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BERTRAND PICCARD ON HIS ROUNDTHE-WORLD SOLARPOWERED ADVENTURE

GEAR OF THE YEAR 2016 BOTS ARE THE NEW APPS

THE

VISIONARIES REINVENTING FLIGHT INSIGHTS FROM THE WIRED WORLD IN 2017 WITH: TIM HARFORD RORY SUTHERL AND PHILIP ROSEDALE AND MORE...

DEC 16 UK £4.20 WIRED.CO.UK

IDEAS

| TECHNOLOGY | DESIGN


CHANEL . COM


12 / 16 / CONTENTS / 005

Bertrand Piccard: “With an aeroplane you cannot cheat. It either flies, or it doesn’t fly”

120 FEATURE NO LIMITS

PHOTOGRAPHY (COVER AND THIS PAGE): AORTA

In 2016, adventurer and environmental campaigner Bertrand Piccard flew Solar Impulse 2 around the world, powered only by solar energy. His aim? To prove that the future of flight lies in clean technology


OW N T HE INS P IR AT I ON

FROM THE CREATORS OF WIRED AND GQ @ ST YLEDOTCOM


PHOTOGRAPHY: ART STREIBER

12 / 16 / CONTENTS / 007

030

061

105

START Reclaim your life!

GEAR OF THE YEAR 2016 product special

FEATURE The WIRED World in 2017

Tristan Harris, founder of the Time Well Spent movement, has some tips to prevent us from falling under tech’s spell

The best bikes, cars and SUVs, games consoles and robots, watches, wireless speakers, turntables and televisions

Our community of influencers and writers predicts the coming trends in technology, science, government, security and more

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086

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START Deeper freeze

PLAY Disney’s ocean of emotion

FEATURE Aviation special

An international team of scientists is storing 130- metre-long samples from glaciers to stop history melting away

Celebrated animators John Musker and Ron Clements talk about making the move to CGI for their next film, Moana

New innovations in flight; the fuel-cell engine that’s powering aircraft; clean technology enters the stratosphere

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IDEAS BANK Brain food and provocations

R&D Scientific progress

FEATURE Here come the bots

How language influences the way you save money; disruption is dead – it’s time to improve; vote for the anti-death president

Evolving AI software; the app that looks for autism; investigating alien worlds on Earth; what fish teach us about our brains

Apps are about to be eclipsed by a new conversational interface. The bot knows what you need – and is ready to serve

Right: Nike senior innovator Tiffany Beers at the Nike Innovation Kitchen (p90)


Creative director Andrew Diprose Managing editor Duncan Baizley

Deputy editor Greg Williams Digital editor Victoria Woollaston

Science editor João Medeiros Product editor Jeremy White Associate editor Rowland Manthorpe Assistant editor Oliver Franklin-Wallis Intern Ruby Lott-Lavigna Director of photography Steve Peck Deputy director of photography Dalia Nassimi Deputy creative director Phill Fields Art editor Mary Lees App producer Pip Pell App designer Ciaran Christopher Chief sub-editor Mike Dent Deputy chief sub-editor Simon Ward wired.co.uk Deputy editor Liat Clark Acting deputy editor James Temperton Staff writer Matt Burgess Intern Amelia Heathman Contributing editors Dan Ariely, David Baker, Rachel Botsman, Russell M Davies, Ben Hammersley, Adam Higginbotham, Kathryn Nave, Daniel Nye Griffiths, Tom Vanderbilt, Ed Yong Director of editorial administration and rights Harriet Wilson Editorial business manager Stephanie Chrisostomou Human resources director Hazel McIntyre Finance director Pam Raynor Financial control director Penny Scott-Bayfield Deputy managing director Albert Read Managing director

Nicholas Coleridge

WIRED, 13 Hanover Square, London W1S 1HN Please contact our editorial team via the following email addresses: Reader feedback: rants@wired.co.uk General editorial enquiries and requests for contributors’ guidelines: editorial@wired.co.uk Press releases to this address only please: pr@wired.co.uk Advertising enquiries: 020 7499 9080 Chairman and chief executive, Condé Nast International Jonathan Newhouse

Commercial director Nick Sargent Associate publisher and head of advertising Rachel Reidy Senior account manager Elaine Saunders Account manager Pavan Jhooti Compiler, WIRED Insider Cleo McGee Head of corporate and event partnerships Claire Dobson Partnerships director Max Mirams Partnerships manager Silvia Weindling Events sales executive Nassia Matsa Events partnerships co-ordinator Mariela d’Escriván-Nott Commercial art director Mark Bergin Commercial editor Dan Smith Commercial project manager Robert Hitchen Commercial designer Dan Hart Director of WIRED Consulting Thomas Upchurch Regional sales director Karen Allgood Regional account director Heather Mitchell Regional account manager Krystina Garnett Head of Paris office (France) Helena Kawalec Advertisement manager (France) Florent Garlasco Italian/Swiss office Angelo Careddu Associate publisher (US) Shannon Tolar Tchkotoua Account manager (US) Keryn Howarth Classified director Shelagh Crofts Classified advertisement manager Emma Roxby Classified sales executive Selina Thai Head of digital Wil Harris Digital strategy director Dolly Jones Director of video content Danielle Bennison-Brown Marketing director Jean Faulkner Deputy marketing and research director Gary Read Associate director, digital marketing Susie Brown Senior data manager Tim Westcott Senior research executive Claire Devonport Senior marketing executive Celeste Buckley Condé Nast International director of communications Nicky Eaton Group property director Fiona Forsyth Circulation director Richard Kingerlee Newstrade circulation manager Elliott Spaulding Newstrade promotions manager Anna Pettinger Deputy publicity director Harriet Robertson Publicity manager Richard Pickard Subscriptions director Patrick Foilleret Subscriptions marketing and promotions manager Claudia Long Marketing and promotions manager Michelle Velan Creative design manager Anthea Denning Senior marketing designer Gareth Ashfield Production director Sarah Jenson Commercial production manager Xenia Dilnot Production controller Alicia Shepherd Production and tablet co-ordinator Skye Meelboom Commercial senior production controller Louise Lawson Commercial and paper production controller Martin MacMillan Commercial production co-ordinator Jessica Beeby Tablet production controller Lucy Zini

Directors Jonathan Newhouse (chairman and chief executive), Nicholas Coleridge (managing director), Stephen Quinn, Annie Holcroft, Pam Raynor, Jamie Bill, Jean Faulkner, Shelagh Crofts, Albert Read, Patricia Stevenson

WIRED LOGO: VICKY LEES. PHOTOGRAPHY: ROGER STILLMAN. THE LOGO WAS CUT OUT OF WHITE 10MM FOAM, AND EACH LETTER WAS COATED IN PVA GLUE. USING YELLOW FLOCK AND A METAL WIRE SIEVE (TO REDUCE STATIC) EACH LETTER WAS COVERED UNTIL NO WHITE WAS VISIBLE

Editor David Rowan


JOIN THE MECHANICAL REVOLUTION DISCOVER #SISTEM51 IRONY


010 / WHO MADE THIS? / CHANNEL HOPPING

MAKING WIRED

NO TIME FOR CRIME

JEREMY WHITE

Photographer Jay Brooks embraced guerrilla tactics with Josh Browder (below) – a 19-year-old with an army of lawyer-bots: “We were by the Old Bailey in London, with lights on poles and sacks of batteries. We kept it quick and low-key enough that even a police officer on a mountain bike didn’t stop us.”

WIRED’s product editor oversees our annual list of 2016’s best stuff. “It gets harder every year,” he says. “But certain things are head and shoulders above the rest. Take the Tudor Black Bay Dark: not the most expensive watch, but its build quality is truly stunning.”

RAMONA ROSALES Rosales photographs Silicon Valley “contrarian investor” Dave McClure. “As a native of Southern California, I like to bring some of that spirit to my photos – the colour, the humour and the attitude,” she says. “And he had plenty of the latter.”

JAMES TEMPERTON Temperton profiles our cover star, Bertrand Piccard: “Piccard is an adventurer, a diplomat and a passionate communicator,” he says. “His belief in clean technologies is driven by an optimistic, romantic belief that humanity can change for the better.”

GEAR OF THE YEAR

ANDY BARTER

IDEAS BANK

MAKING WIRED

CLAUDIA HAMMOND

REACH FOR THE SKY

The author of Mind Over Money has a few ideas on why some people are better at saving than others: “English is a strong ‘future-time’ language, so a speaker might feel the future is a long way off, and hence save less.”

Photographers Marco Grizelj and Kristian Krän – aka AORTA – visited eco-aviator and pilot of Solar Impulse 2 Bertrand Piccard at his home in Lutry in Switzerland: “It’s a beautiful place, full of memories for him and his family, but Bertrand said the sweeping view from his home was more important to him than the house,” says Grizelj. “That strong connection to the skies was what we tried to convey about him.”

PHOTOGRAPHY: JAY BROOKS; ROBERT CLARK

WIRED’s annual Gear of the Year list was photographed by London-based Barter, who had everything from LEGO diggers to egg-shaped drones. “My favourite was the beautiful G Pinto ON turntable. I can definitely see that in my house…”


INSTAGRAM

FEATHERED EVOLUTION The cassowary is a prime example of the link between birds and dinosaurs. Strip the 150cm creature of its feathers and you’ve got yourself a velociraptor! For more (r)evolutionary pictures from our world, follow @WiredUK on Instagram

PRINT

THE ROBOT HAS SPOKEN It’s always rewarding to see the fruits of WIRED’s labour getting noticed by the right people. But when we heard that our 11.16 Nasa picture story caught the eye of one of the space agency’s own robots – currently on-board the International Space Station, no less – it made our day. “Thanks for highlighting my amazing robot family,” @AstroRobonaut tweeted as it drifted in space. For once, a Twitter bot that’s actually worth paying attention to… In other WIRED/Nasa news, Benedict Redgrove, the man behind the feature’s amazing photographs, will take part in a Q&A with WIRED creative director Andrew Diprose at WIRED2016 on November 3-4. See wired.co.uk/wiredevent/wired2016

MOBILE

WIRED.CO.UK

POCKET WIRED

THE END OF THE UNIVERSE

Want WIRED on the go? You can download whole issues on to your iPhone, and catch up on the latest stories via the Apple News feed. wired.co.uk/ subscriptions

On wired.co.uk, we recently attempted to find out when the Universe will end, and how. Whether it will be the Big Rip, the Big Crunch or the Big Freeze, the common consensus between theoretical physicists is that we have a few billion years before everything goes pop. Phew. Read more (at your leisure): wired.co.uk/ article/how-will-universe-end

EVERYTHING ELSE

WANT MORE WIRED? EVENT

WIRED GOES TO ISTANBUL Last month, WIRED co-hosted an entrepreneurs’ evening in Istanbul in association with Pictet. The event focused on the city’s startup system, with attendees including local heroes Demet Mutlu, Emre Ersahin and Nazim Salur, the founder of BiTaksi, which owns almost all of the taxi-app market – despite Uber recently launching in the city. WIRED learned a lot: despite the political instability in Turkey, its tech ecosystem is buoyant, investments are flowing and challenges are being met. And there is no shortage of taxis…

Facebook wireduk Twitter @WiredUK wired.co.uk/ video Instagram @wireduk Tumblr wireduk wired.co.uk/ podcast

VIDEO

LOOK AND LEARN wired.co.uk editor Victoria Woolaston got to play Minority Report when she donned some eye-tracking goggles and hand sensors for a trip on the London Underground. The goggles use “pupil centre corneal reflection” to pinpoint what the wearer is looking at, and the sensors use “skin conductance response” to monitor our reaction to what we’re seeing. The results were worrying… Follow WIRED’s dystopian journey: tinyurl.com/wiredgoggles


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Think of modern air travel, and you probably picture frustrating delays, absurd security theatre and – even more painful – having to turn your devices to airplane mode. So this month, to reward your loyalty, we’ve moved you up to seat A1 with a window view on the future of aviation. Flying cars, city-centre runways, vertical-take-off volocopters, the return of supersonic flight, even personal jetpacks – a surge in engineering innovation is about to transform what it means to fly in the 21st century.

PHOTOGRAPHY: AORTA

We first covered Bertrand Piccard in WIRED six years ago, when he had the audacious notion of piloting a solar-powered plane around the globe. Reality – in the form of gravity, drag, lack of sleep and all the other impediments facing a pilot carrying zero fuel – was always going to prove a challenging obstacle. Which is why, when Piccard landed in Abu Dhabi in July at the end of his exhausting but successful circumnavigation, we had to embrace him as a WIRED hero. Not only has he carried forward his adventurer family’s traditions of pushing boundaries, he’s also created an important conversation about sustainability in air travel. And now that his near-neighbours at SolarStratos in Switzerland are planning to take their own solarpowered craft to the edge of space, it looks like we’re finally accepting that fossil-fuel engines are no longer the only way to get us up in the air. It’s that time of year when the great minds of the WIRED network set down their forecasts and reflections on the year ahead. The fifth annual edition of our yearbook, The WIRED World in 2017, hits newsstands and app stores this month. We’ve given you a sneak

preview in this issue to see where virtual reality, post-reality, CGI celebrities and contagious diseases are going to start making news. As you read this, there’s a very good chance I will be onstage hosting WIRED2016, our annual London festival where we bring alive the stories and heroes of the magazine. In fact, if you can get to Tobacco Dock on November 3 and 4, you can meet not just our cover star, Bertrand Piccard, but also Yves Rossy, the inspiring “Jetman” who enjoys nothing more than falling to Earth wearing carbon-fibre wings of his own design (he’s interviewed on p135). I hope to see you there (wiredevent.co.uk/wired2016).

