Bus map La Palma (Canary Islands, Spain)

February 16, 2015

Map of bus lines in La Palma (Canary Islands, Spain)

(click for a large version)

Bus route map for La Palma (Canary Islands, Spain)

Lineas de guaguas de la Palma


Windmill wings from bamboo

August 22, 2010

Bamboo

Because of its high growth rate and easy processing, bamboo is a promising renewable resource. Bamboo’s good mechanical properties, low costs, abundant availability in developing countries and potential use in a multitude of applications show the potential of this versatile resource.

Bamboo can be woven into mats, which are very flexible. Bamboo mats can be fixed in a mould and glued together to remain in that shape. With this technique, one may construct geometrically complex structures: in one piece, at low cost, low weight and with yet very good mechanical properties.

The art of weaving mats is simple and is performed by various rural communities. The resins that could be used to fix the mats in a shape, are phenol formaldehyde (which is currently used for making moulded trays from bamboo mats) and the more environmental friendly epoxy resin.

Windmill

Windmills produce mechnical power, which can be converted into electricity, or used directly; for instance for pumping water.

At the end of 2009, 2% of the world’s electricity was generated by windmills. Almost all windmills are centralised in wind harvesting parks. Urban wind mills are contrary to this, a decentralised source of energy.

Urban areas are generally less rich in wind than rural areas. The Kotwalia community and other bamboo craftsmen are living in the rural parts of India. Less than 50% of the rural households in India have access to electricity, so there is a huge potential to supply wind energy for rural areas.

The horizontal axis wind turbine has the highest efficiency. Simplicity is essential to make this product successful. Most windmills are very high-tech products, which is in contrast with the need to keep the product (or at least the wings) as simple as possible to be able to get the wings produced by tribal craftsmen.

The Dutch polders are since 1929 decorated with Bosman windmills. The simple and functional design is very similar to classic American windmills and windmills currently built in rural areas in developing countries. The Bosman windmills have a life expectancy of 25 years, but most last over 40 years. The design of the windmill didn’t change much between 1929 and now and has gone through the test of time. The output of the windmill is approximately 500W at a nominal windspeed of 10 m/s, which is enough to power a dektop PC and two light bulbs.

Production

A first prototype is made with the vacuum injection method. The prototype is curently being tested in the Netherlands. The production of the wings by tribal craftsmen will be slightly different from the production of the prototype, due to limited access to capital and the difficulty of maintenance of complex tools in tribal areas.

As resin, the craftsmen can switch from phenolic resin to the less toxic epoxy which is used for the prototype. The price of epoxy is comparable to the price of phenolic resins.

A low-tech production technique is hand lay-up moulding of several layers of mats on a flat mould. The plates will stay flexible for a few days and can be fixed on a rod from bamboo, which should get a preservative treatment.


Sustainable urbanization

June 9, 2010

Urbanization

Since 2008, more than half of the global popuation lives in urban areas. In 2030, 60% of the population will live in cities, which means 2 billion new urban citizens. We are building the equivalent of a city the size of Vancouver every week and most of this growth takes place in developing crounties, creating so-called mega cities. The growing group of urban consumers will demand more and more remarkable, daring, innovative and sophisticated goods.

Sustainability

Our society is going through a funnel; we are running out of materials for our products and oil for our energy. We are dealing with human caused global warming because of greenhouse gas emissions and we are detoriating the earth by extracting the last bits of material and oil we can find underneath its crust. Because we are living in the time of peak oil and peak material, we are paying more and more for the same oil and material. We are either ethically or economically forced to look for options for sustainable living and this trend will only grow as the world will go further into the funnel. It seems hard to get of our addiction, but in the end we will have to switch to business as unusual.

Urbanization and sustainability combined result in a future scenario: sustainable (mega)cities of the future.

Megacities are cities with more than 5 million inhabitants. It is estimated that in 2015, there will be 60 of those megacities, together housing more than 600 million people. Two thirds of the megacities will be located in developing countries. There are several challenges related to this future scenario. Each of them is a huge design assignment in itself, with an extensive range of possible solutions.

