The Future of Personal Transport

I am a cyclist myself. I don’t have a car here in the USA, although I do have one sitting on the drive in Italy. The problem with cars is not only that they pollute but also getting stuck in traffic.

When I go out on my bike I know exactly how long it will take me to do my trip, presuming that I have done it before. So I can get to my music lessons in 25 minutes, or to the dentist in 20. If I take a car though sometimes it takes 10 minutes, but sometimes it takes half an hour or more, so I have to leave with ample time to adjust for these problems.

Oh and a million people a year are killed in cars, although biking is certainly no safer. What we need is an alternative, and today for you ladies and gentlemen (and third Gendered) I have started saving up for my answer and dream, a flying car.

The Terrafuggia flying car as a car

The Terrafuggia flying car as a car

No longer the stuff of dreams, local Massachusetts company Terrafuggia are now taking orders for their series of flying cars that will be launched in 2015.

A prototype exists already, and in this CNN video we can see the CEO driving it to the gas station, filling up and taking it for a fly. At a little over $275 000 it may not be in everybody’s price range, but could this seriously change the way we move around in the near future?

I think the USA is the perfect place for such a machine as there are plenty of open spaces for take off and landing, but I can’t see them selling many in Hong Kong or Singapore, or even my home city of Manchester to be honest.

The Terrafuggia flying car as an aircraft

The same Terrafuggia flying car as an aircraft

But returning to the craft itself the spec is interesting. As the website states “the Transition® is the transportation of the future today.  A street-legal airplane that converts between flying and driving modes in under a minute, the Transition® brings a new level of freedom, flexibility, and fun to personal aviation. It gives the pilot the option to land and drive in bad weather, provides integrated ground transportation on both ends of the flight, and fits in a standard single car garage at home.  The Transition® can fly in and out of over 5,000 public airports in the U.S. and is legal to drive on public roads and highways. It is the only light aircraft designed to meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, and it is also equipped with a full-vehicle parachute for additional safety”

It can fly 500 miles on a single tank of gas, travels at 100 mph, has automated landing capability, is equipped with a parachute in case of emergencies and you can learn to fly it in less than a day.

The company is also working on an electric vertical take off craft, but this is still in the design stage.

I like the idea, what do you think? No more ice cream for the kids, health club for the wife or golf for me and I reckon that by the time I’m 60 I could buy a second hand one.

My first impressions of Remote Heating Control

This is the third in a series of articles in which I am exploring Remote Heating Control – a technology of the future. Learn more about this series by reading the introductory article, called stepping into the future of smarter living.

So far in the series, I have introduced Remote Heating Control technology, its capabilities and potential, and discussed the installation process, with specific reference to my installation. In this article I will be sharing with you my experiences and first impressions of using the technology.

Logging In For The First Time

Remote Heating Control really is a technology of the future. Why? How many parts of your home can you currently control via the internet? Probably non. In the future I believe that most of our home will be remotely controllable. Technologies like smart meters and Safe and Secure are all linked to the internet, meaning that you can secure your home or see what electricity you are using remotely. These are two new technologies which will also be making their way into our homes very soon, and are part of the future of smarter living.

So Remote Heating Control is a technology of the future, as you can now control your heating online.

To login to my heating (I know, at first it sounds a little odd and at the same time cool ‘logging in to your heating‘!) I have to go to this URL: https://myhome.britishgas.co.uk

This URL is British Gas’s myHome homepage, which is the portal that I will log into to change/check my heating. It is also the portal you would visit if you have Safe and Secure technology installed at home.

Basically, myHome could soon be where you go to control your homes heating and security.

British Gas myHome

myHome – where I now go to check and change the temperature of my house

I was given a handy User Guide by Nick (the British Gas engineer who installed my technology) which has been very helpful, as it contains practically everything I need to know about remotely controlling my heating. That said, as I am relatively technical and have found that as the interface is so easy to get to grips with, I have rarely had to refer to the User Guide.

After logging in for the first time, like I explained in my previous post, I had to get the devices to find each other. This is usually all done online, so you don’t need to actually change the device setup at all, the portal just connects to your devices and then synchronises them.

