Chronicles of HillHacks

Since 2014 hardware and software specialists, amateurs and geeks from around the globe have been coming to the hills of himalaya. HillHacks has become a way of living for most of these people. These are the short clippings which were made during HillHacks’16 near Dharamshala.


Find of the Day: 29 August 2016

Prepared by product design greats for the Supreme Court, this is the definitive guide to using product design to build a brand, market, and sell great products, backed up with design history and cognitive science.

We’re about to get schooled by the product design greats.

Here’s the quick backstory, with all the curious information you might need to know. IDSA — the Industrial Designers Society of America — submitted an amicus curiae — an unsolicited brief submitted to a court by an uninvolved third-party to assist with a case — to the United States Supreme Court for the ongoing legal battle between Apple and Samsung.

It was signed by 113 design greats including the infamous Dieter Rams, and the heads of design at Microsoft, Bentley, Nissan, Lego, Louis Vuitton, Motorola, Calvin Klein, Herman Miller, and professors of design at Savannah College of Art and Design, and Harvard, among others (as a Hokie, I’m also proud that two Virginia Tech professors are among the 113 signatories).

This crash course in design theory for the justices distilled from modern product design a few fundamental rules, drawing on cognitive science, design history, marketing theory, and consumer technology.

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When you create color palettes for your web design projects, are you testing the color combinations for contrast? If you’re not, you might not be considering the eventual readability of the design and thus losing potential audience.

The goal here is to simply show that a little bit of effort can go a long way when it comes to selecting colors with optimal readability in mind. Check out W3C for a more thorough explanation. Also, check out Contrast Rebellion for an interesting look at the contrast problem.


Lately, blockchain technology has created a lot of attention and excitement. As a novel way of organizing transactions and contracts, it has the potential to completely change the way we think about money, social organization and trust. But what is it, and how does it work?

Since 2008, blockchain has served as the backbone of a new digital currency, the Bitcoin. The reason for why it is so crucial for Bitcoin and other digital currencies is that it allows for transactions to be made reliably, but without third parties – which is also why it could transform not just money, but other forms of social organization, such as voting, property, or work.

Simply put, the blockchain is a distributed database, where every unit of transaction contains its own transaction history. It consists of blocks of timestamped transactions where each block contains the hash function – basically, a key – of the next block in the chain. Thus the name blockchain.


India’s southwestern coast was once a crossroads for traders, travelers and imperialists — the Chinese and Japanese, the Dutch, the Portuguese and the British. Cochin was a center of the spice trade, with huge wooden warehouses filled with cardamom and cloves, cinnamon and ginger.

But these days, Cochin, now called Kochi, and its home state of Kerala, are looking to the future, with dreams of becoming a high-tech manufacturing hub in the era of the “Internet of Things.”

This also happens to be a part of India’s own national ambition, to turbo-charge its once anemic manufacturing sector — anemic, at least, compared to China’s — and make that a more important contributor to India’s GDP growth, and to the global economy. There’s now a “Make in India” campaign, and India is fast moving up the ranks in manufacturing — it’s now sixth in the world.

In this effort, Kerala has much to offer. It already has the highest literacy rate in India, an impressive e-literacy rate — like, smart phones and computers — and aspirations to have India’s highest f-literacy. That’s “f” for fabrication, and the idea that as many people as possible become comfortable using high-tech tools to make what they use, and use what they make.


Data visualization, or data viz, is the graphic presentation of data. These portrayals are the most effective way to succinctly translate large amounts of data and complex information to a wide audience. Successful visualizations are aesthetically beautiful and also provide layers of detail that efficiently generate insight and new understanding. They can be fun and interactive as well!

The field is growing, and whether you’re a data viz expert or just learning the ropes, there are a wide range of books available to keep you ahead of the game. Overwhelmed by where to start?


Find of the Day: 28 August 2016

The BBC Reith Lectures in 1967 were given by Edmund Leach, a Cambridge social anthropologist. “Men have become like gods,” Leach began. “Isn’t it about time that we understood our divinity? Science offers us total mastery over our environment and over our destiny, yet instead of rejoicing we feel deeply afraid.”

That was nearly half a century ago, and yet Leach’s opening lines could easily apply to today. He was speaking before the internet had been built and long before the human genome had been decoded, and so his claim about men becoming “like gods” seems relatively modest compared with the capabilities that molecular biology and computing have subsequently bestowed upon us. Our science-based culture is the most powerful in history, and it is ceaselessly researching, exploring, developing and growing. But in recent times it seems to have also become plagued with existential angst as the implications of human ingenuity begin to be (dimly) glimpsed.


