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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That's it from me. Lebo will be here at 2am.
Now on BBC News, it's time for Click.
This week, the best view in the world, super-smart Singapore,
5:45am on Sunday 19th October 2014, 19 miles above New Mexico,
and the type of sunrise that not many people have ever seen.
It's the view from a test flight which is preparing to take tourists
While all the attention has been focused on space tourism
using rockets and space planes, we've got exclusive access to one
company in the Arizona desert that's been quietly
It's really the way to do space tourism, because you want to go
and spend time and look at the view and have a gentle ride up
I mean, look, the rocket rides are going to be great,
I'm sure, but for me, I want to sit there with my glass
of champagne and my best friend and look.
Tickets are currently selling for $75,000 each for a two-hour
ascent in a pressurised capsule to an altitude of 100,000 feet.
Today, one of World View's co-founders and his team
are showing me a small piece of the balloon's material,
a secret blend of polyethylene and other materials.
I can't help but notice you have, I think,
Tell me you use this for Christmas dinners.
Absolutely, you should see the parties we have on this table!
And, seriously, are you going to make a balloon that covers
So full-scale balloons for heavy-lift flights,
so like a Voyager flight, use the entire table.
If you want to take a payload that is 10,000 pounds to 105,000
feet, it takes a balloon the size of this entire table,
so you could take a football field and spin it inside the balloon
Contrary to what I thought, as the helium expands,
it doesn't cause the material to stretch.
Instead, the gas just occupies more of the initially empty balloon.
Can you navigate when you are up there?
Or are you subject to whichever way the wind blows?
So it turns out that in the stratosphere
you very often get counter-flowing winds, the stratosphere
and the troposphere going different directions, and in that interface
So by guiding my altitude up and down, I can sort of sail
the stratosphere, much like a ship uses the currents and winds
I think that is really the innovation that were pushing,
is figuring out how to do that navigation, when you can find
the right winds and how you take advantage of different kinds
That is a large part of the innovation, along with just
the ability to control your altitude and use solar energy to go up
And then there's the question of how you get back down again,
They go into what's pretty close to freefall for something like ten
seconds, so it feels very light, like going over the top
of a roller-coaster, just feeling light, and then we come
back to about 1G, 12 or 15 seconds later,
so we're just gaining some speed, and then it feels like a normal
But you have to be finished your champagne by then.
One of our requirements was that you don't spill your champagne,
literally, when that happens, and so I think we are going
to have a little cup on the champagne.
"Could you now put a little lid over the top of your champagne as we drop
The person who will make sure you don't spill your booze,
or any other fluid for that matter, is the pilot.
It's a unique job, and that's why an ex-Nasa test pilot and astronaut
will be the one pulling the strings, as it were.
When you are on a parafoil or something like that,
you have this left-right thing going on, is that what you've
You can think of it that way, but in reality the spacecraft
We've got a parachute that's the size of a basketball court,
so we couldn't physically, you know, have enough
So we are actually controlling and probably with a joystick,
we're still designing exactly what it's going to look like,
but that joystick or that whatever controller is controlling motors
that are pulling on lines on the parachute, just
like you would if you were skydiving, but just on a much,
What will this look like when it's kitted out for passengers?
When it's kitted out for passengers, it will have these tremendous
windows, at least four of them, four big ones and then
There will be seats for everybody, there will be a bar,
who wants a spacecraft without a bar?
And it will have a bathroom, it's a five-hour flight,
at least, so you need a bathroom on board too.
And you say this is the first spacecraft you've flown with a bar,
so you've flown other spacecraft, then?
So I've flown on both the US Space Shuttle
and I flew on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
How do you think this will compare to that?
It'll be a different experience, I can tell you that,
you know, when we came back with the Soyuz,
for instance, we hurtle through the atmosphere on fire
It's a very violent, very dynamic, lots of G forces,
you're getting thrown all over the place in the cockpit,
you feel the heat, you're labouring to breathe.
This will be a lot more gentle, a lot more relaxing,
and frankly it will enable people to take in the experience
It's not like you're wondering whether you're going to survive
We are going to have more from World View in a few minutes,
but first let's come back down to Earth and talk about the cities
of our future, cities which are already capable
of guiding our decisions, thanks to an explosion in cameras,
sensors and artificially intelligent technology.
Jen Copestake has been to one of the most hi-tech places on earth
to see what might be in our connected future.
There's been a great variety of connected devices that have
entered our lives in the last few years.
We've seen many concepts at trade shows around the world,
with irons, fridges and robots communicating
Finding the best ways to put these devices to good use for wider
society is a challenge that large companies and governments
Singapore is the perfect test-bed for internet of things technologies.
It's a quintessential smart city, and that is because it's only 40
kilometres across, so it's very small, and the government
here is heavily invested in technology initiatives,
including investing in sensors all around the city.
