Saturday, September 29, 2007

'Wiki City' Creates Real-Time Maps

A recent post entitled ''Wiki City' Creates Real-Time Maps' described that 'While drivers are accustomed to using traffic reports to assess road conditions, pedestrians who navigate cities are typically left without aid to determine the best route'.

Now researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are using wikis and the Semantic Web to examine the way people map and navigate their cities:

The Wiki City project, run by MIT's SENSEable City Laboratory, aims to apply wiki technology to the map-making process. The project's ultimate product will permit anyone to upload content to a map and utilize Semantic Web principles to cross search multiple layers of information.

Wiki City Rome, an early incarnation of the project's user-generated maps, used GPS (Global Positioning System) and cell-phone data to produce a real-time map during an all-night festival held in the city on Sept. 8.

Via Roland’s Sunday Smart Trends


The world's first eco-region in Libya

NewScientist describes in a post called 'Norman Foster to design Libyan 'eco-region'' how Norman Foster group is involved in plans to develop the world's first eco-region in Libya - the 550,000-hectare site of desert and forest that stretches inland from the Mediterranean coast of Libya is to be developed into the world’s largest sustainable area:

Over the next year, the group will firm up regional plans to create a national park, a renewable energy infrastructure, a public transportation infrastructure fuelled by biofuels, sustainable agriculture irrigated through desalination plants, and an eco-tourism resort. The latter could, according to some preliminary plans, have buildings built into the side of mountains to minimise their visual impact and take advantage of the stone's insulating properties.

The project is still very much at the visionary stage. "Until the regional plan is finished by Fosters, we cannot say anything for sure," says Anthony Kleanthous, a spokesman for the Green Mountains project.

"But the idea is to show how these things are not just applicable to the Green Mountains. [Fosters] are trying to build a model that can be built elsewhere – not just in Libya, but also in other African countries," he adds.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Costs of Social Networking

An important point about social networks has just been made by Anthony Townsend in his brief, yet valid, rant 'I Keep Updating, So I Have Less Time to Actually Do Anything'. Anthony makes us realise that digital social networking can often impede too far upon our physical networks and available time resources. Being more mobile often means we are further stretched - is this the convenience we crave?

Ok, the social web is officially ridiculous.

What I'm referring to is the amount of crap I have to update everytime I want to do anything. It's gotten so bad today, as I prepare to leave for 10 days in Budapest, I'm almost afraid of missing my flight.

What's there to do?

Twitter something witty
Update my FaceBook status
Add the trip to Dopplr
Set iChat and Skype status
Blog about it in various places

And finally, check in for my flight. 7 blessed hours offline.

When are the social web integration apps coming? Please, when? I'll invest.

Thanks Anthony.....


Town tries out Cybercar concept

BBCNews reports in that a driverless car, which is controlled by computer and uses lasers to avoid obstacles, is being demonstrated in the UK in a Northamptonshire town:

Daventry is investigating ways to increase the use of public transport and reduce reliance on cars.

The town council believes the Cybercars, which are called by pressing a button on the route and go direct to their destination, could be the answer.

The vehicles can be seen on a test track at the town's Eastern Way.

Is this a plausible future for town congestion and pollution?

Read in full - 'Town tries out Cybercar concept'


Youngsters 'prefer TV to family'

It's official! BBCNews reports in 'Youngsters 'prefer TV to family'' that children spend little time with their parents, and much more time watching television than reading books:

Research accompanying the government-backed Booktime literacy project shows that youngsters spend little of their spare time with adults.

It says that, in some families, shared meal times are only 17 minutes per day.

A survey of 1,800 families suggested it was a struggle for UK parents to find more time to read with children.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Paper payment expected to go mobile

The Guardian reports on a move in London to bring closer the prospect of using the mobile phone to pay for low-cost goods; in this case, swiping the phone to buy a newspaper on the move:

When Britain's first newspaper swipe card launches today it will be available only to a handful of London commuters. But the inventors of the cashless payment system say the pieces are in place for similar schemes across the country and that before long we could all be buying newspapers by merely tapping our mobile phones on special readers.

