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City Clickers

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.

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This week: Is this the smartest building in Italy?

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The latest worker drones.

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And, beat this, a hearty handful.

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On July 12th, the internet as we know it will change.

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Go to Amazon, Twitter, Reddit or many other sites

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and you could be asked to wait on a slower connection,

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or pay extra, or you may be blocked altogether.

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Thankfully, these warnings aren't real.

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They're part of an internet-wide protest, with the aim

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of protecting net neutrality.

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Net neutrality is the basic principle that protects our freedom

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of speech on the internet.

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It's the guiding rules that have made the internet

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into what it is today, and it prevents our internet

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service providers - so the cable companies like Comcast,

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Verizon and AT - from controlling what we can see

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and do when we go online.

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Under the net neutrality principle, all data should be

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treated equally by ISPs.

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That means they can't slow down companies who refuse to pay

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to have their data prioritised, and they can't charge customers

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for fast access to certain data.

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But the US Federal Communications Commission, the FCC,

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voted recently to overturn rules from 2015 which enshrined these

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neutrality principles, and which meant telecoms firms

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could be fined for noncompliance.

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And that, says the organiser of the July 12th protest,

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will play right into the big cable companies' hands.

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If we lose net neutrality, you're going to start to see

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the internet look more like cable TV.

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You can imagine trying to go to a social media site and getting

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a notification from your internet service provider saying -

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oh, sorry, if you want to access this site, you need to upgrade

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to our social media package.

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You need to upgrade to our streaming video package.

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You need to pay us more, in order to access the same sites

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that you've been using day after day for years.

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They can also go to those sites and charge them extra fees in order

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to deliver their content to users.

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And, of course, those fees get passed on to all of us.

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So it's really an issue that affects every single person

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that uses the internet, regardless of your political views.

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It's gonna hit us in the pocketbook.

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And this won't just affect US internet users.

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If you use an American web service - which, let's face it,

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is most of us - it may affect the service that they provide to us.

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The FCC says that the 2015 rules are unnecessary and may

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have stifled investment in next-generation networks.

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And free-market think tanks agree.

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Well, this fight could have been resolved ten years ago

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if it were really just about net neutrality.

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This has really primarily been

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a fight about the FCC's power

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to regulate the internet.

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We had our first major update to our communications law 20 years ago,

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and that law made it unclear exactly how the FCC was going to regulate

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the internet, and that ambiguity has left the agency to wrestle with this

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issue for a decade.

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And in a nutshell, there were simpler, better ways

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of dealing with this issue.

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There were other agencies that could have addressed net neutrality

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concerns when they arose, starting back in 2008.

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And, er, Congress has three times tried to legislate,

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and both Republicans and Democrats, I think, share the blame for missing

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the opportunity to craft a solution that would resolve this issue.

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And that, unfortunately, has led us to where we are today,

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which is a thorough rule-making at the FCC to deal with this

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issue of legal authority, when the rules themselves -

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the core of net neutrality - have really never been controversial.

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Well, I wonder what the original inventor of the concept of net

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neutrality would make of these changes.

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You know, it's...very disappointing, let's put it that way.

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So, you know, the Obama administration had finally put net

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neutrality into law, done a good job with it, everyone

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was happy, but out of nowhere, the Trump Administration...

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And it's not been any public movement against net neutrality,

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it's really the cable and phone companies wanna make more money,

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let's put it that way.

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And they have somehow kind of, under the cover of Trump's madness,

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managed to start the process on net neutrality.

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The thing is making the government realise that there are severe

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electoral consequences for messing with net neutrality.

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It has to be understood as the third rail, that you mess with this

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and you're going to get people very angry and descending

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on constituents.

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But not everyone agrees that next week's protest will make

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much of a difference.

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The current FCC leadership has been very clear about their views

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of the FCC's legal authority and their minds are not going to be

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changed by an angry mob or what amounts to policy arguments.

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Well, whatever happens next week, I have a feeling it won't be

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the last word we hear on net neutrality.

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Just a hunch!

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Welcome to the Royal Society of Arts, in London, which this week

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was hosting its annual Summer Science Exhibition.

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For one week only, universities from around the country gather

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here to bring their cutting-edge science experiment out of the lab

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and into the public's imagination.

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Oh, you see, it's great being a kid!

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In another room, I got to feel the difference

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between a healthy heart and one suffering from cardiomyopathy.

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The robotic heart's beating in sync with my own heartbeat,

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which is being detected by the monitors on my wrists.

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You feel this one's beating quite regularly.

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This one is...

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It's beating faster and it's beating weaker.

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So if my heart was diseased, it would feel more like this one.

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Which is a good incentive not to get one of these!

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Oh, and by the way, if you were wondering who the next

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Doctor Who is going to be...

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Two hearts.

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Right, time to get them beating a bit faster.

