From how developers use data technology to hasten urban planning improvements to how they power the Internet of Things, these five innovations and discoveries could change cities very quickly. So grab your smartphone and get ready.
Finding out what citizens think is a top priority for cities that embrace the transparent government trend. That’s especially true when it comes to decisions that affect development, transportation and services. The city of Santa Monica, Calif., has found a way to fuel rapid citizen engagement with CitySwipe, the Tinder for urban planners. Using images to express planning ideas the city is considering, residents swipe their choice of a binary response such as “This” or “That” to questions like, “Which would you prefer to have Donwtown?”
Invented by an aspiring firefighter recuperating from injury in a Portland, Ore., homeless shelter, NoAppFee is a platform that saves money, time and frustration by reducing duplicative housing applications and fees. The online platform is the E-Harmony of rental housing because it takes initial applications via the set-up of renters’ profiles, and conducts necessary background checks in matching prospective renters with properties. Portland, Ore., has partnered with the developer, Tyrone Poole, and pending partnerships with King County, Wash., and the state of Georgia are reportedly in the works.
Velodyne’s light direction and ranging system (Lidar) brings the mapping required for autonomous transportation down to a scale and price that might work for mass production. Using a spinning array of lasers, Velodyne’s “puck” products take data in 360 degree motion to develop an accurate 3D model of its surroundings. This robotic echolocation-like tool produces a rapid, real-time view of objects like cars and street signs, but also foliage and power lines, according to CNET’s Road Show blog. A “smart detection algorithm” adjusts processing based on previous hits, which means the device is self-learning. Partnering with Efficient Power Conversion, the companies are working on producing a 4mm unit that costs about $50.
A hand-held device developed by Canadian university researchers could revolutionize public health because it can — in seconds — figure out if there is antibiotic resistant bacteria contained in a fleck of spittle. This real-life “tricorder” could hasten better medical response, and shorten the life of persistent human illnesses. The device uses three detection methods to eliminate ambiguity, according to the researchers. In the natalcare unit, a device like this could prove invaluable in saving new lives, and with the adult population, getting people feeling better sooner so they can back to life and work.
This might be the hardest to visualize the benefits of, but single-wire batteries and batteries that transfer power over a single surface — changes the smart cities game completely. Building on Nikola Tesla’s work transmitting electricity through earth, Canadian researchers figured out how to power over one wire — or one surface — to makes batteries so tiny, developers can now push the envelope on sensor and other technologies. Technology has always been limited by two wires, the researchers noted.
The ground-breaking power transfer discovery could make industries like resources extraction and agriculture far more efficient because they would transmit power through earth, just like Tesla theorized. The single wire battery is also the Tesla of today because it could energize consumer, home and city sensor-based devices in unprecedented ways. The world where a person can leave a cellphone on a table that will charge the battery upon contact and stop traffic for a loose pet or child is almost here.