Create the Future. Today

Here at Springwise, we have covered a number of ways in which the Internet of Things is being incorporated into city infrastructure. These include an IoT-based parking system and Bluetooth-equipped pavement. Now, a community under construction outside Dallas stands poised to become a “connected community”.

The 242-acre development, dubbed Frisco Station, is being constructed by developer Hillwood, with the assistance of Dallas-based AT&T. The estimated construction time for the development is between seven to 10 years. The 1.5 billion USD community will incorporate 5G infrastructure from the ground up. Other smart features include wireless micro-cells, fibre internet and wifi in all common areas.

In the future, ultra-fast 5G connections will be important for allowing connected autonomous vehicles and greater use of IoT, however scientists suggest that careful consideration should be given to the health and safety risks connected to 5G. Retrofitting 5G infrastructure into existing cities is very expensive, since it requires installation of small cells throughout an entire city. Frisco Station, however, has the advantage of being able to integrate small cells from the ground up. The city is also hosting tests of an autonomous shuttle run by California-based Drive.ai. In addition, Uber has proposed using the city as a base for its Skyport air shuttle.

When completed, the city will be able to accommodate a daytime population of 15,000, and 3,500 permanent residents. There will also be around five million square feet of office space. The development aims to promote activity and individual well-being, with a number of trails and 30 acres of programmable, interactive open spaces.

Skyscraper design solves an obvious space issue, rising high to accommodate thousands of employees and businesses in vertical structures. The energy demands of keeping the whole building cool are, however, very high. This is in large part due to the sun shining through large glass facades. Glare reducing coating creates dull views, and walls without views might negatively impact staff morale. However, Danish architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has a solution.

BIG has completed work on the Shenzhen Energy Mansion, a two-tower skyscraper. BIG set out to create a passive energy reduction system; the building’s own design would help reduce heat build up from the sun. The warping, striated facade features solid panels and a powdered aluminium coating for increased insulation on the south-facing sides, which receive the most sunlight. The building features prominent folds at certain locations. Here, panels of double-insulated coated glass allow soft light to enter at select locations, such as meeting rooms and executive areas. The North sides of the tower feature more glass, offering scenic views and natural lighting without generating heat from direct sunlight.

The two towers are joined by a communal block featuring food and retail outlets and conference rooms, with the overall structure covering a million square feet. The prime office space on the top 13 floors is occupied by Shenzhen Energy Company. Overall, the energy-saving design has led to the building receiving high sustainability scores.

Mixed Reality (MR) specialists Realfiction are back. We’ve already seen DeepFrame, Realfiction’s curved screens that enable multiple users to experience augmented reality visuals in public spaces without headsets. Now the company has announced its next venture, coined ‘Magic-as-a-Service’.

The service enables retailers, shopping centres and brand owners to easily adapt to increase sales, create awareness and add members to loyalty programs. Furthermore, the SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) business-to-business model, enables companies to eliminate large amounts of research and investment fees. In addition, this reduces hiring costs and development times to update hardware content.

Realfiction’s in-house team have also created an initial suite of concepts and animation templates that are ready for use in generic campaigns, with the option for customization to suit individual goals. These templates will enable the simple and rapid development of tailored content per campaign. This content can then be set to an automated calendar to align with campaigns. Furthermore, automatic updates will be included.

This ‘Magic-as-a-Service’ model enables partners with no prior experience of MR to straightforwardly implement the technology into their business operations. In essence, it should work as a straight out of the box experience for users.

Realfiction is targeting both the retail and entertainments sectors. The MR technology could fucntion for both in-house advertising and as educational material in museums and galleries, or in public spaces for local tourism. The service’s predicted rollout is in late 2018.

Many companies are now working on creating the world’s first mass-market flying car. The race to reveal the first fuel-free aircraft is on, with many big competitors putting prototypes forward. Now personal aviation company Kitty Hawk, backed by Google co-founder Larry King, have thrown their hat into the ring with the unveiling of Flyer.

Flyer’s design makes it easy to fly for recreational purposes over water and non-congested areas. Maintaining an altitude of 3 metres and a speed of 20 miles per hour for new riders, Flyer’s creators hope to help more people experience the freedom of flying. The electric aircraft created an internet buzz, in part thanks to YouTuber Casey Neistat. Earlier this year Kitty Hawk announced that its autonomous passenger-drone was ready to begin the regulatory approval process in New Zealand.

Flyer creates thrust through all-electric motors that are significantly quieter than any fossil fuel equivalent. When Flyer is in the air, it will sound like a lawnmower at 50 feet or a loud conversation at 250 feet. The aircraft has a wingspan of 13 metres and is powered by 10 independent lift fans for vertical take off and landing. The Federal Aviation Administration does not require aircraft registration or pilot certification to pilot Flyer. However, flight training is highly encouraged. Ultralights may only be flown over non-congested areas. Battery life depends on participant weight, environmental factors, and forward speed, but lasts roughly 12-20 minutes at 20 miles per hour.

