21/01/2017 Click


21/01/2017

Click ventures to the edge of space with the help of a hi-tech hot air balloon for space tourists. Plus the latest tech news from around the world.


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Transcript


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That's it from me. Lebo will be here at 2am.

:00:00.:00:00.

Now on BBC News, it's time for Click.

:00:00.:00:00.

This week, the best view in the world, super-smart Singapore,

:00:07.:00:10.

5:45am on Sunday 19th October 2014, 19 miles above New Mexico,

:00:11.:00:51.

and the type of sunrise that not many people have ever seen.

:00:52.:01:00.

It's the view from a test flight which is preparing to take tourists

:01:01.:01:03.

While all the attention has been focused on space tourism

:01:04.:01:13.

using rockets and space planes, we've got exclusive access to one

:01:14.:01:16.

company in the Arizona desert that's been quietly

:01:17.:01:18.

It's really the way to do space tourism, because you want to go

:01:19.:01:30.

and spend time and look at the view and have a gentle ride up

:01:31.:01:33.

I mean, look, the rocket rides are going to be great,

:01:34.:01:38.

I'm sure, but for me, I want to sit there with my glass

:01:39.:01:41.

of champagne and my best friend and look.

:01:42.:01:44.

Tickets are currently selling for $75,000 each for a two-hour

:01:45.:01:48.

ascent in a pressurised capsule to an altitude of 100,000 feet.

:01:49.:01:53.

Today, one of World View's co-founders and his team

:01:54.:02:01.

are showing me a small piece of the balloon's material,

:02:02.:02:04.

a secret blend of polyethylene and other materials.

:02:05.:02:07.

I can't help but notice you have, I think,

:02:08.:02:09.

Tell me you use this for Christmas dinners.

:02:10.:02:12.

Absolutely, you should see the parties we have on this table!

:02:13.:02:16.

And, seriously, are you going to make a balloon that covers

:02:17.:02:23.

So full-scale balloons for heavy-lift flights,

:02:24.:02:26.

so like a Voyager flight, use the entire table.

:02:27.:02:31.

If you want to take a payload that is 10,000 pounds to 105,000

:02:32.:02:34.

feet, it takes a balloon the size of this entire table,

:02:35.:02:38.

so you could take a football field and spin it inside the balloon

:02:39.:02:42.

Contrary to what I thought, as the helium expands,

:02:43.:02:48.

it doesn't cause the material to stretch.

:02:49.:02:50.

Instead, the gas just occupies more of the initially empty balloon.

:02:51.:02:53.

Can you navigate when you are up there?

:02:54.:02:55.

Or are you subject to whichever way the wind blows?

:02:56.:03:06.

So it turns out that in the stratosphere

:03:07.:03:08.

you very often get counter-flowing winds, the stratosphere

:03:09.:03:10.

and the troposphere going different directions, and in that interface

:03:11.:03:13.

So by guiding my altitude up and down, I can sort of sail

:03:14.:03:18.

the stratosphere, much like a ship uses the currents and winds

:03:19.:03:21.

I think that is really the innovation that were pushing,

:03:22.:03:30.

is figuring out how to do that navigation, when you can find

:03:31.:03:33.

the right winds and how you take advantage of different kinds

:03:34.:03:36.

That is a large part of the innovation, along with just

:03:37.:03:40.

the ability to control your altitude and use solar energy to go up

:03:41.:03:44.

And then there's the question of how you get back down again,

:03:45.:03:48.

They go into what's pretty close to freefall for something like ten

:03:49.:03:56.

seconds, so it feels very light, like going over the top

:03:57.:03:59.

of a roller-coaster, just feeling light, and then we come

:04:00.:04:02.

back to about 1G, 12 or 15 seconds later,

:04:03.:04:05.

so we're just gaining some speed, and then it feels like a normal

:04:06.:04:08.

But you have to be finished your champagne by then.

:04:09.:04:14.