DMA MAGAZINE OF THE YEAR 2015 • DMA COVER OF THE YEAR 2015 • DMA TECHNOLOGY MAGAZINE OF THE YEAR 2015 • DMA MAGAZINE OF THE YEAR 2014 • BSME ART DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR, CONSUMER 2013 • PPA MEDIA BRAND OF THE YEAR, CONSUMER 2013 • DMA TECHNOLOGY MAGAZINE OF THE YEAR 2012 • DMA EDITOR OF THE YEAR 2012 • BSME EDITOR OF THE YEAR, SPECIAL INTEREST 2012 • D&AD AWARD: COVERS 2012 • DMA EDITOR OF THE YEAR 2011 • DMA MAGAZINE OF THE YEAR 2011 • DMA TECHNOLOGY MAGAZINE OF THE YEAR 2011 • BSME ART DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR, CONSUMER 2011 • D&AD AWARD: ENTIRE MAGAZINE 2011 • D&AD AWARD: COVERS 2010 • MAGGIES TECHNOLOGY COVER 2010 • PPA DESIGNER OF THE YEAR, CONSUMER 2010 • BSME LAUNCH OF THE YEAR 2009

Above: SolarStratos initiator and pilot Raphaël Domjan with one of the photovoltaic cells that will power his craft to 25km high

David Rowan


014 / NEWS AND OBSESSIONS / EDITED BY ROWLAND MANTHORPE


MORDOR? NO , IT’S HAWAII This ominous red substance is molten lava from the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō vent on the Kīlauea Volcano in Hawaii, exposed by a “skylight” in the roof of a developing lava tube. This one measures six metres across and reveals an active lava stream that is travelling to the upper right. “Skylights are extremely dangerous to approach from the ground,” says Christina Neal, scientistin-charge at the United States Geological Survey’s (USGS) Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. A USGS geologist took this photo from a helicopter on one of the team’s routine monitoring missions. Kīlauea is considered one of the world’s most active volcanoes. “This eruption has been going on nearly continuously since January 3, 1983,” says Neal. Since then, lava flows from the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō vent have added about 200 hectares of new land to the island of Hawaii; the lava flow in this photo has already reached the ocean, 11 kilometres away. Since May, Neal’s team has been using forwardlooking infrared imagery to create sequences of thermal maps along the lava flow’s length, which they translate into precise thermal fluxes. With these calculations, the team is developing better lava flow forecasts, which helps the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, local emergency managers and Hawaii Civil Defense officials understand what is happening, how much lava is flowing, and where it is going. And that’s useful for deciding when to issue warnings about the volcano’s potentially red-hot hazards. Tina Amirtha hvo.wr.usgs.gov


016 / START / TOOLS FOR THE TRADE

HARDWARE HACKER

Barbara Belvisi and Alexis Houssou are building an ecosystem for the world’s entrepreneurial makers

Above: Barbara Belvisi: “A lot of investors focus on software alone – it’s scary for them to build a product”

hardware. Not with her hands, but with her venture capital firm Hardware Club, which helps startups find a market for connected physical products. Kano, ROLI and TrackR have all grown into multinational brands with the support of Belvisi, 31, and her co-founder Alexis Houssou, 30, who take startups after they have refined their product in an accelerator (Y Combinator, Highway1 and Startupbootcamp are among their partners). “They focus on helping startups at prototyping,” says Belvisi. “We then take care of the scaling phase and help the startups expand worldwide.” Belvisi and Houssou set up Hardware Club in May 2014 in Paris and San Francisco, before expanding to Taiwan in August 2015. The two French financiers saw a gap in the venture-capital market: entrepreneurs developing products with electronic components, such as drones, robots, wearables and sensors. “We quickly realised that to achieve our goal and support startups, we would need to build the strongest and largest community of hardware entrepreneurs,” says Belvisi. Hardware Club, which bills itself as an exclusive club, has built up a network of manufacturing and distribution partners that can be accessed only by its members. Other benefits include access to Hardware Club’s online resources and events. “Our reward will be the return on investment,” says Belvisi, who intends to close a new $30 million (£24m) fund by the end of 2016. In Hardware Club’s short life, it has sifted through more than 3,000 applications, endowing free membership to 220 startups from 31 countries. More than 50 per cent of these are now selling products. Hardware Club sees part of its future in retail, and this winter is opening concessions selling products from its startups in department stores including Harrods in London. Belvisi plans to add shops in New York, Tokyo, Berlin and San Francisco. “The experience in retail is disappointing for testing connected devices,” she says. “Our customers will understand straight away the products’ usage, will be able to try them and then grab a box off the shelves.” Clare Dowdy hardwareclub.co

PHOTOGRAPHY: NICK WILSON. WITH THANKS TO ROMANYS HARDWARE STORE, SOHO, LONDON

B A R B A R A B E LV I S I B U I L D S


018 / START / ANIMAL WATCHERS / APPS OF THE MONTH

APPS OF THE MONTH RUBBISH PILE

SPACEHUB

CLEANERS

WIRED

SpaceHub uses video feeds and GPS to keep amateur space-watchers up-to-date with astronauts and asteroids. It also aggregates tweets from industry insiders into a single feed. Android, free orbyt.me

NURSES FABRIC

Fabric uses a combination of GPS, pedometer and beacons to log your movements. It keeps a list of the places you visit and the contacts you meet to build up an activity journal of your life. iOS, free fabric.me

BROOD

WHIM This app removes the legwork from dating. Swipe to find potential partners, then Whim will pick a night and suggest locations based on both daters’ calendars and preferences. iOS, free joinwhim.com

TOUCHTIME Ever wondered where the hours go? TouchTime breaks down exactly how long you spend each day watching animal videos on YouTube or testing the latest Snapchat filters. Android, free touchtime.co

FORAGERS

SNOW NEST ENTRANCE

ANTS ON A CAREER PATH

This South Korean Snapchat clone is finding fans among western teens, who use its huge array of animated filters to augment photos. The results self-destruct like its rival’s – albeit after 24 hours. iOS, Android, free campmobile.com

TO TRACK THE ANTS IN THE

colony shown above, University of Lausanne biologist Danielle Mersch glued tiny QR codes to the insects’ backs – then filmed them for 41 days. The resulting 2.4 billion data points revealed three types of workers: A new book uses big data to map cleaners, foragers and nurses for the the movements of wild animals queen and her brood. Their activity is visualised by James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti in their new book Where the Animals Go. The pair previously examined urban humans in London: The Information Capital (Particular Books): “Once we began working with tracking data, says Cheshire, “it all felt oddly familiar.” Rowland Manthorpe Where the Animals Go (Particular Books) is out November 17

SPOONR

WEIRD

In an age where we like to show affection through emoji and likes, sometimes a little contact is needed. Spoonr helps its network find nearby strangers to cuddle, no strings attached. iOS, Android, free, getspoonr.com Alex Jordan


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NEW BALLS, PLEASE / START / 021

TOOLKIT

SERVICE LINE Our series on tools-of-the-trade visits a Thai tennis-ball factory

PHOTOGRAPHY: BENEDICT REDGROVE

G

RAND SLAMS SUCH AS THE

ATP World Tour Finals get through up to 70,000 tennis balls per tournament, so demand for new stock is always high. Wilson’s 11,000-square-metre factory, just outside Bangkok, makes 100 million of the green furry things every year, using a process that involves 24 intricate steps. “The tennis ball is the most complex ball we make,” says Jason Collins, global product director at Wilson. “Because of the tightness of the specification – weight, size, hardness, rebound – the materials have to be super consistent.” The factory uses a design that hasn’t changed much over the years due to strict specification from the International Tennis Federation. The main challenge it faces is producing a tennis ball with the perfect bounce. If a ball becomes depressurised, or moisture in a clay court disrupts its felt, a player’s game could be thrown off – a potentially big problem if the player in question happens to be seeded. “We even have strict guidelines on the angle of the logo, and the felts we choose are all optimised for individual events,” says Collins. Smashing. Ruby Lott-Lavigna

1

1 CRUSHING This rubber-based core compound made of materials including clay (which deadens

rebound), is repeatedly crushed in an open mill for five minutes.


2

TOOLKIT

3

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COMPRESSING Slugs are cut from the rubber-based core compound, which is then compression moulded for 90 seconds into a thin shell.

SHEETING Once the slugs are compressed, a sheet is made. This is removed with an air gun, rolled up, left to cool and cut into semicircular shells.

BUFFING The shell halves are combined to make ball cores and are buffed – placed in a sandpaperlined cylinder to create grooves which aid adhesion.

FELTING An automatic cutting machine removes panels, or “dog bones”, out of a sheet of felt. They are then mechanically stuck to the core.

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CITIES ON THE EDGE A SI A

Robert Muggah’s simple equation reveals how close many metropoles are to disaster. WIRED presents 40 on the brink

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I N F O P O R N inequality, natural disasters or booming populations – but combine the three and the result is deadly. Robert Muggah, research director of Rio de Janeiro-based think tank the Igarapé Institute, combed through data on 2,100 cities to find out which factors make an area more likely to become violent, unsafe and fragile .“Every city in the world manifests some degree, to a lesser or greater extent, of fragility,” says Muggah, who chronicled the world’s murders in WIRED 07.15. “In Asia, statistics that seem to pull cities towards fragility are significant numbers of terrorist killings or high levels of air pollution. In the Americas, it’s homicide.” Although many of the world’s most fragile cities are afflicted by conflict, about a third are located in stable countries. The 40 fragile cities in middle- or high-income countries include London, whose social inequality and high risk of flooding make it the fifth most fragile city in Europe. New York’s exposure to cyclones Key places it at the top of the US list. Fragility score (1 to 5) “Cities seen to be stable can potentially become less so, if we 5 - Very fragile don’t start understanding and 1 - Stable engaging with some of these underlying risks,” Muggah says. No data available Muggah is combining his fragility index with data on Variable categories climate change from Carnegie Country Mellon University, Pennsylvania, City infrastructure in a visualisation that will be Violence installed in museums around the Natural risk world in 2017. Yet, he says, there are huge gaps when it comes to Country the developing world. “There is Afghanistan HTI Haiti a lack of information about AUS Australia IRQ Iraq what’s going on in the majority BRA Brazil NZL New Zealand DRC Democratic Republic PNG Papua New Guinea of cities. Ninety per cent of future RUS Russia of the Congo urban population growth is going COL Colombia SOM Somalia to take place in cities we know GBR Great Britain SSD South Sudan very little about.” Matthew GTM Guatemala UKR Ukraine HND Honduras YEM Yemen Reynolds igarape.org.br

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1,600 STARTUPS (AND HE’S JUST GETTING GOING) Contrarian investor Dave McClure is ready to be taken seriously

PHOTOGRAPHY: RAMONA ROSALES

AVE McCLURE DOESN’T LIKE venture capitalists. “Most VCs don’t work that hard,” he says. “They think they’re great stock-pickers. They’re all full of shit.” “Gamblers,” he calls them. “Dinosaurs.” There’s only one he respects: himself. McClure believes he has cracked the code of early-stage venture capital. Not because of his investments in billiondollar companies such as transport network company Lyft and Twilio, a cloud communications company – for McClure, all this shows is that “I’ve gotten lucky”. Rather than focusing on a few high-value companies, the traditional measure of VC success, he is pursuing a hitherto untried strategy: investment in bulk. Since launching Silicon Valley seed fund and accelerator 500 Startups with Christine Tsai in 2010, McClure has invested in more than 1,600 companies, making “lots of little bets” at a rate that now exceeds 500 a year. “We’re the most active investor in the world,” he says. VCs have traditionally seen themselves as skilled craftspeople guiding carefully selected startups towards a successful exit. McClure describes 150-person 500 Startups as a factory, and himself as Henry Ford. So what is his strategy? “It’s stupidly simple,” says McClure. “I bet on a lot of stuff that’s low priced and most of it’s going to go back down to zero. But some of it’s going to go up.” According to CB Insights, nearly one in 100 seed deals end up being worth more than $1 billion (£770m). So, McClure reasons, if he has 500 companies in his portfolio, he should get five unicorns. “There’s a mathematical way to get success,” he says. All he needs to do is avoid making bad bets, and persuade enough startups to come on board. McClure, 50, arrived at this thesis after two years as an investor at Sean Parker and Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund. He had worked for Thiel before, as

BULK BUYER / START / 027


028 / START / BULK BUYER / WTE

director of marketing at PayPal, before the company was sold to eBay in 2004. Joining him again in 2008, McClure went on a “pretty amazing” streak, backing Twilio, Lyft, SendGrid, Credit Karma and TaskRabbit – all multimillion dollar companies with strong prospects for exits. (Twilio went public in June 2016, making McClure, who invested in its seed round in 2008, a likely return of “at least 200x”: “Unfortunately it’s Peter’s money,” he says.) He left in 2010 feeling his success was largely down to luck. “I turned down Uber at a $10 million valuation because I thought Travis [Kalanick] and Garrett [Camp] were lazy and rich already,” he says. “I did pick Lyft, but Lyft didn’t seem amazing.” Selecting unicorns was impossible, he decided: one could sense someone was clever and hard working, but even the perfect candidate failed most of the time. To announce the formation of 500 Startups, McClure published a blog post called “Moneyball for startups”: like baseball’s Billy Beane, he would win not with home runs, but doubles and triples. McClure sees himself as a rebel against Silicon Valley consensus. On his LinkedIn page he describes himself as “Geek, Investor, Troublemaker, Sith Lord.” He arrives to meet WIRED wearing a pink “Cat in the Hat” T-shirt – the Dr Seuss character is a personal emblem – and instantly starts complaining that people don’t take him seriously. “Everybody in the industry thinks I’m the crazy person… shooting my guns off.” Barrel-chested and shavenheaded, he strikes a pugnacious figure. This rebellious pose is an advantage. Whereas the “Harvard, Stanford, white male nerdy” crowd might opt for rival accelerator Y Combinator, McClure says, “If they’re international they might choose us. Black or female, minority,

‘I TURNED DOWN UBER AT A $10 MILLION VALUATION BECAUSE I THOUGHT TRAVIS AND GARRETT WERE LAZY AND RICH ALREADY’ might choose us.” To widen the pool, 500 Startups has reached outside the Silicon Valley bro-ocracy. In June, it announced a $25 million microfund to invest in black and Latino founders. It has funds in countries such as India, Turkey and Mexico. Its biannual Geeks on a Plane tours introduce Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and investors to international tech scenes. McClure’s brash manner has also caused difficulties. He admits that large limited partnerships – the funds which provide most of the capital for VC – have been put off by his sweary criticism, or even just by his appearance. So, as 500 Startups raises its fourth fund, McClure is trying to win respectability. In July, he took the step of releasing detailed data on 500 Startups’ performance, to prove, as he puts it, that limited partnerships “should give us money”. The returns showed the first fund in the second quartile, compared to all US venture capital funds. The second and third funds were in the first quartile. For a man who says his biggest threat is “other people realising I’m right”, McClure spends a lot of time and energy advertising his approach to investment. He tweets and blogs. He appears on podcasts and speaks at conferences. When WIRED meets him he has just returned from a lecturing trip at Stanford. (Among his lessons: business school is “a waste of money”.) The

interview, at a restaurant in Palo Alto, is attended by his PR. Has she ever had to stop her boss talking? “She probably thinks that what I’m doing is a little bit too complicated,” McClure interjects. “I should be telling you, ‘Hey, I’m great at stock picking, here’s my proof’.” So why doesn’t he? McClure shrugs. “I would like the rest of the industry to recognise that I’m smart.” (The PR, for her part, says it’s “more fun that way”.) The bad news for McClure is that his message might be getting through. Y Combinator, 500 Startups’ biggest competitor, has started investing in greater numbers. But McClure isn’t worried. For him, the real competition isn’t among accelerators, but between accelerators and traditional business. Where many people see a bubble, he sees a world in which startups are becoming the dominant form of business. “Cost of computing is cheap, the accessible audience online is very large… it’s less intensive to build online businesses that can access the world.” But in the midst of all this innovation the venture system has remained largely unchanged. “It’s an incredibly inefficient industry that’s in the business of disrupting everybody else – but it hasn’t been disrupted itself. Why is there no Amazon for VC, why is there no Google for VC? Well there is – it’s Y Combinator and it’s us. But we’re just getting started.” RM 500.co

W I R E D

T I R E D

E X P I R E D

CGI resurrections

Genderswap reboots

Yellowface remakes

MinION Fieldwork

iNaturalist

Pokémon Go

AbyssGaze

Snow Crash

Inbox ennui

Zeroday Biohacks

ShadowBroker Tools

LOIC DDoS

Sci-Hub autodidact

YouTube learning

TED cribbing


IN PARTNERSHIP WITH RAYMOND WEIL is proud to be supporting Swiss sailing team Realteam as its Official Timing Partner and to introduce a new freelancer able to support the crew in the most extreme sailing conditions. A nice little tip of the hat to Mr Raymond Weil who was a member of the Geneva Yacht Club. Join the discussion #RWRealteam

freelancer collection


WHAT’S EXCITING…

JENNIFER DOUDNA Co-creator, CRISPR

WHAT’S EXCITING…

PAUL ARMSTRONG Founder, HERE/FORTH

WHAT’S EXCITING…

ROBERTA LUCCA Co-founder, Bossa Studios

“There’s a new device that’s been developed by the US Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University that uses the Sun’s power to destroy bacteria in water within 20 minutes. It might help people in parts of the world in need of drinking water.”

