Click investigates why consumers may soon have to pay more for internet access and the tech making our cities smarter.
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Now on BBC News, Click.
This week: Is this the smartest building in Italy?
The latest worker drones.
And, beat this, a hearty handful.
On July 12th, the internet as we know it will change.
Go to Amazon, Twitter, Reddit or many other sites
and you could be asked to wait on a slower connection,
or pay extra, or you may be blocked altogether.
Thankfully, these warnings aren't real.
They're part of an internet-wide protest, with the aim
of protecting net neutrality.
Net neutrality is the basic principle that protects our freedom
of speech on the internet.
It's the guiding rules that have made the internet
into what it is today, and it prevents our internet
service providers - so the cable companies like Comcast,
Verizon and AT - from controlling what we can see
and do when we go online.
Under the net neutrality principle, all data should be
treated equally by ISPs.
That means they can't slow down companies who refuse to pay
to have their data prioritised, and they can't charge customers
for fast access to certain data.
But the US Federal Communications Commission, the FCC,
voted recently to overturn rules from 2015 which enshrined these
neutrality principles, and which meant telecoms firms
could be fined for noncompliance.
And that, says the organiser of the July 12th protest,
will play right into the big cable companies' hands.
If we lose net neutrality, you're going to start to see
the internet look more like cable TV.
You can imagine trying to go to a social media site and getting
a notification from your internet service provider saying -
oh, sorry, if you want to access this site, you need to upgrade
to our social media package.
You need to upgrade to our streaming video package.
You need to pay us more, in order to access the same sites
that you've been using day after day for years.
They can also go to those sites and charge them extra fees in order
to deliver their content to users.
And, of course, those fees get passed on to all of us.
So it's really an issue that affects every single person
that uses the internet, regardless of your political views.
It's gonna hit us in the pocketbook.
And this won't just affect US internet users.
If you use an American web service - which, let's face it,
is most of us - it may affect the service that they provide to us.
The FCC says that the 2015 rules are unnecessary and may
have stifled investment in next-generation networks.
And free-market think tanks agree.
Well, this fight could have been resolved ten years ago
if it were really just about net neutrality.
This has really primarily been
a fight about the FCC's power
to regulate the internet.
We had our first major update to our communications law 20 years ago,
and that law made it unclear exactly how the FCC was going to regulate
the internet, and that ambiguity has left the agency to wrestle with this
issue for a decade.
And in a nutshell, there were simpler, better ways
of dealing with this issue.
There were other agencies that could have addressed net neutrality
concerns when they arose, starting back in 2008.
And, er, Congress has three times tried to legislate,
and both Republicans and Democrats, I think, share the blame for missing
the opportunity to craft a solution that would resolve this issue.
And that, unfortunately, has led us to where we are today,
which is a thorough rule-making at the FCC to deal with this
issue of legal authority, when the rules themselves -
the core of net neutrality - have really never been controversial.
Well, I wonder what the original inventor of the concept of net
neutrality would make of these changes.
You know, it's...very disappointing, let's put it that way.
So, you know, the Obama administration had finally put net
neutrality into law, done a good job with it, everyone
was happy, but out of nowhere, the Trump Administration...
And it's not been any public movement against net neutrality,
it's really the cable and phone companies wanna make more money,
let's put it that way.
And they have somehow kind of, under the cover of Trump's madness,
managed to start the process on net neutrality.
The thing is making the government realise that there are severe
electoral consequences for messing with net neutrality.
It has to be understood as the third rail, that you mess with this
and you're going to get people very angry and descending
But not everyone agrees that next week's protest will make
much of a difference.
The current FCC leadership has been very clear about their views
of the FCC's legal authority and their minds are not going to be
changed by an angry mob or what amounts to policy arguments.
Well, whatever happens next week, I have a feeling it won't be
the last word we hear on net neutrality.
Just a hunch!
Welcome to the Royal Society of Arts, in London, which this week
was hosting its annual Summer Science Exhibition.
For one week only, universities from around the country gather
here to bring their cutting-edge science experiment out of the lab
and into the public's imagination.
