Weeknotes 124; dispersing into the new year

Happy new year! Maybe not the most cheerful year-turning ever. The turn of the year will not end the tough pandemic-winter period, and however, the vaccines offer some hope for the future, it will take some time to fully play out the new future… Nevertheless: happy new year.

It is a moment for reflection and making plans. One of the things I try to do every year is gathering some trends and trains of thought in the coming year. Check the post on my blog on the filtered reality and the popping of bubbles.

Last week I had a holiday break. I did some work on the plans for 2021 and ThingsCon administration, video-editing, and after-movie planning, but managed to keep tasks open for the new year too… ;)

Looking ahead: this week is about catching up with the students doing research, graduation projects, and selecting new projects (there are too many applying for projects now, which is nice, of course…), and looking into possible new educational links with Cities of Things at TU Delft.

No events yet this week on my list. Normally there are numerous new year drinks planned, some will be online, but it makes a lot of sense to skip them.

Capturing the news of this week, I could share many predictions, but I will take some time to filter the most relevant topics and see if I can make an overview later. For now, let’s check on some interesting robotics and more.

2021 Predictions & Person of the Year

The year of dispersion. Some share analysis of Scott Galloway as always. 

CES 2021 preview: 5 biggest trends to watch

One of the first indicators of tech focus in the new year is always CES. It broadens more and more beyond gadgets and consumer tech only, as tech is ubiquitous.

In this outlook, it is interesting to see how more practical applicable robots are mentioned.

Air travel sucks so here’s an alternative future

The weekly pick of the newsletter of Matt is about the change in air travel which resonates a lot:

“I have a completely unfounded hunch that self-driving yachts might provide much greater upside for AI than self-driving cars.”

China’s adaptive robot maker Flexiv raises over $100 million

Industrial robots typically are not so good at adapting. It is mainly automation what is happening, fixed processes are supported. This seems different:

“Conventional robotic arms can safely perform tasks when there are no barriers around, but they are less capable of operating in complicated environments… Many seemingly simple tasks such as washing dishes actually require a lot of AI-based recognition and decision-making power.”

How machines are changing the way companies talk

“Businesses are changing the words they use in order to appeal to AI analysts and traders who assess SEC regulatory filings.”

A nice example of how automated technology is not only adapting to us humans, but the nonhumans are making us adopt as well.

Not quite the Terminator, but ‘muscle-bound’ robots are coming for the Army, Marines

Not quite the Terminator, but ‘muscle-bound’ robots are coming for the Army, Marines

Apparently, we are still adapting the working of robots more and more to human design choices:

“Muscle tissue added to robots will give them “never before seen mobility and agility.”

VW Previews Adorable EV-Charging Autonomous Robot

I’m not sure; is this a solution to a problem (creating a more efficient charging flow) or a solution looking for a problem (with short charging cycles this is unnecessary)…

“VW Previews Adorable EV-Charging Autonomous Robot with digital eyes that drags battery packs around parking lots to charge EVs.”

Disney is creating robots that can do acrobatic flips in the air

Disney is creating robots that can do acrobatic flips in the air

robot stand-ins, and stunt doubles, it is an imaginable future. You could however think why this is better than CGI?

Do You Love Me?

Do You Love Me?

You have seen this, I’m sure. What is more interesting: the movie or the way people responded. 

Are caved robots our entertainment of the future, back to Roman times? 

3D-printing hollow structures with “xolography”

I do not do a close analysis of the 3D printing developments but I have the feeling that there is a silent revolution happening. More and more it becomes applicable to use for serious production, and it becomes more a normal production setup as a fancy new technology for specific use cases.

New Technology Improves Next-Generation Aqueous Flow Batteries

Keeping up with battery technology is key in looking into tech revolutions. Interesting ideas are frustrated by short ranges… 

“We presented a new technology to overcome the life limit of next-generation water-cell batteries. Not only is it cheaper than conventional lithium-ion batteries, but it can contribute to the expansion of renewable energy and the safe supply of energy storage systems that can run with more than 80 percent energy efficiency.”

If Apple is seriously considering producing a car, it is further evidence that Silicon Valley is…

A nice way to share the news on possible plans of Apple to produce a car. 

“If Apple is seriously considering producing a car, it is further evidence that Silicon Valley is interested only in capitalizing on the last century’s ideas, rather than genuinely addressing the idea of today and tomorrow”

How ’15-minute cities’ will change the way we socialize

The concept of the 15-minute-city explored again, also in relation to COVID now.

“The pandemic has caused us to think about how to move differently, to consume differently, to live differently,” he says. “We are discovering that by working differently we have more spare time, to have more time to be with our families or friends. We are discovering and appreciating our neighborhoods much more. This will make us all more engaged inhabitants.”

It’s time to make tech work for society, not the other way around

It’s time to make tech work for society, not the other way around

“In the Covid-19 era, we need the public to trust governments with their data. And that means trusting technology, too”

This sounds like a no-brainer but is important to re-establish often…

Creating a Culture of Innovation (an introduction)

Book tip. I liked to read it.

“It turned to the hype of innovation/research work and how companies create that hype with space, people, and outputs.” 

Draw all roads in any city at once

Draw all roads in any city at once

Some visual candy: “This website allows you to select a city and then draws every single road on a screen.”

So far for this first newsletter of the new year. I plan to keep up the rhythm of once a week, so have a good week!

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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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