“I’m beta-testing Mondo, a smartphone bank that has a physical card. It helps me identify my spending trends – I spend more on coffee than I thought… I’m not sure I’ll switch completely but I’ll use it as an everyday card, or a business account, depending on the fee.”

“I’m a fan of the Runtastic Results app. It’s the best (virtual) personal trainer I’ve had. There’s no need to go somewhere to train or to feel guilty when I cancel. It’s more convenient to have a daily 15 minutes of personalised exercises in my living room – and being video-based, it is easy to get the exercises right.”

RECLAIM YOUR LIFE! Tristan Harris, founder of the Time Well Spent movement, has some tips to prevent us from falling under tech’s spell

ILICON VALLEY ISN’T INTERESTED in your money – it’s after your time. “Fifty white guys in California working in three tech companies have their hands on a billion people’s attention,” says Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google and co-founder of the Time Well Spent movement. He’s establishing a new school of app, website and device design that wants to give you far greater control over the role that technology has in your life. Harris, 32, studied at Stanford’s Persuasive Technology Lab, where Silicon Valley hopefuls – including the co-founders of Instagram – learned to apply the science of social persuasion to software design. “The way that everyone ended up using the techniques – and how they often get used in software – is to convert people to sign-up pages and bring people back to websites,” he says. Now he’s crusading against endless notifications, infinitely scrolling news feeds and other design elements that hijack our attention. “Something like a smartphone becomes a basic extension of people’s minds and bodies,” he says, but the same devices “are basically designed by rooms full of hundreds of really smart statisticians, data scientists and engineers whose job is to find new ways to hijack people’s attention.” Changing this might mean turning a tech world obsessed with efficiency and simplicity on its head. “We need technologists to be philosopher kings,” Harris says. The moral values of technologists are expressed in the products they create – whether that’s an app or an AI bot. “AI is only as good as the quality of the thinking we give it to make that choice,” he says. Matthew Reynolds timewellspent.io

ILLUSTRATION: JAMES GIFFORD

E A R LY A D O P T E R S


E A R LY A D O P T E R S / T I M E W A S T E R S / S T A R T / 0 3 1

HOW TRISTAN HARRIS WANTS TO SAVE YOU TIME...


032 / START / THE LIFE AQUATIC

A University of Washington 3D replica of Enophrys diceraus, the antlered sculpin

A DAM SUMMERS ADVISED PIXAR ON piscine movement for Finding Nemo and Finding Dory, earning himself a credit as “Fabulous Fish Guy”. Now the University of Washington professor, 52, is scanning the skeletons of every known fish species – 33,000 at last count – so biomechanists can learn how to build future underwater vehicles: “These skeletons hold billions of dollars in patentable secrets, but they’re useless if they’re not available.” Summers invited researchers from around the world to use his university’s CT scanner to capture their specimens – on the condition that they upload every bit of data to the Open Science Framework, a website where researchers share scientific data for anyone to study. Until now, many researchers kept their scans to themselves, but Summers’ trawl will form the first openly available database of its kind. “Now, they’re there for anyone and for any purpose – commercial, non-commercial, scientific, educational and entertainment,” he says. Understanding the skeletal structure of pectoral fins could help engineers develop new types of underwater propulsion, Summers explains, and species that burrow into the ocean floor or cling to rocks could hold the key to bio-inspired industrial or surgical equipment. Summers hopes his project will be complete within a few years, and is able to scan 50 species a day. One problem: scanning fully grown whale sharks, which can grow to more than 12 metres in length, might prove a challenge. “Once you hit a metre, they get to be more difficult,” he says. “But all fish are small at some point.” Matthew Reynolds osf.io/ecmz4

SCANNING NEMO Adam Summers advised Pixar on fish anatomy. Now he’s open-sourcing oceans-ful…


CREEPER TEACHER / START / 035

PHOTOGRAPHY: JULIAN LOVE

FOR KATJA HOFMANN, MINECRAFT IS NOT JUST A VIRTUAL WORLD: it is a gym for artificial intelligences. Hofmann, 36, is the lead researcher on Microsoft Research Lab’s Project Malmo, an open-source platform that makes it possible to test AIs inside the game’s pixelated universe. “A question in artificial intelligence is how we get AIs to learn how to interact in a complex environment, to experiment in a wide range of settings,” she says. “There’s really a need for an experimentation platform.” Researchers using Project Malmo, which was made available to developers in July 2016 after a year of in-house testing at Microsoft’s Cambridge-based lab, can create AI agents and set them loose in a modified version of Minecraft’s free-to-roam 3D environment. There, through trial and error, the agents learn how to move, walk and dodge obstacles in a physically consistent world – something usually requiring expensive robots. They also get to use tools, craft (blocky) objects and collaborate with other AI or human-directed agents. This last feature, according to Hofmann, could help to steer the AI field from its current machine learning paradigm – where algorithms are trained with troves of data before being deployed – to interactive learning, in which most of the coaching happens on the ground, through exchanges with end users. “We’re using Malmo to investigate how AI could learn from people, from human feedback,” she says. “For example, in Minecraft you could imagine teaching the agent a new skill, then giving it feedback every time it does something correctly.” Hofmann’s team considered several games as a basis for their training ground. The choice eventually fell on Minecraft, she says, due to its versatility, rather than because of Microsoft’s 2014 acquisition of the game’s Swedish developer, Mojang. “It would be nice to say we were planning this all along,” says Hofmann. “In fact we only realised later on how Minecraft could be a fantastic platform for AI experimentation.” Gian Volpicelli github.com/Microsoft/malmo

Right: Katja Hofmann at Microsoft Research in Cambridge, where she uses Minecraft to illuminate her AIs

WANT TO TEACH YOUR AI? SET IT LOOSE IN MINECRAFT Katja Hofmann uses play to brain-train her programs


036 / START / STACKED AGAINST THE ODDS

AT LAST– TIME TO REFLECT Hamburg’s ambitious new concert hall is finally opening, seven years behind schedule

T

HIS IS THE ELBPHILHARMONIE, A CONCERT HALL IN HAMBURG CONTAINING

three auditoriums, a restaurant, 15 floors of apartments and an 80-metre escalator – the longest in Europe. But stacking all this on top of an existing 60s warehouse caused problems for architects Herzog & de Meuron. Originally scheduled to complete in 2010, the concert hall is finally due to open on January 11, 2017, at a cost of €789 million (£680m), more than ten times the original budget. “The whole thing was a pretty intense journey,” says Ascan Mergenthaler, senior partner on the project. “It’s like building a modern cathedral.” To counter an unforeseen weakness in the roof of the warehouse – as well as smell contamination after its former life storing cocoa beans – Herzog & de Meuron excavated the entire core before adding columns to support the glass upper section. This structure was a challenge in itself: “Nobody has ever done this triple glazed, deformed, screen-printed glass coated with several layers of solar protection,” explains Mergenthaler. But now construction is complete, he can relax and enjoy the view. “It’s been a continuous effort on all sides to make this building happen.” RL-L elbphilharmonie.de


PHOTOGRAPHY: MAXIM SCHULZ

Elbphilharmonie’s undulating roof contains 1,100 steel girders and rises to 110 metres at its highest point, sloping down to 88 metres towards its eastern end

Inside the building, the 2,150-seat concert hall is wrapped in a white “skin” made from natural gypsum and recycled paper mixed with plaster of Paris


NEED A LAWYER? TRY A BOT OSH BROWDER BELIEVES IN THE POWER OF BOTS. “THERE IS SO MUCH potential for public service with bots that isn’t being exploited,” he says. That’s why, in August 2015, Browder (pictured) created DoNotPay, a free, non-profit bot designed to challenge unfairly issued parking tickets. With its help, drivers have successfully contested more than $5 million (£3.8m) worth of parking tickets in 175,000 challenges across the UK, New York and Seattle. All this – and he’s still only 19.

038 / START / LEGAL AID

Born in London, Browder learned to code with BASIC. “The first program I wrote was a simple chatbot that just tried to speak with you, using very bad if-then statements”. By 13, he was programming iPhone apps, and over the next few years he helped humanitarian organisations such as Freedom House and FairTrials make their websites work for mobile. Then, aged 18, he learned to drive – and immediately got several parking tickets. His parents (his father is anti-Putin campaigner Bill Browder) told him to sort it out himself. As he filled in the documents to appeal, he realised he could use bots to automate the task. DoNotPay was meant to be a side project before Browder matriculated at Stanford. But he was soon inundated with requests for bots that addressed other areas of law. Requests from tenants for help with landlord disputes were common; Browder has also developed bots to help with flight delays, homelessness issues and tenancy disputes. So, in late January, Browder intends to launch a dragand-drop builder that will allow anyone to create a bot to fight a legal battle. To enable this, he has expanded DoNotPay from a single bot into a website platform: “I hope to go from half a dozen bots to thousands,” he says. The bots will need to be vetted to ensure they are legally sound, a task that requires a trained human – Browder is looking for partners to help him with this element. But even if he can’t automate the whole process, he is sure that bots can make a big difference. “My aim is to level the playing field so that any citizen can get the same legal access as the richest people in our society.” Adam Born donotpay.co.uk Turn to p146 for our feature on bots replacing apps

PHOTOGRAPHY: JAY BROOKS

Nineteen-year-old Josh Browder’s non-profit chatbots are clever enough to fight your corner


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GROWING UNDERGROUND A former Nasa satellite engineer and an ex-Googler are bringing sunshine and greenery to the catacombs of New York

HAT DO YOU DO ONCE YOU’VE BUILT A 450-SQUARE-METRE underground park? If you’re Daniel Barasch and James Ramsey, you make it 100 times bigger. In October 2015, ex-Googler Barasch and former Nasa satellite engineer Ramsey, both 39, raised $223,506 (£170,000) on Kickstarter and took over a downtown warehouse in New York City to create the indoor Lowline Lab. Now, after 75,000 visitors, they have stage-one approval from the city’s authorities to move into an abandoned underground trolley terminal nearby, extending their urban garden across 4,000 square metres of subterranean space. The Lowline’s skylight system uses external Sun-tracking parabolic dishes to gather and concentrate sunlight to 30 times its regular intensity. Internal optics filter out the hot rays, and the incoming sunlight is then distributed in a modulated way, to suit the vegetation – including exotic plants, mosses and hops. “Tropical species do best, but flowering varieties have also done very well,” says Barasch.


SUNKEN GARDEN / BLOOD CHILLER / START / 041

A solar canopy spreads sunlight across the space, enabling plants to thrive

BLOOD RUNS COLD

PHOTOGRAPHY: GETTY. ILLUSTRATION: SR. GARCÍA

Amsterdam’s water supply is being used to chill one of the city’s blood banks sustainably

The trolley terminal lies beneath Delancey Street, one of the main traffic thoroughfares in Manhattan, so finding enough real estate at street level to plug in the skylights will be a challenge. Underground, it’s constrained by centuries of infrastructure, but the space has bonus features too, such as corrugated ceilings which can house the skylights that bathe the space in light. Barasch and Ramsey still need to raise a further $10 million and to present a detailed plan before the city fully approves the idea – if they get the green light, the park is scheduled to open in 2021. Already, the concept has sparked interest in Moscow, Paris, Seoul and from the team developing London’s Elizabeth line. “This becomes a universal concept for almost any city in the world,” Barasch says. “I hope it signals a new trend of taking back spaces that are unused and repurposing them for the public good.” Emma Bryce thelowline.org

A blood bank in Amsterdam is using public drinking water to flash-cool its drug production line – reducing the city’s water-heating needs in the process. Working with Dutch water company Waternet, Sanquin Blood Supply Foundation has found a way to draw water from Amsterdam’s two main public drinking-water lines, both of which pass near its campus on the west side of the city. Then, using a heat exchanger, Sanquin extracts the cold from the water, leaving the rest of Amsterdam’s drinking water 0.5°C warmer in the winter months. A portion of this

harvest cools the air in Sanquin’s facilities, and the rest is stored underground. “Sustainability is important, but we also need to efficiently meet our cooling needs,” says Jordy Pedd, facilities project manager at Sanquin. “This turned out to be our best option.” Sanquin says it could save about 1,900 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, which, according to the city of Amsterdam, is the annual energy usage for up to 1,800 households. Like many other blood banks, Sanquin recruits volunteer blood donors, collects blood and isolates the samples’ red blood cells and platelets to send back to hospitals for clinical treatments. But Sanquin goes one step further:

it keeps the blood’s leftover plasma in order to manufacture plasma-based therapies on-site. This production process requires a year-round stream of sterile water to sanitise its lab tools. “If we clean our parts with water that’s not within the right parameters, then the end product is not good to go. We cannot use it,” says Roy van der Mark, Sanquin’s installation manager. Sanquin heats the process water up to 80°C before using a quick burst of energy to cool it down rapidly to 20°C before use. “Basically, we need a lot of cooling down there,” says Pedd. Tina Amirtha sanquin.nl


042 / START / DIGITAL POLICING

LAURI LOVE HACKER AND ACTIVIST, UK

“This question tacitly assumes some benevolent state enacting legislation, and that ‘we’ are involved in this in some participatory and not meaningless manner. Leaving this aside, we might want to enable the exercise of more transparent and fair negotiating when making use of connectivity, processing and data. We might want to empower users to take a more active and participatory role in deciding how media platforms evolve and how algorithms make decisions that affect our ability to be informed. Perhaps there should be no giants in the first place…” MEG KING DIRECTOR, DIGITAL FUTURES PROJECT, THE WILSON CENTER, US

THE BIG QUESTION

“The danger with regulations is that governments tend to be reactive and slow to regulate. A smart regulatory process should target areas of concern without being protectionist or interventionist. And it should involve a transparent, collaborative and multi-stakeholder, multination approach. A positive example – though yet to be proven – is the European Parliament’s response to Bitcoin. But the globalisation dynamic begs an important question: can individual governments effectively regulate alone?” SAM BOWMAN EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ADAM SMITH INSTITUTE, UK

“Most regulation that digital policy activists want ends up hurting internet users. So, on behalf of the 99 per cent: please don’t try to protect us. Net neutrality takes away the option for users to opt for lower-priority traffic use and antitrust laws are usually badly applied. The US government’s crusade against Microsoft was a grandstanding waste of money. The EU’s anti-Android lawsuit, which could stop Google from pre-installing its apps, will make Android worse. How should we regulate the tech giants? Not at all.”

