Ericsson’s new mixed-reality platform envisions urban design in "real life"

September 21, 2017 by  
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Ericsson has created a new mixed-reality platform that allows users to envision urban design projects in “real life”. Teaming up with UN-Habitat, Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) and WITS University as part of a community project called Building the Public City Through Public Space , the Swedish telecommunications company recently tested their prototype in Braamfontein, South Africa during the Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival . Albeit still very much in its early development phase, the technology gave the community a sense of what their own Minecraft public space design proposal would look like if it were actually built. Marcus Nyberg, a senior researcher with Ericsson’s Strategic Design unit, says they developed the mixed-reality platform as part of a larger initiative to engage partners outside of Ericsson in participatory planning, sustainable urbanism and future technology. JDA and WITS university chose a public space in need of improvement at the intersection of Stiemens and Bertha Street and invited passersby (and students) to use Minecraft to design a safe, welcoming space that caters to their specific needs. This is part of UN-Habitat’s broader Block by Block initiative that uses this relatively simple design program to engage underserved communities in their own urban planning. Related: Water-purifying tower could heal landscapes scarred by acid mine drainage in South Africa Klaas Tswai, an urban design postgraduate student from WITS, coalesced the results of various proposals into one feasible, cohesive design that Ericsson then plugged into their new platform that uses “special smartphones enabled with sensors and 3D-sensing technology,” writes Joakim Formo . He continues, “For the technically inclined, the devices we used for this test were Tango-enabled smartphones/phablets that has parts of the on-board SLAM functionality disabled, instead using our own pre-loaded 3D mesh based on a Lidar-scanned point cloud which we used for occlusion-masking, ray-tracing shadows etc.” In addition to seating areas and other details, the community envisioned building a bridge over a busy street. Once the design was plugged into Ericsson’s new platform, participating community members could walk around with the smartphone and see what that bridge would look like as though it were right there in front of them. Their reactions exceeded Nyberg’s expectations. He said they did not expect people to be “so amazed” by the results. Albeit still quite elementary (I personally felt like I was walking around in Legoland), the prototypical technology clearly has immense potential. Imagine: instead of spending a pile of money and resources to design buildings or benches or whatever it is – and then finding it’s not really suitable for that particular space – this mixed-reality platform would give users an opportunity to test drive it for a while. Not only that, but getting the community involved gives them a greater sense of ownership and belonging. + Ericsson + UN-Habitat + Building the Public City Through Public Space Images via Joakim Formo, Ericsson

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Ericsson’s new mixed-reality platform envisions urban design in "real life"

Astronomers discover that exoplanet WASP-12b is "darker than asphalt"

September 21, 2017 by  
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Astronomers recently discovered an exoplanet they’ve been studying since 2008 is pitch black, reflecting almost no light . The new findings could change what the researchers previously hypothesized about WASP-12b’s atmosphere . Taylor Bell, a master’s student at McGill University, described the exoplanet as darker than fresh asphalt . There’s a pitch black planet out there in space . An international group of astronomers utilized the Space Telescope Imaging Spectograph on the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to measure the albedo – or how much light a planet reflects – of WASP-12b. The exoplanet’s albedo is incredibly low, which reportedly surprised the researchers. WASP-12b is two times less reflective than Earth’s Moon . Related: First hints of water detected on Earth-sized TRAPPIST-1 planets Why should we care about an exoplanet’s albedo? It can tell us about the planet’s atmosphere: scientists now think WASP-12b’s atmosphere is comprised of helium and atomic hydrogen. Bell said in a statement, “The low albedo shows we still have a lot to learn about WASP-12b and other similar exoplanets.” WASP-12b is classified as a hot Jupiter, and has a radius almost double Jupiter’s. Its daylight side has a surface temperature of around 2,600 degrees Celsius – and the high temperature may offer an explanation for the low albedo. “There are other hot Jupiters that have been found to be remarkably black, but they are much cooler than WASP-12b,” Bell said. “For those planets, it is suggested that things like clouds and alkali metals are the reason for the absorption of light, but those don’t work for WASP-12b because it is so incredibly hot.” 14 researchers were involved in the work, from institutions in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. The Astrophysical Journal Letters published the study earlier this month. Via Hubble Space Telescope Images via NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI) ; and NASA & ESA

