Create the Future. Today

We have seen new technologies developing around the world to make city transport more sustainable, from an electric scooter that can be unlocked by an app to a driverless 3D printed bus that gathers data via sensors for continuous adjustment of the route. This spring, Google Netherlands is introducing the first self-driving bicycle aiming to improve urban mobility in the cycling capital of the world.

Only available on April 1st. Happy April Fools’ Day!

Available through equipment and bridging supply company Mabey, Arup’s new glass fiber modular bridging system is strong, lighter than steel and easily transported. Mabey is distributing the bridging modules under the name of Pedesta and is offering customization that includes size, color and shape. Each module is one meter long and after a structure is post-tensioned, it’s strong enough to span distances of up to 30 meters.

Modules are fixed together through bolted shear connections. The polymer material is resistant to ultra-violet radiation, graffiti and fire. Being 70 percent lighter than steel, the bridging system can be transported via truck and forklift, eliminating the need for costly, difficult-to-position heavy machinery such as cranes. The first bridge to use the new design has been installed over a railway line in Oxford. The Arup team says that the quicker installations will save time as well as money by reducing disruption to area residents and traffic, and the new material will greatly reduce maintenance costs.

The construction industry is testing out innovations that range from flexible concrete that halves installation time, to a health-monitoring tool that logs worker exposure to hazards and provides immediate alerts when safe levels are exceeded. What is needed to create a large, infrastructure, carbon-neutral construction project?

For corporations, the more technology can help provide in-depth customer insights, the better. We recently wrote about an eye-tracking innovation that provides extremely accurate viewing data. Now, Edurio, a Latvian startup is aiming to provide similarly accurate and in-depth insights in the world of education.

Edurio is a software tool that collects and analyzes student feedback to provide deeper insights into classrooms and help those in charge of academics. The company is committed to contributing to higher quality of education around the world, and the technology makes student, family, and teacher feedback accessible. The survey platform, which provides research-based questions, enables teachers to easily collect surveys. It also delivers data visualizations to make the information quicker to process. These insights help school districts, head teachers and teachers better understand how everyone in their program is doing. It may support education funding bodies make decisions, create professional development programs and evaluate the impact of any new product or school-improvement initiatives. Edurio could also be used by publishers or EdTech companies that want to measure the impact of their initiatives.

Founded in 2014, this Riga-based organization is currently used in over 300 schools in five countries and is ready for US expansion. Could this kind of in-depth data be used in other public services?

Ohio-based company Cladwell has introduced its Outfits iOS app to help women save time, money and effort in managing their wardrobe. Once a user logs the items in their wardrobe, the app automatically scrolls through the online closet to suggest outfits relevant for each day’s weather and activities. Although marketed towards women, the app could easily work for anyone with an extensive clothing collection.

Outfits is a subscription service costing USD 5 per month and is currently only available for iOS users. Once an outfit is chosen for the day, users have the option to record the choice. This allows the app to log what is worn most often and, importantly, what is least worn. Tracking favorite outfits and items of clothing then allows for shopping recommendations based on what a user already owns.

Making more sustainable clothing choices is becoming increasingly common and popular, as is the creation of smart clothes themselves. Solutions to over-shopping include this smart wardrobe system that can donate the most infrequently worn items, and an example of a recent smart clothing collaboration is this connected jacket that unlocks exclusive product experiences. How else could choice-filled personal organization be helpfully automated?

With more over-50s than anywhere else in the country other than London identifying as part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities (LGBT), Manchester’s City Council sees its planned retirement community as an essential aspect of supporting and celebrating diversity. Part of the United Kingdom’s extra care program that provides high quality, affordable housing for older people, the new retirement project will prioritise the LGBT community.

Specially trained staff will be on hand to help provide care, and pets will be allowed. Applications for rooms in the project will be encouraged from all members of the community, with the caveat that a minimum of 51 percent of spaces will be held for members of LGBT communities. The project is supported by Stonewall Housing, the LGBT Foundation and the Homes and Communities Agency.

As the world’s population continues to age, healthy ageing at home or at a place of one’s own choosing becomes ever more important. Solutions are increasingly eco-conscious with a focus on engendering community. In France, a new ecological housing cooperative for retirees is currently being built, and an online roommate matching service is helping people with a spare room safely and securely find a compatible housemate. How could some of the conveniences of the digital nomad lifestyle be adapted for or incorporated into housing plans for older people?

Security forces are increasingly turning to technology for support with policing. In Dubai, we saw police forces adopting robotic officers and now, in Hong Kong, police plan to capitalise on the crime fighting potential of 3D printing technologies.

