BMW i3

BMW i3
BMW i3

Following it’s announcement today, the BMW i3 is here to make a bold statement. Electric cars are no longer a joke, and no long restricted to niché markets. The i3 is doing now what Tesla wants to do in a few years. Although I still feel that Tesla has it’s place in the market and think they are absolutely cracking, when a company like BMW comes out and says, by the way, we’ve made a plug in car, it’s a big deal.

I’ve always been a huge fan of what Elon Musk is doing with Tesla. I love how he’s completely changed the view on electronic cars and his attitude to developing the cars and the dream is absolutely incredible. Tesla have worked with Mercedes, Toyota and Daimler already but some of their greatest feats are there very own Model S and Model X. Unfortunately though, you still can’t get hold of a Tesla in the UK and that is where BMW come in. Although pre-orders for the model S and X are up in the UK, BMW have an established brand here and unfortunately jolly old isn’t exactly the most welcoming of the new. It’s not like California, where you walk round San Francisco and you see three or four Tesla’s driving behind the Google Bus in all it’s techno glory.

BMW might have what it takes to start making brits take electronic cars seriously. Sure theres a few prius’ knocking about but nobody actually wants to drive one if they could get a good looking car that is as economical. The i3 is a gorgeous looking piece of machinery and whilst it comes in at a price of £25k with a possible £5000 return of the government for their plug in car scheme, it only has a range of 80-100 miles. That’s not that bad, in my world I could deal with that, I never drive up to London and from town to town in Wales that would be fine.

It’s a city car. It’s also pretty alien looking which in all honesty I don’t mind at all. I love those future looking things, remember when I drove a Toyota iQ before they started looking suitable for the roads?

What people need to see with the i3 is it’s V1. Like a lot of V1 products this isn’t going to be the end of the development. This is going to get better and better until it looks like a genuinely decent alternative to a diesel one series. There only going to pop in London for the first few months and maybe some of the other cities, they are going to be for people who like to show they love the environment and are green as can be. But in 5 years time this might be ignoring the normal numeric series of BMW’s and sticking with the i sub-brand of BMW’s as they get better, larger ranges.

At £20,000 after the government rebate as well, this isn’t that expensive for a BMW.

EDC London 2013

Electronic Daisy Carnival made it’s way to London for the first time this year in association with Insomniac and Cream promotion companies. Having heard about it in the states whilst I was still out there, I thought I’d gather a few of the boys and see if they were up for it.

The lineup was awesome, Tiesto and Avicii were on the top of my list for who I wanted to see. Tiesto because his live shows are just unbelievably well put together and Avicii because I absolutely loved his old stuff and have never had the chance to see him live. I’ve always just wanted to see what his sets are like in real life.

So after spending the night down in Stepney Green and having a few drinks with like minded individuals who enjoy the electronic music scene, I awoke the next day buzzing to spend an arm and a leg on a beer and a burger whilst listening to some of my favourite electronic acts. Like I say the lineup was pretty decent and for £70 you got the equivalent of what would cost you £300 for a couple nights in Ibizan super clubs watching the same guys. So price wise the ticket was alright.

Located in Londons Olympic Park over in Stratford we were funnelled round Westfield in the most complicated route to the venue before waiting ages to get through a useless security check that wouldn’t of stopped anyone getting anything in even if they held it in plain sight. That annoyed me. That said, when in the venue it was actually one of the only festivals I’ve ever been to where the majority of people aren’t trying to bite through their jaw. Most people seemed to be just having a few beverages. It was pretty pricey, £5 for a bottle of Tuborg or Suffolk Cider but you know, London prices. That’s only 60p more than I was paying for pints in The Shakespeare by Victoria the day before.

The music was awesome. I pretty much spent the whole day at the main stage because that’s where all the big names were playing. I don’t know if Hardwell was as good as he was in Coachella this year but still a pretty stirling set. Alesso and Angello had decent sets and Avicii was pretty good too. He had some random songs in there mind, a few eye brow raisers that’s for sure but still I’d go see him again. Maybe not for a lot of money mind. Then everything changed. I know Tiesto gets a lot of stick for not being the best DJ in the world yet clearly being the richest and most famous but he is actually incredible. It’s one of those things that people will always prefer supporting their favourite DJ but I genuinely think Tiesto puts on the best show in the world as far as live electronic music goes. The production value that goes into his sets is just so much better than anyone else and it’s probably because he does have a massive production team behind him but that’s fine. It makes for a jolly good show and I love it. Especially the fireworks. Oh how pyrotechnics and a good drop go together!

I’d recommend EDC to anyone if it’s on again next year, the crowd was decent, the venue was pretty clean and a nice size and the selection of food was awesome. There was also some absolutely crazy art going on like that weird spider who stormed the set. What was that even about? It was awesome mind. I love that crazy stuff at festivals.

See you next year EDC.

Disney Research Labs

A couple months ago I came across an article about a survey of where Engineering or Computer Science graduates would like to work and one that came out on the list both times was a little bit of a shock to me. One of the main companies was the Walt Disney Company. Something some of us may associate more with the arts and creation of movies but when you actually think about it, the majority of what Disney do does require masses of software engineering and constructional engineering. From their animation software to theme parks there is a massive requirement for engineering talent to keep the magic of Disney alive.

After doing a bit of research on Disney I found their Research Labs channel on YouTube that contains some videos of some of the technology that they work on and it is some really cool stuff. From using Microsoft Kinect to build a robot that can play catch with a person to designing a tool with a backend database that allows various automata and mechatronics to be built using a geared based system that can be manipulated and then produced.

Given a little bit of though it’s easy to see how Disney can contribute massively to scientific research for robotics and software development. They have been in the game of creating mechatronics for the Disney parks for tens of years and are now pushing the boundaries in terms of what customer to robot interaction means and that could have an effect on the future of robot and human interaction. If people are willing to interact with robots in Disney parks that could prove something very important to what children may behave like around sentient like beings.

Disney is effectively working on the whole lot in terms of Human-Computer interaction and it all is available to be deployed into the real world. The future of the Disney theme parks will be more heavily revolved around technology and improving the experience through information technology, engineering and science. Their venues are perfect for research in these fields, they have masses of space,  an almost guaranteed customer base of all ages and the ability to deploy and remove things at will.

Disney’s research is absolutely awesome and STEM specialists would be able to develop things that will go out into the real world and be used whether it be in theme parks, to create the next Disney movie or whether it will be used by the STEM community to solve problems. I can completely understand why they are considered to be a top employer in the field. Maybe we all still cling on to the Disney dream of living in a Disney world and Disney Labs is where all the magic is created.