has fallen since 1992.
Transportation  Cities  Cars 
january 2013
China gets its first 3D printing booth
While 3D printing may be touted as bringing manufacturing back to the United States, that doesn't mean the rest of the world hasn't taken notice of the technology. Earlier this week, a 3D Printing Experience Pavilion opened in Beijing's DRC Industrial Design and Cultural Industry Base, where visitors were able to see how 3D printers work firsthand. With a few hours to spare, they could even have their own head scanned and printed as a bust, which follows the 3D printing booth that opened in a Japanese mall last year.
3-D  Printing  China  Technological 
january 2013
MeterPlug enlists smartphones to help monitor energy use
MeterPlug is a new home energy monitoring device that brings a mix of simplicity and sophistication to the equation when it comes to keeping track of how much energy various home appliances use. Placed between the appliance and the AC outlet, the MeterPlug sends precise information on energy usage to iOS and Android devices via Bluetooth 4.0 and incorporates a range of power saving features to help curb excessive consumption.

MeterPlug can be used to gauge how much energy a single appliance is using or connected through a power strip to monitor multiple appliances. It is also capable of calculating electricity costs for different times of the day and if you are running several MeterPlug's on different devices, the app can be used to connect to them simultaneously.
SmartHome  Energy  Efficiency 
january 2013
Startup wants to 3-D print tomorrow's gun-safety tech
When it comes to guns, 3-D printing is usually seen as a harbinger of evil, not good. Last year, a plan to build open-source blueprints for a working 3-D printed firearm drew fierce criticism in a country plagued by shooting deaths.

But at least one group is banking on 3-D printing being an answer to, rather than a source of, America's gun-safety problems. Following President Obama's announcement yesterday asking for more private investment into gun safety technology, 3Dlt, a "3-D template marketplace," has launched a crowd-funded innovation challenge to develop 3-D printed products that improve gun safety.
3-D  Printing  Safety  Innovation 
january 2013
Superomniphobic material repels any liquid you can think of
We’ve seen lots of hydrophobic materials before, but these water- and liquid-repelling materials often work within constraints. Some liquids bounce or wick away, while others--based on properties like viscosity or surface tension, or whether the substance in questions is organic or inorganic--are not affected by the hydrophobic qualities of the material. But a team of University of Michigan materials science is reporting a breakthrough that could have big implications for everything from stain-free clothing to protective surface coatings and chemical resistant protective suits: a superomniphobic coating that is resistant to pretty much any liquid we know of.

Textiles coated in the stuff could make for pretty serious all-purpose hazmat suits, and coatings could be used for everything from corrosion-resistance to drag reduction for maritime vessels.
Smart  Materials  Innovation  Science 
january 2013
Toyota tests cars that communicate with each other
Toyota Motor Corp. is testing car safety systems that allow vehicles to communicate with each other and with the roads they are on in a just completed facility in Japan the size of three baseball stadiums.

The cars at the Intelligent Transport System site receive information from sensors and transmitters installed on the streets to minimize the risk of accidents in situations such as missing a red traffic light, cars advancing from blind spots and pedestrians crossing the street. The system also tests cars that transmit such information to each other.

In a test drive for reporters Monday, the presence of a pedestrian triggered a beeping sound in the car and a picture of a person popped up on a screen in front of the driver. A picture of an arrow popped up to indicate an approaching car at an intersection. An electronic female voice said, "It's a red light," if the driver was about to ignore a red light.
Automation  Automotive  Tracking  Transport&Travel 
november 2012
A Real-Life Neverland: Copenhagen Builds A City For Kids
What kid doesn’t dream of living in a world with no adults, free to run around as master of her own domain? Well for some lucky children in Copenhagen, that dream will soon become a reality. COBE and NORD Architects, PK3, and engineering firm Grontmij have won a competition to design the largest preschool and daycare center in Denmark. The Prinsessegade Kindergarden and Youth Center, expected to open in 2014, is much more than just a school, however, equipped with its very own neighborhoods, houses, public spaces, squares, parks, a stadium, a fire station, and more.

The goal is to provide the tools and necessary facilities for kids who want to do absolutely anything, from conducting a musical in City Hall to creating their own menus for the restaurant. With a city tailored to practically every interest, kids can be conscientious of their future roles in both city living and their endeavors in life. What a concept!
Urbanisation  Design&Architecture  Kids  Children  Social 
november 2012
A Cable Car Comeback
It turns out that cable cars, also known as gondola lifts, aren't just for floating serenely over a snow covered mountain. In projects developed over the last decade in Medellin, Colombia, and Caracas, Venezuela cable cars were successfully rethought as a means of mass transportation serving some of those cities' poorest neighbourhoods.

