tinyhome

Not Small homes, Tiny Homes.

It’s apparently a growing trend among urban-ites, and maybe rightly so. With property in urban centers being scooped up by developers, prices have become un-affordable for a significant number of people. Renting is always an option, but lacks the feeling of ownership and customization that your own home comes with. The push for a more green and eco-friendly society and lifestyle, persuades many to making the switch to a tiny home.

Note that these homes are not for everybody. Raising a large family I imagine would be quiet difficult (but not impossible) in such a confined space. However, these tiny homes really force the most efficient use of space in any individual. Growing up in a suburb, I’ve gotten used to keeping a lot of things. When I moved into the City, I thought I had kicked the habit, but as the years passed, I’ve noticed the habit of collecting never really stopped.

The tiny home mentioned in the video is a good example of a trendy tiny home that I wouldn’t mind inhabiting. Check it out.

 

Pretty cool eh?

Tiny homes provide a good alternative to those looking to get something of their own, while still on a very modest to low budget. They can be fairly easily moved, and if constructed properly, don’t require any permitting to have on your own property. This rise in popularity, has not surprisingly spawned an industry of trendy tiny home builders, that offer an amazing selection of these pre-built modular homes:

http://www.nelsontinyhouses.com/

http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/

http://www.tinylivinghomes.com/index.html

http://tinyhousing.ca/index.php/home.html

You can be certain this isn’t the last time I visit this topic!

–bhavik . . .

littleprinter_table

Little Printer & The Internet of Things

The internet of things is an interesting space. It’s likely that you’ve heard this term somewhere, especially if you’re a tech enthusiast like myself. It was inevitable that the connectivity that made its way into our devices, would trickle down and integrate into almost every facet of our lives.

One such example is the pretty useless, but nevertheless entertaining, Little Printer. It’s an internet connected mini printer, that is capable of receiving short messages and sprites of content, that would print on receipt size paper. I know what you’re thinking: can’t you just email the same thing and print it at a real printer? Of course you can, but where’s the fun in that.

Little Printer Sample

Unfortunately the design firm that created the product has been dissolved/ is in the process of being dissolved. I inquired about purchasing the Little Printer right off of them, but never heard back. I believe now they’re looking to make the software stack that powers it, an open source project.

Check it out:

http://littleprinter.com/

— bhavik . . .

Construction in the Afternoon

Construction Narration Through the Eyes of Your Field Staff

Construction projects move fast; even when it may look like things are moving slow. In this industry, like many others, time is money, and more time spent over what was budgeted, means less money made than what was forecasted.

Construction Site Mobilization

In a perfect world, a construction project would run smooth as silk if there were no problems. The reality is, that there is always an amount of uncertainty that contractors knowingly dip their feet in. Like in anything, the more you know about the problem, generally the easier it is to solve.

When managing a project, regardless of the size, it’s impossible to be everywhere on a construction site at all times, taking of note of what’s happening and ensuring things are going as you planned. This is where your field staff come in to give managers extra muscle, and a fresh set of eyes on site. And if those eyes could snap pictures every so often, as the field staff roam around and take notes, you would have yourself a use for the narrative clip on the construction site.

The Narrative Clip 2: For (Construction) Moments that Matter.

What matters more than the pouring of that steel reinforced concrete slab? Nothing.

The narrative clip gives the chance for this industry to capture construction photographs with ease, like never before. Simply wear the clip and go on field. As the field personnel walk around, pictures are snapped and saved on the device. When the personnel re-enter the office or any other Wi-fi enabled zone, those pictures get uploaded to the server, for managers to see, comment on and archive for later use.

The Narrative Clip attached to a Shirt

This product was not originally meant for construction, but it’s clear to see it’s use could add a fair amount of value to any construction team. With more interesting consumer technology being invented and released daily, I can’t help but imagine how essential these nice-to-have devices could be for other industries. Imagine I shall.

For more information on the narrative clip check out the following link:

http://getnarrative.com

 

— bhavik . . .

