Author Archives: Imran Muhammad

Plyscrapers- The future of buildings

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A new sustainable way of building infrastructure. The solution is wood!

Through many innovations in engineered timber, the world’s first wooden skyscraper has emerged. The material used is cross-laminated timber. This type of timber is engineered wood- small pieces of wood glued together. There are three main types of engineered wood. The first one being glued laminated timber which is the most commonly used, Laminated veneer lumber (LVL) that has the same strength as concrete and the newest one is cross-laminated timber (CLT) [2].

Compared to traditional building materials such as steel or reinforced concrete, cross-laminated timber has many advantages over it, firstly being more eco-friendly by reducing carbon dioxide emissions, light-weight compared to other building materials thus being easy to transport resulting in low transportation cost, and being readily available [1] [2]. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a four-story building made of mass timber would save emissions equivalent to taking 500 gasoline cars off the road a year [5].

Currently, there are many wooden skyscrapers worldwide. An example is Mjös Tower in Norway’s Brumunddal has a height of 85.4 meters and is the world’s tallest wooden building. It is an 18-story building constructed by glue-laminated timber GLUAM that used CLT and LVL mainly, with concrete on the upper seven floors to prevent swaying in the wind and stabilize the pay scraper [3]. It is also used in many other structures such as a 23-meter tower in Portland Oregon and in Quebec, Canada it was a key building material for the 160-meter long Mistissini Bridge [1].

In the past, it has been used in China to build Sakyamuni Pagoda of Fogong Temple build in 1056 and has a height of 67.31m (220.83ft) and has withstood several large earthquakes [2] [4].

Mjøsa Tower under construction. Courtesy Metsä Wood [3].

Mjøsa Tower, tallest timber building in the world. Photo credit (c) Moeleven – Nina Rundsveen [6].

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

  1. The University of Cambridge, (2019, July 19). Timber skyscrapers: high-tech ‘tree’ houses could be the sustainable buildings of the future. Retrieved on December 12, 2019, from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/07/sowing-seeds-for-timber-skyscrapers-can-rewind-the-carbon-footprint-of-the-concrete-industry?utm_source=Facebook%20Videos&utm_medium=Facebook%20Videos&utm_campaign=Facebook%20Video%20Blogs
  2. Gorvett, Z. (2017, October 31). ‘Plyscrapers’: The rise of wooden skyscraper. Retrieved on December 12, 2019, from https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20171026-the-rise-of-skyscrapers-made-of-wood
  3. Robinson, J. The world’s tallest ‘Plyscraper’ completes in Norway. Thespaces.com Retrieved on December 12, 2019, from https://thespaces.com/the-worlds-tallest-plyscraper-completes-in-norway/
  4. Pagoda of Fogong Temple. Last updated on 23 November 2019. En.wikipedia.org. Retrieved on December 12, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pagoda_of_Fogong_Temple
  5. Harris, M. (2017, August 17). Eco-Friendly ‘Plyscrapers’ are on the rise. Here’s why. Nbcnews.com. Retrieved on December 12, 2019, from https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/tech/eco-friendly-plyscrapers-are-rise-here-s-why-ncna793346
  6. © Copyright 2019 Verdict Media Limited. Mjosa Tower (Mjøstarnet). Designbuild-network. Retrieved on December 12, 2019, from https://www.designbuild-network.com/projects/mjosa-tower-mjostarnet/

Commercial space hotel- Is it worth it or not?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Ever wanted to go to tourist destinations like Disney world or a cruise but now even better that you can go to space! The first commercial space hotel will open by Gateway Foundation which is designed as the world’s first space hotel called Von Braun Space Station, expected to open in 2025 [2]. The best part is that this will not be available only for the super-rich but the company, The Gateway Foundation aims to make it accessible to everyone [1].