"Cable transport is cost-effective, environmentally friendly, safe and requires little infrastructure," writes Landrin. "It is particularly suitable for crossing natural obstacles such as rivers or scaling hills, there being no need for expensive engineering work. Over an equivalent distance a cable link costs half as much as a tram line, and though no rival for underground railways in terms of capacity, some models can carry up to 8,000 passengers an hour."
Transport&Travel  Urbanisation  SmartCities 
november 2012
How Traffic Data At Your Fingertips Can Create Smarter Cities
TrafficCOM is a new, comparatively affordable and easy-to-use gizmo that allows users to collect traffic data and share it immediately. For inventors Aurash Khawarzad and Ted Ullrich, this is an "inexpensive solution for one of the most pressing data-collection needs in the urban portfolio: traffic frequency and speed," reports Goodyear. Most importantly, it collects such data for use by "community groups, neighborhood associations, and advocacy organizations who are concerned about the impact of traffic on their streets and want to pursue solutions, but who have been frustrated by the impenetrability of the processes surrounding traffic planning."
Crowdsourcing  Data 
november 2012
Architecture on the Brain
Architects have long tried to divine how the spaces they design will be experienced by their users. Now, thanks in part to the work of the 10-year-old Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture, an emerging field of study is seeking to find scientific proof of the effects of the built environment on the human brain and nervous system.

Architects and scientists are just beginning to imagine the possibilities of such research, writes Badger. "If architects understood both fields, they might be able, in designing hospitals, schools, and homes for people with all manner of disabilities, to create places that would support the development of premature babies, the treatment of children with autism, the fostering of learning abilities of students."
Architecture  Design&Architecture 
november 2012
Asia's Megacities are Most Vulnerable to Superstorms
While the East Coast of the United States is now acutely aware of the dangers posed by rising sea levels and intensifying storms, the populations most at risk to such events (which are largely found in the developing world's megacities) have far less tools to respond to them. Experts are hoping the events of this week have caught the attention of leaders in such cities as Mumbai, Shanghai, and Bangkok.

"These cities are undergoing very rapid expansion and they are not only exposed to sea-level rise, they are also exposed to tropical cyclones," said Bob Ward, director of policy at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment in London. "It is clear there isn't any urban planning going on, and they have a lot of poor people living in very low-quality housing who are going to be especially vulnerable and exposed."
Asia  Megacities  Urbanisation  ClimateChange 
november 2012
The World's Fastest Growing Cities
From a population of 76,000 in 1990, to 911,000 in 2010, and an estimated 1,255,000 by 2025, Puning, in China's Guangdong province topped the list with a growth rate of 1551 percent. Foshan and Jinjiang, with anticipated growth rates of 1355 percent and 1230 percent respectively, completed the top three.

Of note, Kabul, Afghanistan, and Sana'a, Yemen, were the only cities not located in Africa or China to make the list.
Cities  Urbanisation 
november 2012
US military invests in 3D printing on the frontline
The US military is developing its own 3D printers for the frontline which will enable soldiers to quickly and cheaply produce spare parts for their weapons and equipment.

By bringing the new technology to the battlefield, troops will be able to produce spare parts for sensitive equipment, such as GPS receivers and air drones, without having to wait weeks for new deliveries.

“Parts for these systems break frequently, and many of them are produced overseas, so there’s a long lead time for replacement parts,” said operations research analyst D. Shannon Berry in a statement.

“Instead of needing a massive manufacturing logistics chain, a device that generates replacement parts is now small and light enough to be easily carried in a backpack or on a truck,” he added.
3D-printing  Manufacturing  SecurityRisk&Crime  Warfare  Military  Technological 
november 2012
Google Spans Entire Planet With GPS-Powered Database
This week, as reported by GigaOm and ZDnet, Google published a research paper detailing the ins and outs of Spanner. According to Google, it’s the first database that can quickly store and retrieve information across a worldwide network of data centers while keeping that information “consistent” — meaning all users see the same collection of information at all times — and it’s been driving the company’s ad system and various other web services for years.

