Building Smarter: Laing O’Rourke’s Andrew Harris Wants Best Tech In Construction


via AFR : Building Smarter: Laing O’Rourke’s Andrew Harris Wants Best Tech In Construction In a second-floor lab in Sydney’s Chippendale, Laing O’Rourke’s Andrew Harris has been pulling apart Microsoft Xbox Kinect units. Harris, head of the building giant’s EnEx.G research unit, which last year had a £25.7 million ($42 million) budget – has built a surveillance tool for construction sites from the motion-sensing device used more commonly for video games such as Dance Central, The Gunstringer and Beatsplosion. “Our prototyping is to go and buy 20 of those, pull them apart and use the components,” says Harris, who carries the grand-sounding title of group director of technical futures. “I just need the bits inside, the camera system and the little hardware chips. If I buy the industrial version, they’re really expensive.” The resulting three-legged camera, Toolbox Spotter, uses artificial intelligence to detect people moving along railway lines or identify whether workers are wearing protective clothing in hazardous areas. It is in final trials on Laing O’Rourke construction sites and is about to be developed commercially – using its own supply chain, rather than gaming peripherals. “I’m hoping by the end of the year you will have that technology available for hire from Kennards Hire or Select Hire or whoever,” he says. It’s the latest in a series of applications that Harris’s unit is rolling out to improve productivity in construction. It’s not theoretical work. “If we are not delivering projects, we are not successful,” he says. Separate work the lab… Read more

India Shows Path For Cheaper Solar Energy: World Bank


via moneycontrol : India shows path for cheaper solar energy: World Bank “There’s some really good news. We’ve our IFC (International Finance Corporation), our private sector group, has been working in India and as recently as a year and a half, two years ago, the price of solar was still around 10, 11 cents per kilowatt hour.”  It is better to move towards solar energy than to continue to build coal plants, World Bank President Jim Young Kim said today, citing India’s massive efforts in solar energy which has made it “cost effective” and “quite competitive”. “There’s some really good news. We’ve our IFC (International Finance Corporation), our private sector group, has been working in India and as recently as a year and a half, two years ago, the price of solar was still around 10, 11 cents per kilowatt hour. “And so coal was still much cheaper than solar. But the latest option that we’ve been involved in got that price down to 4.4 cents a kilowatt hour. So now solar is quite competitive with coal,” Kim told reporters. He said there was need to keep doing that as the options around the world, even in emerging markets, have gone down below three cents a kilowatt hour at which point it “becomes cost effective”. “The incentives are clear that moving towards solar is better than continuing with the building of coal plants. So we need to find ways of accelerating that process. We hope to come out of these spring… Read more

The Hanging Gardens of …. Birmingham?


via New Atlas : The Hanging Gardens of …. Birmingham? British firm Architects of Invention has drawn inspiration from the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, for its latest project. Envisioned for Birmingham, UK, the Garden Hill proposal consists of two wooden residential towers with an interesting stepped design and some sustainable features. The Garden Hill proposal’s two connected towers would rise to 25 stories, with a total floorspace of 38,500 sq m (414,410 sq ft). They would include around 500 residences, 60 percent configured as one bedroom units, and 40 percent with two bedrooms. The units would measure 40 – 75 sq m (430 – 807 sq ft), but Architects of Invention would try to mitigate any lack of space by providing multiple shared and private garden terraces at every level, plus a spacious rooftop garden. In addition, novel shared facilities include music recording studios and small rental units for startups. The brief also calls for between 120 – 200 car parking spaces and retail spaces on street-level. The building would be constructed from cross-laminated timber (CLT), like some previous wooden towers we’ve reported on. Both electricity and hot water would be supplied by roof-based solar panels and the architects make mention of excellent insulation and the use of passive ventilation. If it actually went ahead, the project would reference Birmingham’s multiculturalism nicely and also fit in well with the city’s existing high-profile architecture, such as Mecanoo’s Library of Birmingham and Future Systems’… Read more

