Digital twin technology means a lot for flood preparedness, drainage and wastewater management and a host of other things in the water sector and beyond. It also has a lot to do with running business differently as the knowledge obtained from digital twins, including how to aggregate and visualise data, has large potential to shape the future of decision-making and data.
For those unaware, digital twin is a bit of buzzword that is catching on in academic, industry and policy worlds that refers to a live real time digital counterpart of physical systems we encounter in the real world. It’s closely related to what people in academia and industry also call ‘cyber-physical’ (more about this in our podcast on ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution’). Continue reading Digital twins ‘the final frontier’
…through television and telephony we shall see and hear one another as perfectly as though we were face to face, despite intervening distances of thousands of miles; and the instruments through which we shall be able to do his will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket. Nikola Tesla (1912)
The possibilities of technology are seemingly endless. I would not be writing to you in cyberspace right now if this were not the case, and as Tesla rightly predicted you may be reading it from a device small enough to fit in your pocket. Yet despite the ubiquity of mobile wireless technologies there remain potential applications that have not yet been discovered or used yet.
We tend to take technologies for granted because they are intertwined with our regular lives, but how we interact with them is still far from straightforward.
Sometimes there are problems that are simply too unique, too individual that current off the shelf technologies cannot address them. How do you build devices to solve human problems if they’re not focused on the values and needs of people?
And how do you take available communications technologies and use them to solve real-world problems?
There’s still time to get human-computer interaction right. The ethos behind human computer interaction is not merely to get computing to work better for people, but to find ways for technology to improve and transform their lives, and create agency.
Work in human-computer interaction takes an alternative approach to what is generally assumed – instead of starting with the device, start with the user, understand their own needs and values, and work with them to co-design the technology to meet them. Continue reading What’s this for? The age of human-computer interaction
The possibilities for synthetic biology are numerous. It could play a key role in resolving global environmental challenges that policy makers and regulators are struggling with. It could make industry less polluting, more sustainable and likely more profitable. This is especially true for companies with large ecological footprints who are working to decarbonise. The chemical industry could also change drastically as new forms of life could be designed to produce chemicals that otherwise would have to come from unsustainable sources like petrol.
Plastic pollution could likely become a thing of the past if replaced with bio-based instead of oil based polymers. Cheap, clean ‘next generation’ biofuels are also a major prospect that would help countries succeed in phasing out petrol based fuels altogether. Politically speaking this will take time as oil is likely not to be replaced overnight by sustainable alternatives, but synthetic biology is without a doubt a major player in energy and decarbonisation for multiple reasons.
Imagine for a moment:
Continue reading Engineering life with synthetic biology