Spanner borrows techniques from some of the other massive software platforms Google built for its data centers, but at its heart is something completely new. Spanner plugs into a network of servers equipped with super-precise atomic clocks or GPS antennas akin to the one in your smartphone, using these time keepers to more accurately synchronize the distribution of data across such a vast network. That’s right, Google attaches GPS antennas and honest-to-goodness atomic clocks to its servers.
Data  Google  Database  BigData  GPS  Networks  ICT 
november 2012
OECD World Economy Outlook out to 2060
The balance of economic power is expected to shift dramatically over the next half century, with fast-growing emerging-market economies accounting for an ever-increasing share of global output, according to a new OECD report.

Divergent long-term growth patterns lead to radical shifts in the relative size of economies. The United States is expected to cede its place as the world's largest economy to China, as early as 2016. India’s GDP is also expected to pass that of the United States over the long term. Combined, the two Asian giants will soon surpass the collective economy of the G7 nations. Fast-aging economic heavyweights, such as Japan and the euro area, will gradually lose ground on the global GDP table to countries with a younger population, like Indonesia and Brazil.

China will see more than a seven-fold increase in per capita income over the coming half century, but living standards will still only be 60% of that in the leading countries in 2060. India will experience similar growth, but its per capita income will only be about 25% of that in advanced countries.

"None of these forecasts are set in stone," Mr. Gurría said. "We know that bold structural reforms can boost long-term growth and living standards in advanced and emerging-market economies alike."

OECD research shows that wide-ranging labour and product market reforms could raise long-term living standards by an average of 16% over the next 50 years relative to the baseline scenario, which only assumes moderate policy improvements.
Economic  Geopolitics  China  USA 
november 2012
World’s first low-water, low-energy vertical farm opens in Singapore
With an ever-growing global population and ever-diminishing natural resources, solutions for low-carbon compact farming could prove vital in the future. Japanese company Daiwa House Industry has already offered its Agri-Cube hydroponic unit, and now the
Sky Greens vertical farm in Singapore is the world’s first low-water, low-energy urban food production space.
UrbanFarming  Urbanisation  Food  Agriculture 
november 2012
World's First Algae-Powered Building for Germany
Splitterwerk Architects have designed an algae-powered building, dubbed BIQ, which will be the very first of its kind. Covered with a bio-adaptive façade of microalgae, the distinctive building has been designed for the International Building Exhibition in Hamburg, and is slated for completion next year.
Architecture  RenewableEnergy  Sustainability  Algae 
october 2012
Höweler + Yoon Architecture wins Audi Urban Future Award 2012
American studio Höweler + Yoon Architecture has won the Audi Urban Future Award 2012 with a concept to combine individual and public transport in the region between Boston and Washington nicknamed BosWash (+ slideshow).
october 2012
Top 10 Forecasts for 2013 and Beyond
THE FUTURIST Magazine releases its top ten forecasts for 2013 and beyond.

1. Neuroscientists may soon be able to predict what you’ll do before you do it.

The intention to do something, such as grasp a cup, produces blood flow to specific areas of the brain, so studying blood-flow patterns through neuroimaging could give researchers a better idea of what people have in mind. One potential application is improved prosthetic devices that respond to signals from the brain more like actual limbs do, according to researchers at the University of Western Ontario. World Trends & Forecasts, Jan-Feb 2012, p. 10

2. Future cars will become producers of power rather than merely consumers.

A scheme envisioned at the Technology University of Delft would use fuel cells of parked electric vehicles to convert biogas or hydrogen into more electricity. And the owners would be paid for the energy their vehicles produce. Tomorrow in Brief, Mar-Apr 2012, p. 2

3. An aquaponic recycling system in every kitchen?

Future "farmers" may consist of householders recycling their food waste in their own aquariums. An aquaponic system being developed by SUNY ecological engineers would use leftover foods to feed a tank of tilapia or other fish, and then the fish waste would be used for growing vegetables. The goal is to reduce food waste and lower the cost of raising fish. Tomorrow in Brief, Nov-Dec 2011, p. 2

4. The economy may become increasingly jobless, but there will be plenty of Work

Many recently lost jobs may never come back. Rather than worry about unemployment, however, tomorrow’s workers will focus on developing a variety of skills that could keep them working productively and continuously, whether they have jobs or not. It’ll be about finding out what other people need done, and doing it, suggests financial advisor James H. Lee. “Hard at Work in the Jobless Future,” Mar-Apr 2012, pp. 32-33