At Recode’s annual Code Conference in June, venture capitalist Elon Musk made the provocative argument that reality is not reality at all, but a massive simulation built on top of some other reality.

“There’s a billion-to-one chance we’re living in base reality,” he said.

 Musk’s idea isn’t a new one: Philosophers and science fiction authors have been toying with versions of it for years. But part of what made Musk’s notion interesting was that it rested entirely on a simple extrapolation from the trajectory of the video game industry.

“Forty years ago we had Pong,” he said. “Like, two rectangles and a dot. That was what games were. Now, 40 years later, we have photorealistic 3D simulations with millions of people playing simultaneously, and it’s getting better every year.”

Musk also cited advancements in virtual reality, noting that with any rate of improvement, games and reality will eventually be indistinguishable. It could take 10,000 years, he cautioned, but that’s “nothing on the evolutionary scale.”


Wouldn’t it be cool to upload information directly into our minds, instead of wasting time and energy in trying to memorize stuff? Imagine what that could mean for education, or any profession where quick and timely access to specific sets of data is crucial. A doctor could take just milliseconds to “remember” a complex procedure during an emergency operation; a lawyer could have immediate access to an entire library of cases and precedents simply by thinking about them.

Our brains would probably change, and in a fundamental way. Instead of wasting our brain power on remembering things, we’d use it to process the data we could acquire so easily. Although most of our brain matter would be more occupied with processing the raw data than with storing it, we would still have access to more information than ever before.

If there were an interface that could serve as a mediator between digital data sources and our brains, it could also take our existing memories and digitize them. In other words, we would be able to share memories!

Brain Implant

Recently the New York Post put up a remarkable video, of a man whose Parkinsonian tremors in his arms and legs were controlled by electrical current sent to electrodes in his brain, from a unit in his chest. There is currently a huge amount of research being done not just in medicine but in the area of medically beneficial devices that can be worn, or inserted into the body.

The well-known Fitbit wristband, that helps people track things like steps walked and energy used, and the wonderful Parkinson’s treatment in the video, are merely the tip of the iceberg. These devices are the first steps toward the Singularity.

The most common story about how people will grow into the Singularity goes something like this: People will have chips implanted in their brains that will expand their mental capabilities. These chips will allow people to access the Internet and download whole books directly into their brains, store appointments on the chip instead of trying to remember them and do calculations so quickly and easily, they will never need a calculator again. This story is badly misguided, presuming that a chip that can do things that we already have in our phones constitutes a breakthrough “enhancement” that will change the world.

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Andy Warhol once said that he wanted to be a machine, and that it would be a lot easier to be a machine — if something broke, you could just replace it.

Even though small wounds and injuries heal, this has not been the case for humans. If something were inherently broken, it would stay broken therest of our lives. Which relates to another common saying: The only two things in this world that are certain are death and taxes.

For the transhumanist movement, this is not thecase. Transhumanists believe that humankind can evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations to become “superhuman” and, eventually, immortal. One of the most prominent members of the movement is Zoltan Istvan, founder of the Transhumanist Party and 2016 third-party presidential candidate.

For Istvan, aging and death are the biggest plague of our time. The party is proposing a transhumanist bill of rights that states that it should be illegal to stop research on longevity and eternal rights based on religious and ethical reasons.


Find of the Day: 27 August 2016

When Steve Jobs was trying to lure John Sculley to be Apple’s CEO in the early 1980’s, he asked him, “Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?” Sculley would achieve little at Apple, but Jobs would later make it the most valuable company on the planet.

But did Jobs actually did change the world? Sure, he was successful, but would the world have been so different with a PC and no Macintosh? Android and no iPhone? Dreamworks and no Pixar? Something less, maybe. Still, it’s be hard to argue that things would be profoundly different.

That’s not to diminish Jobs’ accomplishments, but they do seem to be more on the order of Starbucks’ Howard Schultz or Nike’s Phil Knight than they are of Einstein, Pasteur or even Edison. The truth is that what has passed for innovation over the last 20 or 30 years has been more focused on disrupting markets than changing the world.


Lysergic acid diethylamide, colloquially known as LSD or acid, has been the catalyst behind an endless number of creative ventures, and the vivid colors and patterns, exotic ideas, and fresh modes of consciousness associated with the LSD experience have become common knowledge. But the mechanism behind acid trips is perhaps less understood.