The Evening Standard's Eros loyalty card will be distributed at Waterloo station today before being extended across the capital next month. The card, which is similar to London Transport's Oyster card, can be topped up with credit online and used at special readers to buy the paper...

..."The first time you'll see this is sooner than you think," says Mr Tymm. "Within a year we'll see the very first signs and within three years Visa cards, Oyster and so on could all be on phones."

Read in full - 'Paper payment expected to go mobile within three years'

Monday, September 24, 2007

Parking-space tax will raise

The TimesOnline writes that commuters face a '£350 tax on workplace parking spaces in an attempt to encourage them out of their cars and on to public transport'. The report goes on to say that,

The tax is being planned as an alternative to congestion charging because it is thought to be much cheaper and easier to collect. Nottingham City Council is the first local authority planning to introduce the tax. Eight other councils, including Devon County Council, are understood to be considering similar schemes.

Under the Nottingham initiative, employers with more than ten parking spaces will have to pay the tax and most are expected to pass the cost on to staff. The scheme is widely thought to be more politically acceptable. Unlike the Central London congestion charge, shoppers and other drivers who are not travelling to work will not have to pay.

The Government gave local authorities the power to introduce the tax under the Transport Act 2000 but none has yet done so because it was believed that congestion charging was the best way to control rising traffic levels. However, the 1.8 million-signature petition against congestion charging on the Downing Street website this year has prompted many authorities to reconsider.

Read in full - 'Parking-space tax will raise cost of driving to the office by £350 a year'


Google plans multi-terabit undersea communications

Google is planning a multi-terabit undersea communications cable across the Pacific Ocean for launch in 2009. According to Communications Day:

The Unity cable has been under development for several months, with a group of carriers and Google meeting for high-level talks on the plan in Sydney last week.

Google would not strictly confirm or deny the existence of the Unity plan today, with spokesman Barry Schnitt telling our North American correspondent Patrick Neighly that "Additional infrastructure for the Internet is good for users and there are a number of proposals to add a Pacific submarine cable. We're not commenting on any of these plans."

However, Communications Day understands that Unity would see Google join with other carriers to build a new multi-terabit cable. Google would get access to a fibre pair at build cost handing it a tremendous cost advantage over rivals such as MSN and Yahoo, and also potentially enabling it to peer with Asia ISPs behind their international gateways - considerably improving the affordability of Internet services across Asia Pacific.

Read more at - 'Google plans new undersea "Unity" cable across Pacific'

Black market goods between India and China

Virtual China notes that there has been an increase in black market cross-border mobilities between India and China:

The Asian Studies WWW Monitor points toward this analysis of unofficial cross border trade between India and China. It gives the geographic details of routes between Arunachal, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh and Tibet and Xinjiang. These routes have been in operation for centuries if not longer, and despite official customs efforts, apparently there's a lot going on. Excerpts:

Despite our bureaucracy's whimsical reluctance to acknowledge it Indian goods are going to China and Chinese goods are being brought in large quantities all along the border, and China monitors this trade quite closely.

...coarse wool, pashm wool, tiger eye & other precious and semi precious stones, gold pellets, daggers, boots, hats, blankets, quilts, jeans, jackets, fur caps, felt hats, inverters, electronic equipment, cycles, foot wear, confectionery, crockery, thermos flasks, raw meat (during winter in Ladakh), saddles, yaks, and horses come into India and liquor esp. rum, medicines (large quantity of Indian medicines go through Kyrghystan and Kazakhstan to Sinkiang), woollen carpets, tea, utensils, petrol and diesel, car parts, tool kits, solar panels, shawls, bicycles & sometimes even cement bags go from India.