Oh, you see, it's great being a kid!
In another room, I got to feel the difference
between a healthy heart and one suffering from cardiomyopathy.
The robotic heart's beating in sync with my own heartbeat,
which is being detected by the monitors on my wrists.
You feel this one's beating quite regularly.
This one is...
It's beating faster and it's beating weaker.
So if my heart was diseased, it would feel more like this one.
Which is a good incentive not to get one of these!
Oh, and by the way, if you were wondering who the next
Doctor Who is going to be...
Right, time to get them beating a bit faster.
Whether you love or loathe a trip to the shops, retail is changing,
but there's more to it than people just shopping online instead.
Can I just see what colours there are downloaded?
Can I just see what colours there are down lower?
Here's an idea that takes shopping online a step further.
One company's software allows you to go a shop's website and,
from there, you can connect to a shop assistant in store, who'll
be wearing a pair of smart glasses.
Yeah, what do we have there on the right?
There are some bags.
Can you please take the cream bag off the shelf, and can you open it
and show me the compartments?
The shop has actually found that the same experience
being streamed to a mobile has actually proved more popular
than the smart glasses.
And although I found the experience pretty good, it does of course
have some limitations.
Oh, I see, I wasn't expecting that.
I thought it was going round your waist.
I'm glad I asked you.
If, when shopping online, you're worried about
getting your size right, then these smart
leggings could help.
They aim to be able to measure you and tell you the exact
right size of jeans that you should be buying.
LikeAGlove hopes to measure women for the right size and style
of jeans for their body shape.
The stretchy measuring leggings connect via Bluetooth
to a smartphone app, where your stats will be stored,
so you can keep track of your body shape.
Oh, my waist measurement here seems to be about five inches larger
than I thought it was, and a fair bit bigger than the jean
size I normally wear.
When I clicked through to the suggestions,
my size was as expected.
The company say these measurements represent where the jeans would sit,
rather than actual measurements you would expect.
Might upset a few people along the way, though!
But another trend emerging is that we head back
to the High Street, but shop assistants as we know them don't.
These online stores are open 24 hours a day, with only a series
of cameras and microphones keeping an eye on you.
You gain access to your smartphone, use it to scan your purchases
and pay, then head off.
Their first branch opened in Sweden last year, followed by another
in Shanghai recently.
The launch of Amazon Go's first store in Seattle appears
to have been delayed, but aims to replace queues
and checkouts by using computer vision, deep learning
and data from sensors.
It will see what you've picked up in store and, in turn,
charge your Amazon account.
But one US company has another idea about self-service.
Well, on first view, this does just look like an ordinary
vending machine that happens to have a TV screen on it,
but a machine like this could soon be selling alcohol,
cannabis and even guns.
Let me explain more.
The device uses biometric sensors to identify users
by the veins in their fingers, meaning you can turn a standard
machine into an apparently secure one, only dispensing goods
to the person with the right to collect them.
And, yes, in the US, that item could be a gun.
The company claims the machinery uses the same level of security
employed by US military and large corporations to access
facilities, but they do add...
Everything is malleable.
If it's connected to the internet, they say 'Where there's
water, there's sharks'.
Where there's internet connectivity, somebody can
make their way in there, perhaps.
We've jumped through every possible hoop we can do to make sure that
only the person standing in front of it is able to get
the product that they want.
It's that sort of regulated product.
Right, and there are guns and alcohol available too?
So some fellas are going out hunting and they leave late from work,
and they rush out of the kitchen to catch up with their friends.
Usually, you're far outside the city limits, you've made a whole plan,
you've made your trip, you get out and you say,
"Oh, I forget my ammo".
In this situation, a secure machine would allow you to pick up some
ammo, or even a replacement gun, if you're in the system.
Maybe get their whiskey off the one side, get their ammo off the other,
and head on into the camp and have a fine week of hunting.
OK, maybe this isn't solving a problem that many people have.
And suddenly, the idea of shops without assistants
doesn't seem so surprising.
Welcome to this week's Tech News.
Volvo announced they'll only make electric and hybrid cars from 2019.