Springwise has previously followed other attempts at bringing electric power to the aviation industry. There is already a hybrid helicopter that uses a gas combustion engine to generate electricity. Impacting the larger commercial aviation industry, UK budget airline easyJet has pledged to develop a battery-propelled aircraft capable of flights under two hours within the next decade.

The City of Edmonton, Canada, has recently opened Canada’s first all-natural public pool. Instead of using harsh chemicals like chlorine to remain algae-free, the pool is filtered using entirely natural methods. The Borden natural pool is one of a number of projects we have seen that seek to use more eco-friendly materials. Others have included building bricks made from recycled plastic and a hotel that produces more energy than it uses.

The Borden pool complex consists of a children’s wading pool and a larger swimming pool with a sloped entry. There are also three separate ‘working’ pools. These are the filtration ponds. They contain plants such as blue water iris, marsh marigolds, duckweed, water lilies, bladderwort and cattails to help oxygenate and filter the water. These plants also provide a habitat for zooplankton which eat bacteria. Layers of granite rock filter out large particles, while a biofilm on top of the rock filters smaller microorganisms.

Maintaining the pools is a delicate balancing act. There is a ban on use of sunscreens or shampoos that contain phosphorus, as this can kill off the zooplankton. All users must take a warm-water shower before using the pool. They also cannot wear anything made of cotton to the pool. In addition, no more than 400 people can be in the water at any one time, and a maximum of 980 each day. And any time the water temperature rises to 29 Celsius, the pool has to close. Despite these restrictions, the pool had long lines of people waiting around the block in its first week of opening. Many were even turned away due to the limit on numbers using the pool.

Recently, Springwise has covered an increasing number of innovations in the world of cryptocurrency. These have included a cryptocurrency baseball game and an ATM that allows cryptocurrency buying and selling. Now, a new innovation is bringing bitcoin mining into the living room.

Canaan Creative, the world’s second biggest maker of Bitcoin mining rigs, is releasing what it claims is the world’s first Bitcoin mining TV. The smart TV, called AvalonMiner Inside, includes features like voice control, real-time Bitcoin mining profitability display and a link to Canaan’s entertainment platform, where users can pay for content and gifts using Bitcoin. The TV has the capacity to process 2.8 trillion hashes per second. This is far less, however, than Canaan’s most powerful mining rig, which can process 11 trillion hashes per second.

Canaan may have released the new TV partly with an eye towards it recent IPO filing. According to an excerpt from the filing, the company feels that, “If we cannot maintain the scale and profitability of our single line of system products and, at the same time, offer new products, our ability to continue to grow will suffer.”Canaan’s TV is likely not meant to compete directly with dedicated mining rigs. Instead, the TV is the first of a new generation of blockchain-enabled IoT devices designed to run in the background. A network of millions of blockchain-enabled toasters, TVs and other appliances mining in the background could produce better results than a few hundred thousand mining rigs working at full capacity.

Takeaway: Canaan may be betting that the future of blockchain is in the IoT. Embedding mining tech in consumer devices could increase the hashrate while also reducing the dominance of large bitcoin mining farms. This could also make bitcoin mining more accessible to a wider range of people. Will Bitcoin mining one day be incorporated into a wide range of appliances?

Technology has revolutionised the sports industry, helping active enthusiasts to perfect their form and keep track of their progress. There is yoga apparel that vibrates to aid the wearer’s form and ability, or even a smart coach built into a vest that provides amateur sportspeople with elite advice. Now an innovation is also addressing sportspeople’s safety through technology.

Advanced Exoskeletal Systems – also known as AEXOS – has unveiled a compression shirt designed to reduce whiplash in high-impact contact sports. Named Halo, the advanced base layer provides postural support that works with the natural movements of an athlete. This is achieved without affecting range of motion or mobility. Unlike other sports equipment that protects against impact to the head, AEXOS created Halo as a means of improving the body’s resistance to whiplash injury, which can lead to concussions.

Halo uses proprietary technology and innovative materials that emulate and support the natural movement of the cervical spine. It delivers neck support to reduce stress and fatigue on the head and neck, postural support of the torso and upper body, and a reduction of head kinematics during impact. The core technology embedded in Halo allows the shirt’s collar to stiffen during a whiplash event. The shirt thereby improves neck stability and reduces causal factors of whiplash injury and concussion. Aexos worked alongside a Montreal-based design firm Tactix on the development and final design of the product. They also partnered with Biokinetics, a ballistics testing facility in Ottawa, and researchers at the University of Waterloo to validate and quantify the performance of Halo. The product is available for pre-order on Kickstarter with an expected delivery date during autumn.

The demand for high-speed WiFi increases every day. Cisco estimates that by 2019 more than ten billion mobile devices will exchange 35 quintillion bytes of information each month. That does not even factor in Internet of Things devices. To meet this demand, it may soon be possible to transmit data using Light Fidelity (LiFi) instead of, or in addition to, WiFi. So how, exactly, can data be transmitted using light?