Read in full - 'Black market goods on the move between India and China'


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Beijing drivers ignore No Car Day

Today - Sep. 22nd - being 'No Car Day', Chinese authorities were expecting that car drivers would heed their encouragement to 'give up the car' in more than 100 Chinese cities... yet it doesn't look like that has been the case, especially not in Beijing.
Katie Melua once sang: 'There are nine million bicycles in Beijing. That's a fact,
It's a thing we can't deny'.

Well, it seems there are nine million cars in Beijing instead, with more than 1000 new cars being bought in Beijing alone each day. Further, the BBC reports:

Cars have been banned on some central streets in Beijing and all drivers are being encouraged to leave their cars at home voluntarily. But correspondents say that in the capital National No Car Day appears to be making little impact.

Millions of vehicles are on the roads every day in Beijing, causing massive air pollution. The BBC's James Reynolds in Beijing says that cars are coming and going as normal, and most streets in Beijing are not adhering to No Car Day.

Environmental campaigners say China must overhaul its transport system, not just with a few ad hoc No Car Days but by putting in cycle lanes, reducing the price of public transport and making it much more difficult for people to buy private cars.

Read in full at - 'Beijing drivers ignore No Car Day'

Friday, September 21, 2007

Club of Pioneers

I have recently come across what seems to be a an insightful gathering of individuals motivated towards sustainable mobile lifestyles - the Club of Pioneers. According to their website they describe themselves as:

The Club of Pioneers is about a mobile lifestyle. It gathers individuals and institutions who care about one of the most important and challenging issues of our time. The cause is in part by our mobility, that is, the emissions that change the climate around the world. Using new and clean energies to lower these emissions is one of the major tasks facing us in the coming years. New ideas in this area will guarantee a sustaining mobility for the future and a good life on this planet for all of us.

The Club of Pioneers is about a sustainable lifestyle. We rely on a kind of living that is responsible and aesthetic at the same time. In the fields of vehicles as much as energy technologies, design, architecture, food etc. you find new approaches to sustainability. We unite these voices on this platform and create a model for a new kind of living.

They have a blog page; and a discussion forum worth following.

Looks a worthwhile community to keep an eye on -

Thanks to Joni for finding me...



Thursday, September 20, 2007

Frankfurt Auto Show

Another year - and the Frankfurt Auto Show comes around again - this year marked a trend reversal for many carmakers, as small-car companies like Mini and Peugeot introduced more comfortable models, while large-car makers scaled things down. Several breathtaking designs were also on display, like Lamborghini's futuristic $1.4-million carbon-fiber Reventon. But the mantra of the show was "fuel efficiency." From hybrid-diesel engines, to ultracompacts, to plug-ins that could power a house in a blackout!

For a look at the newest and shiniest Europe has to offer, launch the slideshow here.

Virtual worlds for all!

In 'Virtual worlds opened up to all' BBCNews announces a free tool that allows anyone to create a virtual world - known as Metaplace, it can build 3D online worlds for PCs or even a mobile phone without any knowledge of complex computer languages:

The web-based program is the brainchild of Raph Koster, one of the developers of massively multiplayer online games such as Ultima Online. Users make the virtual spaces from simple building blocks. The results, which could be used for gaming, socialising or e-commerce, can be embedded in a webpage, facebook profile or blog.

"We are out to democratise virtual worlds and bring them to absolutely anybody," said Mr Koster, founder of Areae, the company behind Metaplace.

"You can come to the site, press a button and have a functioning virtual world that supports multiple users in about 30 seconds." There are already a number of popular virtual worlds such as Second Life, There and Entropia Universe. In addition there are games worlds such as World of Warcraft (WOW).

Most of these require a person to download specialist software or buy a game and there are no links between the different universes. "They're all walled gardens," said Mr Koster. In contrast, Metaplace is entirely web based and connections can be made between all of the different worlds.