Urban sustainability challenges to be faced:

Waste and pollution

Waste and pollution in cities is mainly generated by households, transport and industries.

Households are the main producers of a city’s waste. In developed countries, the collection of waste and either landfilling, burning or the recycling of waste is institutionalised. Waste separation differs between countries: in India, the re-use and recycling of waste is a natural part of product lifecycles since the value of waste is a source of income for individual waste collectors, whereas in Western societies, the value of waste is relatively low. In the United States, household waste is mainly dumped in landfills, which is cheaper than burning or recycling waste. The European Union is stimulating the recycling of waste.

Personal and goods transport produce emissions, which result in the direct pollution of the local environment (e.g. air quality impacts related to emissions of NOx, CO and fine particulates (PM), leading to smog, acid rain and negative effects on human health).

Secondly, the emissions from transport contribute to climate change. These emissions increase with increasing transport needs.

Some industries (like chemical and heavy metal industries) are producing hazardous waste, however most industrial waste is non toxic. It is a challenge to use the waste from one industry as raw material for another.

Furniture manufacturer Herman Miller makes Cradle to Cradle office chairs, according to the phylosophy of zero waste. Architecture firm 2012 makes buildings from local waste materials, which they harvest like we did 1000 years ago (and many rural villagers are still doing today). UK based RecycleBank offes money to citizens in exchange for waste materials.

Water and energy supply shortages

Water is an essential resource for life and good health. A lack of water to meet daily needs is a reality today for one in three people around the world.

The situation is getting worse as needs for water rise along with population and prosperity growth, urbanization and increases in household and industrial uses.

With frightening names like ‘Peak Oil’ and ‘Energy Crisis’, energy supply shortage is a big issue for companies, the economy and individuals. Global political instability and the shrinking oil reserves result in rising energy prices and research and development into renewable energy sources.

Local, self-controlled and renewable energy might seem the ideal alternative. A good example is DonQi, an urban windmill. Water can be reused several times before dumping it via the sewage system; grey water can be used to flush the toilet. Natural heating and cooling can reduse home energy use with one thrid.

Traffic congestions

Traffic congestions in cities are the result of personal transport (mainly commuting) and inner city goods transport.

People tend to have a strong desire for mobility. Mobility is embedded in our daily lives and has a very high value (in a social, cultural, psychological and economical sense). Our freedom of acion is the power to overcome the restrictions on physical movement in space. But, is mobility really the need? Access could be considered as more relevant than mobility. In this sense, it is very arguable to hold video conferences and telework from home, to save the time and environmental impact of travelling to meet or work at an ofice. Another kind of access can be achieved by building city blocks, which contain all essential functions at a distance which can be travelled walking. These compact cities could function to a certain level as an autarkic area. So, increasing mobility might not be a lasting option in the future, but a switch towards a focus on access to what people need is more essential. In the meanwhile, we also need sustainabile innovations on a product level.

The transport of goods should be kept out of the innercity areas where possible and executed in a sustainable manner when transport is really needed.

Teleworking is the perfect solution for reducing commuting traffic, but does it give the same productivity to companies? Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV’s) could theoritically erase traffic jams (and accidents!) Personal innercity vehicles for rent like presented by MIT could make driving a service instead of a product (like owning a car).

Health problems

One of the categories of environmental impact is health impact. Urbanization is one of the biggest health challenges of the 21st century. The impact of urbanization on health can have various forms, like: substandard housing, crowding, air pollution, insufficient or contaminated drinking water, inadequate sanitation and solid waste disposal services, vector-borne diseases, industrial waste, increased motor vehicle traffic, stress associated with poverty and unemployment, among others.

Health problems differ greatly between countries; while US citizens are facing problems with overweight, citizens in developing countries are facing the opposite. Important meassurements to fight basic health problems are: clean drinking water and hygienic santitation. To fight modern health problems, sports and healthy food are essential.

