Weeknotes 153; more mundane robotics and related

Dear subscribers, another slow holiday edition.

Or maybe not so slow at all… The number of meetings is less that is for sure, so more time to process the research on design (city)things with predictive knowledge. Started coding the results of the interviews with Atlas.ti, a new tool for me (thanks Kars), and expecting some learning curves there…

I listened in to two talks at the ‘Interactive Future Exhibition’, the yearly end presentations of the students of Interactive Media Design at hDa, one of our returning partners at ThingsCon. For obvious reasons the second year, I could check it out online.

First off was Simone Rebaudengo who is one of the most interesting designers combining the Things Centered Design insights in his design practice. But he also does a great job reflecting on it. Check out his little book Everything is Someone, also the title of the talk. He shared practical survival skills for design in the near future where everything is kind of someone. In short 3 skills:

  • Stop thinking of ‘users’
  • Find a way to experience the world from something else’s point of view
  • Think of the mundanity of the future of Everything

I will keep track if the presentation is shared, an earlier version of the talk can be found here, and last week I shared in this newsletter his thoughts on centaurs.

On Friday I also watched the talk by Paul Coulton and Michael Stead on designing sustainability. On defuturing-futures (beware of the future cone, as there is more than a preferable future to explore), avoid colonizing futures, and beware to live in the future; the present is the only place you can be actionable.

They end with three rights of AI Things inspired on the famous Asimov Robot Rules:

  1. Right to sustain its own existence as long as this action does not negatively impact upon Earth’s sustainability
  2. Right to sustain the existence of fellow AI-augmented Things as long as this action doe not conflict with its First Right
  3. Right to end its existence as long as this action does not negatively impact upon Earth’s sustainability and/or the existence of fellow AI-augmented Things.

I think that there is a clear connection between the two talks. And also in the work of Cities of Things Foundation.

Continue reading Weeknotes 153; more mundane robotics and related

Weeknotes 152; context aware human-tech

Happy holidays over there!? Getting quieter as excepted for the news here; and still is covid not gone even with more people vaccinated. Hope you all hold tight.

I keep the update short. Two graduation students are in the final stage of their project, two are starting up aiming for a serious start in September. I will refocus my activities from graduation mentoring to research cooperations, I project a max of 3 students in the second half of this year (from 5), and even less next year. I believe in the value of good and focused graduation projects for exploring the topics we like to address with Cities of Things, and build on collaborations with other labs inside and outside TU Delft. It was good to have a chat with Suzanne of Seamless Personal Mobility Lab. Find more on the developments of the Cities of Things knowledge hub on the website.

Last week I was able to check in with the ProductTank AMS session with speaker Teresa Torres who was sharing her views on continuous discovery. Always interesting to keep track of this more applied form of product design. I shared a twitter thread in the newsletter two weeks ago by Sebastian Deterding where he responded on a comparison of design lead vs business lead product development. It connects very well to this. Continuous discovery fits an approach of almost agile design and continuous improvement. New questions (for the field) of bringing in ethics are good to notice. It also feels that there might be a benefit to using the thinking of Thing Centered Design to change perspectives, something Teresa liked to stress too.

This week again not too many events to visit. Another Internet(s) of Everything session tomorrow is organized by the Billion Seconds Institute in partnership with Logic magazine. And even all podcasts are on vacation break. Time to finish some of the books I’m still reading… 🙂

Ok, let’s jump into the noticeable articles of last. To start with multiple ones on human-tech relations.

Continue reading Weeknotes 152; context aware human-tech

Weeknotes 151; horseless carriage robots

Hi all, thanks for reading and being subscribed (if not, feel warmly invited!)

I will not travel for vacation till half of August, so I keep posting these weekly updates, curious to see how much news there is happening. Personally, I will take some time to write up the research on predictive relations from the last year. The student projects at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences and the Delft University of Technology provide insights in shaping a design approach to predictive relations. So I hope to be able to share more end of summer.

Looking back at last week, let me first gratulate Meike Kuipers on her graduation on designing a handbook for the Seabubbles. This new autonomous sailing public transport will trigger a new form of booking and with that is in need for a different approach to the docks. Meike looked into this in the context of Drechtsteden area and did some nice simulations. Still, a lot to explore.

