Global Innovation Series
BMW i has teamed up with Mashable, the top source for news in social and digital media, technology and web culture, to bring you a new weekly feature focusing on innovation in the world of urban mobility and beyond.
This page is the place to find all articles from the series.
Autobike Wants to Bring People Back to Biking.
When considering the electric bike of the future, many companies search for a way to decrease travel time — but pumping a bike frame full of boosting batteries isn't the only way to change the way people bike. In fact, the folks at Detroit-based electric biking company Autobike are building an electric bike to helps riders bike smarter.
Zip Around Your City on an Electric Skateboard.
When you think about electric vehicles, skateboards are probably not first on the list. But thanks to new tech upgrades, the toy which was long considered just for teenagers is breathing new life into daily commutes. And not only do some use remote control technology, they can even be controlled with your mind.
Why 'People Movers' Are Popping Up in Cities Everywhere.
Rushing to your gate and making your flight, it's easy to forget just how you got there. But, the next time you're on your way to the airport, take a look around you. You might find that some of the most high-end and cutting-edge technology is taking you right to your destination.
16 Apps to Help You Get Around Your City.
Whether you're exploring a new city or trying to find the fastest route to a new restaurant in your neighborhood, there are many apps to help you navigate. Depending on whether you'd prefer to arrive by bike, foot or car, you might prefer one app over another.
If Payphones Survive, Will They Look Like This?
When was the last time you used a phone booth to make a call? Odds are, not for several years at least. So are all of those city phone booths rendered useless, relics of a bygone era? Not necessarily — they might just need a bit of a makeover.
Dicycles: The Scooter Gets a Hip Upgrade.
The modern-day city dweller has numerous transportation options, whether it's car, train, bike or even trolley. But finding the ever-elusive parking space, waiting out train delays and competing with rush hour traffic on your average 10-speed bike don't exactly optimize your commute. Some commuters are starting to adopt a more efficient, eco-friendly way to get around their cities — the electric dicycle.
Get Lost in These 19 Fascinating Maps.
In the simplest sense of the word, a map is a spatial representation of something. It provides us with a sense of context, scale and location. Maps began as 2D depictions, but technology and data enable maps to become dynamic, real-time and compelling visualizations of how we live and move.
35 Urban Innovations We're Watching This Year.
City dwellers are always thinking about mobility, energy, shelter, safety and efficiency, and many technologies and startups in cities all around the globe are developing new tools to ameliorate these daily problems. If these concepts come to fruition, then the future of cities is looking bright.
25 Technologies Every Smart City Should Have.
You think cities are crowded now? By 2030, more than 5 billion people will live in urban settings. But before we get to that kind of population density, we have to optimize our cities. We need to make them smarter and better; technology can help.
7 Ways Augmented Reality Will Improve Your Life.
You might think augmented reality is the way of the future, but really, it has its roots in the 20th century. Morton Heilig, the "Father of Virtual Reality," patented the Sensorama Stimulator, which he called an "experience theater," on Aug. 28, 1962. Over time, the idea of using technology to create a layer over the real world has been honed and refined and put in our palms, thanks to the proliferation of smartphones.
This Product Will Make Your Home Smarter.
What if your house just ran itself? Every morning you could wake up to a fresh pot of coffee, a slice of warm toast and a heated kitchen that maintains just the right temperature for a chilly morning. Plus, when you leave your house for work, your door locks behind you automatically, your home's temperature control adjusts for an empty house and a special sensor kicks in to make sure your dog doesn't get into the garbage while you're away.
Nest Is Just the Beginning of Smart Home Tech.
These days, it seems like everyone is innovating for the future. From eco-friendly prefab housing to high-tech city bridges, companies and cities are putting unique and interesting spins on what they believe will change our future. But, think about this for a second: Have you ever thought long and hard about what your thermostat will look like in 10 or 15 years?
Does This New Electric Bike Get Your Wheels Turning?
There are plenty of ways to get around a city, to suit nearly every lifestyle: trains, cars, rollerblades and subways. But, the one you may not see on the streets of most urban cities is the electric bicycle.
While motorized bikes, powered by gas or otherwise, are fairly common in places like South America and Asia, powered bicycles haven’t really taken off stateside. This is due in large part to their design: Heavy electric bicycles have a high learning curve compared to regular bikes and can, quite unceremoniously run out of batteries. Quite the headache for the urban commuter looking to make it to work with a little extra power in their wheels.