EUROPEAN COMMISSIONER FOR COMPETITION, DENMARK/BRUSSELS

“When it comes to our general approach to online platforms, we concluded that ‘one-size-fits-all’ was not appropriate, if consumers were going to benefit from the opportunities, and if the rules were going to meet the different challenges posed by the very diverse types of online platforms. So before taking any decision we will look into each area where we can act, from telecoms to copyright rules, to address any specific problems in a future-proof way for all market players. Individual customers and the economy as a whole have a lot to gain from a single market in Europe. Also a digital single market.” Pauline Bock and Ruby Lott-Lavigna

NICOLE BLACK LAWYER AND LEGAL TECHNOLOGY EVANGELIST, MYCASE, US

“Governments often seek access to information collected by tech companies. And what’s more, the number of requests has increased year after year. Many laws on this were drafted in the 80s and fail to reflect the realities of 21st-century data collection. Private citizens share data with companies without comprehending the implications – especially given the legal loopholes that allow governmental actors nearly unrestricted access. Laws should be amended to protect citizens and set limits on governmental access.”

ILLUSTRATION: PETRA ERIKSSON

MARGRETHE VESTAGER


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Š 2016 Cylance Inc.


044 / START / HISTORY ON ICE

scientists is putting 20,000 years of environmental history on ice. “The aim is to create a heritage for future generations of scientists,” explains Jérôme Chappellaz, research director at France’s National Centre for Scientific Research and co-initiator of the Ice Memory project. “Otherwise the glaciers, the raw material for the ideas of tomorrow, will disappear.” Ice trapped at the bottom of some glaciers dates back to 18,000 BCE – when glacial coverage was at its peak. As it froze it trapped bubbles of atmospheric gas and radioactive substances, along with dust and pollen. By drilling a cylindrical core through the ice, Chappellaz’s team can extract a timeline of the changing environment around the glacier, and how human activity has affected it. “We will measure water isotopes and concentrations of chemical species and trace gases,” he explains. “In future we should develop the methods to access this signal, to study the genome and its evolution, in trapped bacteria and viruses.” New analytic techniques will be useless, however, without material to analyse. Although ice sheltered more than 100 metres down at the bottom of a glacier won’t be disappearing any time soon, continuous melting at the surface can cause meltwater to percolate down and distort the geochemical signals preserved below. So, starting with the collection of three 130-metre-long samples from Col du Dôme glacier in the Mont Blanc massif in August 2016, the Ice Memory project plans to create a library of hundreds of cores in an ice cave at Antarctica’s Concordia A team of scientists are storing samples Research Station, where mean annual temperatures hover around -54°C. from glaciers to stop history melting away

DEEPER FREEZE

Below, left-right Researchers Luc Piard, Vladimir Mikhalenko and Andrea Spolaor extract an ice sample (left)

The first two missions and the ice cave’s construction are already funded with $3 million (£2.4m) from research organisations and private donors. Institutions in nine other countries have expressed interest in contributing samples over the coming decades. “In the long term, this is the safest way to keep samples frozen,” explains Chappellaz. “Antarctica is the only territory having no property rights and being devoted to science. The ice cores will not belong to French or Italian glaciologists. They will be a legacy to the scientific community, whatever the nationality.” Kathryn Nave fondation.univ-grenoble-alpes.fr

PHOTOGRAPHY: SARAH DEL BEN

AS CLIMATE CHANGE ERASES OUR RECORD OF THE LONG-TERM PAST, A TEAM OF


PHOTOGRAPHY: CHARLIE SURBEY

SANDOZ / WIRED PARTNERSHIP More than two billion people do not have access to the medicines they need and over 400 million lack access to key health services¹. Often these populations are in remote parts of the world. But they can just as easily be in developed countries. To help remove barriers to healthcare, Sandoz, a leader in generic and biosimilar medicines, has launched Sandoz HACk – Healthcare Access Challenge. The competition, which is open for entries to anyone aged between 18 and 35, is designed to generate innovative ideas and solutions to help tackle some of the world’s most pressing healthcare access problems. “Sandoz HACk aims to engage with today's generation of young entrepreneurs and creative thinkers to help find solutions to local healthcare access challenges,” says Richard Francis, division head and CEO of Sandoz (right). “By tapping into their innovative mind-set and fresh thinking, I’m confident we will unearth some great ideas to re-imagine access to healthcare.” For this year's competition, Sandoz is seeking solutions using M-health, or mobile health. M-health utilises mobile technologies – such as wearables, tablets or phones – as a cheaper alternative to developing hardware and traditional health services. For example, by creating a new app or a text-based service, using geo-location tools or the quickly improving cameras. In 2016/2017, Sandoz is partnering with OpenIDEO. Members of this innovation community will assess the six most compelling entries, and help develop and refine them into workable solutions before final judging. “OpenIDEO specialises in driving collaboration and innovation to impact some of the world’s toughest problems. We’re excited to be partnering with them for this competition,” says Francis. Six finalists will then be invited to the WIRED Health one-day event on March 9, 2017. Here, the shortlisted entries will showcase their ideas to a panel of judges. Three winners will receive €20,000 each as well as mentorship from senior Sandoz leaders to help bring their idea to life. “This competition is seeking people who are trying to tackle the same challenges we are – access to medicine, but from the bottom up,” says Francis. “We're committed to further improving access to healthcare and ensuring medicines and health services reach people in need.” To enter, for more information or for the terms and conditions, visit sandoz.com/makingaccesshappen ¹ WHO: Health in 2015; Access to Medicine Index 2015

ENTER SANDOZ HACK – HEALTHCARE ACCESS CHALLENGE SANDOZ INVITES YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS TO ENTER THE SANDOZ HACK, A NEW GLOBAL COMPETITION TO HELP SOLVE HEALTHCARE ACCESS CHALLENGES. THE COMPETITION CLOSES ON NOVEMBER 30 – ENTER NOW

Above: Richard Francis, division head and CEO of Sandoz


The WIRED Audi Innovation Awards are designed to highlight and celebrate the innovators of 2016. Judged by a panel of WIRED and Audi representatives, the awards will be presented at a London ceremony on November 9. #WiredAudiAwards

THE AWARD NOMINEES

Each of the seven category shortlists was decided following consultation with leading figures in each sector, including investor Mike Lynch, product designer Gadi Amit and Johanna Agerman Ross, founder of the Disegno journal. The winner of the Most Exciting Moonshot award will be decided by public vote.

Innovation in AI

Innovation in Experience Design

Team AlphaGo, DeepMind Chris Holmes, Oxford University Ben Medlock, SwiftKey Mike Aldred, Dyson Ed Rex, Jukedeck Ambarish Mitra, Blippar Kerstin Dautenhahn, University of Hertfordshire Blaise Thomson, VocalIQ

Breaking Fourth Marshmallow Laser Feast what3words Curiscope ustwo Lucy McRae Ultrahaptics Loop.pH


Most Exciting Moonshot

Social Innovation

Innovation in Product Design

Scientific Breakthrough

Leadership in Innovation

Target Malaria Reaction Engines DeepMind Novosang Hybrid Air Vehicles 100,000 Genomes Project Open Bionics what3words

Chayn Plume Labs Impact Hub: Birmingham Full Fact Wayfindr Chicken Town Democracy Club Open Bionics

AudioBerry Dominic Wilcox London Fire Brigade Starship Technologies Primo Technology Will Save Us Marjan van Aubel Dyson

Henry Snaith, University of Oxford Sheila Rowan, University of Glasgow Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, University of Cambridge Guillem AngladaEscudĂŠ, University of London Waseem Qasim, UCL Demis Hassabis, DeepMind Peter Kazansky, Optoelectronics Research Centre Kathy Niakan, The Francis Crick Institute

Eben Upton, Raspberry Pi Foundation Paul Nurse, Francis Crick Institute Matt Clifford & Alice Bentinck, Entrepreneur First Martha Lane Fox, DotEveryone Sheila Rowan, University of Glasgow Demis Hassabis, DeepMind Dave Brailsford, Team Sky Kathy Niakan, The Francis Crick Institute


BRAIN FOOD & PROVOCATIONS / EDITED BY JOÃO MEDEIROS / 051

C L AU D I A H A M M O N D

ILLUSTRATION: GIOVANNA GUILIANO

CAN’T SAVE MONEY? BLAME YOUR CHOICE OF LANGUAGE Most of us sincerely believe that in the future we’ll earn more, save more and spend less. It’s unlikely. Just as most of us believe that we’ll have more time in the future and become more organised versions of ourselves, the evidence suggests it won’t happen. For many of us, now never feels like a good time to save, mainly because there are so many daily financial pressures and retirement feels a long way off. Yes, we will start saving, we tell ourselves – but not yet. There’s still plenty of time for that. We find it hard to resist buying the things we want now, in favour of a future that’s hard to imagine in any great detail. But language can make a difference to our saving in two very different ways. Savings rates vary significantly between countries. This could be down to the language people speak. The idea that language can influence our thoughts, known as the SapirWhorf hypothesis, has long been a subject of debate. People who speak Russian, for example, who have different words for light and dark blue, find it easier on average to distinguish between different shades of blue than English speakers do. Could something similar be happening with the act of saving money? When it comes to talking about the future, in some languages you must change the tense. In English you might say, “Tomorrow will be cold.” The future is emphasised, making English what’s known as a strong future-time language. In languages such as German you can sometimes use the present

tense, but just add “tomorrow” to make it clear that you’re talking about the future. So you can say “Morgen ist kalt” (“Tomorrow is cold”). German is therefore a weak future-time language. If language does influence thought then in theory this makes the future feel closer for German speakers than for English speakers. This could in turn discourage English speakers from saving, because the future feels as though it’s a long way away, so there’s plenty of time for saving later. UCLA economics professor Keith Chen has gathered some intriguing evidence on this subject. When he compared saving rates in 76 countries, which impacts unemployment, growth, level of development and many other factors, he found that people who speak languages with weak future time references do indeed pay into their savings accounts twice as often as people speaking strong future time languages. These are correlational findings, of course. We can’t be certain that the language spoken caused the behaviour. Perhaps people in some places always

Claudia Hammond is the author of Mind over Money: the Psychology of Money and How To Use It Better (Canongate)

felt the future was far away and this had an impact on the development of the language. There were a few exceptions: Ireland, Russia and the Czech Republic have languages which emphasise the future tense, yet did well in the savings chart. But the most fascinating result came from Ethiopia, where three strong and three weak future time languages are spoken. The language each person spoke was found to be a very good predictor of the size of their savings. But if moving country – and waiting to become so fluent in another language that you even think it – feels like an extreme way of increasing your savings, you could stay where you are and put geography to work in a different way. We have a strong sense that our money exists physically somewhere, even though we know it’s just numbers on a screen and that the bank doesn’t really have a pile of cash with our name on it. US social psychologist Sam Maglio demonstrated that our financial decisions vary depending on whether the physical location of the money we are considering is geographically near or far away from us. He gave New Yorkers the chance to win a lottery where the $50 (£38) winnings would be deposited in a special account. People were more prepared to leave their money in the account for three months in exchange for a $15 bonus if they thought the account was based in Los Angeles, than if it was based in their home city. If money feels further away, a psychological barrier is created that might be just enough to deter you from withdrawing it to spend so soon. So if you’re looking for online savings options and you live in Scotland, perhaps you should consider opening an account in Devon – just in case the future doesn’t bring you the riches you deserve.


052 / IDEAS BANK / MISDIAGNOSIS

S T UA R T R I T C H I E

MENTAL ILLNESS: A SECOND OPINION

eeping up with advances in the science of psychiatric genetics is hard work. Researchers sit, poised over journals and preprint websites, waiting for the latest statistical methods to appear, desperately trying to get their heads around the maths before the next paper arrives. How nice it must be, then, to be psychotherapist Oliver James, who regularly authors articles and books on the topic without putting in this effort. Perhaps as a result, James’s recent Ideas Bank piece for WIRED, “Mental illness is not down to your genetics” (10.16), gets everything about the genetics of mental illness stunningly wrong. The first indication that something is off comes in the second line. James writes that the Human Genome Project (HGP) has “failed to find any genes” explaining psychological traits. But the HGP, the hugely important international project to map human DNA, was largely wrapped up in 2003, and hasn’t been involved in even trying to link genes to psychological traits. This solecism reveals James’s illinformed view of genetics: it’s a bit like complaining that the Apollo 11 project hasn’t yet landed a probe on Mars. James goes on to misinterpret the research on schizophrenia. Behaviour geneticists distinguish quantitative genetic studies from molecular genetic studies. Quantitative genetic research (including twin studies) has clearly shown that schizophrenia is strongly influenced by genes: for instance, identical twins show much

Stuart Ritchie is postdoctoral fellow at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Epidemiology

higher similarities on schizophrenia traits than fraternal twins, suggesting that differences are in part due to genetics. This heritability, which in twin studies can be as high as 80 per cent, has also been found in studies of adoptees, family pedigrees and DNA-based studies. But because hundreds of thousands of genetic variants each contribute a small amount to explaining schizophrenia, it is tough for molecular genetic studies to pin down the specific points on the DNA. Huge sample sizes are required in psychiatric genetics research, and researchers are just starting to put these together. So it is senseless to write, as James does, that “Only 3.4 per cent of variance between [schizophrenia patients and controls] was explained by genetic heritability” in a 2014 Genome-Wide Association Study (GWAS). The correct interpretation is the following: schizophrenia is strongly heritable, and this study makes a start by finding specific variants that account for 3.4 per cent of the differences between people. It’s likely that bigger sample sizes will reveal more: increasing them has always produced more results for schizophrenia – and other traits – in the past. The genetic findings keep pouring in: studies with exciting new gene “hits” have recently been published for education, intelligence, personality, depression and many other heritable traits. Don’t take my word for it: anyone can see how mistaken James

is with a few Google Scholar searches. What about James’s arguments about childhood trauma and maltreatment? Nobody would deny that such events have huge negative effects on people’s lives, but James cherry picks the research to provide the most alarming interpretation possible. For example, take his statement that “in one study, people who had suffered five or more kinds of childhood maltreatment were 193 times more likely to have [schizophrenia]”. This number is correct, but it’s useful to understand it in context. How many people with psychosis in that study reported this level of childhood maltreatment? Two. In their book Superforecasting, Dan Gardner and Philip Tetlock describe a group of “superforecasters” who can be relied on to predict world events with incredible accuracy. James is a kind of anti-superforecaster for genetics, the kind of person you can rely on to get the science wrong regularly. His prediction that “no such genes [for mental health] will ever be found” was disproved well before he even wrote it. Psychiatric geneticists aren’t making an opposite, equally extreme argument: they accept that both biology and environment are critical factors in mental illnesses, and are working to understand how exactly they combine to have their effects. The good news is that, if James really is an anti-superforecaster, psychiatric genetics has many stunning successes in its future.

