5 Advancements in 2014 That Will Shape the Cities of Tomorrow
BY MIA ROTONDI
City living is an adventure, each and every day. The people you pass, the sights you see, the energizing ebb and flow — there’s simply nothing like it.
This past year alone has debuted stellar advancements in how we navigate our urban world. So what lies ahead in our cities’ future? Let’s take a look at our favorite innovations from 2014 to get a sense of what metropolitan living might be like down the road.
LED lights in the Zackees gloves make a turn signal bright and clear so bikers are seen, even at night.
1) BIKE-FRIENDLY DESIGN FOR CAR-CENTRIC CITIES
Great strides were made in 2014 to begin shifting urban design towards becoming more pedestrian-friendly, but not all of these solutions apply to bicycles. Luckily, innovations like Veloop, a 7x7” metal loop that gives bikes the same (figurative) weight of cars (and thus allows them to communicate with traffic lights), as well as Zackees Turn Signal Gloves and Hovding, Sweden’s take on airbags for bicycles, are making cycling a safer and more appealing transportation alternative. Might the cities of tomorrow have fewer traffic jams, fuel emissions, and blaring horns? One can only hope.
2) A NEXT LEVEL OF GAMING
While some complain that recent technological advancements have created a generation that is constantly plugged-in yet detached, people are connecting in ways like never before thanks to that same technology. Niantic Labs (a startup within Google), has developed a virtual reality game called Ingress that takes gaming to a new level. By fostering a community of gamers who might ordinarily play indoors (and without any real, human interaction), Ingress teams them up with new friends to tackle complex, real-time, and genuinely fun challenges, online and off.
Left: The Charles Street Jail, condemned in the 1970’s. (Photo: Library of Congress.) Right: The jail’s central atrium was beautifully resurrected and forms the core of the hotel.
3) URBAN ADAPTIVE REUSE
Cities across the world, from Pittsburgh to London, are transforming outdated spaces to fulfill modern needs. In Boston, for instance, the Charles Street Jail is now the Liberty Hotel, where guests can pay to stay in rooms once frequented by the likes of Malcolm X and other famous lawbreakers. Such an exciting dichotomy exists in many cities that simultaneously crave advancement and demand preservation, producing a dynamic experience that pays homage to the past while also looking forward.
4) ECO-AWARENESS UP, UP, AND AWAY
Air travel is a revealing industry to examine when considering recent technological, social, and environmental issues. Once reserved for the rich and famous, flying has become a more accessible means of transportation since the ’60s, and airlines continue to adapt their business models as concerns over fuel and emissions increasingly take center stage. The ways in which we travel between cities will surely take on different forms in the years to come, and initiatives like JetBlue’s EcoEarnings: A Shore Thing are promising signs that favorite city escapes like the Caribbean will stay beautiful.
Solarbox is just one powerful example of cities evolving to be more eco- and mobile-friendly.
5) LEAN, GREEN CHARGING MACHINES
This next advancement comes to us from across the pond, and is an excellent example of how the cities of tomorrow will be both on the technological cutting-edge, as well as environmentally minded. By installing solar panels to the tops of London’s iconic red phone booths and painting them green, two students have revolutionized a British favorite. “Solarbox” offers a free and convenient way to recharge a mobile device without derailing the day (or missing an essential call/text/reminder/email/tweet) by simply stepping inside (well, once you’re outside) and plugging in to power up.
What city advancements are you most excited about in 2015?