5. The next space age will launch after 2020, driven by competition and "adventure capitalists."

While the U.S. space shuttle program is put to rest, entrepreneurs like Paul Allen, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and Jeff Bezos are planning commercial launches to access low-Earth orbit and to ferry passengers to transcontinental destinations within hours. Challenges include perfecting new technologies, developing global operations, building new infrastructure, and gaining regulatory approval. “The New Age of Space Business,” Sep-Oct 2012, p. 17

6. The "cloud" will become more intelligent, not just a place to store data.

Cloud intelligence will evolve into becoming an active resource in our daily lives, providing analysis and contextual advice. Virtual agents could, for example, design your family’s weekly menu based on everyone’s health profiles, fitness goals, and taste preferences, predict futurist consultants Chris Carbone and Kristin Nauth. “From Smart House to Networked Home,” July-Aug 2012, p. 30

7. Corporate reputations will be even more important to maintain, due to the transparency that will come with augmented reality.

In a "Rateocracy" as envisioned by management consultant Robert Moran, organizations’ reputations are quantified, and data could be included in geographically based information systems. You might choose one restaurant over another when your mobile augmented-reality app flashes warnings about health-department citations or poor customer reviews. “‘Rateocracy’ and Corporate Reputation,” World Trends & Forecasts, May-June 2012, p. 12

8. Robots will become gentler caregivers in the next 10 years.

Lifting and transferring frail patients may be easier for robots than for human caregivers, but their strong arms typically lack sensitivity. Japanese researchers are improving the functionality of the RIBA II (Robot for Interactive Body Assistance), lining its arms and chest with sensors so it can lift its patients more gently. Tomorrow in Brief, Nov-Dec 2011, p. 2

9. We’ll harness noise vibrations and other "junk" energy from the environment to power our gadgets.

Researchers at Georgia Tech are developing techniques for converting ambient microwave energy into DC power, which could be used for small devices like wireless sensors. And University of Buffalo physicist Surajit Sen is studying ways to use vibrations produced on roads and airport runways as energy sources. World Trends & Forecasts, Nov-Dec 2011, p. 9