ILLUSTRATION: CAROLINA NIÑO BÜRO; ANNA WRAY

K


REAL PROGRESS / IDEAS BANK / 053

F or years, “disruption” has been the rallying cry of the business of technology. And through technology’s influence, disruption has become valued in education, governance and day-today life. But there is a bigger idea than upsetting and tearing things asunder: embracing them as they already are and finding respectful, true – and therefore pleasurable and beneficial – ways of improving them. “Disruption” was popularised in Clayton M Christensen’s 1997 book The Innovator’s Dilemma. In it, he showed that startups can disrupt the incumbents by appealing to customers’ future needs. Christensen’s claims have since been disputed, but no matter. Disruption has weathered the storm. Now, every startup wants to disrupt something, from taxis, hotels and shopping to pooing, ageing and even death. As a business proposition, disruption promises to upset entrenched ways of life that could work more efficiently. For example, people like Uber because it allows them to hail a car in cities around the world, in the same way, without talking to anyone. People like Airbnb because it facilitates breaks at a lower cost than hotels, but with more space. And people like Facebook because it offers a one-stop experience for socialisation and discovery. The rhetoric of disruption makes it hard to raise doubts about tech companies. Critics worry that Uber and Airbnb flout local regulation, or that Facebook’s strong influence on web traffic undermines the independence and viability of the news media. Such ideas, even if provisional, are seen as retrograde attacks on progress itself. Disruptors frame themselves as revolutionaries, and in parallel their targets become oppressors. All this bluster has clouded what it means to produce progressive change in commercial, industrial, civic and

family life. Real innovation is both inconvenient and utterly common. It’s what people do all the time, the moment they start paying attention to things, working with them closely and refining them in modest ways. Ordinary life shows us how to innovate through embrace instead of disruption. The dining table wobbles, but the wooden floor beneath is prone to scratches. A folded napkin does the trick for the day; later, a trip to the hardware store is necessary to find the right thickness of felt for a single leg. An afternoon of meetings, errands and childcare duties, meted out to family members and carried out with the precision of a military operation. An abandoned neighbourhood property tamed after learning obscure details of municipal code and the process of appealing to a compliance office. These examples seem boring at first blush, but they teach us an important lesson: lasting, meaningful and equitable innovation happens only when stakeholders pay careful attention to all aspects of a problem. When they work its materials, like a woodworker works wood, to produce new outcomes. Not when they destroy that problem and replace it with an alternative. The key to resolving the anxiety of home repair, errands or neighbours doesn’t come from “disrupting” those problems and replacing them. Such an act amounts to tantrum rather than transformation. The goal isn’t to unseat and replace our problems, but to respect some of their limitations as non-negotiable. And then to find new ways of manipulating them with new materials, ideas and partnerships. The table isn’t levelled by quitting tables, but by finding new ways of using them. These lessons can extend from workaday innovation into the realm of business and technology. Consider Uber and Lyft. Earlier this year, both

IAN BOGOST

IT’S TIME FOR US TO DISRUPT THE VERY NOTION OF DISRUPTION

Ian Bogost is Ivan Allen College distinguished chair in media studies at the Georgia Institute of Technology and wrote Play Anything (Basic Civitas)

companies opposed a city ordinance in Austin, Texas, to regulate car-hailing companies. After public support for regulation wasn’t overcome by the tech companies’ heavy local lobbying, they opted for the tantrum solution: pulling out of Austin until they could get their way. Uber had acted similarly in Germany in 2015, after Frankfurt courts banned unlicensed drivers. For tech innovators, the doubtful or the curious become opponents of the supposedly obvious need to “disrupt taxis”. But in truth, careful negotiation between citizens, governments and a private US corporation with billions to spend shouldn’t strike anybody as an unreasonable path to the future. The irony of purported disruptors such as Uber is that they often offer incremental improvements anyway. They demonstrate that real and lasting change comes from taking something for what it is and finding ways to marry it to compelling novelty. In Uber’s case, that meant making it possible to hail a car via smartphone, and building a network to make that app effective anywhere. Truly creative individuals are not islands unto themselves. They are participants in industries, organisations, families and communities. To make progress by promising to dispose of the inconvenient is not to innovate, but to impede. That is, after all, what “disruption” once meant – and hopefully still does. Real progress comes from playing within the limitations of multiple materials in order to find novelty that betters all who participate.


I t was maddening. After departing San Francisco in September 2015 and crossing America on my campaign bus to post a Transhumanist Bill of Rights to the US Capitol, the single-page document wouldn’t stick to the sandstone wall. Standing on the steps near Capitol Hill’s main entrance, I began ripping off more masking tape to try to help my document adhere better. Then I heard the footsteps and yelling behind me. Posting anything on the US Capitol is illegal. Within seconds, police and soldiers carrying M-16s had me surrounded, ordering me to back away. I turned to everyone and explained what transhumanism was: a social movement that wants to use science and technology to radically change the human species. I told them why posting the Transhumanist Bill of Rights was so important: it defended the right of humans to experiment with technology on their bodies; it gave personhood to future sapient individuals such as AI; and it established the core transhumanist aim that people have a universal right to live indefinitely through science. A guard clutching his machine gun less than a metre away warned me I was going to be arrested. I pondered this, but turned back to the building and re-posted the document on it. The thing was, this wasn’t just any

VOTE FOR ME AS THE ANTI-DEATH PRESIDENT document. Nor was transhumanism just any movement. Both were inescapably bound to the future of humankind. And this small act of civil disobedience was just the first step of a long journey – one of radical evolution that would involve human beings uploading their minds into machines, replacing their hearts with bionic ones and using CRISPR genome-editing tech to grow gills so they could breathe underwater. The guard looked at me as if I was insane. In March 2013, I published a novel called The Transhumanist Wager. The book asks a simple question: how far would you go to fight an anti-science world in order to live indefinitely through transhumanism? Protagonist Jethro Knights would start a world war – and does so in the book. It can be seen as a political manifesto, and although I don’t believe in all of the book’s Nietzschean philosophy, 18 months after publishing it I announced that I was running for the US presidency. I really do want to create a science-minded world, and I think humanity’s well-being and happiness would be better off for it. Will AI solve all the world’s problems when it arrives? Will sex disappear as we install microchips in our brains that stimulate pleasure zones? Will we double our children’s IQ with gene-editing techniques and nanotechnology? The questions are endless, the ethics murky. Nonetheless, companies – many of which are where I live in San Francisco – are already working on all these ideas. My goal with my transhumanist evangelism and the political Transhumanist Party I lead is to spread awareness of the questions, and – on occasion – attempt qualified answers. It’s tough going, to say the least. Transhumanist activism is a new concept, and even my Transhumanist Bill of Rights won’t stick to a slick historic wall.

054 / IDEAS BANK / THE TRANSHUMANIST AGE

Zoltan Istvan is a US-based journalist, entrepreneur and transhumanist

ILLUSTRATION: VAHRAM MURADYAN

Z O LTA N I S T VA N

While I never expected to win the US elections in 2016, I saw my campaign as a way to share transhumanism with the world and to help launch a crucial aspect of futurism that was missing: transhumanist activism. With two years of campaigning behind me, it’s been a success, with many milestones reached. The formation of the US Transhumanist Party in October 2014 helped launch a dozen other transhumanist initiatives around the world – including the creation of futurist parties with their own candidates. There are now a handful of transhumanist politicians running for office around the world. Another major milestone was the Immortality Bus tour which ended in December 2015 in Washington DC. In a vehicle shaped like a huge coffin as a symbol against death, my team and I spent four months crossing America spreading the transhumanism gospel. Media attention was intense and we held rallies, staged street protests and met the public on transhumanist issues. In November 2015, we drove the bus uninvited to the 32,000-person strong Church of the Highlands in Alabama. The first 30 minutes went well. My team, two journalists and I wandered around the huge campus and were even given a tour by a unsuspecting pastor. Then the congregation members began Googling transhumanism. Within minutes the campus was put on lockdown. Gun-toting church members escorted us off the property. Transhumanism will lead humanity forward to understand what seems like a simple truth: that the spectre of ageing and death are unwanted, and we should strive to control and eliminate them. Today, the idea of conquering death with science is still seen as strange. So is the idea of merging with machines – one of transhumanists’ most important long-term goals. But once bionic eyes are better than human eyes – something that will likely happen within the next decade or so – the elective upgrades will start. So will using robots for household chores and getting chip implants (I have one in my hand). So will CRISPR genetic editing create a new age of curing of disease and enhancing our physical form. Embracing transhumanism will become normal, and we will become a civilisation that seeks to upgrade our bodies and lives much like we currently upgrade our smartphones.


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COGNITIVE INSIGHT

#5 COMMERCE

IBM WATSON

HOW IBM AND IBM WATSON ARE BRINGING KNOWLEDGE AND INFORMATION TO THE UNCERTAIN WORLD OF COMMERCE WIRED.CO.UK/IBM-COGNITIVE-INSIGHT

n Econsultancy report from 2015 contains a statistic that should make every brand looking to sell anything – from shoes to insurance – take a sharp breath. Eighty-one per cent of the consumer brands surveyed said that they had a working holistic view of their customers. That shows tremendous confidence in their ability to understand what their

customers want, and to tailor their products and services to fit the people who want them. Looking at that statistic, a brand might believe that the problem of understanding the many conflicting needs of the modern customer was well on its way to a solution. The next statistic would show how wrong that belief would be. When customers were surveyed, only 37 per cent said that their favourite retailer understood them. When asked about the average retailer, that percentage went down to 22 per cent. Clearly, there is an enormous gap between how successfully brands believe they are understanding and contacting their customers, and the reality their customers perceive. The ability to close that gap will be one of the key factors in determining which brands will survive.

IBM WATSON AND COMMERCE Consider another statistic: 84 per cent of customers would be prepared to exchange personal data for a more personalised experience. In truth, customers already share large amounts of data with brands – but it is spread across multiple channels, often siloed, and rarely intelligently collated or analysed. A single retail customer might buy with several payment methods – in-store, online, via mobile. They might review the products on the retailer’s own site, or elsewhere, giving feedback online, by email or in person. Extracting value from data for customers and businesses requires not just new approaches, but new technologies. “We’ve seen our clients building innovation labs and processes,” says Danny Bagge, IBM’s retail lead for the UK. “And we asked, what’s the value of cognitive computing in that? We’ve looked at nine different, new technologies, and cognitive is probably the most exciting – and it’s being used most widely.”

ILLUSTRATION: JOE SWAINSON; ESME MCKAY

THE INFORMATION REVOLUTION IN COMMERCE


IBM / WIRED PARTNERSHIP

SEEING THE PERSON IN THE DATA IBM Watson Personality Insights API is a next generation tool to help businesses understand customer behaviour and loyalty. By understanding natural language, Watson is able to combine a huge range of new inputs to learn why customers make the decisions they do. This helps to build a profile of how products relate to each other in the multi-dimensional graph of customer desire – making it more likely that, if a customer is presented with an item, it will be bought there and then. THE POWER OF INSIGHT Understanding trends – based on purchasing behaviour, social-media conversations and other sources – could help designers know what shoppers will be looking for, and retailers to determine where demand for a particular item will be most intense, creating efficiencies in production and logistics. Most of all, this kind of insight offers relevance – from the initial concept to the warehouse.

CUSTOMERS ALREADY SHARE LARGE AMOUNTS OF DATA WITH BRANDS – BUT IT IS SPREAD ACROSS MULTIPLE CHANNELS, OFTEN SILOED, AND RARELY INTELLIGENTLY ANALYSED FINANCE GETS TRULY PERSONAL IBM Commerce is enabling Standard Life to meet the specific financial requirements of its UK customers. Using IBM analytics, Standard Life can examine previously untapped structured and unstructured data to precisely track a person’s interactions across different screens and devices. Standard Life can then create unique customer profiles to illustrate each person’s financial needs and long-term aspirations. This enables employees to more effectively make recommendations to Standard Life customers across multiple channels – online, via mobile device, or live with consultants.

THE CONVERGENCE OF COMMERCE Meanwhile, as retailers look to IBM and Watson to improve their understanding of their customers, other commercial enterprises are seeking to understand their customers from minute to minute. Successful “life stage marketing” – detecting where a customer is in their life and responding with appropriate offers – is a huge competitive advantage. Even sectors such as business-to-business commerce, finance and insurance are demanding more sensitive, customised and painless experiences. IBM WATSON ON THE SHOP FLOOR Bricks-and-mortar stores are still vital – and so is making sure customers can find what they are looking for. Working with engagement platform maker Satisfi, US store Macy’s implemented the Watson-powered “Macy’s On Call” in ten locations. Using a mobile browser, visitors can ask questions in natural language; Watson Natural Language Classifier provides the answers.


YOU KNOW YOU CAN’T BE TRUSTED. ONE IN FOUR PEOPLE BREAK THEIR NEW PHONE WITHIN A MONTH.

IF YOU TRUST ANYONE WITH YOUR IPHONE 7, TRUST TECH21 TM

TECH21.COM


ROBORACE DEVBOT No, it’s not a sci-fi film: Roborace is a new racing series for self-driving cars. To perfect the tech and software, Roborace created this Le Mans-style prototype test model. Eventually, all competing teams will run identical electric vehicles and use the same sensors, powertrain, processors and comms, but will have to develop their own control algorithms for competitive edge. roborace.com

R AT E D & R E V I E W E D / E D I T E D B Y J E R E M Y W H I T E / P H O T O G R A P H Y : A N D Y B A R T E R / 0 6 1

DESIGN & INTERIORS - SOUND & VISION SPORT & LEISURE - RIDES - TOYS - TIME

PHOTOGRAPHY: (THIS PAGE) NICK WILSON. SPECIAL THANKS TO PIP PELL, LIAM KEATING AND STUART CALDER

Unlike the final Roborace cars, the DevBot prototype has a cockpit for an old-fashion human driver


Handmade in London, each Herringbone vase is 30cm tall, weighs 2.5kg and has its edition number branded into the base


< PHIL CUTTANCE HERRINGBONE VASE The complex details and precise angles of Phil Cuttance’s work may suggest the involvement of a 3D printer, but each vase conceals subtle imperfections that reveal its low-tech handmade origins. The Herringbone vase is cast in a pleat-patterned mould from a water-based cement composite, then etched to emphasise the sharp lines. £255 philcuttance.com

KUDU MOON LUNAR LIGHT Machined from polyurethane resin in 1/20-million scale, using data from Nasa’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, the MOON Lunar Light replicates every crater and ridge of its celestial

cousin. The LED ring can be either manually positioned, set to a 30-second rotation, or made to accurately reflect current Moon phase by following the synodic month in real time. £700 shop.trycelery.com

ICANDY MICHAIR Designed to grow as your child does, the iCandy MiChair morphs from low-level newborn rocker into secure high chair, a toddler’s dining seat or a comfortable rocking chair. A smart beechwood-and-chrome finish ensures the MiChair won’t look out of place in a high-end kitchen, and the removable padded insert and wipe-clean finish keeps things practical. £tbc icandy world.com

GEAR OF THE YEAR 2016

WORDS: KATHRYN NAVE. PHOTOGRAPHY: ROGER STILLMAN; JOSH REDMAN

DYSON V8 ABSOLUTE CORDLESS VACUUM With twice the suction of any other cordless vacuum, Dyson’s V8 ensures you don’t have to compromise

SHAPER ORIGIN Bringing autocorrection to the physical world, the Shaper Origin hand-held CNC machine can track and readjust the position of the cutting tool while on the move – to within a quarter of a millimetre of your original

design. Its automatic depthdetection ensures repeatable grooves every time. Perfect for aspiring makers everywhere. $2,099 shapertools.com

