The New Office: How Work Spaces Are Evolving

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via Japan Today : TOKYO – “More people than ever are beginning to realize just how much we are affected by our work environment,” says Tokyo-based creative director Daniel Harris Rosen. Yet, most companies—especially in Japan—are only beginning to take a hard look at their workplaces and how to change them for the better. “A lot of office spaces here are conducive to robot-like efficiency, but not to creativity and doing good work.” Rosen is the founder of TokyoDex, a creative agency that produces solutions—including musical, artistic, and interactive digital experiences and works—for spaces and events. For him, a well-designed workplace interior will enhance well-being, inspire creativity, and boost productivity. And there’s an added benefit: an increased bottom line. How an office space is designed and used has become an important brand differentiator and tool for attracting—and retaining—quality staff. Rosen is not the only one thinking along these lines. Speaking to The ACCJ Journal, business leaders, entrepreneurs, and creatives say the way people work is changing—as are the environments they choose. WORK REFLECTS LIFE For Sachin N. Shah, the occasion of relocating to a new space was the opportunity to fulfill a core philosophy of MetLife Japan. There are two motivations for the new office design, said Shah, who is the company’s chairman, president, and CEO. “The first is that the workplace environment fosters the kind of culture that we want. We try to avoid hard walls, replacing them with see-through ones. This creates a sense of openness, something that is… Read more

4 Skills Tech Industry Employees Say Today’s Students Need to Succeed

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via EdTech : When preparing students to be ready for the future, the focus often is on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills. But, in a podcast with employees from Google, Pinterest and Twitter, EdSurge found that those in the tech industry believe students need skills beyond just technical expertise. “I think the one thing to keep in mind is that it’s impossible to say what technical skills people are going to need in 10 or 20 years,” says Ryan Greenberg, a software engineer at Twitter. “I think that necessary job skills actually have to be a little bit higher level than specific technology.” We gathered four key takeaways from what Greenberg, Google for Education program manager Drea Alphonso and Pinterest software engineer Trisha Quan say are the best skills future-ready students can have. 1. Clear Written and Spoken Communication Is Key Future employees of any industry will need to be able to coherently express themselves through public speaking, emails or written memos. Greenberg, Alphonso and Quan all agree that communication soft skills are integral to success. “Being able to write well is never wasted. I think that having to write well forces you to understand your own thoughts and goals and what you’re trying to accomplish, and break them down in a way that actually ends up being kind of parallel to the work that you do in programming computers,” says Greenberg. 2. Problem Solving Mimics the Tech Industry Some experts have focused on solving problems as a way… Read more

HP Steps into Custom Footwear with 3D Printing, Scanning

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via Engineering.com : After making a splash and swimming around a bit with its Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) 3D printing technology, HP is now stepping into the custom footwear race with a new 3D scanning solution dubbed the FitStation. Once the FitStation is used to create custom insoles, these orthotics are then 3D printed with MJF. HP isn’t racing alone in the custom footwear market. Multiple large manufacturers, such as Nike and Adidas, are 3D printing shoe soles, while a number of startups, including Feetz and Wiiv Wearables, are working on products ranging from 3D-printed shoes to sandals. What’s HP’s position in the race? Let’s look at how HP compares to its competitors. HP HP’s FitStation is a hardware and software platform that first 3D scans a person’s foot, measures foot pressure and performs gait analysis to create a “digital profile” of each foot. This makes it possible to then 3D print insoles and create custom footwear. The footwear can then be 3D printed on HP’s MJF platform. The solution will be deployed at 4,000 retail locations through Superfeet, an over-the-counter insoles company. Additionally, safety shoe manufacturer Steitz Secura will use the FitStation for its comfort, preventive health and safety operations. SOLS Among the first companies to hit the track was SOLS, a New York-based startup that produces custom insoles created through photogrammetric algorithms that convert photos taken of feet with a smartphone app. These orthotics are then 3D printed from nylon using selective laser sintering (SLS). Though it was early… Read more