In a recent study published in Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, David Nutt, professor of neuropsychopharmacology at London’s Imperial College, led a team of researchers from the University of Kaiserslautern in Germany to explore the relationship between LSD and language. The study’s findings provide evidence as to why acid and other psychedelic substances can enhance creativity and psychotherapy.


The comprehensive list of online typography tools will help you to establish a beautiful and user friendly type design for websites. A good typography is something lively for all websites as they are the communication medium.


Even if you don’t think you’re the “creative type,” don’t assume you can ignore this skillset, or that you can’t become creative too.

60% of CEOs polled by IBM agreed that creativity was the most important skill to possess in a leadership role, because can help us solve problems and respond to challenges.

The seeds of creativity live in everyone, but our daily habits can either nurture or constrain them. Here are 7 daily habits that will ignite your imagination and encourage your mind to think outside the box.


The rule of three, or “omne trium perfectum” as it was first written in Latin, supposes that everything that comes in threes is perfect. As to whether it’s an old wives tale or a rule to bank on you’ll have to be your own judge – but when it comes to this devilishly delicious, race-inspired MV Agusta Brutale RR – also known as the ‘AgoTT’ – the threes just keep piling up. Built at The Deus Emporium of Postmodern Activities in Venice, California by design director Michael “Woolie” Woolaway, the build was commissioned by MV Agusta as a homage to the marque’s rich racing heritage to really capture the spirit of Tourist Trophy racing of the 60’s and 70’s. So from a man who’s built bikes for Orlando Bloom, Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel, comes a bike in honour of the greatest motorcycle racer of all time, Giacomo Agostini. As you can see, the number three represents more than just the triple cylinder engine that powers this red-hot ride. Much more.


We’re into the final third of 2016 and new trends have appeared in content: video content is bigger than ever and animated GIFS populate every other article. Infographics continue to be one of the most popular forms of visual content for marketers, but they are evolving as creatives look for new and exciting ways to approach the medium. Infographics are more complex, more aesthetically pleasing, and more innovative than ever.

The link has 6 of the top infographic design trends of 2016 so far.

Find of the Day: 26 August 2016

Aluminum has been around for thousands of years, but until fairly recently, it was very expensive and a poor building material. The discovery of cheaper manufacturing processes and strong aluminum alloys that were lighter than steel completely changed entire industries in the early 20th century.


Yesterday’s graphic designers are today’s UX designers. Will tomorrow’s UX designers be avatar programmers, fusionists, and artificial organ designers? Yes, according to the illustrious roster of design leaders we spoke with here.

Design has matured from a largely stylistic endeavor to a field tasked with solving thorny technological and social problems, an evolution that will accelerate as companies enlist designers for increasingly complex opportunities, from self-driving cars to human biology. “Over the next five years, design as a profession will continue to evolve into a hybrid industry that is considered as much technical as it is creative,” says Dave Miller, a recruiter at the design consultancy Artefact. “A new wave of designers formally educated in human-centered design—taught to weave together research, interaction, visual and code to solve incredibly gnarly 21st-century problems—will move into leadership positions. They will push the industry to new heights of sophistication.”

Here are 18 of the most important design jobs of the future, as identified by the men and women who will no doubt do much of the hiring. Most looked three to five years out, but some peered farther into the future (see: organ designer).

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Kim Markel doesn’t have the typical CV you’d expect from an artist and furniture-maker. Before moving back to the Hudson Valley to work at Polich Tallix, one of the largest fine art foundries in the U.S., Markel logged four years working in environmental and public policy in D.C., Baltimore, and Rhode Island. “I liked working in policy,” says the 31-year-old Markel, who studied the subject at Carnegie Mellon. “But I thought I would love to be in a world where things are made and there is art and design around.”

So she took a job at the foundry, where she got a crash course in fabricating large-scale fine art pieces from the likes of Jeff Koons, Frank Stella, and Matthew Barney. Before long, she moved to her own studio in Beacon, New York and started making furniture and art objects that drew from both of her past work experiences. Her Glowcollection, which she debuted last weekend at the annual Architectural Digest Design Show, is a series of whimsical, candy-colored chairs, tables, vases, and mirrors made from recycled plastic.

Markel says the idea for the collection arose from a tension she felt between wanting to make something beautiful and new, but not wanting to contribute to the planet’s waste.


