Future 50: MIT Senseable City Lab 01.08.13

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Icon asked a dozen experts and practitioners to nominate the people they think are, in some way, shaping the future. The resulting list of global talent is a snapshot that shows how young designers and architects are pushing the boundaries of their disciplines and trying to change the world

Carlo Ratti, director, and Assaf Biderman, associate director, run the MIT lab that aims to improve cities and increase civic engagement by using data generated by the proliferation of communication networks. Ericsson predicts that by 2020 there will be 50 billion devices online, more than the planet's population. "They're going into buildings and vehicles, personal belongings and infrastructure," Biderman says. "This means people will be able to talk to things, and things will be able to talk back; many feedback loops emerge. Flip it on its head and you can think of the city as if it were a computer in the open air – how can we programme it to make it more livable, pleasurable, healthy?" The lab pioneered the Copenhagen Wheel, which turned bikes into hybrid data gathering machines, and are working on other projects including a Road Frustration Index, which looks at real-time data on traffic, incidents, weather and driver sentiment to propose ways of reducing stress.

Cambridge, Massachusetts





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