20 Helpful Amazon Echo Voice Commands For You To Try


via Popular Science : 20 Helpful Amazon Echo voice commands for you to try Since its introduction at the end of 2014, the Amazon Echo has done an excellent job of blending simplicity and intelligence—so much so that shouting voice commands across the living room almost seems normal now (or at least Google thinks so). The brains behind the Echo (and its siblings the Echo Dot and Amazon Tap) is of course Alexa, Amazon’s smart assistant. This AI can keep you informed about everything from the weather to upcoming appointments through tens of thousands of voice commands (or “skills”). That number may seem overwhelming, especially because Alexa adds more skills every day. So we collected 20 useful commands that anyone can tackle. Ten of them will work immediately, and you can add the rest through the Alexa app. 10 commands to try out of the box These voice commands come built in to Alexa and will work as soon as you switch on your Echo device. 1. Listen to music “Alexa, play relaxing music.” “Alexa, play music by R.E.M..” If you’ve signed up for Amazon Music, you can ask for a genre of music, music to match a certain mood, or a particular artist right away. You can also add Spotify if you prefer. 2. Get the weather forecast “Alexa, what’s the weather like?” “Alexa, what will the weather be like tomorrow in Sydney?” Alexa handles all of your weather forecasting needs, whether you want to know if you need an… Read more

Another Studio Replaces Walls With Storage To Transform Apartment Into Own Workspace


via dezeen : Another studio replaces walls with storage to transform apartment into own workspace The architects of Bulgarian office Another Studio removed walls from an apartment and replaced them with customised shelving systems to create themselves a personalised workspace. Studio founders Andrey Andreev and Petya Nikolova, who usually favour minimalist style, wanted to create a homely workspace where they could be comfortable all day, in order to maximise their productivity. Having recently spent some time in Japan, they wanted to recreate the “purity and serenity” of Japanese architecture, with a pared-back finish of flexible, semi-permeable partitions. To achieve this, they removed all load-bearing walls of the former apartment in Sofia to transform it into an open-plan studio. They then used plywood to build new partitions, which integrate a mix of shelves, cubbyholes, drawers and cupboards. As these feature openings, they ensure that different areas are visually connected. The architects also added translucent white cotton curtains so that spaces could be further separated if necessary. “We believe one of architecture’s main tasks is to make connections,” Nikolova told Dezeen. “That doesn’t mean we favour open-plans by all means – the comfort and quality of the workspace which is essential to any creative work is absent in both cubicles, small rooms with no air and large open-space offices.” “So in the case of our workspace, considering its size and specifics, we decided to demolish almost all non-bearing walls and use other elements – curtains, libraries, a sliding door – to define the… Read more

Ford Trials Using Bamboo As a Material in Car Manufacturing


via : Ford trials using bamboo as a material in car manufacturing PANDAS love it but will motorists? Ford is experimenting with making car components out of materials more suited to forests than freeways. PANDAS like it and it’s a hardy enough plant for the garden but bamboo as a material to build cars out of? It may sound a bit wacky but on Thursday car maker Ford announced it is to experiment with using bamboo in vehicle interiors. It’s not the first time Ford has taken a look at unconventional materials in its cars. It also sized up the potential of jumper off cuts, the husk of the tequila plant and the unwanted tomato skins from Heinz tomato ketchup factories. Ford said it’s looking at combining bamboo with plastic to make car parts, such as cabling and cooling fans. “Bamboo is amazing,” Janet Yin said, an engineer at Ford’s Chinese research centre in Nanjing. “It’s strong, flexible, totally renewable, and plentiful in China and many other parts of Asia.” Bamboo’s tensile strength can rival, or even better, some metals and it’s so tough that in some parts of South America it’s used to make rudimentary road bridges. Ford is one of a growing clutch of automakers to look at so-called bio-materials as an alternative to less sustainable plastics. Sugar cane and volcanic rock ash may sound like fancy shampoo ingredients but it’s actually what Hyundai is using in some car fabrics. However, Toyota has hit a stumbling block with… Read more