Rare earth metals, hard-to-find materials, with unfamiliar names such as lanthanum, neodymium and europium, are used in wind and solar energy projects, but dwindling supplies could hinder a roll-out of low carbon technologies and slow China’s shift away from coal power. These compounds, which are highly toxic when mined and processed, also take a heavy environmental toll on soil and water, posing a conundrum for policymakers in China, the world’s biggest producer and consumer of rare earths.


Whether its human or adhesive behavior, tackiness comes in varying degrees. Tapes are solids but remain tacky—gradually building full bond strength. Liquid adhesives, however, generally need to dry or cure. Some, like hot melts, cool quickly, becoming dry and tack-free relatively fast. Others, such as epoxies need a chemical reaction to form a solid bond, so they may take longer to lose their tackiness. Depending on the product, it could be minutes or hours before the adhesive finishes its reaction.

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Watercolor Poetry

I transform words into watercolor poetry. From simple quotes to songs, I like to make small 9cmx10cm hand-lettered cards. Made using watercolor, paper, a brushpen and some micron pens. These handmade token of love and affection are made for friends and family for the happy times.


If anyone is interested in buying or get a new set made, send an email to

Find of the Day: 25 August 2016

Of all the influences from the past 100 years, the Bauhaus—the venerable art and design school founded in 1919—has had the most enduring impact on the world, from the modern products and furniture we buy, to the graphics we see, and the architecture we inhabit. Yet while scholars have pored over the school and deconstructed its teachings for decades, many untold stories still wait to be unearthed.

This month, the Harvard Art Museum is highlighting them, launching a digital archive of its immense collection of Bauhaus-related artworks, prototypes, documents, prints, drawings, and photographs. The archive is the legacy of Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, who became a professor at Harvard in 1937 after the school closed in 1933 (the Nazis did not agree with its experimental teachings), bringing his knowledge and ephemera to Cambridge, Massachusetts.


So we’ve officially reached the end of the hype. The reviews are in, the players are starting to leave, and the universe of No Man’s Sky is becoming emptier than ever. What happened? This game is gorgeous, packed full of potential, a serene tour of the galaxy that gradually grinds into a tedious rock-harvesting sim. Many have compared it to Spore, a similarly hyped title that was eventually revealed to be a series of basic mini-games with a cool character-creation feature.

No Man’s Sky is what happens when you take the human soul out of a game and let the computer run the show. A breathtaking technical accomplishment it may be, boasting 18 quintillion planets birthed by algorithms, but every single one of them is completely devoid of life. Sure, they have randomly generated creatures that resemble a three year old’s rambling description of their favorite animal, but there is no life. Beyond the initial thrill of exploration, there is nothing left to truly engage you. Only endlessly repeated patterns, twisted and turned to look slightly different, like a Rubik’s Cube made of 18 quintillion plastic blocks. It’s exhausting and eventually, monotonous to the point of depressing.

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Your idea of a library might be a musty, carpeted room with outdated technology, but don’t ditch your library card just yet.

According to David Pescovitz, co-editor at Boing Boing and research director at the Institute for the Future, a Palo Alto-based collective that makes forecasts about our world, it’s likely in the coming decades that society’s traditional understanding of a library will get completely upended.

In 50 years’ time, Pescovitz tells Business Insider, libraries are poised to become all-in-one spaces for learning, consuming, sharing, creating, and experiencing – to the extent that enormous banks of data will allow people to “check out” brand-new realities, whether that’s scaling Mt. Everest or living out an afternoon as a dog.

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In the beginning, it was just about getting rid of the keys to his office.

American biohacker Amal Graafstra, 40, decided in 2005 that he wanted to be done with such archaic technology “from like 700 BC.” He looked at iris scanning and fingerprint reading as solutions for opening his office door, but decided those options were expensive and unreliable.

Inspired by the way pets are commonly tagged, he settled on a safe radio-frequency identification (RFID) implant. “I used to say that if I was beaten up and naked in the back alley, I still want to get into my door,” he told Mashable Australia.

More than decade later, Graafstra now travels the world talking about the underground world of biohacking — people merging their bodies with technology. In 2013, he founded a site that sells home implant kits, Dangerous Things, and in one particularly popular stunt, he modified a gun prototype so it could only be activated by one of his implants.


Thanks to the nation-wide death of shop class, an entire generation of kids is growing up without knowing the proper way to use a band saw (without someone standing behind it), or how to hold a power drill (not by the cord or the spinning bit).