Also last week we had the workshop for Cities of Things AMS-MUC Creative Embassy with our German partners of Munich Urban Colab and municipalities. It was a fruitful exchange of ideas and getting to know possible German partners in the consortium. Thanks for hosting us!The last two things to mention here as an update from Cities of Things; for those interested, I updated the website to reflect more on the current activities of the foundation and the field labs. Next to that, I wrote the monthly newsletter on Cities of Things specifically. Subscribe to get in your email, or read it on the website.

As summer kicks in the number of events are quite low, almost non-existent. The ProductTank AMS is a meetup that is running for years, sometimes I attend to keep up with this community. Tonite there is one on continuous discovery strategies. So if you are into that, check it out.

Ok, let’s check out the news of last week.

Continue reading Weeknotes 151; horseless carriage robots

Weeknotes 150; subversive cities

These weeknotes are send as weekly newsletter via Revue.

Hi all. Thanks for subscribing and reading this newsletter! As every week a short update on noticeable things happened last week and looking into this week, with special attention on experiences from events I visited and calendar of possible events. And a short update on the work on Cities of Things.

To start with the latter, this has become rather a focus the last years and we found a good moment to make that initiative even stand more. We therefore established a foundation Cities of Things. Found more on our activities on the websites, and expect a lot more updates in the coming weeks; citiesofthings.nl/about.

The foundation is linked to research activities performed at TU Delft and the current students in the Delft Design Lab are one of the examples. This week Meike will graduate if all goes well, who worked on a Seabubbles-project with our partner Advier. Peicheng has set his graduation date to the 2nd of August and Yeonyu is about to plan her greenlight. Mohamed is shaping a new project with AMS.

As expected last week was occupied for a great part with MAB20, the Media Architecture Biennale that was postponed from 2020. I was part of the organizing team of a full-day workshop on Tuesday on Subversive Citizens Manual, and on Friday we organized a symposium on Cities of Things AMS-MUC field lab. I did a short introduction and Julia Christiansen introduced our partner the Munich Urban Colab. In a panel discussion with Euiyoung Kim of TU Delft, Marcel Schreuder of Springtime, and Marthijn Pool of Space&Matter we discussed the themes and approach of exploring cities of things and mobility challenges through a field lab and research through design approach.

This week we will do a workshop with a lot of Munich interested partners and hope to continue soon shaping the first projects together.

So far for this initiative. I also followed a couple of sessions at MAB20, like the keynote of Cameron Tonkinwise that focused on vision-led transition design and I really liked his framing of energy systems change by rethinking energy use to energy budgets. We need to rethink our mental models about energy. Not about kilowatts, but about use sessions per device. Interaction design for how to perceive energy; like your battery-indicator of your laptops depending on the energy available in your energy budget.

I agree with Kary Barnard on the discord chat: “Personally, what really struck me was the idea that even the smallest of interface design decisions can have a significant impact on our individual actions and have the power to change behavior for the future. Designers have a responsibility to think for the future, not just for easing the now.”

Also, the session on Public Digital Cultural Infrastructure had some great speakers and insights. On putting culture first and shaping cities starting from the streets (not the buildings), according to Dan Hill. But public space without people makes only sense in a legal sense, acc Sandi Hilal.

As always I missed more than I could see, but I hope to find time later to rewatch some sessions.

I did watch a view of the presentations of the DIS-conference on Social Robots, you can find them on Youtube, check first the program, otherwise, you drown in the playlist. And I joined an intimate session of the Billion Seconds Institute for members on energy that was on carbon impact mainly.

One thing to mention is the graduation reviews I did for AVANS in the beginning of the week. I was invited to join the team of teachers to experience the graduation work, that has a high level of installation vibes at AVANS. It was the first time I saw the graduation work so close and I liked the level for sure. Maybe I was lucky ;)

This week I do not have that much on my calendar. Primer21 Global would be interesting but does not fit my schedule, maybe yours. I will need some time though to read through these articles…

Read the articles captured from last week on robotics, and other intelligent things via the newsletter.

