Tag Archives: technology

New York tops the latest Innovation Cities Index


New York tops the 12th annual list of the world’s most innovative cities, compiled by 2thinknow. The Big Apple leapfrogged last year’s leaders, Tokyo, London and San Francisco.

 2thinknow said New York had embraced a “more human and sustainable lifestyle, start-up economy and new smart technologies” and was the winner despite Tokyo’s tech edge in burgeoning fields like robotics. New York’s Hudson Yards development and High Line park are symbols of how the city is managing to forge “a new way in innovation”, according to the analysts. 2thinknow said New York had embraced a “more human and sustainable lifestyle, start-up economy and new smart technologies” and was the winner despite Tokyo’s tech edge in burgeoning fields like robotics.

 The Innovation Cities Index aims to measure the development of innovation economies globally. It is based on what 2thinknow defines as the three preconditions for innovation: cultural assets, human infrastructure and networked markets. 500 cities are benchmarked for the annual report, from 2thinknow’s City Benchmarking Data set of over 2,000 cities. 2thinknow scores cities on 162 indicators, including start-up economy, 13 mobility indicators, sustainability, neighbourhoods and technology, among others.

 The top 10 New York, Tokyo, London, Los Angeles, Singapore, Paris, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, San Jose, Toronto, Movers and shakers For the first time, 11 of the top 20 cities in the Index are in the United States.

 “What really surprised us this year was a United States bounce-back at the top of the league,” said Christopher Hire, Director of 2thinknow. “However, there were quite dramatic movements by cities up and down all across the USA, and globally as well – highlighting strong volatility and shortening the time window for commercialising new ideas.

 ” The remainder of the cities are in Europe and Asia. Singapore came in at number five thanks to its strong tech, mobility and infrastructure improvements. Paris follows at six, due to its recent rail refurbishment programmes and start-up sector, which 2thinknow said are “a symbol of some resurgent French innovation”.

Los Angeles’ strong entertainment and tech sector saw it climb one place to fourth position. Chicago entered the top ten for the first time, noted for its burgeoning start-ups, innovation seeding across many industries, a sustainable food scene and top-ranked universities. Boston, meanwhile, has remained in the global top ten every year the ranking has been published. Detroit moved up 25 places, which 2thinknow put down to the mobility sector becoming more important to the global economy.

 Detroit moved up 25 places, which 2thinknow put down to the mobility sector becoming more important to the global economy. Other US cities moving up more than 25 places included Louisville (Kentucky), Dayton (Ohio) and San Antonio (Texas). UK’s hidden gems, Africa’s rising tide In Asia, despite the trade dispute, Chinese cities Shenzhen (53) and Beijing (up 11 places to 26) both rose for innovation. Jakarta (119) rose 58 places based on its start-up sector, growth and new reforms. Predictably, London dominates the UK rankings but several other cities stand out too, including Birmingham (up 23 places), Nottingham (up 44 places) and Newcastle (up 19 places).

 In Europe, German cities are led by Berlin (12), followed by Munich (27, down 6 places) and Hamburg (46). Barcelona regained its long-term innovation status, rising to 21st globally, ahead of Madrid in 28th place. In Australia, Melbourne (11) became the top city in Australia, beating Sydney (15) for the first time in the list. Although African cities continue to be among the lowest-ranked, there are signs of a “rising tide”. The average ranking of top African cities rose two per cent. Keeping up “Our Index is designed to measure innovation conditions and often predicts rising cities before other rankings. It is up to the city whether they can keep on top of the latest trends and exploit their innovation potential [on an ongoing basis]. Cities that place well every year do that, which is not as simple as it sounds for urban areas to adapt and transform,” said Hire.

 Source: Sarah Wray-Smart Cities World

Li-Fi; Lightbulb moment brings high-speed Internet

Super-fast internet delivered via beams of light instead of crowded wi-fi signals could revolutionise how Londoners get online, its inventor said today.

Li-Fi uses ordinary LED lights to transmit data wirelessly around the home, but Professor Harald Haas said it would be possible to harness the power of the video billboards at Piccadilly Circus and turn them into a giant router.

The speed of the new technology would vary between one and 100 megabits per second and Professor Haas said the highest speed would enable an HD movie to be downloaded “in a few seconds”. The system works by fixing a microchip to a LED lightbulb, causing it to flicker millions of times a second. This creates a rapid stream of binary code, invisible to the human eye, which feeds into an web provider to bring users online via a dongle attached to their computer.