That’s something Eldon Schoop, a PhD candidate in computer sciences at U.C. Berkeley, thinks will ultimately prove to be a disadvantage to millions of would-be makers when they want to evolve past 3D printers to create custom objects of increasing complexity. Back in the day, kids learned to use tools thanks to hands-on time with their seven-fingered shop teacher. How do you teach people those same lessons in the 21st century?

Along with his partner on the project, Michelle Nguyen, Schoop’s answer to this question is the Drill Sergeant, a robotic tutoring platform that augments a set of power tools to teach people how to use them safely . . . while also making them more fully functional. Their vision is to enable anyone to walk into this “smart workshop,” regardless of skill level, and walk out with a beautiful finished product—all without leaving any fingers behind.

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Find of the Day: 24 August 2016

Color and our emotions have an incredibly complex relationship. Recent research, for example, shows that our emotional state affects what colors we see: sad feelings actually hamper our ability to see some colors. For designers, the implications are huge: if color can change how we eat, sleep, and function, how should it be used? And can the way users express themselves with color actually reveal warning signs about their well-being?

A pair of researchers are studying just that. Harvard scientist Andrew Reece and Christopher Danforth—the co-director of the Computational Story Lab at University of Vermont—recently set out to see whether computer learning could detect depression based on a seemingly inane source of information: Instagram.


There have been few clinical trials on the effects of microdosing, so much of the body of evidence is anecdotal. However, pre-eminent researchers in the field of psychedelics aren’t surprised by the glowing reports. David Nutt, director of the Centre for Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, has carried out groundbreaking imaging studies of the brain on LSD and magic mushrooms.

“These drugs change cortical functions, making them more fluid and less rigid. At least big doses do – that’s what our imaging studies tell us – and maybe low doses to a lesser extent,” he says. “This may help certain brain areas work in more flexible and expansive ways that might give better outcomes.”

It’s a view echoed by David Nichols, professor of pharmacology at Purdue University, Indiana, and an expert in psychedelics. He says it’s “quite possible” that low doses of LSD could have a stimulant effect by activating dopamine pathways in the brain. Like Adderall and Ritalin, it may excite the cerebral cortex, which controls high-order cognitive functions such as perception and sensation.


How do you make decisions? Some people want to find the absolute best option (“maximizers”). Others, known as “satisficers,” have a set of criteria, and go for the first option that clears the bar.

While wanting the best seems like a good thing, research from Swarthmore Collegefinds that satisficers tend to be happier than maximizers.

This is true for two reasons. First, people who want the best tend to be prone to regret. “If you’re out to find the best possible job, no matter how good it is, if you have a bad day, you think there’s got to be something better out there,” says Barry Schwartz, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley and author of The Paradox of Choice.

Maximizers are also prone to measuring themselves against others. “If you’re looking for the best, social comparison is inevitable,” says Schwartz. “There’s no other way to know what the best is.” Envy quickly makes people miserable.

This happiness gap raises the question: Can maximizers learn to become satisficers? Can you learn to settle for good enough?

Possibly, but it takes some work. “What I believe is that it’s changeable and that it’s not easy to change,” says Schwartz. In the link are some ways to make the shift.


History is peppered with famous artists, actors and musicians who were highly intelligence and creative, and experienced significant mood swings. Some are quite notorious for their outbursts; painter Vincent Van Gogh and the composer Beethoven are two examples. Writers like Virginia Woolf and Silvia Plath also seemed to suffer from their exceptional level of creativity, where episodes of unstable behavior were common.

Sadly, if these great artists were alive today, they would most likely be coerced into taking pharmaceutical drugs to “temper” their moods. Unfortunately, this scenario doesn’t require any great stretch of the imagination, considering almost seventy-nine million Americans take some form of psychiatric drug — including over a million children under the age of five. But at what cost?


Find of the Day: 23 August 2016

14 years ago, most businesses hadn’t even heard of 3D printing, let alone experimented with printing objects in material like plastic or metal. But one research institute was already laying the foundation for building its own 3D printer for an altogether more complex material: human tissue.

Tissue and organs transplants have been used in medicine for decades to help patients whose own tissue has become diseased or damaged — skin grafts for burns victims, for example, or using a piece of patellar tendon to replace a ruptured ligament. Typically they come from donors or are moved from a healthy part of a patient’s body to a damaged part, but scientists from Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) have developed a prototype printer that could one day be used to print tissue sections designed to fit a person’s unique condition.


Have you ever wondered what might be possible with just a little extra design knowledge in your back pocket?

Turns out, to take your social media images from good to great, is a reasonable leap. And it all starts with a good foundation and understanding of some key design terms and principles.