Pixel Track Rail Information Display

Rail Display Innovation by Pixel Track

Browsing through my Feedly one morning, I happened to come across this interesting piece of technology innovated by Berg Studios. With all of the light rail vehicle design talk I had been absorbing over the past year, this piece of technology naturally presented itself as a solution for displaying information in a light rail vehicle or at a station.

So What is It?

It categorizes itself as a connected display at its most basic level. It uses a set of mechanical pixels to display information sent to it over a network. Take a look at the video below, as it will explain it much better.

Pixel Track from Berg on Vimeo.

So why are they great for light rail vehicles?

Light rail vehicles are a complicated beast to say the least. They contain a huge array of interconnected mechanical, electrical and aesthetic components, that work together to get the train moving and provide a safe and comfortable trip. Typically, these vehicles are electrically powered, and power requirements depend heavily on the weight of the vehicle.

Because of Pixel Track’s simplicity of design, a significant portion of the weight is reduced when compared to a conventional LED Passenger Information Display. The signs also have the ability to display their messages without consuming any power. Power is only needed to flip the pixels to display the initial message, and remove the previous one.

For those trains taking shorter trips, this product may not be a solution. The constant flipping of the pixels will probably wear the parts down, ultimately requiring more maintenance than a typical LED. However, for longer journeys, the Pixel Track could be an interesting new take on a classic idea.

With technology constantly moving forward, it’s always interesting to see creators take two steps back and innovate.

I’m sure there are plenty of other great uses in a wide range of industries. Feel free to comment below.

If you’re interested in finding out more, you can check out the following link:

http://bergcloud.com/case-studies/pixel-track

 

— bhavik . . .

Aerial Photograph of Highway Interchange

Freeway Beauty Captured by Photography

Driving down the freeway (or highway) is not something most people particularly pay that much attention to. From the surface, most of these roads seem mundane, paved with the same old charcoal asphalt and lined with unimpressive concrete barriers.

Aerial Shot of Freeway Interchange in Chicago

To the trained observer, the highway is more. It’s a set of carefully calculated lanes that allow motor vehicles to flow in the most orderly manner, moving people and objects safely from one point to the other. This is most apparent when you take a step up, hundreds of feet in the air, and see the art that we’ve created on our landscapes.

Peter Andrew has captured this beautifully with his set of aerial photographs of various highways across North America.

“It’s not until you look at them from the air that you see that there is this engineered, moving system that’s really creative and quite beautiful,”

You can check out his work on his website:

http://www.peterandrew.ca/highways#0

I feel its appropriate that the following song be enjoyed while viewing his photographs (WARNING: This song is may contain explicit lyrics):

–bhavik . . .

Cow Interested in Mobile Phones

Mobile Device Charging Stations

In an increasingly more connected society, a fully charged mobile phone or tablet is becoming more and more of a necessity. Our pockets have never been more powerful, loaded with these devices that allow us to socially communicate and consume massive amounts of information like never before.

With all that consumption, we’ve created for ourselves what has been currently trending as a #firstworldproblem. It seems that with this ever increasing screen-time, our devices’ batteries just can’t keep up. It remains a #firstworldproblem because funnily enough, the developing world have seemed to figure it out.

Mobile Device Charging Stations

How much would you pay for 15% of your battery? These nifty machines will give you just that while you wait for your train or bus. Seems like a simple concept, but there still remains a gap it seems, and it’s the answer to that question which is the key to this market.

Cell Phone Charging Station (from Jammin Round the World)

In public areas should governments pay for these stations?- I personally don’t think so. This technology has the possibility of creating a decent revenue stream, and it’s something that is better left to a more agile group, that can decide fast, and take on larger risk. However, there should be more incentive for corporations to invest in such technology, for example, the discounted leasing of public areas like transit stations.

Some coffee shops and restaurants have already started embracing this culture, and providing their patrons with a place to plug-in. If it means it can keep them in their store for a little longer, there’s a higher chance of them spending more money. Sounds like a good deal to me.