Formula One racing team Williams unveiled a carbon-fibre baby carrier
that can transport critically ill newborn infants by
ambulance or helicopter.
The Babypod protects against vibrations and can be kept
at a constant temperature.
And sex robots designed to look like children should be banned.
A report looking into the future of people's sexual relationships
with robots said policymakers need to look at the issue
and decide what is acceptable.
Dubai police are to introduce a robot cop and autonomous patrol
The vehicles will use 360-degree surveillance technology
to identify suspicious objects, launch a mini drone,
and even give chase to suspects.
Google's in the doghouse again - this time, for a deal with a UK
hospital that didn't respect the privacy of patients.
The UK's Information Commissioner ruled that 1.6 million patients'
details were provided to Google's DeepMind illegally,
to help develop an app to diagnose kidney failure.
And could tickets be replaced by inaudible sounds?
Well, it seems maybe.
TicketMaster has teamed up with Listener, a company that uses
ultrasonic sound technology to transmit information
Checking into a venue with an app would give off the sound,
and organisers could lock who was in and where they are -
unless your phone dies, of course.
Back at the Royal Society of Arts, I finally got my robotic heart
to beat a bit faster.
Our individual lifestyles may affect our health personally,
but our collective lifestyles have been affecting the world
that we live in.
It's one thing to talk about climate change
and its effects on the environment, but it's another thing
to actually see it in action.
This is a simulation of the CO2 that was in the atmosphere in 2006.
The redder bits are the most CO2 heavy.
What's really interesting is, have a look at the difference
between the north and the south.
Just look how much CO2 is covering China and the United States.
If, indeed, that's what I'm looking at, because you really
can't see all the CO2.
This work was created by the UK's Met Office
and the Natural Environment Research Council.
The scientists mashed up historical weather data with information coming
from all sorts of modern sensors, including things like air-traffic
data, to try and predict the world's climate in the future.
They're wanting to see how all different components that
affect the climate zone - the oceans, the atmosphere,
the land and ice - how that all interacts.
And really, the Met Office and also the Natural Environment Research
Council and their research centres can kind off give messages
about what's likely to happen and, therefore, what likely changes we're
going to need to keep to a safe level of global
warming above two degrees.
But pollution comes in many forms.
If you live in a big city, for example, I'm sure
you would count the noise and congestion as just
as harmful to your health as the air that we breathe.
Now, currently, half of the world's population
lives in cities and, in the next decade, that's expected
to rise to five billion.
And technology will be part of the solution.
Senseable City Lab, from MIT, has brought together a team
of scientists and designers to truly understand our urban needs and how
we can improve the designs of our cities in the future.
The Agnelli Foundation was set up by the family behind Fiat cars,
and its new shared office space has become a living research
lab for the university.
Cat travelled to Turin, in Italy, to meet its designers.
Like many things Italian, everything here is very stylish.
This '60s building and the old Italian villa next door,
which was once home to Mr Fiat himself, were recently redeveloped
and brought bang up-to-date.
Well, even the cafeteria's suitably smart.
As trendy as this place may be, its design is far from over.
Going forward, the chief architects of this space
will not be its creators, but its inhabitants.
The idea behind this whole place is the same behind
any big data project - collect as much information
as possible and make the whole thing more efficient.
One theory on trial here is personalised heating.
Instead of setting the heating for the whole building,
workers here are able to set their own
So this system is actually quite clever.
When there's a few of us there in the same space,
the system above us will take everyone's preferences
and just average it out.
And despite different personal heating settings,
this setup is proving to be more efficient.
The very good thing is that by understanding your position,
the system will shut down if you're not there.
We're still, let's say, simulating numbers, but we're almost
sure that the improvement, the ecological and aesthetic
improvement of the building, could be up to 25%,
in terms of consumption.
Beyond the personalised heating, the doors unlock and lights
come on as you approach, and you can find your
colleagues on a map.
Researchers hope these features will entice more users to download
the app and share their location data, so they can really get
an accurate picture of how the building is being used,
identify dead corners and spaces and improve the overall
design in the future.
Very often, we speak about architecture as the first one
in our biological skin.