One of our requirements was that you don't spill your champagne,

:04:15.:04:18.

literally, when that happens, and so I think we are going

:04:19.:04:21.

to have a little cup on the champagne.

:04:22.:04:23.

"Could you now put a little lid over the top of your champagne as we drop

:04:24.:04:29.

The person who will make sure you don't spill your booze,

:04:30.:04:36.

or any other fluid for that matter, is the pilot.

:04:37.:04:38.

It's a unique job, and that's why an ex-Nasa test pilot and astronaut

:04:39.:04:42.

will be the one pulling the strings, as it were.

:04:43.:04:47.

When you are on a parafoil or something like that,

:04:48.:04:52.

you have this left-right thing going on, is that what you've

:04:53.:04:55.

You can think of it that way, but in reality the spacecraft

:04:56.:04:59.

We've got a parachute that's the size of a basketball court,

:05:00.:05:04.

so we couldn't physically, you know, have enough

:05:05.:05:06.

So we are actually controlling and probably with a joystick,

:05:07.:05:13.

we're still designing exactly what it's going to look like,

:05:14.:05:16.

but that joystick or that whatever controller is controlling motors

:05:17.:05:20.

that are pulling on lines on the parachute, just

:05:21.:05:23.

like you would if you were skydiving, but just on a much,

:05:24.:05:26.

What will this look like when it's kitted out for passengers?

:05:27.:05:30.

When it's kitted out for passengers, it will have these tremendous

:05:31.:05:33.

windows, at least four of them, four big ones and then

:05:34.:05:36.

There will be seats for everybody, there will be a bar,

:05:37.:05:40.

who wants a spacecraft without a bar?

:05:41.:05:44.

And it will have a bathroom, it's a five-hour flight,

:05:45.:05:46.

at least, so you need a bathroom on board too.

:05:47.:05:53.

And you say this is the first spacecraft you've flown with a bar,

:05:54.:05:56.

so you've flown other spacecraft, then?

:05:57.:05:58.

So I've flown on both the US Space Shuttle

:05:59.:06:02.

and I flew on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

:06:03.:06:04.

How do you think this will compare to that?

:06:05.:06:08.

It'll be a different experience, I can tell you that,

:06:09.:06:13.

you know, when we came back with the Soyuz,

:06:14.:06:16.

for instance, we hurtle through the atmosphere on fire

:06:17.:06:19.

It's a very violent, very dynamic, lots of G forces,

:06:20.:06:23.

you're getting thrown all over the place in the cockpit,

:06:24.:06:25.

you feel the heat, you're labouring to breathe.

:06:26.:06:30.

This will be a lot more gentle, a lot more relaxing,

:06:31.:06:37.

and frankly it will enable people to take in the experience

:06:38.:06:40.

It's not like you're wondering whether you're going to survive

:06:41.:06:44.

We are going to have more from World View in a few minutes,

:06:45.:06:50.

but first let's come back down to Earth and talk about the cities

:06:51.:06:54.

of our future, cities which are already capable

:06:55.:06:56.

of guiding our decisions, thanks to an explosion in cameras,

:06:57.:06:59.

sensors and artificially intelligent technology.

:07:00.:07:01.

Jen Copestake has been to one of the most hi-tech places on earth

:07:02.:07:04.

to see what might be in our connected future.

:07:05.:07:14.

There's been a great variety of connected devices that have

:07:15.:07:17.

entered our lives in the last few years.

:07:18.:07:19.

We've seen many concepts at trade shows around the world,

:07:20.:07:21.

with irons, fridges and robots communicating

:07:22.:07:23.

Finding the best ways to put these devices to good use for wider

:07:24.:07:29.

society is a challenge that large companies and governments

:07:30.:07:31.

Singapore is the perfect test-bed for internet of things technologies.

:07:32.:07:40.

It's a quintessential smart city, and that is because it's only 40

:07:41.:07:43.

kilometres across, so it's very small, and the government

:07:44.:07:45.

here is heavily invested in technology initiatives,

:07:46.:07:47.

including investing in sensors all around the city.