Solar Powered Mobile Charging station on a restaurant patio

Solar Powered Mobile Charging station

Even with the way things are moving, there will always be those people and places who choose to be disconnected, if not all the time, maybe for a few hours per day. But in general, this is the way society is moving; towards a more connected lifestyle. These last years have been prominent for software, but the years yet to come, I believe, are going to be prominent for hardware.

–bhavik . . .

A view from a station along Chicago's El.

Guideway Intrusion Detection Systems for Mass Transit Systems

As metropolitan transportation make their move towards fully automated transit systems, the issue of passenger safety and security become a greater concern for operational authorities. One of the hurdles in the path to achieving automation is the ability to ensure guideways are free from obstruction, both between stations and at the platform as the vehicles berth.

Guideway intrusion detection systems provide transit operators with a tool to detect intrusions into restricted and unsafe zones of the system. Detection can be achieved using a number of technologies and methods.

Optical Sensors

The Sensors’ primary function is to detect the range of an object at very high accuracy and speed. Typically a number of such sensors are deployed at various intervals and logically programmed to ensure the sensors are only tripped when a large object or person are within the unsafe zone.

Physical Sensors

Physical sensors that detect properties such as weight and pressure can also be employed. These types of sensors are typically located near to the platforms, within the track, and are activated if and when pressure from a person or object other than the train, is applied.

Intelligent Video

Intelligent video analytics via CCTV cameras can also be used to monitor and detect intrusions. This technology works by analyzing the video footage in near real-time, to ensure there are no moving objects other than the train within the restricted zone. As this technology is fairly new, there are only a handful of operators that have it installed.

 

For more information on the systems mentioned above, as well as other systems that exist:

A New Video Based Guideway Intrusion Detection System for Public Transportation Infrastructures

A short research paper presenting the applicability of video analytics for use in guideway intrusion.  

Link: http://www.uic.org/cdrom/2006/wcrr2006/pdf/745.pdf

Intrusion Detection and Prevention Technologies Available for Rail Transit

A presentation from the APTA Rail Conference 2013.

Link: http://www.apta.com/mc/rail/program/Documents/KeevillD_HulseJ_Intrusion-Detection-and-Prevention-Technologies-Available-For-Rail-Transit.pdf

State-of-the-Art Technologies for Intrusion and Obstacle Detection for Railroad Operations

A fairly in-depth paper exploring the various technologies available for intrusion detection.

Link: http://ntl.bts.gov/lib/34000/34500/34517/DOT-VNTSC-FRA-07-04.pdf

DSC00296

Interesting Competitions

As a civil engineering student it can sometimes be difficult to find quality experience outside of a workplace to put on your CV. Over the years, I’ve found that open competitions allow you to explore concepts that are related to architecture, engineering and construction, and give you a chance to utilize some of the concepts learned in the classroom.

Of course with all competitions there is a written portion of the submission that must be completed. Some engineers may not like this, but I find this the most important part. Communication is crucial in any profession, and any chance to brush up on those skills should be taken.

To add a nice incentive, most of these competitions reward the winner(s) with cash prizes, ranging in size depending on a number of factors.

Below are two competitions I’ve come across that I find particularly interesting, mostly because of the concepts of the competitions. They’re not a typical engineering or construction related competition, however they provide a chance to think outside of the box.

Competition of Competitions

Having worked in a position that entailed procurement and contract management, this competition struck me as very interesting. The competition challenges participants to create a competition of their own, defining every portion of the competition.

http://www.bustler.net/index.php/competition/competition_of_competitions/

Design for Death

This one is a straight-forward competition with an unconventional topic; death. I’ve never seen an open competition for the design of a cemetery, but places of death seem like an excellent place for architectural innovation.

It will challenge and change perceptions about the ways in which families honor, remember and celebrate the lives of their loved ones.

http://www.designboom.com/competition/design-for-death-architecture/

Enjoy!

— bhavik . . .

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Interested in Other Competitions?

You can find tons more at http://www.bustler.net/index.php/competitions/