The idea of using light to send information has been around for more than a century. Alexander Graham Bell sent the first wireless telephone message on the photophone – a device he invented in 1880. The photophone used vibrations of lightwaves from sunlight focused on a mirror. However, LiFi uses fluctuations in light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to transmit information. The technology was first demonstrated in 2011 by researcher Harold Haas, who created the first LiFi transmitter using off-the-shelf parts.

An LED light bulb is a semiconductor, which means that the current of electricity to the bulb can fluctuate at extremely high speeds. Using signal processing technology, data is first encoded as a series of variations in the current. This data is then sent out as light fluctuations too rapid to be picked up by the human eye. A photodiode in the receiver detects the fluctuations in the light and ‘decodes’ the signal. In effect, the light bulb acts as a wireless router.

Researchers have demonstrated that LiFi can transmit information at speeds as high as 224 gigabits per second. This is the equivalent of downloading around 18 movies every second. In an office setting, researchers have been able to achieve download speeds up to 100 times faster than the average WiFi.

Because LiFi does not create electromagnetic interference, it could function around equipment sensitive to such interference, such as in hospitals, on oil rigs or underwater. Existing LED bulbs can be easily converted to become LiFi transmitters. Such a process would only require the addition of a single microchip, therefore creating a cost-effective, quick transition. Any light source – bus shelters, street lights, tourist information kiosks – could provide data transmission as well as light. Another advantage of LiFi is that anything that blocks light also blocks the signal. This reduced the risk of data leaking through home or office walls.

There are some drawbacks to the technology, however. In very bright daylight, the receivers have difficulty distinguishing the signal from the background light. To overcome this, it may be necessary to develop smart architecture solutions, such as having light follow the user. What is clear is that, as more and more devices feature such sensors, it threatens to swamp the existing WiFi infrastructure. LiFi is one possible solution. This has not escaped the notice of electronics businesses like electronics giant Siemens or Haas’s company, pureLiFi, who are rapidly developing plug-and-play systems to make LiFi available for a wide range of applications. Does LiFi have the potential to replace WiFi?

Most people are familiar with WiFi, which allows wireless broadband connection, but few will have experience of LiFi (Light Fidelity). While WiFi uses radio waves to transmit data, LiFi uses light waves. In LiFi, data is embedded in a beam of light, which converts into an electrical signal. The signal then converts back into data by a receiver on the computer, phone or smart device. Data travels back using invisible light. Because the spectrum of these waves is much larger than that of radio waves, LiFi could offer much greater bandwidth than WiFi. Light also travels much faster than radio waves, which could translate into much faster data speeds.

There have been few LiFi devices for everyday use. Now, Alexandre Picciotto, a graduate of Swiss university ÉCAL (Ecole Canotonale d’Art de Lausanne), has developed a LiFi emitting lamp. The lamp was created in collaboration with French LiFi firm Oledcomm. It uses LEDs to transmit data through visible waves to devices fitted with a LiFi receiver. The lamp also has infrared emitters that transmit data via invisible light, therefore allowing the LiFi connection to remain active even with the lamp switched off.

Picciotto’s lamp, which he calls C-224, is the one of the first LiFi lamps in the world. Picciotto designed the lamp for use in public libraries, allowing four hotspot connections per device. The lamp contains a diffuser, to spread the light (and data) evenly, while glass covers the infrared emitters to protect users’ eyes. Picciotto describes the lamp as welcoming, “like a meeting point, to bring people naturally towards it.”

As the global demand for electric vehicles increases, the demand for faster and easier charging solutions will also increase. In order to encourage new modes of transport, the infrastructure to facilitate such systems needs to be in place beforehand. Researchers are therefore developing a new robotic charging system for e-vehicles as part of the KoMoT project – ‘Komfortable Mobilität mittels Technologieintegration (convenient mobility by means of technology integration)’. The robotic system identifies and charges electric vehicles of a wide variety of makes and models.  The system was developed by a team at Austria’s Graz University of Technology, in collaboration with BMW colleagues, MAGNA Steyr, KEBA, and the Austrian Society of Automotive Engineers.

The robotic charging system is suitable for installation in both indoor and outdoor charging stations. It identifies e-vehicles using cameras to spot vehicles that enter the charging station. In addition, the system can detect the make and model of each car and the location and type of charging port that the car has. To make this feature possible, the researchers developed a complex mechatronic system using sensors, robot control elements and robot kinematics. The e-vehicles do not have to park in any allocated spot for the charging to begin. The robotic system extends a suitable liquid-cooled charging plug into the car. Furthermore, vehicle charging occurs at a high-speed rate, with some cars taking only minutes to fully charge.

Bernhard Walzel, scientific project researcher at Graz University of Technology, said: “For the first time we have found a way to automatically recharge several vehicles, one after another, using a robotic charging station, without the need to adapt the vehicles.”

Here at Springwise we have published other automotive innovations, including an IoT based parking system and a robotic steering wheel. With increasing consideration for the environmental impact of transport, the future for automotive technology will likely be an exciting one.