063

between power and weight. A directdrive cleaner head forces bristles deep into the carpet, and a soft roller picks up large debris and fine dust from hard floors. £449.99 dyson.co.uk

WITHINGS THERMO Using 16 infrared sensors to take more than 4,000 no-contact measurements from along the temporal artery, the Withings Thermo provides precise temperature readings with none of the hygiene

concerns of interaction with bodily fluids. It can also be set it up to send reminders and notifications of related symptoms. £89.95 withings.com


LITHIUM SUPER 73 ELECTRIC BIKE Equal parts geekchic commuter ride and ecofriendly off-roader, the 1,000W Super 73 has the sturdy tyres and frame for handling a few bumps, plus a neat

cupholder and a USB power point for the daily to-and-fro. It has a top speed of 70kph, a maximum range of 51km (extendible if you pedal along), and weighs in at 31kg. The battery

charges from flat to full in under four hours. From $2,999 lithiumcycles.com

PORSCHE PANAMERA 4 E-HYBRID The Panamera is now smarter and more eco-friendly, with a power delivery that gives you V6 petrol and motor power right from the off. The battery’s capacity has been boosted by 50 per cent, allowing a range of 50km (and a top speed of 138kph) on electric power alone. Elsewhere, you get a faster shifting eightspeed gearbox and a new cockpit with three touchscreen displays. From £71,795 porsche.com

LILIUM JET When it rolls out in 2018, the Lilium Jet aims to be the first electric vertical take-off and landing jet. Theoretically, that means you could land in a large garden without too much trouble – assuming you have a sport pilot’s licence. The Lilium team claims the jet will weigh up to 600kg, with two people, and have a range of 777km at a cruising speed of 466kph. £poa lilium-aviation.com

> MASON BOKEH More than a year in development, the Bokeh was conceived with the burgeoning adventure-sport scene in mind (think tough rides such as the Transcontinental). It is hand-built using a custom-formed Dedacciai tubeset with a unique D-section downtube and BoatTail seat stays for tyre clearance and all day comfort. Pair the frame and custom fork with the AdventureSport 650b wheelset (built by fellow Brighton startup HUNT) and the Bokeh will take you far, fast – all you need is the legs. £1,150 (for frame, fork, seat clamp and through axles) masoncycles.cc

MERCEDES-AMG GT ROADSTER The AMG GT has won admirers, in large part down to its bold silhouette. But does it still work with the roof lopped off? Luckily, yes. It helps that the front grille, air inlets and vents have been tweaked, and those changes aren’t just aesthetic: the soft top has the

aerodynamics of the range-topping GT R. Combined with the 4.0-litre V8 motor under the bonnet, it could make the roofless AMG GT even more compelling to drive than its hardtop sibling. £poa mercedesbenz.com

EDORADO 7S The all-electric twin-prop 7S boat – powered by two 40kW motors – makes use of two side-mounted hydrofoils level with the windshield to elevate it, thereby

reducing its power consumption dramatically. Edorado claims a top speed of 40 knots and a cruising range of 80km at 25 knots. £poa edorado marine.com

JAGUAR F-TYPE SVR Nobody who's driven Jaguar’s F-Type R would have walked away thinking, “What that really needs is a big slug of extra horsepower.” Nevertheless, Jaguar-Land Rover has reorganised its performance division, naming it Special Vehicle Operations, so more power is exactly what the F-Type got – up to 567bhp. And fourwheel drive, a racy bodykit and – of course – more noise. £110,000 jaguar.co.uk

WORDS: CHRIS HALL; ANDREW DIPROSE. PHOTOGRAPHY: ROGER STILLMAN

064 / GEAR OF THE YEAR 2016


The Bokeh uses front and rear throughaxles on the wheels for stiffness and disk-brake safety


The G Pinto ON can connect to computers via USB and to portable devices using a Bluetooth aptX audio receiver


WORDS: CHRIS HASLAM. PHOTOGRAPHY: JOSH REDMAN; ROGER STILLMAN

< G PINTO ON A designer turntable that does the lot, the G Pinto ON has a built-in class-D amp (100W, 250W or 500W) that can play analogue, digital and high-definition 24-bit file sources. Unlike most modern multifunctional pieces of tech, it’s beautifully crafted using beech veneer deck, smooth Corian for the plinth, exposed valves and a carbon-fibre arm. From €3,000 gpinto.it

RAUMFELD X ROSENTHAL German audio brand Raumfeld has teamed up with Rosenthal, one of the world’s finest ceramic houses, to create the world’s first streaming speaker made from porcelain. The milky matte teardrop design looks suitably sensational, but the real treat is in the sound quality created by the naturally low resonance of solid ceramic. £poa raumfeld.com

POPSLATE 2 The original popSLATE, an iPhone case with an e-ink screen displaying push notifications via “if this, then that” statements was inspired, but didn’t quite deliver. This second iteration, 50 per cent thinner with a 200dpi screen, pulls notifications swiftly via the popSLATE app, making customisation a breeze. $129 popslate.com

ISINE 10 Audeze has managed to shrink its patented planar magnetic driver technology into a pair of 20g in-ear headphones. The

LOEWE BILD 9 Loewe’s exquisite new 55-inch Ultra HD (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) OLED TV has a built-in 120W soundbar that effortlessly appears when the set is switched on. A 1TB DR+ hard drive and Freeview+ tuner will take care of

your streaming needs, but the real draw here is the Bodo Sperlein-designed sculptural stand that’s made to order and ensures a show-stopping design. Similarly striking stand speakers are also available. £poa loewe.tv

impossibly small but perfectly pocketable 30mm drivers produce a richly detailed, distortion-free sound that’s only enhanced

DREWMAN D1 AND DT Precision-milled from a solid block of aluminium and finished with a unique “radial burst” archtop, Drewman’s guitar bodies offer tourproof toughness without the weight (1.8kg). The curves remain classic, with the benefit of perfect resonance and sublime sustain. Made to order in D1 or DT shapes, complete with humbucker cut-out. £poa drewman.co.uk

by the inclusion of an inline amp, DSP and DAC, all powered via the 24-bit iPhone 7-loving Lightning port cable. $399 audeze.com

SAMSUNG GALAXY S7 EDGE Superb industrial design meets topnotch performance in Samsung’s 5.5in powerhouse. Everything about this device shines – from its Super AMOLED screen to the 12MP, optically stabilised rear camera and smart fingerprint sensor – all backed up with a beefy 3,600mAh battery. It’s also water- and dustresistant. £640 samsung.com


> BANG & OLUFSEN BEOSOUND 1 & 2 Not to be confused with offshoot portable brand BeoPlay, the latest wireless speakers from B&O are every bit as audiophile. BeoSound 1 is a

rock-solid aluminium affair with a 16-hour battery life; the mains-powered BeoSound 2 offers a bigger sound with exceptional clarity. Both have B&O Acoustic Lens

technology and 360ยบ sound, plus integrated access to TuneIn, Spotify and Deezer, and compatibility with the BeoLink Multiroom portfolio. From ยฃ995 bangolufsen.com


WORDS: CHRIS HASLAM

HK AUDIO LUCAS NANO 608I A life-saver for gigging musicians, this 16.3kg all-inone PA system with built-in eight-channel digital mixer can be controlled wirelessly via an iPad app – you can tweak volumes and check the sound quality from anywhere in the room. Two 4.5-inch satellite speakers are hidden inside the main unit, which houses a subwoofer and 460W power amp. £1,199 hkaudio.com

MCINTOSH RS100 With its blue meter and classic dials, this wireless network speaker is unmistakably McIntosh. And, given it was tuned by its acoustic engineer Carl Van Gelder, it sounds like one, too. The single bookshelfspeaker design supports almost every audio format and, with DTS Play-Fi Wi-Fi streaming, you can hook up 16 speakers to create an unforgettable sound. $1,000 mcintoshlabs.com

STEREO

MONO

C O M PA C T NANO

>

L U C A S N A N O 6 0 8 1 C O N F I G U R AT I O N S

TWIN STEREO

SONUS FABER SF16 This 1,400W multiroom streaming speaker is the first all-in-one audio system from Sonus Faber. It has opposing frontand rear-firing bass drivers in a hand-crafted shell and two satellite speakers housing four tweeters and ceramic midrange drivers. It can take 24-bit/192kHz hi-res files, and you can link up to 16 speakers via the DTS Play-Fi platform. £9,900 sonusfaber.com S T E R E O S E PA R AT I O N

THE SF16’S TWO SATELLITE SPEAKERS EXTEN D OUT BY 440MM

AMAZON ECHO & DOT After a crash course in English accents, Alexa, Amazon’s voiceactivated personal assistant, finally makes its UK debut. It offers hands-free control for the likes of Amazon Music, Spotify and Uber, plus smart-home integration with Philips Hue and SmartThings. With its built-in speaker, the Echo provides central control. The pucklike Dot (not pictured) will be available in multipacks to build a household voice network. Echo £149.99; Dot £49.99 amazon.co.uk


AVRA 1-HUNDRED Quite a number of car designers try their hands at watch design; very few manage to bring anything genuinely new to

the field. Nicholas DiLoreto, whose CV includes time at BMW and Volvo, has, however, with the Avra 1-Hundred. It resulted in four patents – relating

to the watch’s locking crown (found in the square corner of the 46mm titanium case) and its perpendicular time display, which uses a sapphire ring sandwiched between the front and back of the case to show the time from a side-on view. Each model takes six months to machine and is made to order. $2,500 avrawatch company.com

TUDOR BLACK BAY DARK Tudor’s Heritage Black Bay has been so successful over the past three years it has come single-handedly to exemplify the brand’s revival in the UK. Blackedout designs are nothing new, but as with previous Black Bays, the execution is so sharp (the dial stands up flawlessly to microscopic inspection) that it once again sets the standard. If you find the black bracelet a bit much, swap it for the grey textile strap (included as standard) to leaven the look a little. £3,050 tudorwatch.com

APPLE WATCH EDITION WHITE CERAMIC The Series 2 version of Apple’s smartwatch now has built-in GPS and an IP67 rating, meaning it’s waterresistant to 50 metres. It can also track your running without having to be a slave to an

iPhone. WIRED’s favourite option is the top-of-therange 38mm White Ceramic: thanks to a spot of amazingly tricky machining it looks great on the wrist and, at 39.6g, is lighter than the 41.9g stainlesssteel model. £1,249 apple.com

OMEGA PLANET OCEAN DEEP BLACK Omega’s Deep Black breaks new ground in using a fiendishly hard-tomachine monobloc ceramic case that’s waterproof to 600 metres. It wears bigger than its 45mm size would suggest, but you’re not buying one of these if compromise is on the agenda. Up close, the build quality is easily good enough to justify the chunky price tag. £7,900 omega watches.com

SWATCH SISTEM51 IRONY SISTEM51 – the only mechanical watch movement assembled on an entirely automated production line – sounds like heresy in an industry that venerates handmade craft. But hardcore fans love it because it’s an honestly priced distillation of a simple idea. Previously only available in plastic cases, the SISTEM51 now comes in a wide range of stainlesssteel designs. From £127 swatch.com

> URWERK EMC TIME HUNTER Watch makers often talk about bringing centuries-old crafts into the 21st century; with Urwerk it’s more like the 23rd. The EMC line pairs a 4Hz mechanical movement with optical sensors, a 16MHz reference oscillator and a discreet LED array so the wearer has constant data on the watch’s accuracy. For its Time Hunter X-Ray edition, the movement has been skeletonised to show what’s going on – whether you understand it or not. CHF125,000 urwerk.com

WORDS: CHRIS HALL. PHOTOGRAPHY: ROGER STILLMAN; JOSH REDMAN

070 / GEAR OF THE YEAR 2016


The Urwerk EMC Time Hunterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s electronics are manually powered, storing charge from the winding lever in a capacitor built into the case


The set includes a Power Function motor, so you can sit back as the bucket excavator and conveyor belt get to work


< LEGO TECHNIC: BUCKET WHEEL EXCAVATOR The largest LEGO Technic set to date, this detailed mining excavator model includes a control cab and moving conveyor belts. Once your excavation is complete, rebuild the set into an aggregate processing plant to separate your material by size. £179.99 lego.com

PLUS-PLUS BUILDING SET Denmark-based Plus-Plus has been making these tactile building blocks since 2012. WIRED first spotted them at BIG’s HQ in Copenhagen – and if it’s good enough for Bjarke Ingels, it’s good enough for us. Available in Midi (50mm) and Mini (20mm) sizes in basic, neon and pastel colour

themes, Plus-Plus brings Minecraftstyle worldbuilding into the real world. £5 for 100 pieces. plus-plus.dk YOSHIDA AVION DE PÉNAUD PLANE Despite its sleek modern looks, the Avion de Pénaud’s design dates back to 1871 – and it’s still lots of fun today. It draws inspiration from the word’s first rubber-band-

powered model del aeroplane that was created by Parisian aviation pioneer Alphonse Pénaud. £19.10 fredaldous.co.uk ANKI COZMO This mini robot uses advanced computer vision alongside smartphonepowered machine learning to demand you join in with its games. Cozmo also emotes, using expressions designed by former Pixar animator Carlos Baena. $179.99 anki.com

WORDS: KATHRYN NAVE. PHOTOGRAPHY: ROGER STILLMAN; JOSH REDMAN

GEAR OF THE YEAR 2016 / 073

ANALOGUE NT MINI The Nt mini console uses original NES components for a highly authentic 8-bit experience. The system is compatible with more than 2,000 NES or Famicom cartridges. $449 analogue.co

PLAYSTATION PRO With 4.2 teraflops of raw processing power, HDR output and support for 4K upscaled games, the Pro is ready for Ultra HD screens and immersive experiences with PlayStation VR. $349.99 playstation.com

NINEBOT ROBOT SEGWAY Based on a Segway MiniPRO, Ninebot’s cute companion will take you to work in the morning, carry messages around the office, lug your shopping home in the evening, then carry on following your commands around the house with voice recognition, depth sensing and face recognition. £poa robot.segway.com

XBOX ONE S The One S is 40 per cent smaller than its predecessor, but there’s no decrease in power – all the better to take advantage of its 4K 60Hz output. It also doubles as an Ultra HD Blu-ray player. £249.99 xbox.com

PRIMO CUBETTO A stylish update on the LOGO Turtle, this is code construction reduced to its simplest essentials, with no language knowledge –

whether English or C++ – required. Kids simply arrange the tactile, brightly coloured blocks into the control panel and watch Cubetto execute their commands. $225 primotoys.com


686 SILVER PIGEON I SHOTGUN Call it a “budgett Beretta” if you must, but this stripped-down 12-bore, with a choice of just 288or 30-inch barrels, els, has the flawless s performance and features competitive shooters have come to expect from the 686 action, just without the heirloom-inducing ing price tag. £1,495 5 beretta.com

PEBBLE CORE Pebble has a knack of understanding what people actually need their wearables to do, and as a result the Core could be a compelling fitness companion. The ultra-light 3G-enabled GPStoting 4GB dongle lets you exercise without your smartphone and track your run accurately with Strava, MapMyRun et al, all while streaming Spotify. It’s even Amazon Alexa-compatible, so you can order an Uber when the hill climb gets too much. $99 pebble.com