If you’re looking to take your social media images to the next level and become a better marketer, check out this design dictionary for a crash course on how to better understand design.


There were black and white portraits hanging in the vestibule of the Human by Design conference. Within each baroque, gold leaf frame was a model sporting a futuristic, photoshopped prosthetic. They seemed well-suited to an event that was itself a sort of hybrid—part intellectual forum, part sales pitch. Courageous, CNN’s “branded content” shop, had assembled the day of panels, guest speakers, and documentary-lite fare alongside Square Enix, to buoy promotion of the latter’s upcoming game,Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Academics weighed the implications of transhumanism. Futurist artists sketched out the idea of “cyborg” as a self-identifier. Most strikingly, presenters showed off the bleeding-edge prosthetics and body modifications that enable them to grip, walk, see, and hear—in some cases even beyond normal human ranges.


Digital technology is taking over the world, and scientists are hard at work finding better ways to store data — lots of it and for long periods of time. Scientists are exploring new materials for data storage as well as new methods for printing data on their chosen medium. While some companies are storing data on the ocean floor, other imagineers look upward, dreaming of giant storage skyscrapers. With so many different innovations happening in such a short period of time, the race is on to unlock the keys to near-limitless data storage potential.


Find of the Day: 22 August 2016

Skylar Tibbits has some radical ideas about the future of manufacturing.

“If you look at how things are manufactured at every other scale other than the human scale—look at DNA and cells and proteins, then look at the planetary scale—everything is built through self assembly,” he says. “But at the human scale, it’s the opposite. Everything is built top down. We take components and we force them together.”

Tibbits is a research scientist in MIT’s department of architecture, but his title belies the radical nature of his work. At MIT, he’s developing materials and objects that can be programmed to assemble themselves. In 2011, he set up a lab to experiment with 4D printing, a process that uses 3D printers to produce material that will grow and change on its own. Since then, the Self-Assembly Lab has received funding from DARPA to experiment with a series of materials that can be “programmed” to self-construct. They’ve come up with flat-pack furniture that can build itself, for instance, as well as the textile that could make self-lacing sneakers possible.


When cities redesign traffic-clogged highways, they often make them wider—despite the fact that tends to make traffic even worse. In Shenzhen, China, a team of designers thinks the best way to modernize a 12-lane highway is to shrink it instead, and rethink how highways work.

“We believe, in the future, cars won’t be operating the way they are now,” says Vicky Chan, director of Avoid Obvious Architects, which partnered with Tetra Architects and Planners and BCCI on the proposed design. “With drones and driverless cars, we think that we’ll be able to drive faster, and have fewer cars if we share. I think the concept of having a 12-lane highway is just irrelevant.”

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This piece is part of By Design, a Globe and Mail/OCAD University summer series highlighting design thinking, issues and innovation. Previously:Innovation agenda, Urban agriculture, Social or precarious economy

Patricio Davila is associate professor, director of the Zero Lab and a member of the Visual Analytics Laboratory at OCADU. Sara Diamond is president of OCADU and director of the Visual Analytics Laboratory. Steve Szigeti is a researcher and manager of the Visual Analytics Laboratory.

We need the skills of designers and artists, and widespread data literacy, to ensure that Canada succeeds in the Big Data era.

We can describe data as one of the remarkable new materials of the 21st century – as important to our future as water. Data are measurements of other things: physical phenomena (such as weather patterns) or virtual phenomena (such as telecommunications packets). Every time we search for an online movie, view a video on our mobile device, tweet a comment about a news article, upload a photo to Instagram or are directed to a new location in Pokemon Go, we are producing and responding to data.

Discoverability, the ability to find what we want through harnessing our data traces, has redefined distribution. Similarly, it is through data analytics that personalized advertisements appear adjacent to or are embedded in our online experiences.

Big Datas

A tiny scrap of land might not catch your eye.

But to Japanese architect Yasuhiro Yamashita of Atelier Tekuto, there’s nothing more beautiful.
A veteran designer of Kyosho Jutaku – or micro homes – Yamashita has built more than 300 houses, each uniquely shaped and packed full of personality. All starkly different, the only thing these homes have in common is their size -Yamashita’s projects start at just 182 square feet.
Demand for small homes in Japan results partly from land scarcity, property prices and taxes, as well as the impending danger posed by the country’s regular earthquakes and typhoons.
But some residents simply prefer a smaller home, seeking a minimalist lifestyle.