Professor Haas said Li-Fi could provide internet speeds many times faster than currently received because of the multitude of light sources in London, including street lamps and even car headlights. He said it could revolutionise internet access for Tube passengers who would be able to get online even in tunnels, because of the light source in carriages. Li-Fi is also said to be more secure because light cannot travel through walls.

Light fantastic: Professor Haas’s Li-Fi

Professor Haas said: “In London, the problem is there are too many people in a too confined space and everyone wants a share of the bandwidth, which is very limited. We have lights on the Tube and in shopping malls and all these lights could provide 10,000 times more capacity than we have with wi-fi. It’s a matter of using a big resource that is free for data communication.

“You could equip London’s street lights with Li-Fi, you can have it on the Underground and the airport. Piccadilly Circus is made of LEDs and these LEDs are the devices you use for Li-Fi.”

In a TED talk, Professor Haas, chairman of mobile communications at the University of Edinburgh, demonstrated how HD video could be streamed via a desk lamp, but cut off when a hand is placed across the light stream.

He said Li-Fi would play a key part in the powering the internet of things, connecting appliances to the internet, and could even cut energy bills.

Source: London Evening Standard

Volvo Cars to develop next generation automotive technologies with Microsoft


Volvo Cars, the premium car maker, will work together with Microsoft, the leading platform and productivity company, to jointly develop next generation automotive technologies.

 The two companies today revealed how Microsoft HoloLens, the world’s first fully untethered holographic computer, might be used in future to redefine how customers first encounter and explore a car, as well as how cars might be bought and sold in future.

 Areas of future collaboration between the two companies could include autonomous driving technologies and the utilisation of data generated from connected cars to create new services.

Today’s HoloLens demonstration was conducted at Microsoft’s global headquarters in Redmond, USA, and showed how mixed reality might be used by customers to configure cars in three dimensions. With HoloLens, a powerful, wearable computer, holograms are mixed into the physical world.

“HoloLens offers the freedom to create a bespoke experience which customers can steer themselves. Imagine using mixed reality to choose the type of car you want – to explore the colours, rims, or get a better understanding of the features, services and options available,” said Björn Annwall, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Sales and Service at Volvo Cars.

 He added HoloLens technology might also liberate dealers from more traditional sales environments and allow them to take a car configurator out on the road in small Pop-Up stores, shopping malls or on the high street, opening up new sales channels and introducing cars to a far larger potential audience.

 At the HoloLens demonstration today, participating journalists were also given a mixed reality preview of Volvo’s new S90 premium sedan, which will be unveiled in reality at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.

 Today’s event offered an indication of the potential of mixed reality to transform the relationship between the customer and the car. Journalists were able to experience Volvo’s new sedan and its latest autonomous driving technology in 3D before the car has even been built and launched.

 “We are thrilled to be working with Volvo Cars to reimagine what is possible in car design, discovery and purchasing. We are excited to be at this intersection of technology and human-centric design with Volvo,” Scott Erickson, Senior Director, Microsoft HoloLens at Microsoft Corp.

 Today’s demonstration marks the beginning of longer term cooperation between Volvo and Microsoft that will embrace a range of new technologies, all of which have implications for the automotive industry.

 One area of focus will be autonomous driving. Volvo Cars is a pioneer in car safety and is leading the way when it comes to connected cars and autonomous driving. It has announced a programme called Drive-Me in which 100 self-driving and connected cars will be given to real customers on real roads around the Swedish city of Gothenburg by 2017, the world’s largest autonomous driving experiment.

 Other areas of cooperation are expected to include how information gathered by cars and their drivers can be used to enhance the driving experience and the possibility of using predictive analytics to improve safety.

 “We are extremely happy to innovate with Microsoft in the field of future mobility,” said Klas Bendrik, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Volvo Cars. “Today’s technology will allow us to achieve not only a more sustainable and crash-free future but also new benefits for our customers and society. Together with Microsoft we aim to pioneer in this field.”

Source: Vovo

Apple fights back against Siri driver distraction critics

Apple has issued a statement in the Wall Street journal criticizing a study conducted by the University of Utah for the American Automobile Association in October that rated Apple’s Siri (and other naturalistic voice-command virtual assistants by proxy) as “the most” distracting in-car task compared to just driving, adjusting the car’s radio or temperature, or using built-in car navigation or infotainment systems. In its response, Apple points out some serious flaws in the study, including the fact that it deliberately avoided using the driving-specific Siri Eyes Free or CarPlay options.