In my case it had been a while since my installation before I got round to setting up my online account. This meant that my smart linked thermostat had fallen out of pairing mode, so the hub was unable to find it. British Gas were more than helpful in getting me up and running, and I was given a personal contact (engineer Steve Plumb) who helped me get my system working. Being a techie, I took the initiative to see if I could get the smart linked thermostat homing again myself, by taking the batteries out, and then putting them back in again – hence restarting the device. It worked. I have no doubt that the phone call I had scheduled with Steve would have helped me solve the issue just as fast, but it felt good to solve it myself.

Tutorial

After all my devices were connected, I was presented with a four step tutorial, which explained how to use the technology.

The first step was a quick guide to the SMS control function. It let me know the commands I would need to control my heating when not in the house, or near an internet connection.

The next step gave me a link to download the app (iPhone and Android) that I can use to control my heating via smartphone.

Step three explained the homepage of the console, what everything meant and how I control my heating instantly – i.e. if I decide to make my house hotter/colder than my scheduled plan.

The final step gave me an explanation of how to set up a heating schedule.

Homepage

When I login to myHome, I am now presented with a very interesting screen, which is filled with data and options. At the top of the screen are some navigation links, and then taking centre stage are two main boxes: temperature and heating.

British Gas Remote Heating Control online homepage

myHome homepage – where I control my Remote Heating Control from

The temperature box lets me know the temperature inside my house at the moment (rounded to the nearest degree) along with the weather and temperature outside too. It also shows me the average temperature in my home today, and this week.

If you look at the image above you will see that my home must be pretty well insulated, as I am yet to have the heating on, and despite it being 17°C outside, inside it is a comfortable 19°C. The average temperature for my house today is 19°C, and in the last week it has been 20°C.

The heating box tells me the exact temperature inside my house right now to one decimal place – the same reading on my smart linked thermometer (18.5°C).

If I click on the temperature box it takes me to a page where I can view diagrams of what the temperature in my house was like over the last day, week and month. Very interesting and handy when setting a schedule

If I click on the heating box I am taken to a page where I can set up a day by day heating schedule. The weather seems to be pretty mild (at least where I live) at the moment, so I haven’t yet set up a heating schedule, as I don’t really need my heating on, so more on this next time.

Overall I am very pleased and impressed with my new online heating portal myHome. It is very well designed, is easy on the eye, and makes me heating seem a lot easier to control. I look forward to using the technology in the next week or so as the weather gets colder.

Next Time

In the fourth post in this series (launching on Friday the 5th of October) I will be exploring how remote the technology really is. I will discuss how to set up a schedule, and how easy or difficult I find that, along with how effective my remote commands are at affecting the temperature of my house, whether programmed via text, app, online or smart linked thermostat.

Sponsored: Airbus and the future of aviation

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Airbus. To find out more about sponsored content on Technology Bloggers, please visit our Privacy Policy.

If you have been following the news lately, you will most probably have seen Airbus popping up a fair bit. I am personally really interested in Airbus, as it is an exciting company which I believe is set to revolutionise the aviation industry. That is why, when I was approached by Airbus, I couldn’t refuse to write an article for them!

At the moment I am trailing a technology of the future, Remote Heating Control in my home. Remote Heating Control is the future for smarter living. I believe that Airbus are the future for smarter air travel.

Inefficiencies

Currently the aviation industry is incredibly inefficient. It’s a fact that if you get a plane from London to Dublin, the CO2 emission you would produce would be about 3 and a half times great than were you to use a train and ferry. Flights are also often more cramped, however they are usually a lot faster.

The massive fuel costs not only cost the consumer, but also the environment. Okay, maybe I am being a little unfair to current aviation, but the fact is it isn’t all that good all of the time.

A Sustainable Future

Earlier this month, Airbus unveiled its vision for sustainable aviation in 2050 and beyond. That’s right, aviation which doesn’t have to cost the earth. Airbus says that its plans will create ‘smarter skies’. Remote Heating Control is one of the features of smarter homes, now Airbus are going to generate smarter skies. It looks like technology really is making the future ‘smarter’!