:07:48.:07:50.

Along with sensors to monitor pollution and traffic,

:07:51.:07:54.

some buildings in Singapore are equipped with accelerometers

:07:55.:07:56.

to monitor elderly people's movements.

:07:57.:08:01.

Yuhua is a smart region of the city where all the homes are kitted out

:08:02.:08:05.

The government has now created an impressive 3D map model of Yuhua

:08:06.:08:10.

What they did was they actually flew planes over the entire Singapore

:08:11.:08:18.

and scanned the entire country, and then what we did was take

:08:19.:08:22.

the model and load it in here, and we enhanced the model to this

:08:23.:08:26.

So these are separately modelled from the buildings,

:08:27.:08:32.

the buildings are separately modelled as each building,

:08:33.:08:34.

If you click on a building, it tells you consumption

:08:35.:08:42.

versus generation, for example, all right?

:08:43.:08:44.

And you could click on solar panel, and you just get...

:08:45.:08:47.

This is, again, very typical of Singapore, high-rise living.

:08:48.:08:53.

It incredible, we are seeing these green pathways shooting out

:08:54.:09:01.

across the building, where are they going?

:09:02.:09:05.

They are not meteors or anything like that,

:09:06.:09:09.

they are just simulating how garbage is disposed in high-rise living,

:09:10.:09:13.

down the chute, you open the hopper, you drop the garbage,

:09:14.:09:16.

and it gets collected in a huge bin down at the bottom.

:09:17.:09:20.

It's certainly mesmerising, which is something I never thought

:09:21.:09:22.

And for driving around the city, how about a ride in an autonomous taxi?

:09:23.:09:32.

Singapore became the world's first city to introduce the cars created

:09:33.:09:36.

by MIT start-up nuTonomy that travel around six kilometres

:09:37.:09:38.

Companies are also testing the way that artificial intelligence can

:09:39.:09:44.

IBM has opened a new lab here, focusing on AI.

:09:45.:09:51.

This includes a pilot we saw late last year,

:09:52.:09:54.

where its Watson system is helping this is in a busy ICU ward

:09:55.:09:58.

by monitoring vital signs and triaging the most at-risk patients.

:09:59.:10:03.

You could even think of this as a command and control centre

:10:04.:10:06.

Because Parkway has a network of hospitals, and if they really

:10:07.:10:12.

wanted to, they could create a kind of command and control centre,

:10:13.:10:15.

where someone is monitoring all their ICUs around the region.

:10:16.:10:18.

If you see that some of your patients are trending

:10:19.:10:21.

negatively, you obviously want to focus more on them,

:10:22.:10:23.

and the ones that are doing fine, you can just continue monitoring

:10:24.:10:26.

But you know where to put your energy and put your resources.

:10:27.:10:31.

The Singapore government is pushing digital transformation

:10:32.:10:33.

We had a brief demo of its online services, including MyInfo,

:10:34.:10:40.

a portal designed to make things like banking transactions easier

:10:41.:10:43.

by keeping verification details all in one place.

:10:44.:10:46.

It's protected by strict data-protection laws

:10:47.:10:48.

The overarching idea is to make technologies such a central part

:10:49.:10:54.

of life here, to make it possible to keep pace with regulation.

:10:55.:10:59.

We've seen this to be more challenging elsewhere,

:11:00.:11:01.

particularly with laws on autonomous vehicles.

:11:02.:11:05.

Singapore will continue to act as a tech testing ground for finding

:11:06.:11:08.

ways to integrate new technologies with society and be a case study

:11:09.:11:12.

Hello and welcome to the week in tech.

:11:13.:11:20.

It was the week that Mark Zuckerberg appeared in court to deny

:11:21.:11:24.

accusations that the software behind Facebook owned Oculus's

:11:25.:11:27.