‘Ripe For Disruption’ 5 New Construction Technologies Changing The Way We Build

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via The Urban Developer : According to Mckinsey, the construction sector has the lowest productivity gains of any industry. For a sector with a global turnover of $10 trillion, productivity concerns are a harbinger of doom, and it doesn’t help that we are overwhelmed with information about the likelihood for disruption in the industry – new technologies that will fundamentally change the way the market evolves. A recent report by the consulting firm on construction’s digital future indicated R&D spending in construction was, to its detriment, well behind that of other industries. McKinsey predicts that the industry is overdue in embracing newer technologies: “ripe for disruption”. So, what are the next wave of technologies that are likely to enhance efficiency, mitigate risk and disrupt the construction industry? 1. Robot Automation Disappointing news for the sci-fi buffs among us, but “robot labour” technologies have not progressed as quickly as expected – automation systems need very structured environments. In any case, robotics is giving rise to construction techniques that will change how, and where, buildings are made. Australian company, Fastbrick Robotics pioneered a robotic technology that vastly improves the speed, accuracy, cost and waste management of the brick construction industry. The Hadrian X claims to be able to complete the brickwork on a home within 1-3 days, laying 1000+ standard bricks per hour. Bricklaying robotics are already being put to use. Construction Robotics’ invent, SAM100, was sold to Wilhelm Construction last year. SAM is able to lay around 2000 bricks per day, a… Read more

Japan Focusing on a Curious Demographic with Driverless Cars – Senior Citizens

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via Digital Trends : At first blush, it may seem that the target demographic of driverless cars would be tech-savvy millennials. But in Japan, where a burgeoning proportion of the population falls more solidly in the geriatric classification, there’s a new use for self-driving cars. The island nation has begun experiments involving self-driving buses in rural communities to help its aging populace stay mobile connected. The first of these autonomous buses is being rolled out in Nishikata, a small rice-farming town about 71 miles north of the capital city of Tokyo. the town is inhabited largely by older residents (about a third of its 6,300 inhabitants are age 65 or older), and the number of public transport and taxi options have decreased over the last several years, leaving many of the city’s denizens high and dry. The introduction of driverless shuttle buses is aimed at bringing these services to an increasing number of cities and helping transport aging Japanese to and from medical, retail, and banking services that they would otherwise have trouble accessing. Should initial trials prove successful, these autonomous vehicles could be widely disseminated in remote communities within the next three years. “Smaller towns in Japan are graying even faster than cities, and there are just not enough workers to operate buses and taxis,” said Hiroshi Nakajima of mobile gaming software maker turned automotive software manufacturer DeNA, in an interview with Reuters. “But there are a lot of service areas around the country, and they could serve as a… Read more

Commentary: Green Buildings, Singapore’s Natural Ally for a Greener Future

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via Channel NewsAsia : Green buildings look like nice places to live and work in. They may also hold the key to Singapore’s fight against climate change as the Garden City continues to grow, says one design expert.  SINGAPORE: It is the year 2500. We travel with driverless cars, Mars is a much loved tourist spot, and robots live and walk among us as peers. One catch – we’re all underwater, because sea levels have risen more than six metres, based on projections by some scientists. Returning to present day, Singapore has just turned 52, and we probably should start thinking about how to avoid the above fate. Singapore’s meteoric economic rise over many decades has launched a landscape of towering skyscrapers in the compact city-state. Her buildings contribute to almost a quarter of all emissions here. Offices, shopping malls, hotels, education institutions and healthcare facilities consume almost a third of Singapore’s electricity. The greenhouse gases and carbon emissions generated by these buildings and their power sources are contributing to climate change and changing Singapore’s ecosystem’s natural processes, at an increasingly alarming rate. The global fight against climate change is real, and Singapore, aptly nicknamed the Garden City, might just have the potential to combat it through technology and green building design. The clean and green environment that Singaporeans enjoy and are so proud of is part of this Garden City’s legacy, left over from earlier decades of the city placing the highest priority on protecting the environment. For a country… Read more

Wind Energy in California: The Good News and Bad News

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via San Diego Union-Tribune : Which way is the wind blowing in California? In some respects, wind energy in the state has never been better but by other measurements growth has flat-lined for the past four years. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released its annual report analyzing technologies and markets for the wind industry that showed California has installed 5,656 megawatts of utility-scale wind, fourth-highest in the nation. California also ranks fifth in capacity for smaller, distributed wind energy systems since 2003, with 66 megawatts. According to the most recent numbers compiled by the California Energy Commission, wind accounts for 36 percent of generation from renewable facilities — the most in the state, edging out solar. One would think those figures would have the state’s leading wind industry group practically giddy. But instead, Nancy Rader, the executive director at the California Wind Energy Association, was practically glum when asked about the future of wind energy in the Golden State. “It’s pretty bleak in terms of the potential for new development,” she said in a telephone interview from her group’s headquarters in Berkeley. “We’re actually at risk of going backward in total capacity in California.” When wind energy was in its infancy some 30 years ago, California was the sector’s undisputed leader. Thanks in large part to some $1 billion in federal and state taxes, wind farms in California represented more than 90 percent of the globe’s total wind power capacity in the mid-1980s. But Texas has taken… Read more