10. A handheld "breathalyzer" will offer early detection of infections microbes and even chemical attacks.

The Single Breath Disease Diagnostics Breathalyzer under development at Stony Brook University would use sensor chips coated with nanowires to detect chemical compounds that may indicate the presence of diseases or infectious microbes. In the future, a handheld device could let you detect a range of risks, from lung cancer to anthrax exposure. Tomorrow in Brief, Sep-Oct 2012, p. 2
october 2012
Honda develops new technology to weld steel and aluminum together
The Honda team developed a variation on Friction Stir Welding, in which metals are joined via mechanical pressure – it's the same technique that has been used for experimental steel/aluminum spot welds in the past. As Honda explains it, “This technology generates a new and stable metallic bonding between steel and aluminum by moving a rotating tool on the top of the aluminum which is lapped over the steel with high pressure.” The welds that result are reportedly as strong or stronger than those made using regular Metal Inert Gas welding.
Manufacturing  Welding  Automotive  Steel  Aluminium  Metals  Structures 
september 2012
Bioengineered bacteria could produce fuel from CO2
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have succeeded in genetically altering Ralstonia eutropha soil bacteria in such a way that they are able to convert carbon into isobutanol, an alcohol that can be blended with or even substituted for gasoline. It is hoped that once developed further, this technology could help reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, and lessen the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by smoke stacks.
Fuels  Biotechnology  Technological  Energy  Biofules  Bacteria 
september 2012
Prototype "electronic nose" sniffs out danger
Research headed by professor Nosang Myung at Bourns College of Engineering, University of California, Riverside (UCR), has resulted in the development of a prototype "electronic nose." The work brings to mind previous "electronic noses," but rather than discovering forms of cancer, Myung's prototype is designed to detect harmful airborne agents such as pesticides, biological weapons, gas leaks and other unwanted presences. The development has clear applications in military, industry and agricultural areas.
Sensors  SecurityRisk&Crime  Technological 
september 2012
MIT Study Predicts Every 1-Degree Increase in Temps Will Cause 10 Percent Increase in Rainfall Extremes
Climate scientists have long projected that increases in global temperatures will result in higher rainfall and flooding in tropical regions. But now a MIT study has put some numbers to the prediction. Writing in Nature Geoscience in a September 16th letter titled “Sensitivity of tropical precipitation extremes to climate change,” Paul A. O’Gorman, professor of atmospheric science at MIT, said that for every one-degree Celsius increase in global surface temperature, there will be 10 percent heavier rainfall extremes in the tropics.
ClimateChange  ExtremeWeather 
september 2012
Switzerland's Solar-Powered Islas Office is an Energy-Storing Battery Building
The Islas Commercial Office Building in Samedan, Switzerland hides a secret inside - it's actually an energy storage facility. Like a battery that stores electricity, Islas stores energy in the form of heat. Designed by Mierta & Kurt Lazzarini Architekten, the office makes use of concrete floors, underground water tanks and a large solar system on the roof to soak up the sun's energy and store it inside for later use.
Energy  Electricity  Batteries  Storage  Buildings  SolarPower 
september 2012
Intel Predicts Zero-Energy-Computing By 2020
Over the years, modern computers and gadgets have required less energy inputs as they have been designed to conserve energy and be more efficient. Now computing firm Intel has announced at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) that due to the shrinking energy cost of computing, they believe that the energy required for “meaningful computing” will approach zero and become ubiquitous by the year 2020.
Computing  Energy 
september 2012
The future of work in America
“The Internet is destroying vast income streams that once supported tens of thousands of jobs in industries from finance to music. Craigslist has gutted the once-immense income stream from newspapers, and web-based marketing has shredded print-media advert page counts. Global competition and pressure to maintain profits and margins relenetlessly drives enterprises to slash payrolls.
Work  Economic  Employment 
september 2012
In World First, Scientists Surgically Implant a Working Bionic Eye In a Blind Patient | Popular Science
We've been waiting on the prospect of a bionic eye for a while now; being able to surgically give sight to the sightless would be a medical breakthrough, and we're right on the cusp. Exhibit A: In a world first, scientists have successfully implanted a prototype bionic eye that has helped a woman see shapes.
Bionics  Healthcare  Implants  Technological 
september 2012
A new 3-D printing center aims to recreate U.S. manufacturing
Why fabricate it when you can print it? That philosophy is driving the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, a $70 million effort to make almost any design a printable object. Jets, homes, computers, drones, bicycles, and spare parts are just a few of the things, at least in theory, that will be exuded out of printer nozzles using a 3-D-printing process in the future rather than a massive factory. The Institute is a public-private partnership, headed by the U.S. military, that will try to take 3-D printers where they have never gone before.
3-d  printing  manufacturing  innovation  US  Military 
september 2012
Guerrilla Wayfinding - Walk Your City.
Walk Your City is a network of DIY signs around town - called guerrilla wayfinding - which should help citizens discover how to walk across their city. People can make their own signs just in a view clicks. Sign show the walking minutes, the destination, a QR code, a directional arrow and color code for the type of destination (i.e, green for open space). Walk Your City believes that "everyone should have the choice to be a pedestrian in their community. Walking is not scary, but in some cities and places it can seem that way."
