Pivot to a Smart Urban Future
Over the last few years we have watched technology evolve from imagination to implementation. Jetson-esque flying cars and personal assistant robots no longer seem farfetched. Even Bladerunner’s futuristic video call is outdated at this point and it’s not even 2019!
Just this week, Uber announced their updated design plans for flying rideshare vehicles, co-developed by NASA, which they expect to be ready for commercial operations by 2023. Google Duplex’s recent AI phone system presentation also made headlines this week as the AI assistant scheduled appointments over the phone with “um’s” and “mhmm’s” that put the Turing test to shame.
The limits of our imagination have been challenged once again signifying an eminent disruption in our current framework. We call this period of transformation ‘the pivot’ as we believe that advancing technology solutions such as Blockchain, AI, AV’s, 5G, and AR/VR will alter the world as we know it with no turning back.
Paving the way with Autonomous Vehicles
Within the mobility sector, the anticipation of autonomous vehicles has taken the front seat as we drive into the future. While most conversations have focused on the safety and technology of AV’s, we believe that the integration of AV’s in our cities will be just as complex as cities themselves. While AV’s will change the way we transport people as well as goods, this next generation of mobility will have rippling effects on peripheral systems, ranging from cybersecurity to fast food. What will AV’s mean for the future of parking garages? These structures are often built on high value lots, but as AV’s park themselves in a much denser fashion, we may be able to reduce the number of existing lots dedicated to cars. What else could we use these structures for in the future? As for the physical streets, the impact of AV’s are expected to spill beyond the curb and well onto the sidewalks. Will AV’s make our streets more car-centric, or will we instead be able to redesign our roads as places for people?
And what about regulations? Already, Tesla’s autopilot mode has brought to light a clear grey zone of accountability when automobile accidents occur. While it’s easy to blame a driver who was texting and driving, who can be held accountable for a traffic incident when the person in the driver’s seat isn’t necessarily driving? Cities all over the world have shown interest in adopting these technologies, making it increasingly important for proper regulations to provide security throughout uncertain times.
Re-Imagine with Augmented Reality
Another pivot technology on our radar is the augmented and virtual reality industry. These technologies create widespread opportunities for nearly all sectors ranging from public art to on-demand shopping. Within the city making sector, AR/VR can be integrated at all scales ranging from BIM to wayfinding. While there is certainly a massive hype surrounding this technology, what will it actually look like on the ground? Will the tools work seamlessly, or will they fall flat when it comes to implementation? When it comes to “virtual walkthroughs”, will tactile things like texture visually translate in AR? Architects and planners are used to working with 3D models but are never able to experience their spaces until they are complete. What will this mean for client-architect relations?
As we pivot towards a new era of design and technology, we are excited to explore the widespread implications of these advances. Industry innovations are taking place at lightening speed and not only are we watching with wide eyes, but we are excited to say that we are helping to pave the way.