MOTORS IN THE SOLE W I ND I N THE L ACE S

NIKE HYPERADAPT 1.0 TRAINERS Great Scott! Nike has finally launched a line of self-lacing trainers featuring electro-adaptive reactive laces, a

technology which adapts the fit of the laces to the individual wearer’s foot shape and weight distribution. Two buttons are also on hand to tweak the fit to perfection. Fans of Back to the

Future Part II can finally look the part while streaming Huey Lewis and the News. Now, about that hoverboard… £tbc nike.com See p90 for more on the HyperAdapt 1.0

STARCK EYES Philippe Starck continues to innovate with his latest eyewear range. These blend his signature Biolink 360° screwless hinge – modelled on the human clavicle – with Gravity, a new, 100 per cent recyclable polymer that, despite being extremely tough, is feather-light, scratch-resistant and non-allergenic. Around £300 starck.com

SELKBAG ORIGINAL Redefining cosy, one anatomically correct sleeping bag at a time, the new Selkbag features ripstop nylon, zip-off feet and a snuggly kangaroo pocket. There’s also masses of insulation to cocoon every limb without restricting movement, and once the inclement weather passes, the suit packs down to a highly portable 38cm x 25cm. Available in three sizes for adults, there is also the Lite,a singlelayer version for warmer climes. £119.99 selkbag.eu

OPERATOR AXE Weighing just 900g but packing 24 tools into a single length of 435 stainless steel, the Operator Axe includes a ruler, wrench, hammer, pry bar and axe, plus metric and standard hex wrench openings. It can be wielded equally well if you’re right- or left-handed. $160 511tactical.com

> POWEREGG Aside from its bag-friendly folding design, this PowerVision drone has gesturerecognition remote control and pushbutton take-off and landing. There’s also a host of automated flight modes including Follow Me, Orbit and Selfie mode, plus long distance (5km) real-time video transmission using the on-board 4K UHD camera and a flight time of 23 minutes. £1,290 powervision.me

WORDS: CHRIS HASLAM. PHOTOGRAPHY: JOSH REDMAN; SUN LEE; ROGER STILLMAN

074 / GEAR OF THE YEAR 2016


The PowerEgg has an in-flight “pause” function – just press the button on the remote, and the drone will stop and hold its position


JONNY VOON LEAD TECHNOLOGIST OF IOT INNOVATE UK

MISCHA DOHLER CHAIR PROFESSOR OF WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS KING’S COLLEGE LONDON

KASSIR HUSSAIN DIRECTOR OF CONNECTED HOME HIVE

“The ultimate goal of the connected home is to be so user-friendly, unobtrusive and convenient that we just refer to it as ‘home’ and grow nostalgic thinking about analogue homes. Today, the connected home consists of individuallyconnected ‘smart’ items. The challenge is to embed a seamless, multi-vendor experience as standard in new builds, without extra cost to the consumer. For existing homes, the connected home revolution will be driven through brands and increasing consumer tech cycles over the next three to five years.”

“The goal is to converge Internet of Things devices at the platform level. This would allow businessto-business markets to improve effectiveness, and business-to-consumer markets to offer greater convenience. Once we have the IoT ecosystem up and running and there’s a good density, there might be a revolution on top of that. I think when we zoom forward to 2025 or 2030, we’ll look back at this kind of conversation and think this was a joke. Today it seems important, but I think there are even more exciting things to come.”

“We’re making great progress, but there are three key barriers for consumers entering into this market. Firstly, upgrading your home can be expensive. Secondly, there’s a job for brands such as Hive to do to eliminate concerns around technical complexity. Thirdly, we must demonstrate real-life use-cases and benefits to consumers. This will help people realise the relevance for themselves and their lives. Increasingly we see examples of people wanting to check that elderly relatives and loved ones are warm and safe in their homes. Being able

HIVE, A BRITISH GAS INNOVATION, IS A LEADER IN THE UK CONNECTED HOME MARKET, HELPING HOMES BECOME MORE CUSTOMISABLE AND CONNECTED THAN EVER. VISIT HIVEHOME.COM

to check from afar and see that the temperature is comfortable, and all of the doors and windows are closed, epitomises the human, everyday impact of this technology. Moving forward, what excites me most is when we have multiple products, all with machine learning capabilities, using data science to gather insights and give us control in ways we’ve never imagined. We’re building the roads at the moment, so the exciting part for me is what we can’t yet see – what happens when all of the infrastructure is in place.”

ILLUSTRATION: JÖRN KASPUHL

HIVE FUTURE THINKERS: WHAT IS THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF THE CONNECTED HOME – AND HOW CLOSE IS IT?


HIVE / WIRED PARTNERSHIP

SAVERIO ROMEO PRINCIPAL ANALYST BEECHAM RESEARCH

CAROLINE GORSKI HEAD OF INTERNET OF THINGS IOTUK

“In 1991, Mark Weiser – the author of Ubiquitous Computing and then chief scientist at Xerox PARC – stated we should find a way to ‘allow the computers themselves to vanish into the background.’ The concept of the connected home can be seen through this lens. Technology reinvents our homes, but that process should be easy – almost invisible – and perceived as useful. So far, though, smart home solutions have not been very successful in achieving that – hence some of the current concerns on its adoption. The smart home should be based around a people-centric approach and connected to other people-centric concepts, such as the smart city.”

“The opportunities for the connected home are incredibly exciting. We are starting to see snippets of what is possible, however it isn’t the finished article. I moved into a brand new house this year and I am still taken aback by how unconnected it is. The mechanics still have to be patched together by the user, which is a real challenge if you are not technically minded. For example, I have a voice powered personal assistant which is exciting and aesthetically wonderful. It glows blue, talks to you, plays music and can help with your shopping. If you’re feeling clever, you can ask it to work out how long it will take for you to get somewhere, or turn your

For more in this series, visit wired.uk/hive

lights and heating on and off. But, my daughter asked it for help with her French homework, and it turns out it can’t speak French. Or rather – right now, it doesn’t have access to the right translation engine services that would allow it to appear to speak French. My daughter’s ability to imagine the smart home of the future is moving faster than the current capabilities of some devices to deliver that reality out-of-the-box. Which means to create her vision she’s going to need to be able to access or code web service extensions that are compatible, interoperable and secure and add them herself. Ultimately, the changes that we are seeing feel big because the technology

is becoming more accessible and it is easier to experience. But it has taken time for us to get here and in some ways I don’t feel changes we’re seeing today are as big as those made in the last 20 years. I do look forward to a time when I can run my home in a far more interactive way, create a smart and personalised space that feels fluid and is smart enough to adapt as I need it to. It’s these changes that will allow me to be able to stay in my home for longer, even support me into old age, if the environment becomes intelligent enough that it can be adapted to suit me as my physical needs change. That’s the real benefit of a smart home.”


DESIGN FOR LIFE THE WORLD IS CHANGING, BUT YOUR HOME SHOULD KEEP UP WITH HOWEVER YOU WANT TO EXPERIENCE IT. HERE ARE B&O’S SOLUTIONS FOR SMARTER LIVING

O ur media consumption habits are changing. More of us stream our movies, music and TV than ever, often watching on small screens and listening through sub-par speakers. This is a choice of convenience over quality. But the question is, why not have both?

“A flat screen should be able to produce both stunning images and sound,” says Marie Kristine Schmidt, VP brand, design and marketing at Bang & Olufsen. “A TV should offer greater flexibility in terms of placement than a set of nails for the wall. A portable speaker should seamlessly integrate with your décor – and sound impressive wherever you are in relation to it.” Bang & Olufsen’s answer to this very modern predicament is its BeoVision Horizon 4K Ultra HD television, and its eye-catching aluminium BeoSound 1 and BeoSound 2 wireless speakers. Both sets of products live up to the Bang & Olufsen style – with minimal design and any excess stripped away. Form very much follows function.

Above, from left: The new Bang & Olufsen BeoSound 1 wireless speaker; The BeoSound 2; The Horizon 4K Ultra HD television set

“The TV is one of the last media to bring us entertainment that is shared together. Horizon is a kind of social unifier,” says Torsten Valeur, designer of the versatile new television . Available in 40 and 48 inches, the BeoVision Horizon is crafted from black aluminium and can be wall-mounted, placed on wheels, attached to a floorstand or set in an easel-style frame. Designed to be watched wherever you want, the BeoVision Horizon has a smart sensor that measures lighting conditions and adjusts the screen accordingly for optimal viewing. Inside, the Android Smart TV platform delivers direct access to Google Play and other streaming apps; Google Cast means you can simply transfer


BANG & OLUFSEN / WIRED PARTNERSHIP

movies, photos and music direct from a smartphone or tablet to the TV. Audio is no issue, either – with speakers mounted behind its grill, the BeoVision Horizon delivers full, powerful sound without additional backup. For a boost, simply pair with other Bang & Olufsen Multiroom products – such as the new BeoSound 1 and BeoSound 2 wireless speakers (left). The two beautifully crafted devices are the newest members of the Bang & Olufsen BeoLink Multiroom portfolio, and deliver rich sound in 360 degrees. The BeoSound 1 can run off a battery for added portability, whereas its larger sibling – the BeoSound 2 – is slightly bigger and more powerful, so requiring a mains power source to operate.

ON THE HORIZON VERSATILE VIEWS With wheels, the BeoVision Horizon can be wherever you want it to be. SMART SENSING A sensor measures the light conditions and adjusts the screen accordingly. COOL CONTROL The BeoRemote One Bluetooth is crafted from a single piece of aluminium.

Their aluminium structures both house acoustic drivers which play into a reflector. This creates a distinctive 360-degree sound experience. Both speakers also utilise proximity sensors to detect your presence, automatically readying for commands and turning the interface towards the user. Connectivity comes via Google Cast, Apple AirPlay, DNLA and Bluetooth, plus TuneIn Internet radio, and Spotify and Deezer streaming services. Relax. Modernity has been solved. Visit your local Bang & Olufsen store before December 31, 2016 for a personal demonstration, and you will be entered into a prize draw to win a BeoSound 1. Visit bang-olufsen.com/en/find-store


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EDITED BY OLIVER FRANKLIN-WALLIS / 081

THE PLASTIC GAME THATâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S ONLINE

PHOTOGRAPHY: WILSON HENNESSY

Beasts of Balance is a modern-day mashup of Buckaroo! and CRISPR >


Beasts of Balance (continued )

he idea for Beasts of Balance took shape after its creator Alex Fleetwood shut his London-based game studio, Hide & Seek. “I took a road trip with my family,” recalls London-based Fleetwood, 39. “I got into building campfires – after the stress of closing a studio, it was gratifying to balance the firewood just so, and get the reward of a fire. I got thinking about the

Top: The game’s beasts include Bear, Eagle, Shark, Warthog, Toucan and Octopus

balance of objects and of nature.” He combined that satisfaction with the lessons of Blocks, a Hide & Seek game that used PlayStation Move to stack “wobbly cubes”. The result is, well, a different beast. Beasts of Balance ties physical pieces to a digital world. Players have to balance animals and artefacts on a plinth, connected by Bluetooth to a smartphone or tablet. Special items can transform or hybridise animals on-screen to create new combinations – it’s a cross between Buckaroo! and CRISPR’s genetic engineering. Beasts of Balance’s lead developer George Buckenham, whose previous projects include a competitive custard-punching game, singles out

Inkwing – a halfoctopus, halfeagle – as a favourite. “It has twin attributes of flying and squirting ink. I love how ungainly it looks as it flies, flapping tentacles as well as wings.” Fleetwood has established a new studio with Buckenham and a small team. After raising £168,360 on Kickstarter, Beasts of Balance is due to be released this month – and Fleetwood hopes that it will spark imaginations in the same way his camping trip did. “Kids don’t make distinctions between digital, physical and imaginative play,” he says. “I hope families will play it together, and kids will get deep into the systems that drive the game – and show us some towers we hadn’t imagined.” Daniel Nye-Griffiths beastsof balance.com

This building is designed like a musical instrument. The Studio Bell National Music Centre in Calgary, Canada, featuring a 300-capacity concert hall suspended five storeys high, has walls that open to disseminate music around the rest of the structure. “You play the building,” explains Brad Cloepfil, a founding architect of Allied Works Architecture, the US firm behind the design. Most concert halls are designed to keep sound from escaping. Studio Bell, however, is designed to share sound. The 220,000 terracotta tiles which line the interior of the space, shape and direct music from the concert hall through the stairwells and gallery spaces around the


GET THE BAL ANCE RIGHT / MUSICAL BRICKS / PL AY / 083

A venue that’s in the band PHOTOGRAPHY: BRANDONWALLIS

The burnished gold walls of the new music centre in Calgary disseminate music around the surrounding area 2,040-square-metre building. Instead of creating noisy echoes, the sound is tightly tuned, thanks to digitally modelled spacing between the tiles and underlying fibreglass insulation. In places, the vertical joints between tiles are widened to absorb more sound. In the lobby, a moveable performance wall lets the space be customised depending on what a piece entails. Outside, nine interlocking terracotta towers are covered in a custom slate glaze that took three years to develop.

Costing CAD$191 million (£117m) to construct, Studio Bell will exhibit 2,000 instruments and artefacts, and is intended to jump-start the redevelopment of the East Village in Calgary. The centre’s policy is to ensure at least 20 per cent of the instruments are in working condition, forming what it calls a living collection. With its exhibition spaces, a radio station and classrooms in addition to the concert hall, Cloepfil hopes the centre will encourage artists in the area to use the building for performances or even as a rehearsal space. “It’s an entirely new institution,” says the 60-yearAbove: Studio Bell’s cavernous old. “It’s like a 24-hour drop-in music venue.” space was programmatically designed Ruby Lott-Lavigna studiobell.ca based on light and sound models


Agata Oleksiak is helping refugees find their voice – using yarn, art and big ideas

0 8 4 / P L AY / A GOOD YARN

During the three-week period assembling “Our Pink House”, the refugees were paid minimum wage and transported from their camp to the house, where they assembled the squares as a working community. The process was no easy feat: one square metre could take up to 11 hours to yarn. The finished pieces were then knitted into place around the exterior of the structure. Oleksiak has also overseen the construction of a pink house in Avesta, Sweden, another country where many refugees remain in limbo awaiting housing. “We live in a time where artists need to have opinions,” Oleksiak says. “They need to talk about uncomfortable topics.” Ruby Lott-Lavigna oleknyc.com

“Our Pink House” will be shown at the Yarn

Visions exhibition at Kerava Art Museum from November 26

PHOTOGRAPHY: HELENA KINNUNEN

ISSUES GET THE NEEDLE

This hot-pink house was knitted by refugees. “Our Pink House”, by the Poland-born, Brooklyn-based artist Agata Oleksiak (pictured) was designed to highlight the endemic homelessness facing more than 6.6 million displaced Syrians worldwide. The house, in Kerava, Finland, is covered in more than 100,000 metres of pink yarn, crocheted by refugee women from Ukraine and Syria with help from volunteers. “The way to empower women is to give them work and money,” explains Oleksiak. “I want to show the world that these people could rebuild their lives.” Oleksiak, 38, has been spinning yarn to highlight issues since 2002 – from covering an underwater “time bomb” off the coast of Isla Mujeres, Mexico, as a protest against coral destruction, to helping female prisoners in Katowice, Poland, crochet a municipal-jail cell wall.