Meanwhile, Instagram has followed in owner Facebook's footsteps,

:11:28.:11:33.

adding a live video streaming function for UK users,

:11:34.:11:36.

although each one will self-destruct as soon as it finishes.

:11:37.:11:41.

A disappearing photo option has appeared too.

:11:42.:11:45.

Mobile network EE has been fined ?2.7 million for overcharging tens

:11:46.:11:48.

And squirrels have been blamed for being a bigger threat

:11:49.:11:56.

to the power grid than the risks posed by international

:11:57.:11:59.

Samsung, listen up - researchers at Stanford University

:12:00.:12:04.

have developed a lithium-ion battery that claims to release a fire

:12:05.:12:08.

extinguishing material if overheating occurs.

:12:09.:12:12.

If you're wondering where the robots are in this week's news,

:12:13.:12:15.

well, they seem to have gone walkabout.

:12:16.:12:16.

This telepresence mind-controlled bot has been developed to help those

:12:17.:12:19.

Claiming to be the first of its kind available to consumers,

:12:20.:12:27.

it connects through an off-the-shelf brain control device,

:12:28.:12:31.

resulting in users feeling as though they are in two places at once.

:12:32.:12:34.

And finally, if you ever travelled to Japan, you'll know

:12:35.:12:37.

about the toilets, which are beautifully hi-tech,

:12:38.:12:40.

but you may not be quite sure what to make of them.

:12:41.:12:46.

Well, some leading manufacturers have agreed on a standardised set

:12:47.:12:52.

of icons for common cleaning features to help tourists know

:12:53.:12:54.

what they're letting themselves in for.

:12:55.:13:03.

I'm in the Arizona desert near Tucson at the new headquarters

:13:04.:13:06.

of World View, which is planning to take people to the stratosphere

:13:07.:13:10.

This is a 700 foot wide circle just outside of World View's buildings,

:13:11.:13:22.

and in just a couple of weeks' time, this is where they will launch

:13:23.:13:25.

a space balloon from for the first time.

:13:26.:13:30.

It's a circle so that they can lay the balloon out in any direction

:13:31.:13:33.

they need to, depending on the wins on that day.

:13:34.:13:38.

I've just got to say, if you've never been to the desert,

:13:39.:13:41.

I don't think you really have an appreciation of how big

:13:42.:13:44.

World View's boss, Jane Poynter, is a developer of technologies

:13:45.:13:52.

And she hopes that the view from 20 miles up will give passengers

:13:53.:14:07.

a unique perspective on the fragility of our planet.

:14:08.:14:09.

And curiously, this project was born out of a view that was pretty much

:14:10.:14:13.

the opposite - when its two founders took part in a two-year study of how

:14:14.:14:17.

age humans, plus animals and plants, would interact and survive

:14:18.:14:20.

You come from a space background, but really interesting,

:14:21.:14:25.

in the early 90s, you shut yourself away in Biosphere 2

:14:26.:14:28.

Oh, my gosh, so Biosphere 2 was actually an inspiration

:14:29.:14:39.

for World View, so when we were in the biosphere,

:14:40.:14:42.

one of the most extraordinary experiences that I had,

:14:43.:14:52.

and I think most of the people in there had, was the experience

:14:53.:14:55.

of really being part of our biosphere, and you really get

:14:56.:14:58.

this sense of the unity of the biosphere that we are in,

:14:59.:15:01.

that is on such a huge scale, but in normal life we can't even

:15:02.:15:05.

And it's a very similar idea to the experience that astronauts

:15:06.:15:09.

having the earth from space, and it was that experience

:15:10.:15:12.

that we wanted to give people, because of the experience that we've

:15:13.:15:15.

So I guess it's easy to imagine that we are all looking at you guys

:15:16.:15:20.

in the biosphere, but I suppose you're looking out from a unique

:15:21.:15:23.

That is right, so both truths are true, so we had people walk

:15:24.:15:28.

around the outside of the biosphere, and I got e-mails from people

:15:29.:15:31.