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Whether you love or loathe a trip to the shops, retail is changing,

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but there's more to it than people just shopping online instead.

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Can I just see what colours there are downloaded?

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Can I just see what colours there are down lower?

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Here's an idea that takes shopping online a step further.

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One company's software allows you to go a shop's website and,

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from there, you can connect to a shop assistant in store, who'll

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be wearing a pair of smart glasses.

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Yeah, what do we have there on the right?

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There are some bags.

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Can you please take the cream bag off the shelf, and can you open it

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and show me the compartments?

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The shop has actually found that the same experience

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being streamed to a mobile has actually proved more popular

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than the smart glasses.

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And although I found the experience pretty good, it does of course

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have some limitations.

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Oh, I see, I wasn't expecting that.

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I thought it was going round your waist.

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I'm glad I asked you.

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If, when shopping online, you're worried about

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getting your size right, then these smart

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leggings could help.

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They aim to be able to measure you and tell you the exact

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right size of jeans that you should be buying.

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Hmm!

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LikeAGlove hopes to measure women for the right size and style

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of jeans for their body shape.

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The stretchy measuring leggings connect via Bluetooth

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to a smartphone app, where your stats will be stored,

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so you can keep track of your body shape.

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Oh, my waist measurement here seems to be about five inches larger

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than I thought it was, and a fair bit bigger than the jean

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size I normally wear.

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When I clicked through to the suggestions,

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my size was as expected.

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The company say these measurements represent where the jeans would sit,

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rather than actual measurements you would expect.

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Might upset a few people along the way, though!

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But another trend emerging is that we head back

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to the High Street, but shop assistants as we know them don't.

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These online stores are open 24 hours a day, with only a series

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of cameras and microphones keeping an eye on you.

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You gain access to your smartphone, use it to scan your purchases

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and pay, then head off.

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Their first branch opened in Sweden last year, followed by another

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in Shanghai recently.

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The launch of Amazon Go's first store in Seattle appears

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to have been delayed, but aims to replace queues

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and checkouts by using computer vision, deep learning

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and data from sensors.

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It will see what you've picked up in store and, in turn,

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charge your Amazon account.

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But one US company has another idea about self-service.

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Well, on first view, this does just look like an ordinary

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vending machine that happens to have a TV screen on it,

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but a machine like this could soon be selling alcohol,

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cannabis and even guns.

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Let me explain more.

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The device uses biometric sensors to identify users

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by the veins in their fingers, meaning you can turn a standard

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machine into an apparently secure one, only dispensing goods

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to the person with the right to collect them.

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And, yes, in the US, that item could be a gun.

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The company claims the machinery uses the same level of security

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employed by US military and large corporations to access

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facilities, but they do add...

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Everything is malleable.

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If it's connected to the internet, they say 'Where there's

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water, there's sharks'.

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Where there's internet connectivity, somebody can

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make their way in there, perhaps.

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We've jumped through every possible hoop we can do to make sure that

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only the person standing in front of it is able to get

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the product that they want.

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It's that sort of regulated product.

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Right, and there are guns and alcohol available too?

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So some fellas are going out hunting and they leave late from work,

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and they rush out of the kitchen to catch up with their friends.

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Usually, you're far outside the city limits, you've made a whole plan,

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you've made your trip, you get out and you say,

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"Oh, I forget my ammo".

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In this situation, a secure machine would allow you to pick up some

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ammo, or even a replacement gun, if you're in the system.

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Maybe get their whiskey off the one side, get their ammo off the other,

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and head on into the camp and have a fine week of hunting.

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OK, maybe this isn't solving a problem that many people have.

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And suddenly, the idea of shops without assistants

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doesn't seem so surprising.

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Welcome to this week's Tech News.

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Volvo announced they'll only make electric and hybrid cars from 2019.

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Formula One racing team Williams unveiled a carbon-fibre baby carrier

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that can transport critically ill newborn infants by

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ambulance or helicopter.

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The Babypod protects against vibrations and can be kept

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at a constant temperature.

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And sex robots designed to look like children should be banned.

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A report looking into the future of people's sexual relationships

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with robots said policymakers need to look at the issue

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and decide what is acceptable.

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Dubai police are to introduce a robot cop and autonomous patrol

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cars.

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The vehicles will use 360-degree surveillance technology

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to identify suspicious objects, launch a mini drone,

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and even give chase to suspects.

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Google's in the doghouse again - this time, for a deal with a UK

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hospital that didn't respect the privacy of patients.

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The UK's Information Commissioner ruled that 1.6 million patients'

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details were provided to Google's DeepMind illegally,

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to help develop an app to diagnose kidney failure.

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And could tickets be replaced by inaudible sounds?

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Well, it seems maybe.

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TicketMaster has teamed up with Listener, a company that uses

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ultrasonic sound technology to transmit information

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between devices.