Can’t Find a Parking Space? This App Can Help.
Urban regions enjoy density. It’s what makes for serendipity — running into someone you know in a crowd of strangers is all the more meaningful. It can also make certain infrastructures more efficient. The vast number of people cycling in and out of subways, coffee shops and freeway lanes is the grounds for an amazing data set, if those people will agree to contribute to apps such as Foursquare or Waze.
Urban Education Centers Are Creating a Generation of Global Students.
The American system of higher education has long been the envy of foreign onlookers — that’s why the governments of many countries are inviting U.S. universities to open satellite campuses in their centers for higher learning, in hopes of adopting some of the U.S.’s best home-grown practices.
Your City Needs These 7 Open Data Apps.
The urban experience is unique, exciting and challenging. To improve it, several major cities opened their data to let people develop useful and interesting apps. “While all of our approaches are a bit different, we are all using open data and new technology to explore new ways of improving our cities with and for our residents,” says James Solomon, who directs the Street Bump project in Boston.
Why Your City Needs Broadband.
Digitally connecting one person with another is powerful in itself, but connecting entire communities in the United States and around the world is truly transformative. Broadband, specifically, has the potential to give Internet users access to information that can inspire action, changing the way people learn, do business and help each other.
How Code for America Is Reinventing Government.
By 2030, it's estimated that more than 5 billion people will live in urban settings. Therefore, it's imperative for cities to integrate technology into their infrastructure so that metropolian areas can sustain this rapid growth in population. With hackathons and app challenges, we've seen the emergence of civic startups, like SeeClickFix, and we're now seeing the rise of "civic accelerators."
Crowdfunding Startups Let You Be Your City’s Urban Planner
There’s a reason the crowds are said to have wisdom, and why two heads are better than one. Working together, individuals and groups can have a positive synergy that gets things done, so it’s no wonder that cities are benefitting for crowdsourcing instead of just top-down change. Just look at the success of Kickstarter in the crowdfunding space and SeeClickFix in the urban improvement space.
The Future of Screens: Why OLED Will Change Everything
Design trends are influenced by both form and function, but also bow to limitations of existing technology. When we look back at flat-screen TVs compared to LCDs, then further to the bulky cathode ray tube (remember these?), it’s obvious we’ve come a long way. Within a few years, according to industry reps, we’ll say the same about store displays, vehicle lighting and kitchen countertops.
This Holographic Tablet Makes Your Desktop 3D
Throughout the last 10 years, the world of design — specifically architecture and engineering — has benefited greatly from major technological advances. Although it wasn’t too long ago that many infrastructure and object modeling required excellent hand-drafting and perceptibility skills (not to mention plenty of time and attention to detail), 3D software tools such as Autocad have revolutionized the speed and efficiency of the design landscape.
Is Bike Sharing a Magic Bullet for Cities?
When it comes to a city’s growing pains, such as traffic congestion and deteriorating air quality, the best solutions don’t need to reinvent the wheel. The bicycle, a kids’ toy for some and extreme sports prop for others (not to mention, muse for the hit Queen song) is now finding its way into conversations about public transportation.
Screens: Coming to a City Block Near You
Many of us spend several hours of the day face-down into our laptops. We navigate our cities and communities from the control panels of our smartphones. And at the end of the day, we cozy up with our flat screens or e-readers.
5 Student Projects That Just Might Transform City Life
The children are our future, and while they enjoy their fair share of Angry Birds sessions and Twilight marathons, they’re a pretty innovative and impressive bunch. Below, we’ve outlined five projects that show the young’uns are in control and will use technology to make the world a better place.
Get There Faster With These 4 Traffic Apps
Sitting in traffic may seem like a necessary evil, but several app developers are devoted to making driving suck less. Commuting was once a lonely experience with drivers victimized by conditions outside their control. But what if cars on the road could move in harmony rather than like a tidal wave?
Are Sound Waves the Future of Mobile Marketing?
Your Starbucks runs and concert visits will soon be more interactive. Imagine the luxury of walking into a coffee shop and receiving a personalized drink deal on your smartphone or tablet upon entry. Or, receiving an automated mobile thank-you note for watching a film, exactly an hour after leaving the theater.