"We modelled this on the web," said Mr Koster. "You can think about each world being a webpage and every object within in it is a link."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


September 21st 2007

Welcome and Buffet lunch at 1PM in The Institute for Advanced Studies, Lancaster University

SEMINAR to be held in A40 County South - cost £15.00

To register please email Pennie Drinkall ( and send cheque or pay by card on the day.

1.30 Welcome/introduction to the main issues from John Urry, Director of CEMORE, Lancaster University

1.45 Greg Noble, Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney: 'Moored in Mobility: The ontology of automotive comfort'

'The promise of comfort is a key feature of consumer discourses around cars, although it is rarely given the status of the conventional marketing themes of style, performance and taste'.
3.00 tea coffee

3.15 Kingsley Dennis, CeMoRe Lancaster: 'Cities, Cars, Futures'

“Today we don’t really live in a civilisation, but in a mobilisation – of natural resources, people and products". Where once cities were the cradle of civilisation they are now becoming close to producing disastrous social instabilities and contributing to environmental decline. Cities too are the nodes from which mobility emanates"

4.30 Tim Dant, Sociology Dept, Lancaster University to lead discussion on the 2 papers
Chaired by Monika Buscher, CEMORE/Imagination at Lancaster/Sociology, Lancaster University

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sophisticated Surveillance

BBCNews reports in 'Big Brother is watching us all' how the US and UK governments are developing increasingly sophisticated gadgets to keep individuals under their surveillance:

I was at Maryland University just outside Washington DC, where Professor Challapa and his team are inventing the next generation of citizen surveillance. They had pushed back furniture in the conference room for me to walk back and forth and set up cameras to feed my individual data back to their laptops.

Gait DNA, for example, is creating an individual code for the way I walk. Their goal is to invent a system whereby a facial image can be matched to your gait, your height, your weight and other elements, so a computer will be able to identify instantly who you are.

Since 9/11, some of the best scientific minds in the defence industry have switched their concentration from tracking nuclear missiles to tracking individuals such as suicide bombers.


Monday, September 17, 2007

'Wiki City Rome'

'Wiki City Rome' is a project developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that uses data from mobile phones and other wireless technology to illustrate the city’s pulse in real time. The project will debut Sept. 8th during Rome’s “Notte Bianca” or white night, an all-night festival of events across the capital city. During that night, anyone with an Internet connection will be able to see a unique map of the Italian capital that shows the movements of crowds, event locations, the whereabouts of well-known Roman personalities, and the real-time position of city buses and trains:

The map will also be broadcast on a big-screen display in one of Rome's main squares in the city center, giving Romans real-time feedback on the human dynamics in their immediate surroundings...

...Organizers say Wiki City Rome raises the intriguing prospect of a map drawn on the basis of dynamic elements of which the map itself is an active part. According to researcher Francesco Calabrese of SENSEable City Lab, a person could consult the map to find the most crowded place in Rome to drink an aperitivo - and then identify the least congested route by which to reach it.

Read - 'Wiki City Rome'

China's Online Panopticon

It's been reported in 'China's Eye on the Internet' that the infamous "Great Firewall of China" is being is actually a "panopticon" that encourages self-censorship through the perception that users are being watched, rather than being a true firewall - according to researchers at UC Davis and the University of New Mexico. The article states that:

The researchers are developing an automated tool, called ConceptDoppler, to act as a weather report on changes in Internet censorship in China. ConceptDoppler uses mathematical techniques to cluster words by meaning and identify keywords that are likely to be blacklisted.

Many countries carry out some form of Internet censorship. Most rely on systems that block specific Web sites or Web addresses, said Earl Barr, a graduate student in computer science at UC Davis who is an author on the paper. China takes a different approach by filtering Web content for specific keywords and selectively blocking Web pages.