Weeknotes 149; mobility futures

Hi all, a bit shorter week, let’s quickly look at what has happened last week and will happen this week. You can feel that the holiday season is near leading to some final sprints.

First of all: congrats to Jip! He has successfully graduated last Friday with his project on mobihubs, and in a broader sense, new mobility systems in neighborhoods. A successful project for the company Advier and he will stay working. Well deserved. Peicheng had also his greenlight for graduating in a Month. No holidays there yet.

This week is dedicated (mainly) to MAB20, the Media Architecture Biennale that was planned to take place last year (20…). We had summited a workshop proposal back in 2019 on the Subversive Citizen Manual and tomorrow (today if you read this) it will take place. I hope to give you more insights on the results next week, or -if you have been registered- check MAB Live on Wednesday 15:00 CET. And on Friday we will have the MAB Cities of Things Symposium (11:30-13:00 CET).

I hope I can find some time to join some of the other sessions in the program, it looks really nice!For the news, I have the feeling that the holiday season is also kicking in, or it is just too little time to check of course.

Find the news articles of this week in the newsletter.

Weeknotes 148; authentic artificial life

Hi all! Thanks for opening and reading this newsletter. First apologies for the late sending; proposal deadlines on Monday do not happen that often…

That is also the short summary of last week as I was quite busy shaping a project for a proposal, which is very nice but always more work than planned. I hope we will do the project as it is a perfect fit for the goal of Cities of Things. Which is now officially a foundation by the way. I have been shifting my activities towards this topic for the last few years and with the setting up of the field lab and now shaping this project in Rotterdam, it is not only research in the context of TU Delft.

So maybe nice to give an impression of what it entails by the activities of last week:

  • I have still 5 graduation students working on related projects, some more on the topic than others (a special topic within the Cities of Things research is on the predictive relations, which can also be less related to the city as the graduation project of Peicheng for instance, who is redesigning a robot vacuum into a predictive companion).
  • Research linked is the workshop we are organizing with a diverse group of academics for MAB20 on Subversive Citizenship.
  • For the field lab Amsterdam-Munich we are planning a workshop on 8 July (find more information at Creative Holland website) and we have a symposium at the MAB20 conference on 2 July.
  • The proposal we submitted together with Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences for CityLab010. There is a short description on the website.
  • I was invited to share opinions for two Dutch publications; Tweewieler (video) and iBestuur/Automatiseringsgids(podcast).
  • For a special series of New European Bauhaus I shared on Cities of Things, and I joined a panel of Sensemakers AMS. It was interesting how citizenship and activism were connected as a means for improvement. What would that result into if we have the lens of things as citizens; what will things activism look like?

Luckily not every week is like this… :-)

This week (the rest of it), will be also dedicated to preparations for the sessions and workshop of the next two weeks. Furthermore, Jip will have his graduation ceremony this Friday, looking forward. And Peicheng his greenlight on Thursday. We also started serious planning for this year’s ThingsCon (a bit later than usual, you can guess why), and we think we are up to an interesting hybrid format for this year, but we keep you posted as soon as we have shaped it further.

If you have time left to visit events online, I might have some interesting ones: NEXT Conference is having a session with Amy Webb the well-known Future Forecaster that I always visit at SXSW. On Friday afternoon you can choose between Dutch Digital Day (just like NEXT curated by Monique) or keynotes from the Low Carbon Design Institute.

Let me keep it to this for now. Diving into the news funny enough there is a theme for this week: authentic artificial life in robots and other newly added objects.

Find the links for this week in the newsletter.

Weeknotes 147; soft and cuddly robots

Hi all. This week I will do a short(er) update and collection of news as I have been busy with some proposal writing on top of the normal activities.