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Astronomers discover that exoplanet WASP-12b is "darker than asphalt"

Off-grid Lake House escapes the Texan heat with minimal landscape impact

September 21, 2017 by  
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There’s nothing quite like taking a cool dip in a lake on a hot summer’s day. The lucky owners of the Lake House get to escape the brutal Texan heat with laps in Lake Austin thanks to their off-grid boathouse. American studio Andersson-Wise Architects designed the two-story boathouse that operates off the grid and exerts minimal impact on the environment. Created as part of a residential estate, the Lake House in Austin is a boathouse set a half-mile away from the main residence across a deep ravine. The modern building is anchored atop a rock in the lake and elevated on slender steel columns. The steel-framed structure is divided into two sections: a sheltered space for a sculling dock and boat storage below, and living quarters with a grill and operable windows above. “The simple, elegant building rises above the water, resting on the surface like a water skater,” said the architects, according to https://www.dezeen.com/2017/09/19/andersson-wise-off-the-grid-boathouse-lake-austin-texas/ Dezeen . “And like the surface-skimming insect, this off-the-grid domicile exerts a minimal impact on its surroundings.” Related: Dreamy summer retreat built of salvaged materials sends eclectic vibes in Austin A natural materials palette helps blend the Lake House into its forested surroundings. Dark-stained wood clad the structure inside and out. Operable screen windows on the north and east facades swing open to let in cooling winds, natural light , and views of the lake. The screen windows can also be removed so that visitors can dive directly out of the living room into the lake. + Andersson-Wise Architects Via Dezeen Images via Andersson-Wise Architects

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Off-grid Lake House escapes the Texan heat with minimal landscape impact

Schmidt Hammer Lassen breaks ground on LEED Gold-seeking incubator in Shanghai

September 21, 2017 by  
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A striking new high-tech building in Shanghai is going for gold— LEED Gold , that is. Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects just broke ground on the new CaoHeJing Guigu Creative Headquarters, an incubator for high-tech firms designed for LEED Gold certification. Engineered for climate control, the boxy green-roofed center will mitigate Shanghai’s muggy summers and bone-chilling winters with its stacked and staggered massing. Located east of downtown Shanghai near Hongqiao Airport, the government-backed CaoHeJing Hi-Tech Park is one of Shanghai’s earliest high-tech business parks serviced by its eponymous metro station. The technological development zone covers an area of 14.5 square kilometers and is home to around 1,200 domestic and overseas high-tech companies. The CaoHeJing Guigu Creative Headquarters is Schmidt Hammer Lassen’s third project for CaoHeJing, following the firm’s transformation of an old office building into the CaoHeJing Innovation Incubator. Related: Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects unveils competition-winning design for the Shanghai Library The CaoHeJing Guigu Creative Headquarters is made up of three stacked and staggered glass volumes connected with two external landscaped terraces. The divisible incubator studio spaces are located on the upper levels while the ground-floor volume comprises the main lobby, exhibition and event space, and a coffee bar. “The volumes are playfully staggered to create a combination of exposed and shaded external spaces that can be utilised at different times of the year in Shanghai’s variable weather conditions”, said Schmidt Hammer Lassen Partner, Chris Hardie. “By doing this we create a direct connection to exterior green space for the buildings occupants to use throughout the year.” Full-height glazing with operable windows maximizes access to natural light and ventilation to keep energy costs low, while deep overhangs mitigate solar heat gain in the summer. + Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

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Schmidt Hammer Lassen breaks ground on LEED Gold-seeking incubator in Shanghai

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