In 2006, a team at the University of Cambridge, England, discovered that when the Chinese system detects a banned word in data traveling across the network, it sends a series of three "reset" commands to both the source and the destination. These "resets" effectively break the connection. But they also allow researchers to test words and see which ones are censored

Via Roland’s Sunday Smart Trends

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Opening of the Northwest Passage

In a startling piece of news BBCNews reports in 'Warming opens Northwest Passage' how the once fabled sea route, the Northwest Passage, a short cut from Europe to Asia through the Canadian Arctic, is now open to shipping for the first time since such records began, due to global warming. Now, you might think - 'what has this to do with mobilities?'. Well, these days little is moving faster than global climate change! And more importantly, just read below how much has moved!:

The most direct shipping route from Europe to Asia is fully clear of ice for the first time since records began, the European Space Agency (Esa) says. Historically, the Northwest Passage linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans has been ice-bound through the year. But the agency says ice cover has been steadily shrinking, and this summer's reduction has made the route navigable.

The findings, based on satellite images, raised concerns about the speed of global warming. Recent years have seen a marked shrinkage in its ice cover, but this year it was extreme, Esa says. It says this made the passage "fully navigable" for the first time since monitoring began in 1978.

"We have seen the ice-covered area drop to just around 3m sq km (1,2 sq miles)," Leif Toudal Pedersen of the Danish National Space Centre said. He said it was "about 1m sq km (386,000 sq miles) less than the previous minima of 2005 and 2006".

"There has been a reduction of the ice cover over the last 10 years of about 100, 000 sq km (38,600 sq miles) per year on average, so a drop of 1m sq km (386,000 sq miles) in just one year is extreme," Mr Pedersen said.

A drop of 1m sq km (386,000 sq miles) in just one year??? that's one year's drop in what previously took 10 years.... now that is exponential shifts...


Thursday, September 13, 2007

The 'Dark Web'

The Artificial Intelligence Lab at the University of Arizona have created the Dark Web project, which aims to systematically collect and analyze all terrorist-generated content on the Web:

This is where the Dark Web project comes in. Using advanced techniques such as Web spidering, link analysis, content analysis, authorship analysis, sentiment analysis and multimedia analysis, Chen and his team can find, catalogue and analyze extremist activities online. According to Chen, scenarios involving vast amounts of information and data points are ideal challenges for computational scientists, who use the power of advanced computers and applications to find patterns and connections where humans can not.

One of the tools developed by Dark Web is a technique called Writeprint, which automatically extracts thousands of multilingual, structural, and semantic features to determine who is creating 'anonymous' content online. Writeprint can look at a posting on an online bulletin board, for example, and compare it with writings found elsewhere on the Internet. By analyzing these certain features, it can determine with more than 95 percent accuracy if the author has produced other content in the past. The system can then alert analysts when the same author produces new content, as well as where on the Internet the content is being copied, linked to or discussed.

Read in full: 'Scientists Use the "Dark Web" to Snag Extremists and Terrorists Online'

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Rise of City-States

In a recent lecture noted futurist and World Economic Forum advisor Paul Saffo described the decline of the nation-state will be increasingly replaced by city-states, using the US and Singapore as examples. He said, in a recent video, that "There's less than 50 percent chance that the United States will exist as a nation by the middle of this century. And that that is actually a good news." Saffo also goes on to use Silicon Valley as an example of the future of city-states that will rise to replace existing infrastructures. Check out the 3-minute video selection below…

From Wired


Mobile industry holds its breath

BBCNews reported on 11/09/07 in 'Mobile industry holds its breath' that results from a major research programme probing mobile phone technology safety will be announced today:

The Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme (MTHR) has received £8.8m in funding from the government and communications industry. It has carried out 28 separate studies into the health impact of mobile phones, masts and base stations.
These include looking at the impact on childhood cancer, brain tumours, blood pressure and general brain function.

There are now 70 million mobile phone handsets in the UK, and around 50 thousand masts.
Both emit radio signals and electromagnetic fields that can penetrate the human brain, and campaigners fear that this could seriously damage human health.