Last week I missed out on a lot but I did attend two sessions of the Low Carbon Design Institute (LoCDI), one with Rachel Jones of D-Ford, the innovation department of Ford who is doing research into urban mobility, and one with Ugo Vallauri of The Restart Project. To keep it short, one of the main take-aways for both their talks is that the impact of producing products on CO2 and the environment is much higher than the use on a general note. So enduring the lifetime of products is a good strategy for fighting climate change. I think it is interesting to think about the role of shifting functionality from the physical capabilities to the software embedded in hybrid product-service systems; in cars, the over the air updates are becoming more and more common, and you see for instance that services as Peerby stimulate the design of more durable (and with that more sharable) products. It is on the other hand counterproductive to block the possibility for repairing the devices we use most and are having huge impacts like our phones. I hope Apple will make this a priority next to cleaner production and the intentions of being good with privacy ruling. You can sign a petition on the right to repair in UK and Europe via The Repair Project.

Speaking on Apple. For those who missed the WWDC keynote, it was a bit as expected and predicted last week. No fireworks but a solid path to a focus on spatial technology both in concrete products as on the connection of the real world to the Apple ecosystem. The hottest demo was the of course the universal access that stresses the Apple ecosystem strategy.

For this week I might have a look at CogX as I got a free pass some time ago (judging all the promotion I think there might be more). On this Wednesday I am invited to reflect in a panel on the talk of Jessica Groopman at Sensemakers AMS, check out more information on the Meetup page.

Ok, let’s check for some of the news. First a personal share: I was interviewed for Tweewieler some time ago to reflect on the future of cargo bikes in 2050. The video series is now online, I am part of the last one, but the others are also interesting to watch if you are interested in mobility in the city.

Check the articles in the newsletter on Revue.

Weeknotes 145 – gazing robots

Hello all! Welcome to new subscribers. Let’s dive into a quick recap of last week and a look forward to this week, before checking out the most interesting news-bites.

Within the Delft Design Lab Cities of Things Jim graduated on his project everydAI (An AI assistant supporting balance between work and personal activities to increase wellbeing in the home office), very relevant in these times. Check out this short movie to see what he has built.

We also continued working on the field lab activities Amsterdam-Munich. We are planning a workshop for partners, and also organize a short symposium at MAB20 on 2 July. We also closed the submissions for the workshop we organize at the same conference on subversive city manual. We have cool submissions and already looking forward.

On a personal note; I got my Covid vaccination! With the Janssen version so only one injection is needed. Good to see that the speed of vaccinating here in the Netherlands is catching up. I hope we will reach a level that there is no need for individual passports with all its consequences, that we as a society as a whole are protected. We’ll see.

We are still in the mode of an online life, especially with events. This week is kind of crazy as it seems that ‘everyone’ is organising their events in this week. Just like last week, I probably will miss a lot. I plan to check out the online expo of STRP festival at least, hopefully also some of the special evenings. Dutch Technology Week is a new thing that I discovered last year when we were planning a ThingsCon event that did not happen. I need to check the program still. The Global Foresight Summit themed ‘Beyond Uncertainty’ is also happening. This session on Moral Machines organized by Iohanna and Filippo is very nice; I don’t know if there is still capacity. For Dutch speaking and media interested, there is a NPO Innovatie Festival on Thursday too (probably scratching the surface). If you are more into movies, check out the summer edition of IFFR, here in Rotterdam.

So no need to be bored :) I hope you still have some time left for reading. Here are some finds from last week. Let me also mention that I will publish this week a more reflective post on the Cities of Things newsletter. Feel invited to subscribe if you haven’t yet.

News from Google I/O, a Ford electric truck that is not positioned as a phone on wheels, but as a battery on wheels, and some interesting long-reads. Find the links in the newsletter.

Weeknotes 144; Showing off AR and chroma-key-chic.

Dear subscriber, As expected this email lands a bit later in your mailbox due to the public holiday yesterday. For the first time here? You might consider subscribing and receive this email around 18:00 CET on Mondays.

First a look back at last week as always. In general terms, especially living in Rotterdam, I did follow the excitement of Eurovision. I am not a fanatic follower but keep track of it, and this year the connection was much more. Even in the situation that the city was not a big party place due to covid of course. Apart from the music, more interesting is to see what is used of the current state of technology in an event with almost no budget limits and a lot of prestige. The stage design was impressive although not so much on the stage itself, even less than other years. It was mainly about huge screens with props, and the difference between being in the room and watching on TV was more than ever a big difference. Most striking there are the additional AR layers. We are getting used to AR-lenses of course in our favorite social apps, it was nice to see how it mixed with normal screens. 