The visual view of the space hotel on the rotating wheel. [1]

The cruise hotel will also have features like gravity, full working kitchens, bars, restaurants and interiors made with natural materials and colors. It will also have musical concerts, movie screening, and educational seminars and sports activities such as low-gravity basketball, low-gravity trampolining, and rock climbing. Tim Alatorre who is the senior design architect told Dezeen in an interview that the hotel will look like Stanley Kubrick’s Space Station 5 in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey which is a sterile, white, museum-like hotel. [1]

Internal view of the common area. [1]

The Space station will be build based on the technology used at the current International Space Station (ISS). The design is based on the concepts developed in the 1950s by Wernher von Braun. The space station will have 190 m diameter, having the shape of the wheel that will rotate to create a gravitational force that is similar to that which is felt on the moon and will permanently orbit the earth. The wheel will have 24 individual modules for accommodation each having 500 meters of floor area. The total population expected is 400 people approximately in the station including 100 tourists per week [1]. Some of the modules will be sold to the government which will be used for research and other rented for scientific purposes [3].

Internal view of each module. [1]

Similar to this is SpaceX Starship, a project by Elon Musk who aims to launch it no earlier than 2021.[4]

References

  1. Ravenscroft, T. (2019, August 29). Dezeen. Space Hotel architect Von Braun Space Station. Retrieved on 2019, November 28, from https://www.dezeen.com/2019/08/29/space-hotel-architect-von-braun-space-station/
  2. Palfrey, J. (2019, September 9). Lonelyplanet. Check out the plants for the first commercial space hotel. Retrieved on 2019, November 28, from https://www.lonelyplanet.com/articles/first-commercial-space-hotel
  3. Jacobo, J. (2019, September 15). Abc news. First commercial space hotel to have low-gravity basketball, rock climbing: Reports. Retrieved on 2019, November 28, from https://abcnews.go.com/Business/commercial-space-hotel-low-gravity-basketball-rock-climbing/story?id=65622817
  4. Henry, C. (2019, June 28). Space news. SpaceX targets 2021 commercial Starship launch. Retrieved on 2019, November 28, from https://spacenews.com/spacex-targets-2021-commercial-starship-launch/
  5. © Gateway Foundation 2019. Retrieved on 2019, November 28, from https://gatewayspaceport.com/

Invisible cloak

Reading Time: 2 minutes

An invisible cloak was made by a Canadian Company called Hyperstealth Biotechnology corporation. Hyperstealth Biotechnology Corporation is a company that has many products related to camouflage technology with the main consumers being the military [3]. This product invisibility cloak is the one which they have worked for many years and finally made a proper prototype i.e. “Quantum Stealth”. It can work at any time whether if the light is absent or not and can hide anything such as a person, a vehicle, a ship, spacecraft or buildings including its shadow [1]. It can also cover up them from ultraviolet, infrared images (night vision), and thermal signatures [2] [3].

The process behind this is by using several lenticular lenses which have rigged surface in which each ridge is made up of convex lens which results in dead spots [2]. This is procedure is also used in 3D bookmarks, trading card games, children’s books, etc. but instead of using several lenses they use only a single one and are printed upon [2]. The characteristics of this product that it is thin, lightweight, economical, and does not require a power source. Though it has great utility it is a disadvantage if the subject or the object is standing close to it [2].

Much of the information regarding this was concealed, it was revealed only after the company had obtained the patent. Many videos were released that showed demonstrations on how it worked [5] [6]. Outside of military applications, Guy Cramer, President/CEO of the company also claims that he was able to use the material to triple the energy output of solar panels due to its large reflective surface area [2]. He also believes this would help the cars spot and react to dangerous conditions and objects even faster than they already can [4].