Also, of related interest, a recent study concludes that mobile phone use 'could leave you irritable, sleepless or with violent mood swings':

Experts say there is a simple reason for this. Says ENT surgeon, Dr Ameet Kishore, "Cellphones, I-pods or microwaves all emit EMR or electromagnetic radiation and research shows that there is both a thermal and an ionizing effect from the commonly used appliances, which could have a potential harmful effect on you."

Read more at 'Irritable and sleepy? Blame your cellphone for it'


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Virtual game is a 'disease model'

Today, there are 3 posts all dealing with the 'virtual' side of mobilities, from people, disease, to economies... here's the first:

BBCNews reports how a virtual world can offer insights into real life epidemics - interesting this...a further step towards the 'Simulation Hypothesis'??:

The "corrupted blood" disease spread rapidly within the popular online World of Warcraft game, killing off thousands of players in an uncontrolled plague. The infection raged, wreaking social chaos, despite quarantine measures.

The experience provides essential clues to how people behave in such crises, Lancet Infectious Diseases reports.

In the game, there was a real diversity of response from the players to the threat of infection, similar to those seen in real life. Some acted selflessly, rushing to the aid of other characters even though that meant they risked infection themselves.Others fled infected cities in an attempt to save themselves.

Read in full - 'Virtual game is a 'disease model''


Are virtual worlds perfect for studying humans?

NewScientist Tech asks whether virtual worlds are perfect for studying humans. They write that:

Fortunately, in the real world, it's pretty hard to overthrow a democracy and introduce a totalitarian regime, just to see what happens. Likewise, you can't mess with the rules of kinship or the rate of inflation on a whim.

But that's not to say sociologists, anthropologists and economists wouldn't like to try. And that's why the rapid growth of virtual worlds, from Second Life to World of Warcraft (see image, left), is such an exciting prospect for researchers in these fields. For those who normally have to rely on time-consuming fieldwork, small-scale laboratory experiments, or the lessons of history, virtual worlds offer the tantalising prospect of a real sociological laboratory.

Read more at - 'Virtual worlds: Perfect for studying humans?'

More 'virtual' China

In this interesting article - 'Uncertain Reality, Uncertain virtuality' - it talks about China Tracy, an 29 year-old alternative female artist, from Guangzhou, China, who made a Second Life documentary, and who was also invited by iCommons to give a lecture on iSummit this year in June. The above site link takes you to both the lecture and to watch the whole film.

More about making a virtual living, regardless of actual physical location...

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Future of the Workplace

Yes its back - the next 'paperless office' hype... so lets listen to the story: ABC News is running an article titled 'The Future of the Workplace: No Office, Headquarters in Cyberspace' which looks at the emerging cyber-workspace:

Imagine a work world with no commute, no corporate headquarters and perhaps not even an office in the physical world at all. For Bob Flavin, a computer scientist at IBM; Janet Hoffman, an executive at a management consulting firm; and Joseph Jaffe, a marketing entrepreneur, the future is already here.

Imagine a work world with no commute, no corporate headquarters and perhaps not even an office in the physical world at all.

For Bob Flavin, a computer scientist at IBM; Janet Hoffman, an executive at a management consulting firm; and Joseph Jaffe, a marketing entrepreneur, the future is already here...In the future, more companies with scattered work forces and clients may do what the marketing firm Crayon is doing: making its headquarters in cyberspace.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Direct Brain-to-Game Interface

Wired reports in 'Direct Brain-to-Game Interface' how the consumer gaming world of 2008 will see several makers of brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) offload their new devices that allow a user to operate a computer by thought alone. This technology, they claim, is now ready to 'jump' from the medical sector into the commercial realm (something 'new-mobilities' has discussed previously:

Consumer BCIs use noninvasive electroencephalogram (EEG) sensors attached to the scalp to detect brain-wave patterns. The signals are amplified and digitized, so a computer can process the information. BCIs can allow game players to move around and manipulate objects within virtual game environments, using thought alone. They can also detect and monitor the brain-wave patterns associated with a person's emotional state and stress levels. The technology (both implanted and noninvasive versions) has been successfully tested in quadriplegics, helping patients move a cursor on a computer screen, turn switches on and off, and operate a wheelchair.