Limited green spaces

Green spaces seem to be the enemy of urbanization; green spaces disappear where urban areas are expending. Green areas can however be part of urban planning, but due to the high price of land, green spaces are less valuable than profits on commercial and residential buildingplanning.

The solution seems simple: save land for parks and green spaces, like Central Park in Manhattan, or integrate green spaces into with buildings; vertical gardens or lift the original vegitation like McDonough proposed for a huge city planning project in China.

Poverty and malnutrition

Urban poor, unlike the rural poor, are the most vulnarable population group, since there is no social structure in place for them. The urban poor can not live indipendantly and are stuck in the high costs of living in urban areas. Poverty is in large cities concentrated in slums, where sanitation and safe drinking water  are commonly not available, thus creating a source of health problems.

The right to own property is probably one of the best methodologies to alleviate poverty. Governments are creating a context for ending poverty; good governance is very important and the Mo Ibrahim Prize is an example of a stimulus: it supports great African leadership. KIVA is an example of a microfinance institution, providing loans via crowdfunding to entrepreneurs in developing countries, dramatically cutting costs in interest rates for those entrepreneurs. Mobile phones are amazing tools for every micro and small entrepreneur to access information (eg: the current rate at which their crops are bought).

Social security and public safety problems

A city’s citizens have very different geographical origins. This melting pot of different local, national and international cultures can result in an absence of social cohesion, segregation and eventually anonimity on an individual level. The lack of social security can result in public safety problems.

Growing online communities like MeetUp are more and more replacing geographical communities by linking people according to their interests. But our houses stay geo-local and local coaches can help control the cohesion: both in rich cities in Western countries and in slums in Africa.


ING iPhone app

April 12, 2010

Voorstel voor een redesign van de iPhone app van ING.

Na het succes van de Rabobank, lanceren ook ING en ABN AMRO hun eigen iPhone applicatie.

Als klant van ING was ik blij verrast met de lancering van de applicatie. Het promotie filmpje op de website van ING kondigt een nuchtere en simpele applicatie aan. De applicatie zelf vind ik echter enorm tegenvallen op het gebied van gebruiksvriendelijkheid, functionaliteiten en grafisch ontwerp. En met mij vinden vele andere gebruikers dit (1200+ op het moment van schrijven), gezien de lage beoordeling die de app in de App Store krijgt (1,5 van 5) en de recensies die gebruikers schrijven.

Maar wat is er dan precies mis met de applicatie? Volgens veel gebruikers is het erg vervelend dat je in moet loggen met een Windows Live ID om je saldo te kunnen raadplegen. Dit maakt de app erg gebruiksonvriendelijk als je (nog) niet in het bezit bent van een Windows Live ID (zoals ondergetekende).

En waarom heeft ING gekozen voor inloggen met een Windows Live ID, terwijl de gebruiker al in het bezit is van inloggegevens voor internetbankieren? Voor veel gebruikers komt een Windows Live ID bovendien niet erg betrouwbaar over. PayPal laat zien hoe het ook kan:

Daarnaast vallen de functionaliteiten van de ING applicatie erg tegen. Waarom kan je niet overboeken met de applicatie? Via internetbankieren (natuurlijk ook toegankelijk via de iPhone) kan wel overgeboekt worden! ING had beter even kunnen wachten met het lanceren van de app om meer functionaliteiten toe te voegen. En wat als overboeken in een volgende versie wel mogelijk wordt, dan lijkt inloggen met een Windows Live ID mij niet veilig genoeg. Komt er dan nog een extra inlog stap bij?

Als een bank als ING overeind wil blijven in de komende concurrentie met onder andere PayPal en Google, zal er veel meer aandacht besteed moeten worden aan de kansen die een platform als iPhone biedt. Kijk bijvoorbeeld eens naar de functionaliteiten die de web en iPhone apps van Mint en Yunoo bieden om meer inzicht te krijgen in je financien. Waarom bieden de banken dit niet zelf? Wachten ze totdat PayPal en Google het gaan doen?