References

  1. Noe, R. October 30, 2019. Core77. Check out this demonstration of a working “Invisibility Cloak”. Retrieved November 15, 2019, from https://www.core77.com/posts/90860/Canadian-Company-Invents-Patents-Working-Invisibility-Cloak
  2. Hahn, J. November 7, 2019. Dezeen. Hyperstealth biotechnology quantum stealth invisibility cloak. Retrieved November 15, 2019, from https://www.dezeen.com/2019/11/07/hyperstealth-biotechnology-quantum-stealth-invisibility-cloak/
  3. Cramer, G. (Oct 19, 2012). Quantum Stealth. Retrieved November 15, 2019, from http://www.hyperstealth.com/
  4. Marlborough, C. October 23, 2019. Edinburgh News. Quantum Stealth: US Scientists reveal new ‘invisibility cloak’ technology patents. Retrieved November 15, 2019, from https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/quantum-stealth-us-scientists-reveal-new-invisibility-cloak-technology-patents-818770
  5. Perrie, S. October 22, 2019. Ladbilble. Military camouflage developer unveils Incredible Invisibility cloak. Retrieved November 15, 2019, from https://www.ladbible.com/technology/technology-company-brings-invisibility-cloak-one-step-closer-to-reality-20191021
  6. Houser, K. October 21, 2019. Futurism. Watch a real-life Invisibility cloak designed for military use. Retrieved November 15, 2019, from https://futurism.com/the-byte/watch-invisibility-cloak-military-use
  7. For the video: The Telegraph. October 17, 2019. ‘Invisibility cloak’ that could hide tanks and troops looks closer to reality. Retrieved November 15, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZMyWEWHCTM

Artificial trees of the future

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Climate change is real and is a threat to all. One of the ways to counter that is by reducing our emission of carbon dioxide. There are many ways to do so, one of them is a procedure by Klaus Lackner and his Research partner Allen Wright where carbon dioxide can be absorbed from thin air and then exude CO2 in a humid environment while absorbing moisture. [1]

This is done by artificial trees, they don’t exactly look like natural trees but function the same way and as Lackner said: “Our trees are specialists for carbon dioxide collection, and they’re about 1,000 times faster [than natural trees]” [7]. Lackner who is the director of the Center for Negative Carbon Emissions at Arizona State University for the past two decades has been working on reducing carbon emissions in the atmosphere [2].

His procedure includes a white resin which is an anionic exchange resin, absorbs CO2 when it is dry and releases it again when exposed to moisture. When it comes to contact with dry air, the resin will dry again. After drying it is ready for another absorption cycle [4]. The procedure makes it a passive, relatively low-cost and scalable solution that is commercially viable. If deployed on a large scale, this technology could lead to significant reductions in the levels of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere which would help combat global warming [3].

According to Lackner. a single tree with artificial leaves would be roughly the same size and production cost of a car. More importantly, it would be able to collect about 900 kg (2000 lbs., or one Ton) of CO2 from the air in a single day which is the same as the greenhouse gases produced by 36 motor vehicles in a day. Ten million of these artificial trees, he estimates, would absorb up 12 percent of the CO2 that humans add to the atmosphere each year. [7]

Since CO2 is of high utility it can either be stored (compressing it and pumping it underground) or used in making liquid fuels such as methanol or diesel for transport vehicles [6], help in generating electricity, using it to obtain hard-to-get oil from old oil (enhanced oil recovery) [7], etc.

The “branch” design is thin which helps to capture CO2 efficiently. [7]

           References

  1. Gertner, J. (2015, April 3). Klaus Lackner is pulling CO2 out of thin air. FastCompany. Retrieved November 3, 2019, from https://www.fastcompany.com/3044272/clearing-the-air
  2. Schiffman, R. (2016, May 23). Why CO2 ‘Air Capture’ could be key to slowing global warming. YaleEnviroment360. Retrieved November 3, 2019, from https://e360.yale.edu/features/pulling_co2_from_atmosphere_climate_change_lackner
  3. Derra, S. (2019, April 29). Lackner’s carbon-capture technology moves to commercialization. ASUNow. Retrieved November 3, 2019, from https://asunow.asu.edu/20190429-solutions-lackner-carbon-capture-technology-moves-commercialization
  4. Lackner, Wright, and Wang. Carbon Capture: Air Capture. Retrieved November 3, 2019, from https://web.archive.org/web/20121220210058/http://energy.columbia.edu/?id=research_carbon_capture
  5. Cantieri, J. Artificial trees could offset carbon dioxide emissions. ClimateChange.medill.northwestern.edu.© Northwestern University. Retrieved November 3, 2019, from http://climatechange.medill.northwestern.edu/2016/11/29/artificial-trees-might-be-needed-to-offset-carbon-dioxide-emissions/
  6. Vince, G. Sucking CO2 from the skies with artificial trees. BBC Future. Retrieved November 3, 2019, from https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20121004-fake-trees-to-clean-the-skies
  7. Williams, M. Combatting Climate Change with Artificial trees. Herox. Retrieved November 3, 2019, from https://www.herox.com/blog/249-combatting-climate-change-with-artificial-trees
  8. Courtesy of Klaus Lackner. Retrieved November 3, 2019, from http://climatechange.medill.northwestern.edu/2015/02/10/artificial-trees-cap-your-co2-and-spew-it-too/