The Smart Grid Will Transform the Way Your City Works
Urban populations grow larger every day. Researchers predict that nearly 75% of the world’s population will live in cities by the year 2050. As a result of this continued growth, there’s a need — and a demand — for cities to build smarter infrastructures to ensure reliable operations and provide consistent, sustainable energy.
Need a Driver ASAP? There’s an App for That
One benefit of living in an urban environment is that it's pretty easy to walk from point A to point B. If it's a far distance (or if the weather is inclement), you can hop on the bus or subway. And if you really deserve a treat (or you're just in a rush), you can hail a cab for a private chauffeur.
5 Companies on the Cutting Edge of Sustainable Prefab Housing.
Prefabrication isn’t new. In fact, most everything around you is prefab: that picture frame on your desk, your computer monitor, even the light bulb above your head. Prefab simply means an item or components of an item are pre-assembled in a factory before the final product reaches you. Even prefab homes have been around for decades. The mobile home revolutionized functional, affordable housing. For its time, modular housing was incredibly waste-efficient, too, compared to the on-site building processes of today, which can exhaust more than 30% of building materials.
The Future of Parking Is Already in Your Pocket.
Parking in a major city, from Seattle to Sydney, can be a downright nightmare. After trolling a lot for what seems like ages, you end up fumbling for change to feed the meter for your stay. Of course, it's all done to prevent the painful parking ticket, which is such the ire of citizens everywhere that it has its own reality show. Thankfully, private companies are partnering with cities all over the world to solve the headaches of metropolitan parking — and the answer is probably in your pocket right now.
7 Clothing Concepts That Can Charge Your Gadgets.
The battery lives of your smartphones, tablets and mp3 players have increased over the years, thanks to tech advancements. Throughout the day, we check email, pull up maps, listen to music and chat with friends, depleting your device's juice. So when the 10% battery warning flashes, it can instill panic if you're on-the-go with no access to an outlet. Could the future of tech fashion change that? Researchers and designers have successfully developed textile prototypes that double as chargers. Most of these prototypes are being used to highlight potential mobile charging solutions.
3 Ways to Simplify Your Offline Errands.
Not being home during business hours is normal, but it can be terribly inconvenient for certain errands. At a time when technology is burgeoning and a large chunk of commerce is done online, it seems like the convenience of online services is wasted once you have to deal with offline nuisances, such as needing to pick up your order from a package facility or rushing to the dry cleaners on your lunch break.
Why Supermarkets Are So 20th Century.
No one likes grocery shopping — you wander the aisles, feel up produce, and dump cans of SpaghettiOs and heads of lettuce into a cart. Then you have to trudge home — or at least to your car — with bags weighing you down on both sides. Some argue that it's easier just to eat out all the time — that's certainly a popular mentality in New York — and others might just order in via Seamless.
How Augmented Reality Is Shaping the Future of Retail.
What's the future of retail, and how far away is it? Turns out that in the next couple of years, customers will be able to try on clothes and products at home with no shipping required. Technology will allow shoppers to virtually wear garments — smelling, hearing and feeling the fabric as if it were real. Sound crazy? It's not, when you look deeply into the world of augmented reality (AR). Augmented reality technology typically overlays the virtual world on top of the real-world environment through a device, such as a mobile phone or a tablet.
Bright Lights, Big City: The Future of Digital Display Is Stunning.
When you think "display of the future," what pops into your head? Is it the hyper-neon displays of Blade Runner or the holograms from Star Wars? The world of digital display always seems to wiggle its way into the bleeding-edge technology of science fiction, but it's not unwarranted. Turns out, some of those fantastical displays may be seen in your city, airport or shopping mall in the next five years.
Slay ‘Vampire Power’ With These Eco-Friendly Chargers.
With all that Facebooking, Twittering, emailing and web browsing, your phone and computer are probably down to 5% battery by sunset. And odds are, when bedtime rolls around, you plug in your phone, tablet and laptop to let them recharge overnight. Then there are the things that are always plugged in, like your TV, your coffee maker and your electric toothbrush. Plugging in like this is actually bad on three accounts. First, overcharging your devices can ruin their battery life.
6 Handy Mobile Apps for City Transit.
You can make your way around most cities using Google public transit searches or various transit apps, but many cities now provide a list of recommended transportation apps on their websites. A handful of progressive cities even have their own official transit apps.