Along with sensors to monitor pollution and traffic,
some buildings in Singapore are equipped with accelerometers
to monitor elderly people's movements.
Yuhua is a smart region of the city where all the homes are kitted out
The government has now created an impressive 3D map model of Yuhua
What they did was they actually flew planes over the entire Singapore
and scanned the entire country, and then what we did was take
the model and load it in here, and we enhanced the model to this
So these are separately modelled from the buildings,
the buildings are separately modelled as each building,
If you click on a building, it tells you consumption
versus generation, for example, all right?
And you could click on solar panel, and you just get...
This is, again, very typical of Singapore, high-rise living.
It incredible, we are seeing these green pathways shooting out
across the building, where are they going?
They are not meteors or anything like that,
they are just simulating how garbage is disposed in high-rise living,
down the chute, you open the hopper, you drop the garbage,
and it gets collected in a huge bin down at the bottom.
It's certainly mesmerising, which is something I never thought
And for driving around the city, how about a ride in an autonomous taxi?
Singapore became the world's first city to introduce the cars created
by MIT start-up nuTonomy that travel around six kilometres
Companies are also testing the way that artificial intelligence can
IBM has opened a new lab here, focusing on AI.
This includes a pilot we saw late last year,
where its Watson system is helping this is in a busy ICU ward
by monitoring vital signs and triaging the most at-risk patients.
You could even think of this as a command and control centre
Because Parkway has a network of hospitals, and if they really
wanted to, they could create a kind of command and control centre,
where someone is monitoring all their ICUs around the region.
If you see that some of your patients are trending
negatively, you obviously want to focus more on them,
and the ones that are doing fine, you can just continue monitoring
But you know where to put your energy and put your resources.
The Singapore government is pushing digital transformation
We had a brief demo of its online services, including MyInfo,
a portal designed to make things like banking transactions easier
by keeping verification details all in one place.
It's protected by strict data-protection laws
The overarching idea is to make technologies such a central part
of life here, to make it possible to keep pace with regulation.
We've seen this to be more challenging elsewhere,
particularly with laws on autonomous vehicles.
Singapore will continue to act as a tech testing ground for finding
ways to integrate new technologies with society and be a case study
Hello and welcome to the week in tech.
It was the week that Mark Zuckerberg appeared in court to deny
accusations that the software behind Facebook owned Oculus's
Meanwhile, Instagram has followed in owner Facebook's footsteps,
adding a live video streaming function for UK users,
although each one will self-destruct as soon as it finishes.
A disappearing photo option has appeared too.
Mobile network EE has been fined ?2.7 million for overcharging tens
And squirrels have been blamed for being a bigger threat
to the power grid than the risks posed by international
Samsung, listen up - researchers at Stanford University
have developed a lithium-ion battery that claims to release a fire
extinguishing material if overheating occurs.
If you're wondering where the robots are in this week's news,
well, they seem to have gone walkabout.
This telepresence mind-controlled bot has been developed to help those
Claiming to be the first of its kind available to consumers,
it connects through an off-the-shelf brain control device,
resulting in users feeling as though they are in two places at once.
And finally, if you ever travelled to Japan, you'll know
about the toilets, which are beautifully hi-tech,
but you may not be quite sure what to make of them.
Well, some leading manufacturers have agreed on a standardised set
of icons for common cleaning features to help tourists know
what they're letting themselves in for.
I'm in the Arizona desert near Tucson at the new headquarters
of World View, which is planning to take people to the stratosphere
This is a 700 foot wide circle just outside of World View's buildings,
and in just a couple of weeks' time, this is where they will launch
a space balloon from for the first time.
It's a circle so that they can lay the balloon out in any direction
they need to, depending on the wins on that day.
I've just got to say, if you've never been to the desert,
I don't think you really have an appreciation of how big
World View's boss, Jane Poynter, is a developer of technologies
And she hopes that the view from 20 miles up will give passengers
a unique perspective on the fragility of our planet.
And curiously, this project was born out of a view that was pretty much
the opposite - when its two founders took part in a two-year study of how
age humans, plus animals and plants, would interact and survive
You come from a space background, but really interesting,
in the early 90s, you shut yourself away in Biosphere 2
Oh, my gosh, so Biosphere 2 was actually an inspiration
for World View, so when we were in the biosphere,
one of the most extraordinary experiences that I had,
and I think most of the people in there had, was the experience
of really being part of our biosphere, and you really get
this sense of the unity of the biosphere that we are in,
that is on such a huge scale, but in normal life we can't even
And it's a very similar idea to the experience that astronauts
having the earth from space, and it was that experience
that we wanted to give people, because of the experience that we've
So I guess it's easy to imagine that we are all looking at you guys
in the biosphere, but I suppose you're looking out from a unique
That is right, so both truths are true, so we had people walk
around the outside of the biosphere, and I got e-mails from people
I've been hearing about the fact that this planet is a finite place
for some many years, and I never understood
until I walked around this miniature version of our planet.