The study rated driver tasks that used built-in systems such as adjusting the radio, but compared voice systems by having drivers hold the smartphone and use the phone’s native voice assistant (Siri was the only tested system of this nature, but was intended as a “stand-in” for others like Microsoft’s Cortana on Windows 8 phones). The method used to test only voice-assistant smartphone use is patently illegal in many states, and ignored any built-in car integration with Siri or other systems.

The revelation would seem to confirm early criticism of the study that AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety, which paid for the study, has a long history of being opposed to any form of driver distraction at all, going back to the introduction of car audio systems — and that it deliberately slanted the latest study to ignore the safety recommendations of voice-assistant makers like Apple and paint the technology in the worst possible light.

“CarPlay and Siri Eyes Free intuitively use your vehicle’s native controls, so you don’t need to pick-up and look at your phone while driving,” Apple said in its response to the Wall Street Journal, which broke the original story. “These experiences are tailored so you only have access to iPhone apps that are optimized for the car and make sense for an in-vehicle experience.”

Apple’s statement did not challenge, however, the overall conclusion found in a number of studies that natural-voice systems can be distracting. Because Cortana, Google Now, Siri and other natural-voice programs can often misunderstand drivers and be difficult to correct, the more primitive limited-voice command systems can actually be more reliable, though they generally have a far more limited range of abilities.

That said, studies outside the AAA one found that voice command of infotainment systems is generally safer than operating controls manually — the opposite of the AAA study. Anything other than silent concentration on driving alone — even just listening to music — is considered more distracting, but the issue becomes a question of degree. While there is little disagreement that voice-control assistants could be and likely will be made more reliable going forward, the AAA FTS study appears to be nearly worthless, since it did not test voice assistants when they are integrated into the car’s existing systems — a factor that could make a major difference on how distracting the system is.

SBD’s groundbreaking Connected Car Usability Benchmarking USA study challenges industry preconceptions of what drivers need and how the connected car experience should be enabled. The study was conducted in partnership with Morpace, a leading specialist in consumer research, and included expert and consumer testing of systems offered by Chrysler, Honda, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Tesla. More details here or contact SBD through info@sbd.co.uk

Source: MacNN via Telematics News

SK Telecom Starts Pilot Operation of IoT-based Fish Farm Management System

  • Implements a smart eel farm management system based on IoT technologies for the first time in the nation
  • Utilizes a near field communications technology to observe key indicators including water temperature, quality, and dissolved oxygen and enables farmers to use their smartphones for real-time monitoring and systematic management of the farms
  • Aims to commercialize the fish farm management system in the first half of 2015 and expand the project to other species of fish
  • Expects to enhance national competitiveness and revitalize local economies through the use of ICT in traditional industries


SK Telecom (NYSE:SKM) today announced that the company will implement an IoT (Internet of Things)-based fish farm management system (hereinafter, the management system) at an eel farm in Gochang, North Jeolla Province, and start a pilot operation for system validation on September 1.

SK Telecom, together with BD Inc., is developing the management system which will improve the current farm management process with the help of IoT technologies based on wireless sensor networks and enable farmers to remotely monitor their fish tanks in real-time through smart devices including smartphone.

In general, each eel farm has twenty to sixty water tanks, each measuring 6m in diameter. Eel farming is a high value-added business, but the farming requires farmers to arrange human resources to manually observe several indicators of each tank all the time including water temperature, dissolved oxygen and pH (every two hours and six hours for the young fish and grown ones respectively) as even minor changes in the environment such as a sudden temperature change, oxygen deficiency or water pollution are fatal to eels.

Under the IoT-based fish farm management system, three sensors are installed on each fish tank to measure water temperature, quality and oxygen level. Then, a water quality monitoring equipment will digitize and display the data from the sensors and send them to ‘SUN (Smart Utility Network)’, a new near field communications technology, so that Gateway can collect and transmit them using LTE networks to Mobius, an open ‘IoT’ platform of SK Telecom. Mobius will then send the data again to a fish tank management server for analysis and finally the users can check the tank status on the smartphones.

The data flow through IoT Gateway to SK Telecom’s open IoT platform which will then analyze the data and send status check results to the farmers’ smartphones in real-time.

If any abnormality is found, even in the middle of the night, the management system sends alarm messages to the farmers on their smartphones so that they can swiftly respond, thereby ensuring stable and efficient farm management.

In addition, when the user inputs data such as the volume of feed or shipment, the system makes analysis of the data to provide meaningful statistics and comprehensive information on the fish growth.