Electric Vehicles Set The Pace


via Semiconductor Engineering : Electric vehicles set the pace Electric vehicles are leading the charge for innovation in automotive electronics. Companies that invested and embraced the challenge of EVs are besting their less-nimble, less-open-minded engineering cohorts. Semiconductors and embedded computers have been controlling the dashboard, mirrors, seats, heating and cooling for years. But with EVs, engineering teams are starting to tackle tasks where many have only limited experience, at best, including battery pack system management, induction motor design, and a complete and total rethinking of the wiring and cabling connecting for all of the vehicle’s systems, from braking to radar systems for collision detection and prevention. The engineering challenge around the EV battery subsystem alone is huge. “They are like humans,” says Puneet Sinha, automotive manager in Mechanical Analysis Division (MAD) at Mentor, a Siemens Business. “They can’t be too hot or too cold. They need to be thermally managed very carefully.” The key here is being able to apply knowledge from multiple domains, from electricial engineering to the physics of cooling to the chemistry of hundreds to thousands of lithium-ion battery cells. “It’s truly a multi-disciplinary task,” says Sinha. “You are looking at heat generation in the battery, which is dictated by lithium-ion cell chemistry and design as a function of duty cycle and of time. And the heat dissipation is dependent on cell designs and coolant loop configuration. On top of that, power draw to support the coolant flow, especially in pure EVs [as opposed to hybrid electric] comes… Read more

10 Ways to Mix Modern Details With Rustic Style


via Culture Map : 10 ways to mix modern details with rustic style Much like cooking, mixing interior styles can create new and interesting flavors. Consider mixing modern detailing with cabin style. The result is a warm, clean design that allows occupants to focus on the interior architecture and the exterior views. Mixing two aesthetics that seem counterintuitive can result in a fresh look. The key is highlighting the best attributes from both styles in a way that blends naturally. Here are a few key details that create this unexpected aesthetic. Live edge slab table. Furniture selection plays a big part in the modern cabin mix. A slab of a fallen tree with its edge left natural sets the tone perfectly. Modern lighting. Consider modern lighting selections against the warmth of wood. Glass, pewter and iron are great contrasting materials. Highlight floor-to-ceiling views. The glory of a cabin is the surrounding landscape. Highlight towering pines with a modern-style floor-to-ceiling window. Consider a modern window free of mullions and casings, and let the pines add the rustic half of the equation. Stair rail with attitude. Add modern elements of metal, iron or steel cable on a stair rail. Cabins often have double-height great rooms with a focal stair rail. Use this opportunity to mix in some modern detailing. Repeat horizontal lines. A horizontal orientation of materials will translate modern or transitional. Horizontal lines featured within rustic elements like concrete or wood siding is an eye-catching contrast. Textured neutrals. Consider all of the… Read more

Will Property Rights Control the Future of Telecommunications Infrastructure?


via Gov Tech : Will property rights control the future of telecommunications infrastructure? To place the infrastructure needed for 5G service, a proposal pending in the Florida Legislature would limit state and local control of public rights-of-way where the 5G equipment is being installed. (TNS) — The battle between infrastructure needed for fast digital service and property rights may soon come to communities across Palm Beach County. Right now, it’s playing out in Tallahassee courtesy of legislation before lawmakers. “It’s a ticket for multi-billion dollar wireless communication companies to come into a city and do as they please in city right of ways,” said Riviera Beach Councilwoman Dawn Pardo. The brewing fight is over technological advances. First there was 1G wireless technology, for “first generation,” and as telecommunications technology evolved, 2G, 3G, 4G and 4G LTE came to be. Now 5G, a fifth generation network technology allowing greater connectivity at higher speeds for many more devices, is on its way. To place the infrastructure needed for 5G service, a proposal pending in the Florida Legislature would limit state and local control of public rights-of-way where the 5G equipment is being installed.  Senate Bill 596 sponsored by Sen. Travis Hutson, R-Palm Coast, and House Bill 687, sponsored by Rep. Mike La Rosa, R-St. Cloud, would create the Advanced Wireless Infrastructure Deployment Act and prohibit the Florida Department of Transportation and local governmental entities from prohibiting, regulating or charging for collocation of small wireless facilities in public rights-of-way. Municipalities say the bill is… Read more