The second one, our clothes, and the third one is actually
the physical space we inhabit.
So far, this third skin has been very rigid,
really like a corset.
With this building, we're making an attempt,
we make a step forward and we want to try to understand
if this third skin could be something more flexible,
more tailored to our needs and to the needs
of the occupants of the space.
This experiment is just the very beginning and it's hard to think how
rigid structures such as buildings could one day become more
personalised and flexible, but I'm excited to think that we can
all have a small say in what works.
That was Cat in Italy.
Now, Smart cities when just consist of smart buildings
and self driving cars, above our heads autonomous drones
will be busily buzzing about, too.
Drones already today are an integral part of the city.
In future they will be even more dominant.
They will be doing deliveries, they will be doing traffic control,
monitoring, for example, they will be doing aerial
and water sampling.
But also infrastructure, maintenance, servicing, and repair.
The drone I'm controlling is one of those prepared drones,
or at least a very early prototype.
So, down, up, left, right, forward, back.
He is flying the thing, I'm in charge of the robot arm
underneath, which may one day be able to build, manipulate,
and fix things on-the-fly in hard to reach places.
And the idea is there would be some kind of robot gripper,
or manipulator on the end of this?
Generally this can be a multipurpose gripper.
So, if you just know it over the body now
I will begin the surgery.
Going to suture the wound.
Fixing bridges and maintaining buildings could, in theory,
be done while hovering over the structure.
But this isn't very stable and it's certainly going to be
limited by battery life.
A more sensible way is to have the drone land first.
The problem here, though, is the top of that skyscraper,
or the side of that bridge might not allow for gentle flat landings.
The methodology that we use builds a lot on looking at nature and how
nature solves the same challenges that it has.
Now, if you look at birds, how they do that, they do
this with very complex, morphing wings, and visual
navigation to land very precisely.
However, insects use something very different,
they just use morphology to attach to structures.
They fly and crash into the surface and stay attached like that.
So a very different approach.
One example of how we use these insect inspired
approaches to perching, is by looking at the
And by looking at the way how they use their strings to untangle
themselves on structures, and remain aloft, we have built
a vehicle that can do the same principles with a string
which is deposited from an aerial vehicle.
By doing that, the string itself acts as an intelligence structure
that entangles itself to any geometry it attaches itself to.
So it doesn't need to since the geometry of its anchor point,
the string itself, as simple as it is, takes away the need
for the controlling sensing of this part and allows it to attach
itself very successfully.
The sun rises.
The radio plays the news.
The team won.
Today is the last day of the term.
The traffic light turns green.
And the piano is silent.
If you're in Manchester this month you might see these poems
dotted about the city.
It's an art installation called Everything Every Time.
And the poetry is being created live using data from the city.
Everything Every Time is a poem.
So it's four screens that I have deployed on four different
sports in Manchester City.
It also runs on a website.
And basically it's a project about data and about
the functionality of data.
The book is returned and someone is waiting.
All this data from weather to football scores to phases of
the Moon is fed into the algorithm which creates the poems.
Each verse is a sequence of template lines which are triggered
and shaped depending on what is happening right now.
Whether it's how late a bus is or if a performance
is scheduled at the theatre.
Throughout the city the team wanted to display live poems
which are constantly changing.
Our four boards can make a request to the API in the cloud.
The API in turn makes a request to one of about 130
different data points.
The API makes an assessment on what the data means.
In terms of understanding whether or not something is busy,
something is turned on, streetlights on and off, that kind
of thing, compiles the poem, makes sure it is formatted correctly
so it is a readable powerbomb, and passes it back to the sign.
The three of these go together.
Each of these dots you can see here is very, very
delicate and turns over.
What happens is then the text is rendered as a dot display.
They also make the best noise ever, so you get this fantastic
clackety clicking noise.
Which is quite nice.
So we really have breathed new life into this creaking old tech,
which is really cool.
And you can catch Everything Every Time around Manchester
until the 9th of August.
I hope you like what you saw.
Check us out on twitter for more.
I think I'll leave it to the data to do the poetry.
Thanks for watching and we will see you soon.