High-Tech Bridges Marry Function and Beauty.
Bridges have been around as long as humans wanted to go places. A simple log or tree was used to bridge a gap in the land. Today's bridges are so much more than utilitarian structures that enable you to get from point A to point B. They add aesthetic value and, in many ways, represent the region around it.
This Phone Lasts 15 Years on 1 AA Battery.
Whether faced with a dead battery or an unexpected emergency, you've likely found yourself without access to a phone. It leaves you feeling helpless and even vulnerable. The makers of SpareOne phone seek to prevent similar situations in the future — or, at least, for the next 15 years.Debuted at CES 2012, the SpareOne phone runs on a single AA battery, which can last up to 15 years or through 10 hours of talk time.
How High-Tech Carpooling Saves Gas, Money and Time.
As gas prices continue to climb along with car maintenance costs and environmental concerns, the concept of carpooling to work and around town has never been more appealing. But there's a lot of hassle and research that goes into finding a reliable person to share a ride with — not to mention the safety concerns. Urban carpooling is becoming more popular not only in the U.S. but also worldwide, thanks to companies that offer commuters safe and affordable ways to share rides on the way to work, to shopping malls and for road trips.
10 Tech Innovations That Streamline Air Travel.
Let's face it: The world of the modern airline isn't the most convenient of places. In fact, the airport can be nothing short of a bureaucratic hell. Whether you're an experienced traveler or an occasional passenger, traveling half an hour upstate or 24 hours to the other side of the world, the stress of an airline experience can drive everyone a little bonkers. But thanks to innovative minds all over the globe, airline travel is changing rapidly. Technological advances, both within the airports' systems and from consumer-facing companies, can save you major headaches during your travels.
9 Digital Tools to Reduce Your Junk Mail.
We all lead busy lives, and the last thing we need is to come from a long day to find our mailboxes overflowing with junk mail. How many times have you received an unwanted credit card offer and thrown it out without even opening the envelope? It's wasteful and unnecessary. Fortunately, there are many digital options both for marketers and recipients to reduce that unwanted pile of junk mail — marketers need not waste money sending materials to uninterested consumers, and consumers can receive only things that interest them.
Want to Improve Your City? There’s an App for That.
We've all been through it before in one way or another: While spending some time cruising around your community, you spot some unsightly graffiti, a broken manhole cover and a blown-over chain link fence on public property. Or, maybe you find that one traffic light nearby is taking an unreasonably long time to change from red to green. Whatever the issue is, you feel compelled to call your local government's non-essential civic issues line to get it taken care of.
14 Tech-Forward Concepts Reshaping Our Future.
For the Global Innovation Series, presented by BMW, we're focused on one simple question: In what ways is technology drastically changing our lives for the better? In a lot of ways, living in a city is challenging — urban citizens are constantly thinking about mobility, energy, shelter, safety and efficiency as they go about their daily lives. Many projects and startups in cities all around the globe are developing and implementing new technology to ameliorate these daily problems. If these concepts come to fruition, then the future of cities is looking bright.
High-Tech Threads: Can Your Clothes Do This?
Today's clothing isn't just about fashion — it's about function. We're not talking about Scottevest's Inspector Gadget-esque trenchcoat to store your iPhone, iPad, iPod and even a few changes of clothes. Sure, that's handy, but the jacket itself isn't high-tech (though it is well designed). Mashable has explored that ways in which tech companies and fashion brands have coming together to prototype new kinds of apparel, and we spoke with independent designers who've concepted mind-blowing gear that essentially transforms your body into a generator.
This Is What Your Future Home Might Look Like.
The urban environment is daunting. In a bustling community of millions and millions of citizens, the mere constraints of having so many people in one place can force innovation to materialize out of sheer need. But, how will these cities operate as even more people flux in over the years? More importantly, what will they look like?
5 Home Technologies That Will Save You Energy and Money.
Tech manufacturers are making it easier for eco-conscious consumers to welcome a greener lifestyle. But going green doesn't mean sacrificing the allure of cutting-edge technology. From controlling lights at home through a mobile app to investing in smart appliances that cut down on energy use and costs, there are myriad high-tech options on the market that make the home more sustainable.