In one song they used a more well-known technology: the green screen, which was used all the way (Greece). Nice was how the movies from people in the room became part of the experience, with green dancers and props moving around. So AR versus Chromakey-Chic I would almost say. It resembles the difference in apps like Snap and TikTok where chromakey is used as a kind of amateur technology for DIY in visual effects, while with AR it is part of the newest technology as with the lenses of Snap. They just announced more attention event to build on this technology and applications with the introduction of a developer-Spectacles (Snapchat AR glasses). In an interview in the podcast Sway CEO Evan Spiegel projects that mundane AR is a decade away. We will see how quickly Apple is ramping up here.

Furthermore, last week the usual mix of working with the master graduation students, both existing as possible new projects. We did a workshop with the first group of participating companies in the Cities of Things field lab. And we had the third session in Trust in IoT in the meetup with Eindhoven Internet of Things. And lots of other things.The rest of this week is pact with the usual mix of activities. Looking forward to Jim graduating (if all goes according to plan) on Thursday. I might check the inaugural lecture of Reint-Jan Renes this afternoon, and I probably will miss most of Dutch Innovations Days organized in Enschede and online. Wednesday evening the new One Seconds Institute is organizing a meetup with Space10 as a speaker which should be interesting. Also, a bit conflicting in my calendar but still aiming to check it, on designing cities for all.

Ok, so far, let’s jump to the news of the week. Find the links here.

Weeknotes 143; learning about reality by digital hypermapping

Hi all, good to see you here (again) at this weeknotes newsletter, my week in review: what got my attention in human-machine tech, cities, design, IoT, and other interests. Let me mention that I also write a monthly newsletter specifically linked to Cities of Things, covering one broader reflection per month. And if you can’t get enough, with the ThingsCon newsletter we keep you up to date with the activities we organize throughout the year, with a focus on the December event, but also Salons like the one this Thursday, and we are working on another idea, hope to share soon. 

Next to the weekly news capture (below), let’s start with a short review of the week. Outside and inside. As mentioned last week Jip has had his green light for his project and this means after Jim a second project is ending soon. Meike and Peicheng have passed the midterm, Yeonju will mark that moment this week. Together with AMS Institute a new project is commissioned and advertised and it is great to see multiple applications now. I am also speaking to three other (new) partners for projects so it will remain busy in the Delft Design Lab.

Last week I was also invited to two different settings to reflect on the future of cities and mobility, one for a podcast focused on IT organization and one video interview for professionals in bike retail. I will share the links as soon as they are up.

So what else happened last week?

Bitcoins and Elon Musk. Lots of rumors again. For a good reason, as many predict he almost looks like sorting for his own Tesla-coin. In a world of mesh-networks that generate the new platforms for (business) value Tesla is of course another party to be able to leverage on ubiquitous physical connected objects (see also my Cities of Things monthly newsletter on the Apple take here). Elon became rich with a payment system for digital services before of course, next to his kind of megalomania character, we can expect everything. Not sure if it will be a coin or more of a currency based on the blockchain principles powered by renewable energy from the Tesla grid. We will see.

In the meantime, I am building a backlog for watching online conference content these weeks. I might need a vacation to catch up. Or skip all Netflix and alike of course… Maybe you have the time for:

  • Uroboros 2021; a lot of intriguing sessions, like this one on cities as spacships, however, I’m not sure if I can keep up the attention with 1,5-hour panels
  • CHI academic conference; keynote by Ruha Benjamin was tipped this morning by TU Delft colleague
  • OZY fest; total different – I might try to listen to Gladwell, that is a long time ago, and Cuban
  • Do I want to build my own Arduino-based object recognition system? Let’s check this tutorial of Jan Jongboom

Or go to one of these events this week, and I might see you there (if I make it):

Ok, let’s check on other news captured. Learning by digital hypermapping the now and the past to understand the future.

Find the articles in the newsletter. I hope I did not add too much to read again. Luckily we will have a long weekend again (at least here in the Netherlands) with Whit Monday next week. I might publish this newsletter a bit later. Enjoy the week!