Naast het gebruiksgemak en de functionaliteiten, is er ook niet goed nagedacht over het grafisch ontwerp. De applicatie ziet er toch niet uit? Bovendien zijn veel slordigheidsfoutjes gemaakt (met name de uitlijning van tekst is erg slecht).

Hoe moet het dan wel?

Het uitgangstpunt dat uit het promotie filmpje van ING spreekt, is goed: simpel en nuchter. Hoe zet je dit om in een ontwerp? Ik zou er voor kiezen om alle 3D en glans effecten achterwege te laten en slechts 2 kleuren te gebruiken: oranje en wit (met als enige uitzondering een watermerk van de ING leeuw).

De functionaliteiten die nu geboden worden (saldo, zoek geldautomaat, zoek kantoor en contact) worden aangevuld met: overboeken en mutatiegeschiedenis analyseren (mooie grafieken van mutaties; eye candy!). En natuurlijk kunnen er meerdere rekeningen toegevoegd worden! De app zou er bijvoorbeeld zo uit kunnen zien:

In de kantoren sub-app worden de kantoren die in het verleden door de gebruiker geselecteerd zijn als favoriet weergegeven. De ‘terug’ button bevat een icon in plaats van tekst. Inloggen gaat natuurlijk via het internetbankieren account.


Consumer trends

March 29, 2010

For new product developers, it is always the question what will be the next big thing in the market, so you take a look at consumer trends. Consumer trends are used as a forecast for new product development, while this forecast can largely be a self-fulfilling prophecy. A trend does not start before the first innovative designers have designed products that created the trend in the first place. To be truly innovative, you have to create your own trend anyway. But if you don’t want to be too innovative and fit in the current market developments, trends are a useful input for new product development for the consumers that are considered as early adopters.

Consumer trends are a manifestation of new enablers unlocking existing human needs. But what are human needs? Chilean economist Manfred Max-Neef tried to make an overview of the Fundamental Human Needs and this is his answer:

An overview of current consumer trends (with great help from Insight Instore and Trendwatching.com) and examples of products and services:

Buying the experience

There is a shift from buying products towards buying experiences, which implies a dematerialisation, or even a shift from owning goods towards using goods. The experience economy (Pine 1999) started in tourism and architecture, but is expanding to other fields too. Leasing art and expensive cars, enjoy shopping, dining, a great holiday or outdoor sports activities are all experiences.

Music concerts are the new ways for artists to earn money; you can’t download a concert, you can only experience it. The beertender from Heineken and Krups gives consumers the experience of tapping your own beer at home. Social media like Twitter and Facebook are our personal media channels to share our experiences.

Econcierge & ecoeasy

More and more products are about assisting households go green, like energy monitoring and saving systems, combined with roof top PV panels. Now environmental consciousness is growing, sustainable products can finally be sold at a large scale. Behind closed doors, manufacturers are making products sustainable, without consumers ever knowing about it, since rules and regulations are getting tighter.

Switching from a grey to a renewable energy supplier is as easy as it gets; fill in your details on the internet and you are done and it doesn’t even cost you more. From 2012 on, there will be no light bulbs for sale within the European Union; all consumers will just have to go for energy saving lights (CFL and LED). Wattson is an energy monitoring system; indicating how much power your appliances are using by showing a subtle glow that changes colour when you are consuming more or less energy than normal.

e Conversations

There is more and more active engagement of prosumers in conversations with brands via the internet.

Now consumers are tweeting about their experiences with brands and their products and services, companies can engage in this open discussion. Tripadvisor features over 30 million reviews of hotels around the world and is now open towards feedback on the reviews from the management of the hotels. Method from San Francisco again; their website is an example of openly starting a discussion with consumers on your corporate website by maintaining a blog with an active community.

Innovation Boom

During the economic recession, smart entrepreneurs enter the market with innovative products for a fair price. The need to get more value for your money asks for innovative and basic products, which can be oriented towards a niche market. This trend has a contrast with the brand consciousness of global urban citizens.

