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According to futurist Nikolas Badminton, 2019 is going to be a big year! It will see the rise of smart cities, zero-energy homes and a major shakeup to the retail sector.

RISE OF SMART CITIES

Big tech companies will be urging cities, especially megacities, to increase their investment in data, connectivity and autonomous systems to create programmable cities.

We’re already seeing this play out in Toronto, with Google’s plan to develop the city’s waterfront and feature all kinds of technology infused with artificial intelligence and data collection.

Full technical details have yet to be released but Quayside’s digital streets could be curbless, able to expand and contract the area open to motorists. The new plan shows cyclists, pedestrians and the transit system will get their own bridges.

Google is very much imagining the cities of the future operating with almost no privately-owned cars. Instead, there will be a “mobility system that is safer and more convenient than the private car at much lower cost.” Quayside could become a testbed for autonomous “taxibots” likely to be supplied by fellow Alphabet unit Waymo.

It’s not just Toronto, either. Over 1,000 smart city pilot projects are ready for or are under construction worldwide and China is home to about 500 of them, covering big and small cities, according to a report by Deloitte.

The global smart cities market is expected to surpass $3.48-trillion in 2026, according to Persistence Market Research.

ENERGY INDEPENDENCE AND RENEWABLES

2019 will see the rise of “net zero” homes and residences. In other words, they are homes with no energy bills.

The Rocky Mountain Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to a clean energy and low-carbon future, concluded that building net-zero energy houses — or homes with no monthly electricity bill — didn’t cost much more than building an ordinary house. Estimates were 1 to 8 percent higher.

How do they work? There are heat pump water heaters that heat and cool so builders don’t spend money on separate heating and cooling systems. Structurally insulated panels and insulated concrete forms may cost more during construction, but they can reduce the project’s costs because they require fewer tools, enable higher quality (and thus fewer defects) and faster construction times. They will also feature solar panels and more.

More than 5,000 net-zero ready homes are proposed for Colorado alone.

This all comes as the cost of solar power has plummeted over the past four decades, with the greatest cost reductions occurring in just the last few years.

The Tesla Big Battery is also celebrating its one year anniversary, and it’s proven far more efficient than the traditional generators used today.

The battery stepped in to stabilize the grid when Queensland and South Australia were islanded by a major network fault caused by two lightinight strikes. Outages were suffered in every state apart from South Australia, thanks to the role of the battery.

There are also technologies, including one in Squamish, BC, that can capture C02, purify it, and then turn it into clean fuel.

AUTOMATION IN RETAIL

As of 2020, self-service ordering kiosks will be implemented at all U.S. McDonald’s locations. Other chains, including fast-casual brands like Panera and casual-dining brands like Chili’s, have already embraced this trend as well.

Some restaurant concepts have even automated the food-preparation process; earlier this year, NBC News profiled “Flippy,” a robot hamburger flipper.

Other upcoming concepts include virtual restaurants which eliminate the need for full-service restaurants (and staff) by only offering home delivery. There’s also Amazon’s plan to use drones, or grocery stores without cashiers.