CollaborativeCities  Urbanisation  UserDrivenDesign 
september 2012
Ocean Health Index
How do we measure the health of the ocean? The Ocean Health Index is a new, comprehensive measure of the ocean’s overall condition – one that treats people and nature as integrated parts of a healthy system. Using data from the best available scientific resources, the Index calculates an annual global score that reflects the current status, recent trends, and positive and negative influencers of ocean health in 133 countries.
august 2012
World's tallest building to be built in only 90 days
Chinese construction company Broad Group has announced ambitious plans to construct the world's tallest skyscraper in an implausibly swift 90 days. If the target is met, the 838-meter (2,750-ft) "Sky City One" will take only a twentieth of the time that the Burj Khalifa, the world's current tallest building, took to construct, and will stand 10 meters (33 feet) taller still upon completion. The secret to the rapid construction is prefabrication. Approximately 95 percent of the building will have been put together in modular form before work even commences on site.
Construction&Buildings  TallBuildings  HighRise  Fabrication 
july 2012
Declining Lithium-Ion Battery Costs Could Knock Thousands Off the Price of Electric Cars
According to a recent McKinsey study, the price of automotive lithium-ion batteries is expected to drop by thousands of dollars by the end of the decade – a change which could substantially increase the number of full electric and hybrid cars on the road. The researchers behind the McKinsey study developed a “should-cost” model which suggests that the price of a lithium-ion battery pack could drop from today’s cost of about $500 to $600 per kilowatt hour to about $200 by 2020 and $160 by 2025.
ElectricVehilces  Batteries 
july 2012
IEA Predicts 40 Percent World-Wide Increase of Renewable Energy Usage by 2017 |
The International Energy Agency (IEA) just published an optimistic prediction for the future of renewable energy, suggesting that world-wide green energy usage will increase by forty percent or more by 2017.
RenewableEnergy  Energy  Technological 
july 2012
Ford predicts self-driving, traffic-reducing cars by 2017
According to Ford, the self-driving car will be here within five years, using technologies available today. The technology concept, known as Traffic Jam Assist, uses adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and the sensors from its active park assist.
Automation  Vehicles  Traffic  Transport&Travel  Mobility 
july 2012
New Wave of Industrial Robots
Industrial robots, typically equipped with a movable arm, use lasers or pressure sensors to know when to start and finish a job. A robot can be operated 160 hours a week. Even assuming competition from nimble-fingered humans putting in 12-hour shifts, a single robot might replace two workers, and possibly as many as four.
july 2012
Urban world of 2025: Cities and the rise of the consuming class
A new report from the McKinsey Global Institute, Urban world: Cities and the rise of the consuming class, finds that the 600 cities making the largest contribution to a higher global GDP—the City 600—will generate nearly 65 percent of world economic growth by 2025. However, the most dramatic story within the City 600 involves just over 440 cities in emerging economies (242 cities will be in China); by 2025, the Emerging 440 will account for close to half of overall growth. One billion people will enter the global consuming class by 2025. They will have incomes high enough to classify them as significant consumers of goods and services, and around 600 million of them will live in the Emerging 440.
Cities  Urbanisation  Geopolitics  Political 
july 2012
Smart materials get SMART
Called SMARTS (Self-regulated Mechano-chemical Adaptively Reconfigurable Tunable System), this newly developed materials platform offers a customizable way to autonomously turn chemical reactions on and off and reproduce the type of dynamic self-powered feedback loops found in biological systems.
july 2012
Gas-filled microparticles can quickly oxygenate blood | News | The Engineer
A team led by researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital has designed gas-filled microparticles that can be injected directly into the blood stream to quickly oxygenate the blood.
Healthcare  Medicine  Emergency 
july 2012
Startup Uses a Smartphone Compass to Track People Indoors
People have used magnetic compasses to find their way outdoors for centuries. In a twist, a startup has found a way to use the magnetic sensors in smartphones to locate people themselves—this time, indoors, where GPS signals don't normally reach. Tracking people in this way could lead to mobile maps that work indoors, and let stores target offers to customers standing in front of a particular product.
Technological  GPS  Tracking  Navigation 
july 2012
The Internet of Things, Soon Accessible by Smartphone - Technology Review
Thinfilm, a Norwegian company, is putting printed wireless transmitters together with existing printed logic, memory, sensor, and battery systems on product packaging. This novel assemblage will be commercialized in 2014, the company says, in partnership with Bemis, a Wisconsin packaging company that makes 200 billion packages a year for meat, cheese, medical devices, and personal care products.
Internet  Sensors  Packaging 
july 2012
New Video Game Explores Susceptibility of Smart Cities | Planetizen
The fact that cities are becoming more technologically reliant and interconnected is good, right? But, what happens if the controls of the "smart city" fall into the wrong hands? A new video game explores such a scenario, writes Nate Berg.
SmartCities  UrbanData  Urbanisation  SecurityRisk&Crime 
june 2012
New Software Can Distinguish a City's DNA | Planetizen
Jacob Aron reports on the promising new software developed by an international group of researchers that can recognize "what makes Paris look like Paris."
SmartCities  UrbanData  Urbanisation 
june 2012
Building the Sensitive City of the Future | Planetizen