The XO laptop (aka $100 laptop) inspired all laptop manufacturers to start selling netbooks. Tata Nano is the cheapest new car on the planet, making car ownership a reality for a before unattended market of lower middle class consumers in developing countries and soon also in developed countries. Inspired by Africans using their prepaid credit as electronic cash, Nokia is launching NokiaMoney for payment in stores etc.

Happy ending

Companies have to show their customers they really care about them. This can be realised by personal communication and special care programs, showing empathy in turbulent times.

Nokia offers free mobile charging spots in schools and airports all over the world. Ben & Jerry’s occasionally gives away free icecream to it’s customers. Diesel provided visitors of Dutch festival Pinkpop with a free shower service.

Design-centric

Design is becoming centric in companies and in the total product development process. From consumer research to marketing, design integrates all aspects of new product development into the process, which results in better products.

Of course we all know the famous design centric image of Apple computers and iPods. Dutch smoothies company Innocent drinks managed to get into a heavily competitive market of soft drinks by using a strong design centric approach in it’s packaging and marketing. Method uses a unique combination of design and sustainability to compete with giants like Procter&Gamble and Unilever.

Global citizens

The youngest generations (aged 0-25) are international citizens with an opinion about global topics and discussions. The generation gives rise to all types of social entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. Contrary to NIMBY’s, global citizens want to see the story of a product and prefer decentralised and local production.

The sales on farmers’ markets and of organic products are increasing more and more. Rotterdam based architecture firm 2012 designs its buildings by sourcing local scrap materials, they start a project by making a scrapmap (mapmania) to get an overview of locally available scrap material. San Francisco based cleaning and personal care products company Method has invested it’s R&D into a developing purely Cradle 2 Cradle producst.

Mapmania

The new interface is a map. All companies can be found on a map; GPS is the new dimension to use in advertising and product functionality.

GoogleMaps offers is expanding its data by covering functional locations of all kinds, from restaurants to schools. Layar is a start up company from Amsterdam that offers an augmented reality interface to look for functional locations nearby by projecting an information layer over your view. AroundMe and other smarthphone applications do the same by showing functional locations nearby, of course sharing user generated ratings and comments.


Three applications of molded bamboo mats

February 22, 2010

An explorative study into three different applications of Molded Bamboo Mats (MBM)

Businesscard holder

“Grow sustainable business relations”

A businesscard contains a person’s contact information and is exchanged during a formal introduction and used later on as a memory aid. Businesscards are carried in a businesscard holder, which is a very simple and functional product. A basic businesscard holder will not cost you more than €10, but there are of course fancier holders available. The figure below shows the basic businesscard holder and three types of variations; other materials, other shapes and leather holders. There are of course more variations possible, but this is an overview of basic variations.

The next figure shows two bamboo businesscard holders. Compared to wooden businesscard holders, the bamboo products are cheaper, which is typical; why are the bamboo products priced lower? Composite materials have the image of being high tech and thus more expensive. A bamboo businesscard holder can be marketed as being sustainable, which makes it an interesting product for companies and individuals wanting to spread a sustainable image. It should be possible to develop a businesscard holder from MBM and sell it for $30 (€20) to the customer.

The product can be sold via internet and in shops for office products or small business gifts. Future product diversification could include sustainable business gifts for companies, or office products.

iPhone case

“An innovative fashion item”

The iPhone is the new gadget of our time; the ultimate mobile phone, because of design and functionality. The iPhone is developed by Apple and by the end of 2009, they will have sold 100 million iPhones globally. The iPhone and iPod accessory market is estimated to be $2 billion in 2009. One iPhone accessory is a case to protect the product from scratches and breaking. The figure below gives an overview of different types of iPhone cases.

The selling price for iPhone cases is quite high, because it protects what’s precious: an iPhone which costs over €500 and is very dear to most of its owners. An iPhone case from MBM could be sold to the customer for around $90 (€60). Online sales is the most obvious choice for this product, since it is really a niche product, which retail shops won’t want to keep a stock and since the consumers are all very internet savvy, online sales simply works for them. The figure below shows some bamboo iPhone cases and two other ‘sustainable’ iPhone cases.