7 City Parking Apps to Save You Time, Money and Gas.
Yellow curb, red curb, white curb, blue curb — figuring out where to park, especially in a big city, can make you feel like you're in a zany Dr. Seuss story. And when you do snag a sweet street spot, it can feel like a mini moment of glory. In cities, parking signs contradict each other. There's 7 a.m. street cleaning and odd hours when you cannot park your car (only until 2 a.m. in some places).
Live Greener: 3 Energy-Saving Technologies for Your Home.
In a perfect world, with perfect circumstances, who wouldn't want a self-sustaining smart home? These days, there are so many goals towards home efficiency and sustainability that many are clamoring to "green" their homes as best as possible — with the ultimate achievement of creating a zero-energy home on the horizon. In the real world, building an energy-friendly home is a lot more difficult than it sounds. While you can make a fairly sustainable home simply by employing sensible green building adjustments to insulation, home materials, lighting and heating, that's not all that goes into a truly efficient home. You can have a perfectly efficient home constructed,but it's what you use inside the home that counts.
Reimagining City Life: One Startup’s Vision of the Future.
From New York to Shanghai, one can quickly become irritated by the flaws and inefficiencies of city living. That's why the Manhattan-based team at Urbanscale exists — to improve urban designs "with a human-centered orientation" in order to better the quality of the urban experience in cities across the globe. The startup was founded in 2010 by Adam Greenfield, who previously worked as head of design direction for service at Nokia and the user interface design and lead information architect for Razorfish's Tokyo office. Mashable spoke with Greenfield about urban design, urban mobility and Urbanscale's elegant solutions to the shortcomings of both.
How Mobile Payments Are Revolutionizing Public Transit.
If modern technology is a universal language, the world is getting schooled in innovation, especially in the public transportation sector. The global transportation industry has become a testing ground for new payment systems, as cutting-edge technologies have been introduced to taxis, buses and trains worldwide to streamline your jaunts around town. From reserving and paying for a cab with an app to purchasing train tickets via an iPod, various countries are experimenting with new ways to reach out to travelers and make payment and transport a whole lot easier.
4 Unique Ways to Generate Renewable Energy.
Finding sources of renewable energy is a growing challenge for the modern world. As we strive for energy efficiency and sustainable resources, avenues are opening up for different and exciting ways to power our lifestyles. Companies across the globe are harnessing the potential of renewable energies, including solar and geothermal methods.
8 Amazing Green Buildings That Break Even on Energy Consumption.
Worldwide revenues from zero-energy buildings are predicted to increase to just under $1.3 trillion by 2035, according to a recent report published by Pike Research. The report also noted that the market for such buildings, including both commercial and residential real estate, currently sits at $225 million. A zero-energy building is one that produces as much energy as it consumes, making it a net-zero energy property and eliminating energy bills for its owners.
The Future of Food: 11 Unique Urban Farming Projects.
Farming has a lot of romance in it. The idea of tilling the land, growing something from scratch and providing for yourself from the gifts of the land is a primal urge that runs through even the most cynical techie. Well, you don't have to give up your iPad to get a piece of the farming pie with the growing interest in "urban farming," which is finding ways to bring the farming lifestyle to cities, high-rises and other urban environments.
How Video Chat Is Creating a Global Classroom.
Tasked with teaching an elementary school class stories, customs, holidays, foods and popular culture of many different places, student-teacher Maggie Holmes hopes to squeeze in some firsthand accounts. She's asked teachers of global elementary schools to set up an exchange with her class.
Pedestrian Safety: How Innovative Tech Could Save Your Life.
When it comes to pedestrian traffic, safety should be the number one concern, but transportation infrastructure in the United States is built to accommodate cars, not people. This focus is putting lives at risks and the data shows it — in 2010, pedestrian fatalities rose 4.2%, and pedestrian injuries due to motor vehicle crashes increased by 19% from the previous year, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
How One App Empowers Citizens to Take Control of Urban Noise Pollution.
We live in very, very loud world. With cars whizzing past, construction sites pounding away, ambulances roaring around and the dull ache of idle chatter constantly bombarding the sound wall, it's easy to get overwhelmed in a noisy environment. And there's good reason for that: Although it's usually pushed into the background, noise is actually a form of pollution.
4 Innovative Solar Tech Projects From Around the World.
The sun may be our greatest energy resource, but we're still extremely reliant on fossil fuels in the United States. According to the Energy Department, solar power accounts for just 1% of America's alternative energy production. While the industry isn't booming just yet, it is growing quickly and there is promise — Google invested $280 million in solar energy in June and another $94 million in December, and Warren Buffett recently bought a photovoltaic farm for $2 billion. You might say the sun is hot right now.