The future of gaming with Augmented reality

Reading Time: 2 minutes

You may have heard of a popular game called Pokémon Go or even might have played it, the main component of their game was using Augmented reality. Coined in 1990 by Tom Caudell [1] Augmented reality is the result of using technology to superimpose information — sounds, images, and text — on the world we see [2]. AR is quite different from Virtual Reality (VR) because in VR there are computer-generated environments whereas in AR it adds something to reality.

First created in 1968 by Ivan Sutherland and his student Bob Sproull at the University of Utah. It was a head-mounted display system suspended from the ceiling, The system was primitive both in terms of user interface and realism, and the graphics comprising the virtual environment were simple wireframe rooms [3]. Since then it has been used in military, flight navigation, and entertainment such as theatre production [4].

The first video game which incorporated augmented reality was The Eye of Judgment (SONY, 2007). Played on PS3 the console’s PS Eye camera gathered real-world images and read the coded information on small physical trading cards. This information allowed the game to bring the characters on the trading cards to life on the screen[5]. The biggest hit was Pokémon GO developed and published by Niantic. According to Sensor Tower in the first three years, it had earned a total of $ 2.65B [6].

By 2021, experts predict that there will be a major advancement in this industry with gaming companies mainly focusing on AR-based products. This year, Apple, Google, and Snapchat released their AR platforms and opened the door wide for gaming developers to produce a variety of apps, games, and features [7]. Some areas of AR which can be improved are a better field of view (FOV), better brightness, battery life, and 3D sensing capabilities [7].

Ultimately AR will continue growing as it has improved the gaming experience such as allowing the player to play for themselves rather than seeing an avatar running around and performing various actions.

Another game like Pokémon GO is Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. The Developers are Niantic, Portkey Games, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, WB Games San Francisco and it was released on June 21, 2019

References

  1. Rauterberg, M. (2002, July 10). History of HCI, Slide no. 96 of 114. (c) TU/e, Eindhoven. Retrieved October 20, 2019, from http://www.idemployee.id.tue.nl/g.w.m.rauterberg/presentations/hci-history/sld096.htm
  2. Emspak, J. (2018, June 01). What is Augment reality?. LiveScience. Retrieved October 20,  2019, from https://www.livescience.com/34843-augmented-reality.html
  3. Last updated October 8th, 2019. (C) 2004–2019 Jeremy Norman & Co., Inc. Retrieved October 20, 2019, from http://www.historyofinformation.com/detail.php?id=861
  4. Williams II, D. (2016 May 05). The History of Augmented Reality. HuffPost. Retrieved October 20, 2019, from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-history-of-augmented-_b_9955048
  5. First augmented reality game for a console. Guinness world records. Retrieved October 20, 2019, from https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/first-augmented-reality-game-for-a-console/
  6. Nelson, R. (2019, July 18). Pokémon GO Grossed More Than Candy Crush In Its First Three Years, On Track to Cross $3 Billion in 2019. Sensortower. Retrieved October 20, 2019, from https://sensortower.com/blog/pokemon-go-revenue-year-three
  7. Wallace, F. (2018, November 25). The future of AR gaming after Pokémon GO. Headstuff. Retrieved October 20, 2019, from https://www.headstuff.org/entertainment/gaming/the-future-of-ar-gaming-after-pokemon-go/
  8. For the video: Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. (2019, June 17, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite | Gameplay Trailer. Retrieved October 20,2019 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=22&v=ngHLSmAvCMQ