Last weekend, I visited The Design Museum in Kensington to attend its annual â€˜Beazley Design of the Yearâ€™ exhibition. Running until the 28th January and accessible for a small fee, attendees can browse the cream of this yearâ€™s design crop from the categories of digital, architecture, fashion, graphics, product and transport.
Of course, technology plays an essential part in many of the designs that will shape tomorrowâ€™s world. Here are my top tech picks from the show:
#1 A Driverless Bus
In the universe of tech, we know autonomous vehicles are coming â€“ weâ€™re just not sure when. Olli, the worldâ€™s first electric, self-driving, cognitive bus is one step closer to fully connected roads. Developed by Local Motors in partnership with IBM Watson, this is a truly innovative design. Firstly, it contributes to tackling air pollution and urban congestion. Secondly, itâ€™s partially 3D-printed, radically reducing the time needed to design, manufacture, test, mass product and deliver the vehicle.
#2 A Walking Wheelchair
Developed at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Scewo is a mobility device with stair-climbing capabilities. The wheelchair can smoothly and safely travel up and down stairs due to its retractable set of rubber tracks. At the rear, an extra pair of wheels allows users to raise the device so that they can communicate with others at eye level, offering disabled users a previously unreachable level of independence. As if this wasnâ€™t incredible enough, the project was entirely self-funded by a team of university students.
Leviâ€™s commuter trucker jacket with Jacquard by Google
#3 High-tech Textiles
Google-coined â€˜Project Jacquardâ€™ involves the transformation of textiles into interactive garments. Responding to touch, Jacquard clothing items (made with yarns that combine metallic alloys with materials such as cotton or denim) look just like normal clothing, and can be woven by the same methods. Â Touch data is wirelessly transmitted to any device, captured by tiny circuits: basic hand gestures can trigger actions on your phone, for example.Â
#4 Flying Water Taxis
Move over Uber â€“ â€˜Seabubblesâ€™ is here. These electric flying water taxis are ear and environment-friendly. Like Uber, members of the public can rent the vehicles, which hold up to five passengers, via an app. The taxis fly across waterways, which means passengers donâ€™t have to worry about seasickness (which is particularly good news if youâ€™re coming back from a heavy night outâ€¦).
Built from a combination of foam and fibreglass, Seabubbles is expected to be available in Paris by the end of this year, before services are extended to various locations around the world.
So, there you have it â€“ my top tech designs of the year. These are just a few examples of many: head to Kensington for the full selection if you can. This exhibition is a glimpse into the future, and not to be missed by anyone interested in tech, design or humankind.