Mobile app will be used to create communities in controversial new Indian city

A mobile app that explores what effect sustainable design, mobility and access to nature have on living standards is being used in the planning of a new city currently being constructed in India.

The city of Lavasa is a private sector-led urban development in the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is approximately 130 miles from Mumbai and will eventually be home to some 300,000 people.

Two researchers from the University of Birmingham, Dr. Sophie Hadfield-Hill and Dr. Cristiana Zara, spent a year living in Lavasa; gathering data on children, young people (aged 5-23) and their families experiences of everyday life to find out how to make the city citizen-friendly and sustainable.

“Children and families are hugely affected by urban change and have much to offer in terms of their vision for urban living,” said Hadfield-Hill, lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Birmingham.

“This research has provided space for detailed ethnographic insights into the everyday experiences of urban transformation. With the Indian government putting plans in motion for a portfolio of smart city initiatives, the recommendations proposed by the project are timely.”

Image courtesy of Arjun Singh Kulkarni. Featured image courtesy of Yoursamrut

Thanks to the research, which was conducted as part of the New Urbanisms in India: Urban Living, Sustainability and Everyday Life project, a series of core themes emerged about what a modern city needs.

The study concluded schools should be placed at the heart of urban planning, all areas should be accessible by road and footpath and shared spaces should be included so people can meet, eat, walk and play together.

These findings were used by the researchers and city planners, with the help of of 130 young people, to build a model of the new city that reflected the study’s findings and will influence the future development of Lavasa.

Image courtesy of Ankur P

Previously, Lavasa has been known for controversy. Construction was halted in 2013 because the project violated environmental laws, and even residents were unclear how organic communities would develop.

“I wouldn’t live here if I wasn’t working here,” said Lavasa resident Sakrita Koshti in an interview with the Guardian. “The main reason is there are no schools out here. If I get married and have children, they cannot get settled here in Lavasa.”

The mobile app that was used during the research – called Map my Community – will now be used in used in Delhi to map informal settlements and advocate for improved living conditions for children and their families.

The original study is available here.

Augmented reality ads to dominate the skyline and your eyeline

A new UK start-up, Lightvert, has created a new augmented reality technology that will produce huge, skyscraper-sized ads visible only to the individual viewers’ eye. The technology, called ECHO, will allow ads up to 200m high and aims to not only disrupt the Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) market but capitalise on the vast amounts of space currently unusable for traditional ads.

ECHO works using a narrow strip of reflective material, fixed to the side of a building, and a high-speed light scanner. Once the material is affixed, the scanner projects light off the reflector and towards the intended viewer. In the company’s own words, “this creates large-scale images that are ‘captured’ for a brief moment in the viewer’s eye through a ‘persistence of vision’ effect”.

While only visible for a moment, the idea is that the tech will cause such an impact that the viewer is compelled to stop. And because of course you can, it will be possible for you to capture the experience with your phone and share it to social media.

“Traditional billboards and large scale LED screens in built-up environments are expensive and it is increasingly challenging to leverage new real estate in crowded urban spaces such as New York’s Times Square and London’s Piccadilly Circus. ECHO provides a new way for brands to rise above the noise of street level advertising and engage with audiences on an unprecedented scale,” explained Daniel Siden, CEO of Lightvert.

“Using the persistence of vision effect, ECHO hardware has virtually no physical footprint. It introduces new audience behaviour and is a powerful opportunity for advertisers and property owners, which could dramatically change the game in terms of capital costs and planning permissions for premium outdoor media.”

So if the colossal, unavoidable ads of Blade Runner were your favourite part of that film, you’re in for a treat. The level of corporate immersion on offer will soon – if the company’s concept art is anything to go by – have Nike ads shooting out of the Eiffel Tower and Daft Punk promotion projecting from the Shard.

Technically, this is an impressive piece of tech and there’s an obvious appeal to advertisers. However, from a consumer viewpoint, there is something deeply unsettling about having an advert shot directly into your eye from whatever monument you happen to be strolling past at that moment.

The whole concept goes someway towards advancing the near-future necessity of real-world ad block. Whether it be through some sort of filter on glasses or another wearable, the more advertising advances in this direction, the more it becomes necessary for us to have some kind of prevention. Which may well be sold to us by the same company.

Images courtesy of Lightvert

Funded to date by Innovate UK and a small group of seed funders, ECHO has completed the proof-of-concept and is now ready to develop a commercial-scale solution.  Lightvert is completing a crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube in order to finalise the development of the technology and bring ECHO to market.