4D Light Show

Airbus being a futuristic visionary unveiled their vision for the future of aviation in style, with an amazing 4D projection light show in Berlin. The display started with a simple paper aeroplane and went on to show viewers its vision of what planes of the future would be like.

4D light showWish you hadn’t missed the event? Don’t worry there is a video of the show below!

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The Future For Air Travel

Airbus believe that in the future aviation will be so efficient that it will be almost unrecognisable from what it is today. Airbus believe that aeroplanes will take more inspiration from nature in the future, being designed more efficiently, and like birds plotting their routes based on daily changes in weather and atmospheric conditions.

Planes are also more likely to run on biofuels, which are likely to be cheaper and better for the planet.

Redesigned planes matched with more efficient flying – like flying in certain weather conditions, or in formation with other aircraft to reduce drag (known as ‘express skyways’) – mean that Airbus can predict that aircraft emissions will be 50% of their current levels by just 2050.

An interesting fact for you here, 1.5 billion dollars could be saved across the globe every year, if every aircraft flight were just one minute shorter. Just one minute. In the future more direct routes, better designed aircraft and better planning could save a lot more than one minute of airtime per flight. Currently only 65% of airlines sometimes take the most direct route, so imagine what would happen if 100% of airlines always took the most direct route.

Airbus also believe that planes will become more spacious, comfortable and quieter. Airports themselves are also likely to become more efficient, with specially designed vehicles taxing the aircraft to and from the runway, saving immense amounts of fuel.

Aviation is about to get greener, as we move into an age of smarter skies. We live in exciting times, as technology seems to be constantly improving the way we live and our prospects for the future.

Could Google’s Project Glass actually work?

Once again science fiction is turning into science fact. This time, it is Phillip K. Dick’s story, “Minority Report,” and the movie that followed. In this story as a person moves around the city, they receive instant advertising and information tailored directly to them.

Google's hi-tech futuristic glassesGoogle has now taken a step in this direction with the Google Glass Project. Using mobile broadband and miniaturized hardware, the Google glasses will allow a wearer to access any information on the fly and have it project in front of their eyes as they move.

The glasses will tie into the GPS system and cell towers so the glasses will always be able to tell the wearer where they are and where they need to go. The glasses will also work as an MP3 player, cell phone, e-mail reader, and personal data assistant, and with no keypad, everything will be accessible by voice command.

Google has released a video demonstrating what their glasses will do and the video is very impressive. Of course the video is no different than the concept cars that every auto company releases in time for the annual shows, and whether or not the glasses actually make it to market is anybody’s guess.

Much of the technology is already available, especially the networking and computational tools. Already all smart phones will tell their users they are and where to needs to go, and the same smart phones have more computing power than a top of the line desktop computer had ten years ago.

As for the voice command technology, as any iPhone user will attest to, most of the capabilities of a smart phone can be accessed with the spoken word alone.

The camera on the Glasses is small, but no smaller than any other phone camera, and the capabilities of those are fully proven as well.

The most likely stumbling block for the glasses will be in the heads-up display technology. HUD, as it is commonly known, is not a new technology, the military has been using it decades now in both planes and tanks. What would be new would be the miniaturization of the equipment. The average HUD a pilot uses is incorporated into both the helmets and the plane itself, and the technology does not work outside of the plane. Google may have overcome these problems, but that will still be a very big hurdle.

Ask anyone who has attempted to use an LCD screen in the bright sun, and they will complain about the difficulty. There is no evidence that that problem has been overcome yet, but perhaps Google has solved that as well.

Finally there is the issue of distracted people. The dangers of texting or phoning and driving are evident, and a quick search on Google will show many videos of people who are unable to walk and text. The Google Glasses will take distraction to another level with people tripping everywhere.

There is no doubt that the Google Glasses or something like them is coming someday, but the question is when. Most technology experts are convinced that the video Google released is just hype and that the glasses are at best two years away and possibly even longer.