And suddenly I got it, I could see its boundaries,
I knew that you guys that were living inside only had
what you had in there, which is exactly the same as we have
right here on planet earth, on spaceship earth.
Emotions certainly run high in that kind of environment,
One of the other Biosphere 2 crewmembers was Taber MacCallum,
He's explaining how, although a balloon can't technically
get you into the vacuum of space, the conditions in the stratosphere
are similar enough, with very low air pressure and extremes
of temperature in the sun and shade, to mean that World View's balloons
are already carrying scientific equipment up in so-called
stratolites, which can hang over one location for days at a time.
So there's satellites in low earth orbit that are whizzing around
at 17,000 mph, there are satellites in geostationary orbit that are very
far away, have a hard time focusing in on things.
And then below that we have aircraft, that can carry cameras
and drones, and where we sit is sort of between all those.
We can sit over a piece, persist over a piece of land
for a while, and we have a close view, because we are only about 20
miles up, but we don't have the speed and expense
of being a rocket, and we don't have all of the fuel burn of flying
It is a compelling argument, I suppose - that rockets
are dangerous, and they are expensive, and they are rather
And if you want to send something up close to space,
and you can do it with a balloon, why wouldn't you?
It's also a compelling argument that the more people who see
the earth from way up there,the more people may have the kind
of transcendental shifting viewpoint that seems to be striving
It changes the way you embed yourself in our biosphere,
the way you think about our place in this biosphere that we inhabit.
I mean, it clearly changes the way many people have gone
about developing our environmental movement.
It changes the way we think about communication around
the planet, collaborating with people around the planet.
It really does strip away the notion of boundaries,
of national boundaries, because we think of this
as an entity that we all inhabit at once.
What has changed is my definition of the word "home", and when we had
the re-entry of the Soyuz spacecraft, we initially hit
the ground, flipped and rolled over, and now my window was pointing down
at the ground, and I remember looking at the window and seeing
a rock, a flower and a blade of grass, and I remember thinking,
What was really interesting about that thought is I was home,
but I was in Kazakhstan, and so to me my home wasn't just
in Houston, Texas, where at the time I lived with my family -
my home expanded to include earth, and I think our definition of that
word home has profound implications for how we problems on our planet,
how we treat each other, how we treat our planet,
and I think that is one of the things that we're trying
We're trying to bring that perspective to as many people
as we can, because I think the more people who have that perspective,
the more people who have the opportunity to see our planet
from that vantage point, the better of all of us
There are few countries which can match the speed at which the US
is boldly striding into the future, but China is certainly one of them.
With an economy that is doubling in size every decade,
But unlike America, often that progress is built literally on top
of some amazing history - railroading through plans
for new-builds without pausing to preserve the past.
Dan Simmons has been to Shanghai to meet the city's
I found this problem, they destroyed these older
buildings, so I warned them, you can't do it.
But I think they don't understand the value of these buildings,
so after that I just gave the information to the newspaper.
The professor is unusual for China in that he's not afraid to speak out
against plans to destroy some of the country's
Do you know why they've pulled down heritage buildings like this?
I think the reason is they think these buildings are not safe and not
comfortable for people who live here, so the government may be
want to do some good thing, but in the wrong way.
What used to be here looks like that building
The same, yeah, quite old, I think most of them are about 100
years old, wooden structure, typical local buildings.
I think it's quite important historical memory of this,
so I feel very sorrow for what they do.
The Chinese authorities say these buildings,
40 minutes' drive from downtown Shanghai, need upgrading.
But the materials aren't traditional, and neither
So for the professor, this is a race against time,
first to capture everything that still here.
The professor's team uses a 3D laser scanner.
Pictures are taken, the taller structures by drone.
And then back at base, image-based modelling allows them
to add photorealistic skins to the inch-perfect reconstruction.
In many examples, from temples to colonial schools,
the professor tries to stop the destruction, but where he can't,
his team recreates these communities virtually.
This is one of the visualisations of the rubble that we were
And here is the 3D model of what was there.
Using old photos, some given to the team by local residents,
the picture slowly builds, including of the buildings already destroyed.
Materials, building styles and colour matching adds
to the accuracy of what the professor hopes will be
a lasting digital legacy to show future generations.
Reconstructing the model is all done by hand.
Even at this speed, the project will take around six
For a city of China, we must face this problem.
Removing so many older buildings, so many older districts.
Comparing to a European city, I think we must focus on this kind
of problem, because our city is becoming newer and newer so fast.
That was Dan in Shanghai, and that is it from World View
What a fascinating story this is turning out to be.
You can follow us on Twitter, as always, @bbcclick throughout
the week, we'll put loads of backstage photos
Thanks for watching, and we'll see you soon.