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Checking into a venue with an app would give off the sound,

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and organisers could lock who was in and where they are -

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unless your phone dies, of course.

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Back at the Royal Society of Arts, I finally got my robotic heart

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to beat a bit faster.

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Our individual lifestyles may affect our health personally,

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but our collective lifestyles have been affecting the world

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that we live in.

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It's one thing to talk about climate change

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and its effects on the environment, but it's another thing

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to actually see it in action.

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This is a simulation of the CO2 that was in the atmosphere in 2006.

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The redder bits are the most CO2 heavy.

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What's really interesting is, have a look at the difference

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between the north and the south.

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Just look how much CO2 is covering China and the United States.

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If, indeed, that's what I'm looking at, because you really

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can't see all the CO2.

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This work was created by the UK's Met Office

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and the Natural Environment Research Council.

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The scientists mashed up historical weather data with information coming

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from all sorts of modern sensors, including things like air-traffic

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data, to try and predict the world's climate in the future.

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They're wanting to see how all different components that

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affect the climate zone - the oceans, the atmosphere,

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the land and ice - how that all interacts.

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And really, the Met Office and also the Natural Environment Research

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Council and their research centres can kind off give messages

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about what's likely to happen and, therefore, what likely changes we're

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going to need to keep to a safe level of global

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warming above two degrees.

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But pollution comes in many forms.

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If you live in a big city, for example, I'm sure

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you would count the noise and congestion as just

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as harmful to your health as the air that we breathe.

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Now, currently, half of the world's population

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lives in cities and, in the next decade, that's expected

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to rise to five billion.

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And technology will be part of the solution.

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Senseable City Lab, from MIT, has brought together a team

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of scientists and designers to truly understand our urban needs and how

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we can improve the designs of our cities in the future.

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The Agnelli Foundation was set up by the family behind Fiat cars,

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and its new shared office space has become a living research

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lab for the university.

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Cat travelled to Turin, in Italy, to meet its designers.

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Like many things Italian, everything here is very stylish.

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This '60s building and the old Italian villa next door,

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which was once home to Mr Fiat himself, were recently redeveloped

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and brought bang up-to-date.

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Well, even the cafeteria's suitably smart.

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As trendy as this place may be, its design is far from over.

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Going forward, the chief architects of this space

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will not be its creators, but its inhabitants.

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The idea behind this whole place is the same behind

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any big data project - collect as much information

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as possible and make the whole thing more efficient.

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One theory on trial here is personalised heating.

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Instead of setting the heating for the whole building,

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workers here are able to set their own

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desired temperatures.

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So this system is actually quite clever.

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When there's a few of us there in the same space,

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the system above us will take everyone's preferences

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and just average it out.

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And despite different personal heating settings,

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this setup is proving to be more efficient.

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The very good thing is that by understanding your position,

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the system will shut down if you're not there.

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We're still, let's say, simulating numbers, but we're almost

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sure that the improvement, the ecological and aesthetic

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improvement of the building, could be up to 25%,

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in terms of consumption.

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Beyond the personalised heating, the doors unlock and lights

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come on as you approach, and you can find your

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colleagues on a map.

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Researchers hope these features will entice more users to download

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the app and share their location data, so they can really get

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an accurate picture of how the building is being used,

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identify dead corners and spaces and improve the overall

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design in the future.

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Very often, we speak about architecture as the first one

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in our biological skin.

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The second one, our clothes, and the third one is actually

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the physical space we inhabit.

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So far, this third skin has been very rigid,

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really like a corset.

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With this building, we're making an attempt,

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we make a step forward and we want to try to understand

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if this third skin could be something more flexible,

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more tailored to our needs and to the needs

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of the occupants of the space.

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This experiment is just the very beginning and it's hard to think how

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rigid structures such as buildings could one day become more

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personalised and flexible, but I'm excited to think that we can

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all have a small say in what works.

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That was Cat in Italy.

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Now, Smart cities when just consist of smart buildings

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and self driving cars, above our heads autonomous drones

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will be busily buzzing about, too.

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Drones already today are an integral part of the city.

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In future they will be even more dominant.

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They will be doing deliveries, they will be doing traffic control,

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monitoring, for example, they will be doing aerial

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and water sampling.

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Pollution monitoring.

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But also infrastructure, maintenance, servicing, and repair.

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The drone I'm controlling is one of those prepared drones,

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or at least a very early prototype.

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So, down, up, left, right, forward, back.

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He is flying the thing, I'm in charge of the robot arm

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underneath, which may one day be able to build, manipulate,

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and fix things on-the-fly in hard to reach places.

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And the idea is there would be some kind of robot gripper,

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or manipulator on the end of this?

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Generally this can be a multipurpose gripper.

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So, if you just know it over the body now

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I will begin the surgery.

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CHUCKLES.