I've been hearing about the fact that this planet is a finite place

:15:32.:15:36.

for some many years, and I never understood

:15:37.:15:39.

until I walked around this miniature version of our planet.

:15:40.:15:41.

And suddenly I got it, I could see its boundaries,

:15:42.:15:44.

I knew that you guys that were living inside only had

:15:45.:15:51.

what you had in there, which is exactly the same as we have

:15:52.:15:55.

right here on planet earth, on spaceship earth.

:15:56.:15:58.

Emotions certainly run high in that kind of environment,

:15:59.:16:01.

One of the other Biosphere 2 crewmembers was Taber MacCallum,

:16:02.:16:06.

He's explaining how, although a balloon can't technically

:16:07.:16:12.

get you into the vacuum of space, the conditions in the stratosphere

:16:13.:16:15.

are similar enough, with very low air pressure and extremes

:16:16.:16:18.

of temperature in the sun and shade, to mean that World View's balloons

:16:19.:16:21.

are already carrying scientific equipment up in so-called

:16:22.:16:24.

stratolites, which can hang over one location for days at a time.

:16:25.:16:30.

So there's satellites in low earth orbit that are whizzing around

:16:31.:16:35.

at 17,000 mph, there are satellites in geostationary orbit that are very

:16:36.:16:40.

far away, have a hard time focusing in on things.

:16:41.:16:44.

And then below that we have aircraft, that can carry cameras

:16:45.:16:47.

and drones, and where we sit is sort of between all those.

:16:48.:16:50.

We can sit over a piece, persist over a piece of land

:16:51.:16:53.

for a while, and we have a close view, because we are only about 20

:16:54.:16:57.

miles up, but we don't have the speed and expense

:16:58.:17:00.

of being a rocket, and we don't have all of the fuel burn of flying

:17:01.:17:04.

It is a compelling argument, I suppose - that rockets

:17:05.:17:11.

are dangerous, and they are expensive, and they are rather

:17:12.:17:14.

And if you want to send something up close to space,

:17:15.:17:18.

and you can do it with a balloon, why wouldn't you?

:17:19.:17:21.

It's also a compelling argument that the more people who see

:17:22.:17:24.

the earth from way up there,the more people may have the kind

:17:25.:17:27.

of transcendental shifting viewpoint that seems to be striving

:17:28.:17:30.

It changes the way you embed yourself in our biosphere,

:17:31.:17:39.

the way you think about our place in this biosphere that we inhabit.

:17:40.:17:43.

I mean, it clearly changes the way many people have gone

:17:44.:17:46.

about developing our environmental movement.

:17:47.:17:52.

It changes the way we think about communication around

:17:53.:17:54.

the planet, collaborating with people around the planet.

:17:55.:17:56.

It really does strip away the notion of boundaries,

:17:57.:17:59.

of national boundaries, because we think of this

:18:00.:18:01.

as an entity that we all inhabit at once.

:18:02.:18:09.

What has changed is my definition of the word "home", and when we had

:18:10.:18:13.

the re-entry of the Soyuz spacecraft, we initially hit

:18:14.:18:15.

the ground, flipped and rolled over, and now my window was pointing down

:18:16.:18:19.

at the ground, and I remember looking at the window and seeing

:18:20.:18:22.

a rock, a flower and a blade of grass, and I remember thinking,

:18:23.:18:25.

What was really interesting about that thought is I was home,

:18:26.:18:33.

but I was in Kazakhstan, and so to me my home wasn't just

:18:34.:18:37.

in Houston, Texas, where at the time I lived with my family -

:18:38.:18:40.

my home expanded to include earth, and I think our definition of that

:18:41.:18:44.

word home has profound implications for how we problems on our planet,

:18:45.:18:47.

how we treat each other, how we treat our planet,

:18:48.:18:50.

and I think that is one of the things that we're trying

:18:51.:18:53.