Behind the Scenes of Olympic Cities’ High-Tech Transit Systems.
When the Olympics come to town, it's not just a worldwide spectacle of athleticism — it's also a feat of infrastructure development.Cities large and small, from Los Angeles to Torino to Nagano, have braced for the millions of athletes, spectators and press that descend upon the city for a few short weeks. For future host cities London, Sochi and Rio de Janeiro, the rush to develop is on. Mashable spoke with reps from all three cities about how they're working technology and digital tools into the cities' transportation systems to prepare for the influx of Olympic visitors.
5 Cities Harnessing Breakthrough Geothermal Technology.
The demand for sustainable energy is higher than ever. According to a study by BP, global energy consumption has seen a 5.3% increase within the last year, the largest jump since 1973. Our digital lifestyles have contributed to the rise in energy consumption — it takes 35 times more energy to produce a pound of smartphone than to make a pound of book. While strides have been made to increase the output of solar panels and biofuels, some cities are turning to the energy found beneath their feet.
4 Cities Using Tech to Alleviate Traffic.
There are one billion cars on the road, and that number could reach 2.5 billion by 2020. That auto congestion not only wreaks havoc on the environment, but also frustrates the commuters sitting in traffic on their way to work.The IBM Commuter Pain Index compiled traffic angst data by city and found that 87% of people had been stuck in traffic in the past three years, and 31% said the traffic was so bad that they turned around and went home. Clearly, traffic is a major issue when it comes to metropolitan living and urban mobility, but help is on the way.
4 Innovative Projects Making Water More Accessible in the Developing World.
Water, one of the earth's most important natural resources, is abundant for most of the developed world: We have taps with clean drinking water, showers with warm water and stores stocked with bottles.But for a large percentage of people, these simple, over-looked luxuries are not available. The U.N. has collected stats showing that one in six people in the world — approximately 894 million people — don't have access to the recommended amount of fresh water for daily living.
The Future of Trash: 4 Ways Tech Is Improving Recycling Rates.
The world is now inhabited by 7 billion individuals, and as you can imagine, we produce a lot of trash. In the U.S., each person produces 4.6 pounds of trash each day, and 132 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) were discarded in landfills in 2009. Just over 35% of that was recycled.For context, here are some stats: Greece recycles about 10% of its waste, the UK about 17% and Austria about 60%. Back in 2008, the European parliament passed a measure to achieve a recycling rate of 50% for household waste and 70% for construction waste.
5 Tech Breakthroughs Bringing Clean Water to the Developing World.
In the West we take clean water for granted, but for 1.1 billion people across the developing world, the idea of easy access to treated water goes beyond a luxury concept.Technology can help. There are various companies and charitable organizations working on easy-to-use, low cost solutions to benefit those across the globe for whom obtaining potable water is a daily struggle. And clean water doesn't just mean less disease and death — it has economic and social implications, too.
How Twitter Tracks the Spread of Disease in Real Time.
When the first cases of swine flu were detected in the spring of 2009, Twitter helped to inflame the panic that spread well ahead of the disease. The idea that anything useful could be mined from the flood of tweets reacting to the nascent threat was widely dismissed. "Unlike basic Internet search ... Twitter seems to have introduced too much noise into the process: As opposed to search requests, which are generally motivated only by a desire to learn more about a given subject, too many Twitter conversations about swine flu seem to be motivated by desires to fit in, do what one's friends do (i.e. tweet about it) or simply gain more popularity," explained one NPR article.
5 Tech Innovations That Could Change the Developing World.
Across the developing world, new technologies are helping to distribute resources for education, connectivity and health far and wide. Innovators are finding ways to make technology cheaper and therefore accessible to millions previously excluded by high costs. Affordability is often the greatest hurdle to overcome in products from sanitation devices to tablet computers, mobile phones to solar panels. Take a look at these five tech breakthroughs and how they are helping to level the playing field in developing countries.
7 Tech Breakthroughs That Empower People With Disabilities.
Adaptive technology is a fairly new term, but the basic idea is not. Some adaptive devices are simple, like the cane, which has a history as old as mankind itself. Others seem to come more from the realm of science fiction.However mundane or complicated, all are a testament to human determination, creativity and ambition. Here, we look at seven high-tech assistive devices and how they're helping those with disabilities lead full and fulfilling lives.