Providing the real-time monitoring feature and optimal information on fish farming, the management system is expected to enhance productivity of farming business while bringing revolutionary change to the farm management process by enabling farmers to manage risk factors simply with their smartphones.

Meanwhile, the smart farm management project is partly funded by the government as it was selected as a public-private partnership technology project by SMBA (Small and Medium Business Administration) last July.

SK Telecom aims to commercialize the IoT-based fish farm management system in the first half of next year. After applying the system to about 450 eel farms across the nation, the company plans to expand the project to different species of fish.

Also, SK Telecom plans to enter overseas markets including Japan and China with this project based on its know-how and knowledge earned in Korea. In particular, a set of technologies used to implement the smart fish farm can also be widely applied to agriculture and livestock farming.

Choi Jin-Sung, Executive Vice President and Head of ICT R&D Division at SK Telecom, said, “In a new era where all things are digitally connected, ICT, including IoT, can raise productivity and bring innovation to traditional industries. SK Telecom is committed to using the company’s leading technological edge to enhance national competitiveness and revitalize local economies”.

Source: SK Telecom

Google buys firm behind spoon for Parkinson’s patients

Google has bought a biotech company that has developed a spoon designed to make life easier for people with diseases such as Parkinson’s.

It is part of its ambitious foray into health technology, spurred in part by the personal interest of co-founder Sergey Brin.

Last year, Google became the main investor in Calico, a firm dedicated to developing medicines to extend life.

Latest acquisition Lift Labs will join Google’s research division Google X.

The spoon developed by Lift Labs is equipped with sensors that detect tremors and cancels them out by as much as 70%, according to the firm.

The technology it uses is similar to image stabilisation features in cameras that compensate for shaky hands when taking a photo._77522925_77522924

The firms announced the deal on the search giant’s social network Google+ but did not reveal the financial terms.

“Today we’re welcoming the Lift Labs team into Google X. Their tremor-cancelling device could improve quality of life for millions of people,” said Google.

For its part, Lift Labs wrote: “Google will enable us to reach even more people living with Parkinson’s or essential tremor who could benefit from using tremor-cancelling devices every day.”

Google is gradually increasing its health portfolio. In January it unveiled its smart contact lenses that measure glucose levels in tears to help monitor people with conditions such as diabetes.

And in July it announced an ambitious science project – Basline Study – to collect anonymous genetic and molecular information to create a picture of what a healthy human should be like.

For co-founder Sergey Brin the move into healthcare is a personal one. His mother developed Parkinson’s and, after gene testing, he found that he has a higher than average chance of getting the disease.

Meanwhile his fellow co-founder Larry Page, who suffers from a rare vocal cords problem, is interested in how big data can help solve some of the world’s most problematic diseases. He has made public his hope that people would overcome privacy fears to make their medical records available to researchers.

Google’s semi-secret research facility Google X was set up to work on cutting-edge technology. Other projects include Google’s driverless car, balloons to deliver broadband and Google Glass.

Source: BBC Technology

Sun bracelet measures UV exposure and sends warnings via bluetooth

French company Netatmo has developed a bracelet designed to protect you from the sun.

It is not sold in traditional jewellery shops – instead they are selling it through Apple Stores, and online.

The June device communicates via Bluetooth with your mobile device, to give alerts about how much sun you are being exposed to.

The BBC’s Dougal Shaw tried out the device during one of the hottest days in July (the 18th) in the UK – and kept a video diary.

He also met up with Raphaelle Raymond of Netatmo to quiz her about the device.


Source: BBC

Driverless cars get green light for testing on public roads in UK

Google's Driverless Cars

The UK is to encourage the development of driverless cars on its roads, it was announced on Wednesday, with a multimillion-pound research fund and a review into the relevant laws around road safety.

The business secretary, Vince Cable, said a £10m fund will be made available for driverless car researchers in the UK, joint funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Bis) and the Department for Transport (DfT).

“The excellence of our scientists and engineers has established the UK as pioneers in the development of driverless vehicles through pilot projects,” said Cable. “Today’s announcement will see driverless cars take to our streets in less than six months, putting us at the forefront of this transformational technology and opening up new opportunities for our economy and society.”

Fully autonomous and driver-equipped

The DfT will also kick off a review process of the laws governing road use, including the Highway Code and the Road Safety Act, to permit the testing of driverless cars on public roads, Cable said while visiting the technology and engineering company Mira in Nuneaton.

Two types of testing will be reviewed for public roads: fully autonomous cars without a driver, and those with a qualified driver who could take control at any time, similar to laws in the US where driverless cars have been tested on public roads since 2011 in some states.