We're trying to bring that perspective to as many people

:18:54.:19:01.

as we can, because I think the more people who have that perspective,

:19:02.:19:05.

the more people who have the opportunity to see our planet

:19:06.:19:08.

from that vantage point, the better of all of us

:19:09.:19:10.

There are few countries which can match the speed at which the US

:19:11.:19:16.

is boldly striding into the future, but China is certainly one of them.

:19:17.:19:20.

With an economy that is doubling in size every decade,

:19:21.:19:22.

But unlike America, often that progress is built literally on top

:19:23.:19:35.

of some amazing history - railroading through plans

:19:36.:19:38.

for new-builds without pausing to preserve the past.

:19:39.:19:40.

Dan Simmons has been to Shanghai to meet the city's

:19:41.:19:43.

I found this problem, they destroyed these older

:19:44.:20:23.

buildings, so I warned them, you can't do it.

:20:24.:20:26.

But I think they don't understand the value of these buildings,

:20:27.:20:28.

so after that I just gave the information to the newspaper.

:20:29.:20:42.

The professor is unusual for China in that he's not afraid to speak out

:20:43.:20:46.

against plans to destroy some of the country's

:20:47.:20:48.

Do you know why they've pulled down heritage buildings like this?

:20:49.:21:04.

I think the reason is they think these buildings are not safe and not

:21:05.:21:08.

comfortable for people who live here, so the government may be

:21:09.:21:11.

want to do some good thing, but in the wrong way.

:21:12.:21:15.

What used to be here looks like that building

:21:16.:21:17.

The same, yeah, quite old, I think most of them are about 100

:21:18.:21:30.

years old, wooden structure, typical local buildings.

:21:31.:21:32.

I think it's quite important historical memory of this,

:21:33.:21:34.

so I feel very sorrow for what they do.

:21:35.:21:46.

The Chinese authorities say these buildings,

:21:47.:21:48.

40 minutes' drive from downtown Shanghai, need upgrading.

:21:49.:21:52.

But the materials aren't traditional, and neither

:21:53.:21:55.

So for the professor, this is a race against time,

:21:56.:21:59.

first to capture everything that still here.

:22:00.:22:14.

The professor's team uses a 3D laser scanner.

:22:15.:22:16.

Pictures are taken, the taller structures by drone.

:22:17.:22:18.

And then back at base, image-based modelling allows them

:22:19.:22:21.

to add photorealistic skins to the inch-perfect reconstruction.

:22:22.:22:23.

In many examples, from temples to colonial schools,

:22:24.:22:25.

the professor tries to stop the destruction, but where he can't,

:22:26.:22:28.

his team recreates these communities virtually.

:22:29.:22:33.

This is one of the visualisations of the rubble that we were

:22:34.:22:36.

And here is the 3D model of what was there.

:22:37.:22:44.

Using old photos, some given to the team by local residents,

:22:45.:22:47.

the picture slowly builds, including of the buildings already destroyed.

:22:48.:22:54.

Materials, building styles and colour matching adds

:22:55.:22:56.

to the accuracy of what the professor hopes will be

:22:57.:22:59.

a lasting digital legacy to show future generations.

:23:00.:23:06.

Reconstructing the model is all done by hand.

:23:07.:23:08.

Even at this speed, the project will take around six

:23:09.:23:15.

For a city of China, we must face this problem.

:23:16.:23:22.

Removing so many older buildings, so many older districts.

:23:23.:23:25.

Comparing to a European city, I think we must focus on this kind

:23:26.:23:29.

of problem, because our city is becoming newer and newer so fast.

:23:30.:23:45.

That was Dan in Shanghai, and that is it from World View

:23:46.:23:48.

What a fascinating story this is turning out to be.

:23:49.:23:51.

You can follow us on Twitter, as always, @bbcclick throughout

:23:52.:23:54.

the week, we'll put loads of backstage photos

:23:55.:23:56.

Thanks for watching, and we'll see you soon.

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