Why Hong Kong Residential Property Management Fees are Asia’s Highest

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via SCMP : Designed by a global architect firm and renowned landscape and interior designers, Wong’s new flat in the development of five towers stand out among a cluster of old properties in the area. The estate has a 19,700 sq ft club house with a reading room, an indoor pool and gym which residents have free admission and use of towels, as well as a 15,800 sq ft communal garden and play area. For utmost privacy, each unit of the 358-unit development by New World Development and Hip Shing Hong, has its own private lift lobby. Each floor has only two units. Wong had happily paid HK$36 million (US$4.6 million) for all of that, until the question on the price of maintenance surfaced. For every square foot of the flat that she owns, she has to pay HK$5.50, or a monthly management fee of HK$6,600 (US$843.50) to New World Property Management, a subsidiary of the developer that manages the estate. Although the per square foot price of HK$30,000 that Wong had paid for the flat was not the highest in Hong Kong, Pavilia Hill’s management fee by square foot, is clearly one of highest in the city. “It is a bit high,” conceded Wong, even though she can afford it. The monthly fee is nearly double the HK$3,600 management fee she had paid for her previous similar sized flat and the use of a 35,000 sq ft club house at the 26-year-old 809-unit Pacific Palisades in North Point Hill, which… Read more

Glassy Carbon, Now with Less Heat

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via CE: Last winter, MIT researchers discovered that a phenol-formaldehyde polymer transformed into a glassy carbon material in a process similar to baking reaches its best combination of high strength and low density at 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,832 degrees Fahrenheit). Now they have determined that, they can achieve a similar glassy transformation, but at a more industrially-accessible temperature of 800 C by adding a small fraction of carbon nanotubes to this material. As the starting polymeric hydrocarbon, known as a phenol-formaldehyde polymeric resin, is heated from 600 C, the size of its crystallites grows until it reaches a plateau at 1,000 C. Postdoc Itai Y. Stein says scientific literature shows that this plateau holds until well above 2,000 C. The addition of 1 percent by volume of aligned carbon nanotubes to the starting material allows it to reach the plateau crystallite size at a termperature 200 C lower. “What we’re showing is that by adding carbon nanotubes, we reach this plateau region earlier,” Stein says. The findings were reported Aug. 22 in the Journal of Materials Science online. The co-authors were Stein, former Materials Processing Center-Center for Materials Science and Engineering (MPC-CMSE) Summer Scholars Ashley L. Kaiser (2016) and Alexander J. Constable (2015), postdoc Luiz Acauan, and the senior author, professor of aeronautics and astronautics Brian L. Wardle. Kaiser is now a graduate student in Wardle’s lab. Improving Manufacturability “This work has the interesting finding that nanostructures assist in fabricating [and] manufacturing the glassy carbon composites,” Wardle says. “Early lessons with… Read more

Brainstorm: How Will The State Of Engineering Evolve?

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via ECN: Years ago, I lost a best friend in an auto accident. As I watch the automotive industry rapidly adopt new innovations such as interactive safety systems, automated driver-assisted systems, and ultimately self-driving cars, I realize that the biggest change in engineering is that connectivity is foundational; “sense, measure, and act” is becoming a part of our daily lives. The creative element—or the “art” of engineering—is becoming as vital as the science of engineering. How a product communicates in an interconnected world—as well as what role it plays in this vast new organism of devices—will be just as essential as the function the product performs. Engineers will need to retool the way they think about design—from a device to an ecosystem perspective. That’s because sensors and communications are being built into nearly everything. There will be more than 28 billion connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices by 2020, according to IDC. We are taking the physical world and digitizing it at an accelerated pace. Cars that talk to each other as well as their surrounding environment will inevitably save lives—of family and best friends alike. Factory automation will require new engineering approaches as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology require new predictive algorithms for optimizing factory production, as well as orchestrating self-learning robots and machines. In healthcare, engineers will need to rethink how they design solutions for interconnected systems that understand the real-time state of someone’s health and take appropriate action. This interconnectedness means that engineering will be become… Read more