In addition to this physical product, an iPhone application about bamboo could be developed, to create an experience (show for instance the life cycle of the product), or to communicate for instance the possibilities of bamboo products and its environmental impact compared to other products. The application should be a real eye-candy to make sure consumers would like to download it. Future product diversification could include casings for other Apple products like iPods and laptops.

Wing for urban windmill

“Creating a green image”

Urban windmills are defined as turbines that are specially designed for the built environment, and can be located on buildings or next to buildings. This implies that the turbine has been adapted for the wind regime in the built environment and can, in theory at least, resist wind gusts and turbulences and that the shape and size of the turbine have been designed to visually integrate with the surrounding buildings. The capacity of these turbines is generally between 1 and 20 kW. Compared with large windmills, urban windmills generate relatively less energy and are relatively more expensive. This is due to the smaller size of the windmill and the location of installation.

There are different types of urban windmills. They can be generally categorized as horizontal axis and vertical axis windmills. The next figure gives an overview of urban windmills, the power they generate at a nominal wind speed of 10 m/s and the cost price (including all installation and operational costs).

The price per 100W for urban windmills varies a lot; it ranges from €300 to €4000 per 100W.

Let’s do a calculation to see after how many years a household earns back its initial investment in an urban windmill. What we need to know:

  • How expensive the windmill is
  • How much energy a household needs
  • What the price of electricity is and will be over the next years

A rough overview of the average power consumption of some domestic appliances:

  • AC (air-conditioning): 1000W
  • Laptop: 50W
  • Desktop computer: 100W
  • Fridge: 200W
  • 100 W light bulb: 100W
  • Energy saving light bulb: 30W

The average household energy consumption:

  • India: 1,000 kWh/year
  • The Netherlands: 3,500 kWh/year
  • USA: 10,000 kWh/year

The price for electricity is:

  • India: €0.06/kWh
  • The Netherlands: €0.20/kWh
  • USA: €0.06/kWh

The price of electricity will be rising the coming years. But, the make the calculations easier, let’s suggest they will stay constant.

The average windspeed in the Netherlands is 5.5 m/s, while in India it is about half of this; it will take almost double the time to earn back the initial investment if you take into account the rising prices of electricity.

At a nominal wind speed of 12 m/s, Turby delivers 1.9 kW, but at the average wind speed in the Netherlands (5.5 m/s) it only delivers 0.18 kW, which is a huge drop. During one year, Turby will generate more than 1,500 kWh. Which is enough for the average Indian household. However, the nominal power is 180 W, which is quite low; you can for instance power one desktop and laptop at the same time, but nothing more.

1,500 kWh will cost €90 in India and USA and €300 in the Netherlands. The total price of Turby is €18,000, so it will cost 200 years for an average Indian household to earn back the initial investment! In fact it will even cost more time, since there is less wind to harvest in India. This simple calculation shows that urban windmills are not economically feasible, unless:

  • It is placed at a location where there is no electricity grid
  • The price of electricity goes up
  • The price of urban windmills goes down

The selling price of an urban windmill from MBM could vary a lot; it depends on aspects like:

  • Size (and power)
  • Cost of electrical components
  • Cost of materials an manufacturing
  • Target consumer group (and intention to make a profit or not)
  • Volume of production

An urban windmill is more a tool for creating awareness about the environment and renewable energy, then an efficient and high potential source of electricity. An urban windmill is simply a tool for organizations, to show its environmental consciousness. In the Netherlands, urban windmills are mainly installed at important government and company buildings (eg: city halls, corporate head offices, educational institutes, etc.

A windmill, designed for urban use, might also be used in rural surroundings. In rural surroundings, the windmill, could for instance be used to generate electricity, or as power source for an irrigation system.

At Cambridge University, researchers have explored the potential of bamboo as a material for making windmill blades (with camber, torque, taper, varying thickness, curvature, etc.). Bamboo veneer may be combined with mats for high-quality coating and finishing purposes.


Bamboo iPhone case

February 12, 2010