Monday, January 20, 2014

Hospital Building Eats Mexico City Smog

The urban landscape is changing, slowly but surely.  Overpopulation, pollution, and climate change issues are the prevailing priorities right now.  And as American infrastructure turns over for the next century, experts would do well to look all over the world for improvements.

Right now, there's no better example of how innovative designs can tackle sustainability issues than the facade of the Torre de Especialidadesis (Manuel Gea Gonzalez Hospital) building of Mexico City, Mexico.  100 meters long with tiles coated in titanium dioxide (TiO2), the facade creates chemical reactions with any nitrous pollutants that come in contact; most of which are from automobile emissions.  The pollutants are subsequently broken down into harmless CO2 and water vapor, meaning this hospital building effectively cleans the air for its inhabitants and neighbors.

While there may be long-term problems of maintenance, the rewards for this kind of environmental tweak are sneakily abundant.  Not only is the hospital creating a cleaner atmosphere for its patients- saving them time and space in the long run- but give it five, ten years; any long-term study that shows drops in related issues such as asthma, plant growth, medical diagnoses, will herald this kind of architecture as necessary civic infrastructure:

As the video states, natural UV rays act as a catalyst for the chemical reaction, and the tiles neutralize the equivalent of pollution from 1000 vehicles per day.  Comparing that to the average traffic in Mexico City, it's a drop in a bucket.  But imagine 20 buildings such as this.  Or 50.  Or one on every major intersection.  Cost and bureaucracy is an always an issue, but ideas like this have to be thought of on a large scale if they're to have any real impact at all.
Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Qualcomm Introduces Its App Platform For Cars

Signaling the industry is moving toward your car being even more of a computing system, Qualcomm announced on Monday they've developed an automobile-friendly version of Snapdragon, their smartphone platform.  Talk about cornering the market, listen to what this processor can do:

"With all the built-in capabilities and superior low power/high performance of the Snapdragon 602A processor, sophisticated next-generation connected automotive infotainment systems are made possible. Multiple OS support, complex user applications, enhanced 3D navigation, high-resolution, sophisticated graphics and HMIs, facial recognition, gesture recognition, and rear seat 3D gaming are possible with the Krait CPU and Adreno GPU. Natural voice recognition, high-quality audio processing, codecs, image stitching, and third party provided DSP algorithms are enabled by the on-chip Hexagon DSP. Additionally, multiple HD displays and cameras with hardware accelerated, simultaneous decode and encode are supported by the Snapdragon 602A processor’s internal video and camera processing engines."   
                         - Qualcomm Press Release, Mon, Jan. 6, 2014

For those keeping score at home: an app system, 3D mapping, video games, and censor security systems using GESTURES.  What if you didn't have to touch your console screen to change the radio, only make a sweeping gesture? (Of course we Italians gesticulate so much we'd be accidentally switching stations all day).

Qualcomm may be rushing tech that current automobile systems aren't yet ready for because they have to be innovative as their monopoly-like hold on the market in China is in danger.  No matter, though, as Qualcomm going all-in on this technology all but guarantees software giants like Google, Apple, Samsung, MediaTek, etc. continue to develop products that pair with new automobile designs.  It also means that app-based software is, for now, the framework auto makers are going to design your car's onboard system around; not exactly the most efficient system for driving, considering how distracting it can be.

Of course, the display design for how the driver interacts with said online system is most likely going to change in the near future as well.  Your dashboard screen could wind up on your windshield, or your navigation systems could take over your driving while in heavy traffic.  The entire driving experience is up for grabs, and Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon processor is just the tip of the iceberg.

Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company.