But when it's used for sheer entertainment, scientists worry that gamers will experience the effects of neurofeedback -- a technique used to heighten awareness and control of brain waves by providing a real-time graphic representation of the user's brain wave activity. Biofeedback works similarly, using physiological information such as blood pressure, skin temperature and heart rate.


Digital Planet: Robovehicles 3 Sep 07

The latest podcast from Digital Planet looks at the rise of Robovehicles:

Autonomous boats take to the seas. Robotic cars take samples in dangerous terrains. Hi-tech gadgets, developed for airplanes, are now adapted for motorbikes

Download here

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Mobiles to become digital wallets

BBCNews reports in 'Mobiles to become digital wallets' that the UK's big five mobile phone firms have now 'switched on' a payment system that turns handsets into digital wallets. Well, its been on the cards for a while...

Called PayForIt, the scheme is designed for those buying goods and services with a value of up to £10. The industry hopes it will be used to pay for ringtones, train tickets, parking fees and eventually as a payment system on web shops and sites.
Any cash spent via the scheme will automatically be added on to a customer's phone bill.

The scheme standardises the way phones can be used to make payments so the process is the same no matter which operator a customer has signed up for or which handset they are using.

Anyone paying for goods with PayForIt will see an information screen that lays out what they have bought, who it has been bought from and how much it will cost...PayForIt will appear as a payment option on sites that people can get to via their handset and soon will also appear as a way to pay on websites too, said Mr Short.


Monday, September 03, 2007

Too much high-tech mobility?

CNet has just posted 'Are drivers ready for high-tech onslaught?' which asks whether the coming high-tech cars of 2008 might just be too confusing for some drivers, or too automated for the driver's liking:

Self-parking, auto-braking, always-connected cars will soon be the norm as James Bond-like high-tech gear trickles down from luxury models to budget rides in 2008.

On tap from BMW, Mercedes, GM, Lexus and others are a wide range of high-tech navigation systems, parking assistance features, touch-screen displays, Bluetooth communications and other developments, as human control of mundane--and not-so mundane--systems is being rapidly ceded to automation. But without one's own personal Q to explain how each gadget works, how much new tech is too much for the average consumer to handle?

"A lot of it is beneficial...But it can be confusing and in the automobile, that's a safety threat," said Don Norman...Norman and others say automakers have their work cut out for them in teaching drivers how to best use these new tools. And then there's the user interface: Forget about familiar personal computer-like displays. Many advanced systems being placed in cars require no-peek coordination.

The more difficult task might be convincing people that a computer can read a map, place phone calls, apply brakes, mind the blind spot, stay in the right lane and maintain a safe driving distance from the next car better than the average driver...

...In a Telematics Research Group review (PDF) of 2008 car models, 70 percent have voice-activated Bluetooth communication capability and 80 percent offer navigation systems as either options or standard equipment.


Saturday, September 01, 2007

City Dwellers Live Longer, Save More by Driving Less

Worldchanging has something interesting to say about city slickers living longer because, as in the example of New York, they are made to 'keep-moving' and walk more! The post says that:

New York City's life expectancy is increasing at a faster rate than in other parts of the country; in 2004 alone, New Yorkers gained five months of life on average, far outpacing the national average increase of a month or two a year.

What accounts for this longevity?

...researchers believe that New York City residents may simply be healthier than other Americans, in large part because -- unlike many other Americans -- they walk almost everywhere. As New York Magazine notes,

New York is literally designed to force people to walk, to climb stairs -- and to do it quickly. Driving in the city is maddening, pushing us onto the sidewalks and up and down the stairs to the subways. What's more, our social contract dictates that you should move your ass when you're on the sidewalk, so as not to annoy your fellow walkers.

Read in full - 'City Dwellers Live Longer, Save More by Driving Less'