The Police made 3D printed models of crime scenes to help in their investigations, as well as trials and court inquests. Hong Kong’s police Briefing Support Unit has to date built a total of 18 different scale models of buildings and aircrafts. The models provide a clear visualization of particular situations and the environments in which they took place. Amongst them, a fatal gun attack in Kowloon Bay in 2014, a hot air balloon crash in 2013, and a 2010 hostage situation on a bus in Manila, three examples of incidents whose investigations required the building of these scale models. According to Senior Inspector Chan Shun-wai, construction of a model by hand can take up to a week to complete. This process can now be greatly accelerated with the help of newly purchased 3D printers. The models help during investigations but also play a crucial role in the courtroom, allowing judges to better understand the layout of a crime scene. On top of this, details of witnesses’ testimonies can be easily tested and examined.

How else can 3D technology be mobilised?

We recently saw a pair of bluetooth-enabled smart glasses with designer frames that act as wireless headphones, attempting to move away from the Google Glass geeky view of smart glasses, and now a new product is aiming to achieve something similar with augmented reality lenses.

GlassUp have developed two sets of bluetooth-enabled smart glasses: the ‘Uno’ frames for mass market and the ‘F4’ for industrial use. User’s receive push notifications that appear in their field of vision, just below center so as not to distract from focus. In the Uno frames notifications can include text messages, directions while cycling or many potential other features that can be implemented thanks to an open API. Users are able to acknowledge or dismiss these notifications via a touch pad located on the frame arm. The F4 frames will include cameras and sensors as well as AR features to provide extra safety in industrial processes. Currently a slightly bulky 65g in development stage, GlassUp are looking to work with recognized designers, with frames expected to retail at EUR 299 for the basic version.

As circuitry grows ever smaller and more flexible, how long until we see AR contact lenses on the market?

Currently raising funds on Indiegogo, the Fplife Lockbook is a modular personal organizer available in a range of colors and fabrics. Secured with the fingerprint of the owner, the Lockbook is lightweight, portable and designed to become an essential part of everyday life. Inside, a three-ring binder design makes it easy to store, add and refill paper and envelopes without having to buy a new notebook or organizer.

Powered by a rechargeable battery, the Lockbook is able to store two fingerprints and opens almost immediately upon recognition of the owner. Storage inside can fit small headphones and other accessories, and the organizer comes with a full set of desk stationary, including tear-out memo sheets and sticky notes. Shipment of first orders is planned for June 2017 with commercial production beginning soon after.

Interactive personal organization is increasingly necessary as more aspects of life are conducted online. City governments are using Tinder-style left and right swipes to consult on an area’s 20-year development plan, and leading online retailers are now providing a variety of business services, like this video conferencing application. What other regular administrative tasks, whether for work or personal use, could use an interactivity upgrade?

Robotic technology is increasingly being developed to help people avoid dangerous situations. Good examples of innovations doing just that are these drone-mounted lights that follow users, lighting their journey in areas without street lamps. Similarly, is this equipment designed for firefighters which, amongst other things, contains a device designed to improve navigation in smoke-filled buildings through vibrations and thermal imaging. Now, OutBot is a robot that paints high-rise buildings.

OutoBot is a response to Singapore’s Housing & Development Board’s (HDB) recent call for proposals to automate the painting of its high-rise buildings. The innovation increases efficiency and enhances worker safety. Normally, painting a building requires a minimum of five people. This includes one on the ground, one on the roof, and three in the gondola that moves up and down the face of the structure. Contrastingly, OutBot just needs a ground-based operator and a safety officer. Here is how it works: a camera-guided robotic arm mounted on its own special gondola, moves a spray nozzle back and forth across the building’s surface. The nozzle delivers a high-pressure jet of paint, avoiding windows as it goes. The advantages of OutBot are many. It requires fewer people, there is no danger of falling and it doesn’t have to take breaks. It also applies a more consistent coat and uses approximately 20 percent less paint to do so.

Developed as a partnership between ELID Technology International and Nanyang Technological University (NTU), the robot can also be used to clean high-rise buildings. With so many advantages, could this technology be applied more widely in the construction industry?

We’ve seen how AI can be used by couples to help plan their wedding day and now a new intelligent assistant bot can analyze friends’ schedules to help everyone find a good time to hang out.

myAlfred has developed a chatbot using the Telegram Bot open API that, when added to group chats scans every participant’s calendar to find a date that works for everyone (all while maintaining privacy). The myAlfred ‘intelligent butler’ app can then make restaurant reservations, book cabs for everyone, and let users know the weather forecast. Driven by AI, the app learns routines and preferences, growing ever more sophisticated at planning out the unique calendar of any user. It can even promote or demote tasks based on importance, help users develop exercise programmes or work towards long-term goals. myAlfred is available for free from the Apple Store or directly as a chat bot.

What potential uses are there for intelligent assistant apps that can interact with the growing Internet of Things network?