The review process will conclude in a report submitted to government by the end of 2014, a spokesperson for DfT told the Guardian.

Research groups to apply for government money

The £10m fund will be governed by the UK’s innovation agency the Technology Strategy Board.

Interested local research institutions will be able to apply for funding by submitting a business case paired with a local city or authority as to why driverless cars are a viable transport solution in their area.

Three cities across the UK will be selected to host driverless car trials from next year, with each test to last between 18 and 36 months starting in January 2015. The deadline for driverless car research applications will be 1 October.

The fund was first announced by the chancellor, George Osborne, in December as part of the national infrastructure plan.

Google’s driverless cars hit headlines and the public consciousness in May, when the search giant announced a brand new bespoke prototype design.

‘A big leap of faith needed by drivers’

The UK has various groups already working on driverless car technology, including engineers at the University of Oxford and engineering firm Mira, which provides autonomous vehicle technology to the military and has been testing driverless cars on a 850 acre site in the Midlands.

“Today’s announcement takes us closer to seeing fully autonomous vehicles on our roads but it will take some time for them to become commonplace,” said Edmund King president of the AA.

“Cars are becoming more automated with the introduction of assistance systems to aid parking; keeping a safe distance from the car in front; or lane departure warning systems,” said David Bruce, director of AA Cars.

“However, there is a big leap of faith needed by drivers from embracing assistance systems to accepting the fully automated car. Two-thirds of AA members still enjoy driving too much to want a fully automated car,” Bruce said.

‘Britain brilliantly placed to lead the world’

“Driverless cars have huge potential to transform the UK’s transport network – they could improve safety, reduce congestion and lower emissions, particularly CO2,” said the transport minister, Claire Perry, who committed to the regulatory review of road law.

“Britain is brilliantly placed to lead the world in driverless technology,” said the science minister, Greg Clark. “It combines our strengths in cars, satellites, big data and urban design; with huge potential benefits for future jobs and for the consumer.”

Driverless cars are expected to begin being tested on public roads in 2015, although the DfT could not provide a timescale beyond report submission to the government by the end of 2014.

“This competition for funding has the potential to establish the UK as the global hub for the development and testing of driverless vehicles in real-world urban environments, helping to deepen our understanding of the impact on road users and wider society,” said Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board.

“The ability to test driverless cars at scale, when married to the UK’s unique strengths in transport technologies and urban planning, will also attract further investment, helping to establish new design and manufacturing supply chains, driving forward UK economic growth,” Gray said.

Dr Geoff Davis, chief commercial and technical officer of Mira said he welcomed the news.

“Our 10 years of experience developing driverless car solutions with successful applications in defence and security as well as cooperative systems in road transport applications means we are already working on a number of projects that explore the potential of connected and cooperative driverless cars,” Davis said.

Source: The Guardian

Jaguar Land Rover pioneers ‘self-learning’ vehicle technology

Cutting-edge technology is being pioneered by researchers at Jaguar Land Rover to develop a truly intelligent self-learning vehicle that will offer a completely personalised driving experience and help prevent accidents by reducing driver distraction.

Using the latest machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques, Jaguar Land Rover’s self-learning car will offer a comprehensive array of services to the driver, courtesy of a new learning algorithm that recognises who is in the car and learns their preferences and driving style. The software then applies this learning by using a range of variables including your calendar, the time of day, traffic conditions and the weather to predict driver behaviour and take over many of the daily driving ‘chores’, allowing the driver to concentrate on the road ahead.

The personalised experience would also not be limited to the car owned by the driver. If you hire an intelligent Jaguar or Land Rover in the future, the car will recognise the driver and passengers and offer them the same preferences learned by their vehicle at home.

Some of the features included in the Self-Learning Car concept:

Vehicle Personalisation – climate, seat, steering wheel, mirrors and infotainment settings.
Destination Prediction – automatic destination entry to navigation system based on historical usage.
Fuel Assist – suggests fuel stations which have the driver’s preferred brand and location, based on historical usage. The car will let you know if you have enough fuel before long journeys the day before you travel.
Predictive Phone Call – predicts who you are likely to call in a certain situation.
Passenger Awareness – will activate passenger preferred infotainment settings and personal climate zones.
Intelligent Notifications – based on traffic situation, the car can alert people that you will be late or provide relevant contextual updates such as flight delays on your drive to the airport.
Auto Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) – when AACC is activated, the car applies the distance setting and acceleration profile it has learned when the driver is driving the vehicle.

Source: JLR