Week 115 – robot stories, conversations and more


I will be experimenting with the format of this newsletter a bit. In this introduction I limit myself to an introduction, and dive into the collected news items right away. Impressions from last week are mixed in.

Like every week, I collect some robot-stories. In the broadest sense of the word: automated processes to human-like robots. This week the focus is on the enhanced products and industrial processes.

Also on the relations – or better – conversations, we will have. How to design these? Also interesting to combine this with the insights on social sidetones to add in the conversation mix too. And how will this find its place when we will have telepresence devices. Combine this with the disconnection of reality and zoomed-faces and brainlike computers. A deep reflection in the essay on magic and the machine seems to be the right round up.

Next to this, some more practical and physical installments. Printed wifi is very interesting. The Samsonite meets Project Jacquard feels like missed opportunities. Will Apple be able to create the right mixed reality?

To end this week’s round up; two fun projects; a strange vehicle and weird building.

AI Is Throwing Battery Development Into Overdrive
I am totally into the notion that AI (or ML) is not useful only and first to replace human behavior or take a role in any human-driven activity. Better optimize things like battery development.
With some real benefits: “Unleashing AI on battery development is good news for a warming world. Battery storage is a key factor in increasing the amount of renewable energy on the grid, and when it comes to decarbonizing our energy supply, time is of the essence.”
Adobe brings more AI-powered tools to Photoshop and Premiere Elements 2021
Another example of tool-enhancing AI application.“A new Guided Edit will help you create perfect landscape images.”
Adidas Futurecraft.Strung reinvents how running shoes are made
Adidas Futurecraft.Strung reinvents how running shoes are made
The shoes look very original, with a specific signature so to say. But scroll also to the machine, that is really nice expressing a lot of the activity. And I cannot help to associate it with the Westworld man-making machines. Or is that just me?
Conversational Design and Digital Assistants
This is a common topic in conversational interfaces for some time. But with an interesting take: “Using child language to improve the UX of conversational design within the context of VUIs and digital assistants.”
Social software needs to be designed with social sidetone
A nice concept: social sidetone; recreate the feeling that someone is really in the same room when having a remote conversation.
newme is an tele-presence avatar robot by japan's largest airline
newme is an tele-presence avatar robot by japan’s largest airline
In times of working from home, these telepresence avatar bots are becoming more and more relevant. With this kind of rhetoric: “the goal of ANA’s newme robot is to eliminate the barriers of physical distance to make remote communication more valuable and to allow everyone to share experiences more democratically.”
Inventing Virtual Meetings of Tomorrow with NVIDIA AI Research
Inventing Virtual Meetings of Tomorrow with NVIDIA AI Research
Interesting technology: “New AI breakthroughs in NVIDIA Maxine, cloud-native video streaming AI SDK, slash bandwidth use while making it possible to re-animate faces.”  Presented as a solution to deal with low bandwidth, but you can think further; what can you add more in the step between low and high bandwidth images?
Neuronlike circuits bring brainlike computers a step closer
“Artificial brains are far in the future, but computer chips that work like brains could keep computers advancing when today’s silicon transistor chips reach their limit.”The ultimate human-machine merge?
Magic and the Machine
The candidate for the interesting longread-that-I-did-not-managed-to-read-yet goes to this article. Interesting premise: “Reflecting on our undying urge to recreate a primal experience of intimacy with the surrounding world, David Abram offers notes on technology and animism in an age of ecological wipeout.”
Printed Wi-Fi
“3D Printing Wireless Sensors Without Electronics” is a very nice promise and the examples are playful.
Samsonite’s Konnect-i is the most affordable Google Jacquard backpack
I keep following project Jacquard from Google as I was a bit more focused on haptics a couple of years ago. If I understand well, this application is again just a remote control. A bit disappointing to me. “Samsonite has unveiled its Konnect-i backpack with Google Jacquard touch-sensitive fabric integrated into its left shoulder strap.”
Apple’s Next Big Thing Is…. Mixed Reality
New Apple events area happening so the speculations are getting wild as ever. I think that the premises that mixed reality are the next big thing is true and also not true as the next thing; it is already here for quite some time. Nevertheless, the way it will be unlocked, the interfaces, are still in development. Glass can be, but AR audio-cues or other forms are possible too. I expect maybe a hunch more than an introduction. The developers and creators need to be ready for making compelling services to make it a success. Apple wants to wait for that I guess and tickles everyone first. 
hyundai unveils new horizons studio specialized in developing transformer-like vehicles
hyundai unveils new horizons studio specialized in developing transformer-like vehicles
Weird. Interesting. Sure. Some of the thoughts with this new type of vehicle. Is it solving a problem? Limited use cases of course. And will it be able to jump? 
raffles city chongqing by safdie architects documented in new images
raffles city chongqing by safdie architects documented in new images
A bit off-topic for this newsletter, but I like this crazy architecture coming from China that at the same time has only a shock and awe effect without lasting design qualities…

I wrote some impressions from TNW 2020 as input for an article on INFO website. Check all my impressions here. Last week I hopped in some sessions at Dutch Media Week, mainly to check out the approach they took. Same for Emerce Eday. It is all valuable input for the ThingsCon online conference (festival) we are planning for December. Next week more on that!

The Next Web 2020: our impressions
The Next Web 2020: our impressions
Of course, INFO attended the digital edition of The Next Web 2020. In this blog, we share our experiences and our opinion on this edition of TNW.
Impressions TNW 2020
Just like the last 13 years or so, I visited The Next Web conference. This year it took place in online space and that made the experience kind of different. To contribute to a report on the conference by INFO together with some of my colleagues, I collected my impressions. I share them here without…

Let me announce some events already for next week. Next week on October 21 we will organize a second deeper dive into the trust for things, Read more on the ThingsCon website. That trust for connected products is important was nicely laid-out in this thread.

I also like to point you to the Ph.D. defense of Dries DeRoeck, fellow organizer of ThingsCon. His research is all about ideating hybrid product services systems.

And next week will be Dutch Design Week. It was to be expected: it will be all online, at least some of the program will be continued. CLICKNL Drive Festival will be hybrid and I will be joining the session on mobility on Monday.

To close; the coming week I will pay special attention to the Apple announcements on Tuesday. At TU Delft we will discuss the different mobility research activities, and I am looking forward to seeing the progress of student projects on designing with predictive knowledge and Cities of Things.

Stay healthy!

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I am a design director at Structural. I curate and organize ThingsCon Netherlands and I am chairman of the Cities of Things Foundation. Before I was innovation and strategy director at tech and innovation agency INFO, visiting researcher and lab director at the Delft University of Technology coordinating Cities of Things Delft Design Lab.

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