4 High-Tech Projects Making Cities More Energy Efficient.
Cities around the world are exploring ways to save money and reduce carbon emissions on everything from streetlights to power facilities.Technology is smarter, too, with wireless and manual controls in place that can adjust green tech systems to suit varying conditions like weather and pedestrian traffic. Here are four compelling examples of green tech that may change the way urban centers consume and conserve energy.
4 Apps That Can Help During a Natural Disaster.
With the latest incidents of natural and unanticipated disasters, there seems to be a greater need than ever to explore faster and more effective methods of activating relief efforts. Communications technologies — including the use of social and mobile tools — continue to play increasing roles in emergency and rescue efforts as well as for overall personal and family safety. Here are a few examples of communications tools helping in times of need.
How Tech Is Changing the Museum Experience.
Museums are exploring digital and mobile technologies to enhance visitor experience. Initiatives go beyond technology within exhibits and installations, but also include more pervasive uses of tech to create interactive experiences for visitors throughout a museum, as well as remote experiences for those who cannot get there. Here, we highlight what three museums are doing to make the experience interactive, educational and engaging.
Beyond BAC: How the Breathalyzer Is Poised to Revolutionize Medical Diagnostics.
We all know about the Breathalyzer, a handheld device used by police officers to determine one's blood alcohol level on the spot. But recent research has discovered some other interesting applications for the digital tool.Breath alcohol testing devices were first developed in the 1940s, and in 1954, Dr. Robert Borkenstein of the Indiana State Police invented the patented Breathalyzer.
Why the EPA Wants You to Design America’s Next Top Environmental App.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is looking to transform the way they develop applications that serve wide and diverse audiences. They are currently running Apps for the Environment, an app development challenge — with a deadline of September 16 — that is meant to encourage the public to come up with new ways of leveraging EPA data.
How Musicians Are Engaging Fans With Location Tech.
Location: It's not just for Foursquare fiends anymore. As bands become more and more adventurous when it comes to integrating tech into their artform, we're seeing mobile- and location-based technology making an entree into the music world, enhancing the experience for both bands and fans alike. "I think it's an interesting way to tap into the trend of broadcasting your location," says Shannon Connolly, VP of digital music strategy at MTV.
How Mobile Apps Are Helping Urban Explorers Discover Their Cities.
Cities around the world are exploring mobile apps as a way to aggregate and disseminate information to the public. Mobile apps are proving to be a more accessible and portable way for residents and tourists alike to access information, or in some cases, provide information in a more timely fashion.
4 Ways the Department of Energy Is Tapping Tech for a Greener Future.
This week, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will re-launch its website, Energy.gov, to provide tools to help individuals and businesses better understand how to save energy and money. You can type your zip code into the site and get hyper-local information about your city, county and state, including information on tax credits, rebates and energy saving tips.
Why the Future of Transportation Is All About Real-Time Data.
In order to tackle urban transportation challenges in cities around the world, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the National Research Foundation of Singapore launched a five-year cooperative project in 2009 — Future Urban Mobility (FM) — to look at new models and technology tools aimed at sustainability. The FM team is one of four interdisciplinary research groups that are part of the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology Centre, or SMART Centre.
How 3 Cities Are Crowdsourcing for Community Revitalization.
Cities are beginning to benefit from crowdsourcing methods to gather input from residents and apply the information they receive to make tangible improvements to communities and neighborhoods. Some cities participate cooperatively in initiatives led by the private sector through web-based platforms such as SeeClickFix and Revitaliz. Others are taking the initiative to license tools and apps that bring local residents into the ideation and decision-making processes that lead to developments and actions to improve communities.
How 4 Cities Are Deploying High-Tech Bike Sharing Programs.
Cities around the world are at various stages of bike sharing initiatives, offering membership-based systems for short-term rentals of bikes to get around urban areas. From San Francisco to Toronto and London to Melbourne, these programs incorporate high-tech features to manage and monitor thousands of bikes. Most of the bike programs operate in similar ways:
How the Private Space Race Has Taken Off.
"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too." Those famous words, uttered by President John F. Kennedy at Rice University in 1962, kicked off a decade of innovation and scientific progress that culminated with the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969, a moment that has since defined humanity's tenacity for science and exploration.