Collecting real-time information will be as essential to building the city 2.0 as coordinating the top-down integration of infrastructure systems. A new city in Portugal will use more than 100 million sensors to build its feedback loop.
SmartCities  Sensors 
june 2012
Urban wasteland: World Bank sees global garbage crisis
The world's city dwellers are fast producing more and more trash in a "looming crisis" that will pose huge financial and environmental burdens, the World Bank is warning.
Urbanisation  Waste 
june 2012
Researchers develop durable plastic that may replace metals
As landfills overflow with discarded plastics, scientists have been working to produce a biodegradable alternative that will reduce pollution. Now a Tel Aviv University researcher is giving the quest for environmentally friendly plastics an entirely new dimension — by making them tougher than ever before.
Plastic  Materials 
june 2012
China to tighten Internet control with new rules
China said Thursday it planned to extend nationwide a requirement for microblog users to register with their real names as part of a sweeping update of rules governing the Internet.
China  Data  Privacy 
june 2012
Wires turn salt water into freshwater
As a rising global population and increasing standard of living drive demand for freshwater, many researchers are developing new techniques to desalinate salt water. Among them is a team of scientists from The Netherlands, who have shown how to transform brackish (moderately salty) water into potable freshwater using just a pair of wires and a small voltage that can be generated by a small solar cell. The simple technique has the potential to be more energy-efficient than other techniques because of the minimal amount of mixing between the treated and untreated water.
Desalination  Water  Resources 
june 2012
Brussels offers 'smart' tourists 600 tagged sites
In what it described as a world first, the city of Brussels on Friday launched a hi-tech system that enables tourists or anyone else with a smartphone to scan tags for information at 600 sites.
Urbanisation  SmartCities  UrbanData  Tagging  QRCodes 
june 2012
New paints prevent fouling of ships' hulls
The colonisation of hulls by algae, barnacles, mussels and other organisms is a major problem for both pleasure boats and merchant tonnage. In a joint project, researchers at the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have developed new environmentally-friendly and effective bottom paints to prevent this.
Shipping  Materials  Coatings  Paint 
june 2012
Potential carbon capture role for new CO2 absorbing material
A novel porous material that has unique carbon dioxide adsorption properties has been developed through research led by The University of Nottingham.
Materials  CarbonEmissions 
june 2012
Wearable Electronics
Berkeley Science Review - advances in materials science and electrical engineering have paved the way for a new type of electronic device: one that can bend and fold just like a piece of paper. From flexible displays to disposable RFID tags, these new materials have enabled electronics to end up in places they never have before.
Electronics  Computing 
june 2012
Volvo’s autonomous cars travel 124 miles in Spain in ‘road train’ | KurzweilAI
Volvo has tested its fuel-saving”road train” technology on public roads in Spain, finding the historic test “highly successful.” Volvo used one lead vehicle and four trailing vehicles — consisting of a Volvo S60, a Volvo V60 and a Volvo XC60 plus a truck — that drove autonomously for 200 kilometers (124 miles) at 85 kilometers an hour (53 miles per hour) on the roads outside Barceolona.
Mobility  Automation  Driverless  Robotics 
june 2012
World's First Cloned Village in China is Now Open to Visitors | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building
China has pulled off a feat that no other country would even dream of achieving: a cloned village. Every detail of the original Hallstatt village, a UNESCO protected heritage gem in Austria, has been copied in a replica situated one hour outside of Huizhou in Guangdong Province. China Minmetals Corporation announced their $940 million plan to re-create the secluded hamlet in June, 2011, and now, just one year later, the place is open to visitors.
june 2012
Toronto the Latest City to Ban Plastic Bags | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building
On Wednesday, a last-minute motion led the Toronto City Council to ban plastic shopping bags in this city of 2.5 million. On January 1, 2013, Toronto will become the first major city in Canada to pass a law prohibiting retailers from giving out single-use plastic bags to consumers.
Plastic  Buildings  Environmental  Cities  Urbanisation  UrbanPolicy  Mayors 
june 2012
"Cool blue" pigment could boost energy efficient building
Researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) have discovered a new type of blue pigment that could help boost the energy efficiency of buildings. Discovered unexpectedly three years ago, the "cool blue" pigment has unusually high infrared heat reflectivity which it is hoped can be channeled into commercial products in the near future.
Roofs  ClimateChange  Buildings 
june 2012
Solar cells for underwater use developed
U.S. researches say they've developed solar cells capable of producing sufficient power underwater to operate electronic sensor systems at depths of 30 feet.
solar-energy  SolarPower  Sensors 
june 2012
San Francisco High Rise Gets Kitted Out with Seismic Monitors | Use - reduce global °Celsius
San Francisco’s newest skyscraper, One Rincon Hill , is not only the tallest all-residential tower on the West Coast, but it’s also outfitted with the most dense network of seismic monitoring equipment ever installed in an American high-rise.
Engineering  TallBuildings 
june 2012
Artificial muscle as shock absorber
Engineers are working on intelligent materials that can diminish vibrations and extract power from the environment. These electro-active elastomers could dampen annoying vibrations in a car, for example, or supply wireless power to sensors in otherwise inaccessible places.
Technological  Engineering 
june 2012
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