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.
Whether you’re thinking easier ways to park your car or ideas for the home of the future, studying how we’ll live in the next 10, 50 or 100 years can reshape the habits and challenges we face today. Take a look at a roundup of 14 of these revolutionary ideas below. Looking for more? Make sure to follow the series — each week, you’ll get a new article on the future of urban life.
The sun may be our greatest energy resource, but we still rely 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.
We live in a 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 a form of pollution.
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 risk 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. With 4,280 pedestrians killed and 70,000 injured in 2010 in the U.S. alone, cities are installing technologies that will improve pedestrian safety on busy streets.
Tasked with teaching an elementary school class stories, customs, holidays, foods and popular culture of many different cultures, student-teacher Maggie Holmes hopes to squeeze in some first-hand accounts. She’s asked teachers of global elementary schools to set up an exchange with her class.
Until recently, connecting students with those living elsewhere would have likely been a bigger headache than it was worth. But as more teachers look to the Internet to make such global connections, it’s become a matter of posting a short blog post in the right place.
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.
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. Although zero-energy homes and buildings are quite rare today, increasing concerns about energy waste have set the stage for a growing market.
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.
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 proving ground for new payment systems, as cutting-edge technologies have been introduced to taxis, buses and trains worldwide to streamline 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.
“A lot of people face pretty profound constraints on mobility, enjoy only limited access to opportunity, and face serious difficulty in getting timely, accurate information about services available to them,” says Adam Greenfield, founder of Urbanscale. “As far as we’re concerned, it’s both a matter of basic morality and in our own long-term best interest, to ensure that everyone living in a society has open and unfettered access to these things.” And that’s exactly what his Manhattan-based company is working toward.
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.
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.
If you live in a crowded metropolis, then finding a parking spot is a task you’d like to see simplified. Here are seven helpful parking apps to help you find a safe place to park.
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.
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.
Over the years, popular culture has tried to mold and shape the way an urban environment will look an act ten, fifty or even a hundred years from now. Will the cities of the future look like The Jetsons or Blade Runner? Well, if current, feasible development is any indication, the answer is actually neither.
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 ways in which tech companies and fashion brands have come together to create prototypes of new kinds of apparel, and we spoke with independent designers who’ve conceived mind-blowing gear that essentially transforms your body into a generator.