3 Simple Ways Tech Can Grow Greener Cities.
In the annals of urban design, Peter Calthorpe is a living legend. He is the man who made Portland, Oregon the bustling eco-friendly metropolis it is today by insisting on light rail links rather than the prior plans for a pointless (but symmetrical) ring road around the city. Here is a man who is helping to build China, three cities at a time (literally — that's his current roster) while still advising the state of California on its future urban growth.
How New York City Is Going Digital in 2011.
As New York City's first chief digital officer, Rachel Sterne's primary task would be to assess city government's digital strategy. She and her team spent the first 90 days compiling a report, and the result is the Road Map for the Digital City, a 60-page dossier on the city's digital reach, what the team plans to achieve, and how to get there. Mashable recently spoke with Sterne about the Roadmap and what she plans to implement in New York.
5 Innovative Ways to Teach Your Skills Online.
Through projects like Khan Academy, MIT OpenCourseWare and University of the People, the Internet has made it easier for anyone to be a student. Now it's also making it easier for anyone to become a teacher. Several platforms have launched within the last two years that democratize teaching.
How Mobile Phones Are Saving Lives in the Developing World.
You text your friends, you call your mom, you use your smartphone to upload pictures of your day-to-day life. But did you know your phone has a higher purpose? Even if it's just a Nokia "candy bar" phone or a flip-phone, that handheld piece of machinery can save lives. And there are startups all over the world that are innovating and creating new technologies that will change the global health landscape in dramatic ways.
How One Impressive Mobile App Plans to Overcome Language Barriers.
The iOS application Word Lens, as its creator Otavio Good describes it, is just a dictionary with a good interface. "What's new is the good interface," he says — the interface being your mobile device.But when the "interface" in question includes sophisticated vector and graphics processing (as on newer versions of the iPhone), Word Lens is more like a personal translator than a dictionary.
Why Governments Will Benefit From Embracing Open Source Tech.
Governments have been harnessing consumer-facing technology to reach out to their citizens in some very interesting ways. In the spaces between location-aware technology, web services, mobile apps and social media tools, there is a ton of opportunity for governments — from small cities to entire nations — to do their jobs with more efficiency and transparency.
How Crowdsourcing Is Improving Global Communities.
You can crowdsource almost anything these days — news, music videos, fashion advice, your love life or even your entire life. While these examples are all very useful (or just plain amusing), there are a plethora of examples of how innovative entrepreneurs and eager philanthropists are using crowdsourcing techniques to improve local and global communities in real, substantive ways.
4 Ways Mobile Tech Is Improving Education.
Communication centers, computers, laptops, mobile phones and tablets have all been spoken about at one point or another as technologies with promising applications for education.But mobile phones stand apart in an important way. In United States high schools, 98% of students have access to some kind of smartphone, according to a report by Blackboard and Project Tomorrow.
Can a Robot Ever Be Man’s Best Friend?
Robots can attend work for us, fight in our wars, teach our children, and beat us at Jeopardy!, but can they learn to love us? Even as robot tech gets more advanced, we see those advancements in terms of processing power and speed. Programming a robot to feel or, more appropriately, to emulate life, presents a whole new set of challenges.
How Cities Are Fighting to Close the Digital Divide.
When it comes to the Internet, conversations about the "haves" and "have nots" are ongoing. Why is closing the digital divide so important? The access issues are often broken down into a handful of parts:
Equality: The Internet is considered as important — if not more important — as access to the telephone...
How Smarter Parking Technology Will Reduce Traffic Congestion.
Between 8% and 74% of traffic in congested downtown areas is caused by people cruising for parking, according to a report by UCLA professor Donald C. Shoup that synthesized studies from 70 years of research on the subject. The paper indicates that drivers in major cities — including San Francisco, Sydney, New York and London — spend between 3.5 and 14 minutes searching for a space each time they park.
How Mobile Payment Systems Are Redefining Commerce.
Thanks to recent tech advances, investments by companies like Apple and Google, and the backing of traditional payment processors (as well as new startups), the mobile payments space is white hot. Consumers, particularly those in parts of Europe and Asia, have been making purchases using their cellphones for the better part of a decade. Traditional ecommerce solutions aside, however, mobile payments have yet to really go mainstream.