0:20:050:20:06

Going to suture the wound.

0:20:060:20:09

Fixing bridges and maintaining buildings could, in theory,

0:20:090:20:14

be done while hovering over the structure.

0:20:140:20:16

But this isn't very stable and it's certainly going to be

0:20:160:20:19

limited by battery life.

0:20:190:20:20

A more sensible way is to have the drone land first.

0:20:200:20:24

The problem here, though, is the top of that skyscraper,

0:20:240:20:26

or the side of that bridge might not allow for gentle flat landings.

0:20:260:20:33

The methodology that we use builds a lot on looking at nature and how

0:20:330:20:37

nature solves the same challenges that it has.

0:20:370:20:40

Now, if you look at birds, how they do that, they do

0:20:400:20:43

this with very complex, morphing wings, and visual

0:20:430:20:45

navigation to land very precisely.

0:20:450:20:47

However, insects use something very different,

0:20:470:20:49

they just use morphology to attach to structures.

0:20:490:20:53

They fly and crash into the surface and stay attached like that.

0:20:530:20:56

So a very different approach.

0:20:560:20:57

One example of how we use these insect inspired

0:20:570:21:00

approaches to perching, is by looking at the

0:21:000:21:02

ballooning spiders.

0:21:020:21:05

And by looking at the way how they use their strings to untangle

0:21:050:21:09

themselves on structures, and remain aloft, we have built

0:21:090:21:12

a vehicle that can do the same principles with a string

0:21:120:21:15

which is deposited from an aerial vehicle.

0:21:150:21:22

By doing that, the string itself acts as an intelligence structure

0:21:220:21:25

that entangles itself to any geometry it attaches itself to.

0:21:250:21:27

So it doesn't need to since the geometry of its anchor point,

0:21:270:21:31

the string itself, as simple as it is, takes away the need

0:21:310:21:34

for the controlling sensing of this part and allows it to attach

0:21:340:21:37

itself very successfully.

0:21:370:21:43

The sun rises.

0:21:440:21:46

The radio plays the news.

0:21:460:21:48

The team won.

0:21:480:21:50

Today is the last day of the term.

0:21:500:21:53

The traffic light turns green.

0:21:530:21:56

And the piano is silent.

0:21:560:22:02

If you're in Manchester this month you might see these poems

0:22:030:22:05

dotted about the city.

0:22:050:22:08

It's an art installation called Everything Every Time.

0:22:080:22:12

And the poetry is being created live using data from the city.

0:22:120:22:19

Everything Every Time is a poem.

0:22:190:22:25

So it's four screens that I have deployed on four different

0:22:250:22:28

sports in Manchester City.

0:22:280:22:29

It also runs on a website.

0:22:290:22:30

And basically it's a project about data and about

0:22:300:22:33

the functionality of data.

0:22:330:22:38

The book is returned and someone is waiting.

0:22:380:22:43

All this data from weather to football scores to phases of

0:22:430:22:46

the Moon is fed into the algorithm which creates the poems.

0:22:460:22:50

Each verse is a sequence of template lines which are triggered

0:22:500:22:53

and shaped depending on what is happening right now.

0:22:530:22:58

Whether it's how late a bus is or if a performance

0:22:580:23:01

is scheduled at the theatre.

0:23:010:23:03

Throughout the city the team wanted to display live poems

0:23:030:23:06

which are constantly changing.

0:23:060:23:09

Our four boards can make a request to the API in the cloud.

0:23:090:23:13

The API in turn makes a request to one of about 130

0:23:130:23:16

different data points.

0:23:160:23:19

The API makes an assessment on what the data means.

0:23:190:23:21

In terms of understanding whether or not something is busy,

0:23:210:23:24

something is turned on, streetlights on and off, that kind

0:23:240:23:27

of thing, compiles the poem, makes sure it is formatted correctly

0:23:270:23:30

so it is a readable powerbomb, and passes it back to the sign.

0:23:300:23:33

The three of these go together.

0:23:330:23:35

Each of these dots you can see here is very, very

0:23:350:23:38

delicate and turns over.

0:23:380:23:48

What happens is then the text is rendered as a dot display.

0:23:480:23:52

They also make the best noise ever, so you get this fantastic

0:23:520:23:55

clackety clicking noise.

0:23:550:23:56

Which is quite nice.

0:23:560:23:57

So we really have breathed new life into this creaking old tech,

0:23:570:24:00

which is really cool.

0:24:000:24:01

And you can catch Everything Every Time around Manchester

0:24:010:24:04

until the 9th of August.

0:24:040:24:05

I hope you like what you saw.

0:24:050:24:07

Check us out on twitter for more.

0:24:070:24:09

I think I'll leave it to the data to do the poetry.

0:24:090:24:12

Thanks for watching and we will see you soon.

0:24:120:24:25

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