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086 / PL AY / HANDS-FREE ANIMATORS

WIRED: Your long history with traditional animation is well known. How was the shift to working in CGI? Ron Clements: Every movie’s a voyage, but this one has definitely been a new adventure for us. John Musker: We had to learn so much. The studio gave us tutorials. Drawing by hand, you can get going quicker, you have a piece of paper and you’re off. But in CGI there’s a long ramp up, you’ve got to build the assets, the characters, the worlds. But then once you’ve got all that stuff, it comes together almost miraculously. RC: It was simpler. And there are many more iterations of the work. In 2D it’s a logical progression, whereas in CGI we see things going back and forth. J M : We s t i l l l o v e h a n d - d ra w n animation and I hope Disney does other hand-drawn films. But there are things about the movie, such as bringing the ocean to life, that need CGI. When we visited the islands [for research], we enquired about local indigenous painters to cue off of it for the styling of the movie. Surprisingly, there is no indigenous tradition of drawing and painting – it’s mostly sculptural, if anything. So that lent itself to CGI, and even the landscapes themselves.

Disney Studios’ celebrated animators John Musker and Ron Clements talk to WIRED about making the move to CGI

John Musker (above) and Ron Clements (above, right) are animation legends. Having trained at Disney in the 70s under the studio’s “Nine Old Men” supervising animators, the pair helped usher in a second golden age in the 90s, directing hits including Aladdin and The Little Mermaid. With the studio again buzzing off the success of Frozen and Zootopia, they’re back. Moana, out December 2, takes inspiration from the culture and myths of the South Pacific, telling the story of a woman and a demigod on a seafaring quest. For Musker and Clements, both 63, it pioneers a new era of lush computer-generated imagery (CGI). Here, they talk to WIRED about their inspiration for the film and their transition to CGI. James White

What attracted you to setting the film in the South Pacific? JM: The world was the first intrigue, more so than the story. That of Oceania, of Polynesia, that Disney had never done before. I had read novels by Joseph Conrad and Herman Melville, and seen paintings by Paul Gauguin, and that world intrigued me. Those in turn led me to read Polynesian mythology. In reading these stories, they were so fascinating in their richness of storytelling. And the characters, particularly in Maui – this trickster figure, bigger than life, able to pull up islands with a magical fish-hook – there was an epic scale,


From far left: Moana co-director John Musker and his partner in film-making, Ron Clements

an element of caricature to him that seemed to lend itself to animation. Our first pitch of the story was built around Maui – we had a bit of a romance story before this movie got going. So how did the story change? JM: Once we pitched that to [CCO of Pixar] John Lasseter, he said we had to go to the islands and dig deeper. One of the big takeaways was the importance of navigation to their lives. We realised there was a danger of this culture being lost, so we wanted the movie to help bring people to the origins of this culture and the value of it. The movie deals with the themes of identity and loss and journeys taken, and how you can lose your way and find it – and that’s a metaphor that certainly applies to today. The water in the film is so realistic. JM: Compared to Big Hero 6, which has effects shots in about 50 per cent of the movie, Moana has 80 per cent. It’s the most complicated movie the studio has ever made. There are some brilliant minds who applied themselves to questions such as, “How do we build an engine that can create water that has feelings?”

A SEA CHANGE IN COMPUTING POWER

PHOTOGRAPHY: BRIAN BOWEN SMITH

On Moana (the heroine’s name means “ocean”), the technical team not only had to make the water appear convincing, they had to make it come alive…

For the film’s technical supervisor Hank Driskill and visual effects supervisor Kyle Odermatt, one of the biggest challenges was creating water that could perform on screen. “We wanted the water to behave in a way that’s the same as what you see in real life, so it doesn’t draw your eye and seem unreal,” says

Odermatt. “It’s magical, but it has to feel plausible.” To achieve the desired effect required a big leap in computer power for Disney. “A typical home computer has between one and four cores. We peaked at 55,000 cores on Big Hero 6,” laughs Driskill. “Our high on this movie is 76,000 cores running full tilt.”

How do the two of you manage your work relationship, making creative decisions and the balance of power? JM: I win all arguments! We barter. It’s sort of a Darwinian system – the best idea is supposed to win. It doesn’t always. We disagree often, though. We bicker like a married couple. I bicker more with him than I do with my wife! RC: Actually, this process has been a little different, because of the CGI. We’ve worked together more on this movie in some ways. Because we used to, on every other film, co-write the script, which we did not do on this one. Then we would divide the movie up into sequences, so we each had our own turf and then come together to work on it. Because of the nature of this, we’ve worked together more.


YouTube goes to the movies

LA-based startup Awesomeness Films is combining the big and small screens to win over a young audience

088 / PL AY / MAIN STREAMING

CROWD CONTROL

coming talent from Vine’s Above: Matt Kaplan at Awesomeness Films’ head KingBach to Grace Helbig office in Los Angeles are now making it in mainstream TV and films. Awesomeness’ trick: it knows how modern teens consume content: Shovel Buddies was released in cinemas, but also simultaneously on demand. Because increasingly, “Coming soon to a screen near you” means the one in your pocket. Ruby Lott-Lavigna awesomenesstv.com

Theme-park games typically focus on the rides – but Planet Coaster is about the queues. “We’ve always wanted to do a super-deep simulation,” says Jonny Watts, chief creative officer at Frontier Developments. In the PC game, out in November, each player has to “physically get on the rides, go to the shops and spend money”, says Watts. To model a better crowd, the studio evaluated real-life parks, as well as crowd dynamics. “If your paths are too small, or you’ve got choke points, guests get bored,” says principal programmer Owen McCarthy, 32. “That affords so much gameplay, because the way you connect your park means something,” adds Watts. For example: putting the biggest rides further into the park ensures guests have to flow through the whole site, but the distance may make them tired. After all, a happy guest will keep moving – and spending. planet coaster.com OF-W

PHOTOGRAPHY: DAMON CASAREZ. ILLUSTRATION: BRATISLAV MILENKOVIĆ

Hollywood has a problem: teenagers would rather browse YouTube clips than watch a film. Social media, meanwhile, doesn’t always make much money. AwesomenessTV’s answer: combine the two. “We’re now developing films that can reach a wide audience, specifically for this underserved demographic,” explains Matt Kaplan, 32, president of the Los Angeles-based company. “Traditional movie studios have stopped making millennial films aimed at a younger audience.” AwesomenessTV manages more than 200 social-media stars with a combined following o f m o re t h a n 3 0 m i l l i o n subscribers, including big names such as Connor Franta and Meg DeAngelis. The roster has prompted investment from DreamWorks and the Hearst Corporation. They launched Awesomeness Films in 2015 to cast its talent alongside traditional actors. Shovel Buddies, released in October, features 21-year-old Yo u T u b e r K i a n L a w l e y alongside former Disney Channel star Bella Thorne. Get The Girl, out November 22, stars Justin Dobies (Dear White People) with Vine-star Lele Pons. Says Kaplan, “Traditional studios have stopped building their stars. That’s a huge priority for us.” Sticking to fail-safe themes such as high-school dramas, YA adaptations, comedies and musicals, Awesomeness Films is already producing six features a year. “We’re going to hopefully be worldwide within the next couple of years,” says Kaplan. They’re not the only ones: in September, Caspar Lee and KSI released the teen-comedy Laid in America, and up-and-


SPEAKERS WILL INCLUDE:

MUZOON ALMELLEHAN An 18-year-old Syrian refugee, now resettled in the UK, Almellehan is an activist and Malala Fund campaigner.

HESTON BLUMENTHAL A Michelin-starred chef, Blumenthal specialises in creating scientifically curated, multi-sensory cuisine.

ALICE BENTINCK Champion of young founders and getting girls coding, Bentinck helps build startups from scratch through Entrepreneur First.

WIRED’S ONE-DAY EVENT FOR 12- TO 18-YEAR-OLDS IS DESIGNED TO STIMULATE YOUNG MINDS AND INSPIRE THE ENTREPRENEURS OF TOMORROW. FEATURING Q&A SESSIONS, HANDS-ON WORKSHOPS AND EXTRAORDINARY SPEAKERS BOOK YOUR TICKET NOW AT WIRED.CO.UK/NEXTGEN16 TOBACCO DOCK, LONDON

KRTIN NITHIYANANDAM At 15, Nithiyanandam created an Alzheimer’sdetecting test which won a prize at the Google Science Fair.

SAMANTHA PAYNE Payne’s Open Bionics turns amputee children into superheroes by building robotic hands inspired by movies such as Iron Man.

ED BARTON Barton co-founded Curiscope, which creates immersive VR and AR experiences such as Virtuali-Tee, an AR biology app.

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OK, flying cars are still a few years away, but Tiffany Beers has made Marty McFly’s futuristic trainers a reality


PHOTOGRAPHY: ART STREIBER. ILLUSTRATION: JOE WALDRON

ver since Marty McFly pulled on a pair of Nike Air MAGs in 1989’s Back to the Future Part II, sneakerheads have dreamed of self-lacing trainers. For Tiffany Beers, it’s more than a dream – a senior innovator at Nike’s Innovation Kitchen in Oregon in the US, Beers joined in 2004 to work under design guru Tinker Hatfield. The following year, Hatfield – who had conceived McFly’s shoes, albeit using Hollywood trickery – tasked Beers with making them a reality. “After we built a prototype in 2007, we realised the technology wasn’t small enough,” Beers, 37, recalls. By 2011, developments in lithium-ion batteries, miniature motor arrays and new materials meant it was finally possible. The HyperAdapt 1.0, out this autumn (see p74), is the culmination of a decade’s work. The shoe features a motor system in the sole, powered by a rechargeable battery. A sensor in the heel adjusts the laces based on the wearer’s weight and foot shape. The fit system, dubbed EARL (electro-adaptive reactive lacing), was tested hundreds of times, including with pro athletes. And the laces? “We used fishing line,” says Beers. “We couldn’t find anything else that surpassed it. It does a great job.” It’s by no means flawless: the laces need releasing manually, for example. “It’s like a concept car, it’s not perfect,” says Beers. For her, the shoe marks the end of a journey – and a step towards the future of reactive clothing. “I don’t know if I’ve ever been more excited about shoes.” OF-W nike.com Left: Tiffany Beers in the Winnebago-cummeeting-area inside Nike’s Innovation Kitchen

HOW TO TALK TO AN ALIEN In Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival, out November 11, linguist Louise Banks helps to make contact with extraterrestrial visitors. But if aliens did drop by, how would we say hi? Jessica Coon, an associate professor in linguistics at McGill University, Montreal, who consulted on the film, gives WIRED some tips. OF-W

3. Context is everything. “When you’re dealing with learning a new language, context plays a big role in understanding intent,” says Coon. For example: “Earth” in English refers to the planet, but also the dirt. To better understand, ask yourself: “Why is somebody saying this? What is the context they are saying it in?”

1. Introduce yourself. “It’s always a good rule,” says Coon. Then make them understand you want to exchange language. “A hard task in monolingual fieldwork situations is getting the other person to understand what you want. If I point at something, I first need you to understand that I want you to give me words.”

4. Look for patterns. “[In human languages] if I figure out that the verb comes at the end of the sentence, I can make some educated guesses about other properties,” says Coon. Also note what isn’t being said. “I need to know not just what things are possible to say, but what things are impossible to say.”

2. Establish what you want to know. To ask a question, you need not only enough vocabulary to ask it, but a big enough vocabulary to understand their response. “A common starting point might be things that are visible that you can point to,” says Coon. “You can mime to actions and from there construct sentences.”

5. If you fail, blame biology. “We can expect certain patterns with human languages. Our cognition is set up in ways that allows babies to learn languages quickly. But when we encounter an alien language, we don’t know anything about the common properties or cognitive processes.” In short? “All bets are off.”

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each movement of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, laying out the data by note. Each circle is a note, arranged on a vertical scale according to pitch and octave; the colours denote instruments.

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Data artist Nicholas Rougeux is making classical music scores sing

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CHARTING OF THE SEASONS

This is Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, quantified. It’s the work of data artist Nicholas Rougeux, who takes pleasure in making audiences see familiar artworks in unusual ways. His previous projects include Between the Words, which stripped literary classics from Pride and Prejudice to Moby-Dick down to just their punctuation. In Sonnet Signatures, he interpreted Shakespeare’s love poems through their most common letters. For Off the Staff, Rougeux breaks down classical compositions, from Vivaldi to Beethhoven. “I can barely read sheet music,” explains Chicago-based Rougeux, 33. “Sheet music is an efficient way to look at music. Scales are condensed to the same five staff bars and denoted higher or lower with clefs. Doing away with that efficiency and showing all notes on the same scale brought each score to life.” The result highlights the signatures of different composers. “For example, Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven reaches a high pitch, which SEE THE MUSIC is shown by a spike in the diagram,” says Rougeux. “This is subtle in Using MuseScore, the sheet music.” Rougeux plans to sell the prints, and is already a sheet-music app, working on new scores to illustrate. “I want others to see the difference Rougeux converted the notation of between these scores, without having to hear a note.” OF-W C82.net


PHOTOGRAPHY: CHARLIE SURBEY

PICTET / WIRED PARTNERSHIP

“The purpose of this evening is for us to learn from you – to learn about where things are going, and where the opportunities and challenges are,” said WIRED editor David Rowan, introducing an evening in Istanbul co-hosted by WIRED and Pictet – sponsor of WIRED’s Europe’s 100 Hottest Startups 2016 list. The event, which focused on the strengths and weaknesses of the city’s startup ecosystem, welcomed investors and startups alike. Attendees included Demet Mutlu, whose Trendyol fashion site has ten million members, Emre Ersahin, founder of online real estate auction platform Tapu, and Arda Kutsal, founder of tech news outlet Webrazzi. Concerns raised in the informal chat included how political instability is damaging the local currency, as well as investment. Some founders are also finding scaling abroad tricky with such large populations at home. Despite this, venture capitalists are investing. Fintech startup iyzico raised $6.2 million in 2015, while video sharing app Scorp has been valued at $10 million. Istanbul regularly features in WIRED’s hottest startups guide, “Because of the scale of the ambition, because a small group of people are changing entire industries,” said Rowan. Long may that continue. See perspectives.pictet.com

INVESTING IN ISTANBUL IN OCTOBER, WIRED AND PICTET CO-HOSTED THE SECOND EVENT IN A SERIES DESIGNED TO STIMULATE DEBATE AROUND EUROPE’S HOTTEST STARTUP CITIES

ON THE GUEST LIST BASAK TAŞPINAR DEĞIM Taşpınar Değim co-founded local services marketplace Armut in 2011. It raised $3.2 million in funding in 2016.

SELIN PERSENTILI Global brand ambassador and consultant, Persentili splits her time between the UK’s and Turkey’s technology ecosystems.

EFE CAKAREL Cakarel is co-founder and CEO of MUBI, a curated film streaming platform that uses a subscription-based model.

ALI KARABEY Investment capitalist Karabey is the founder and managing director of 212, an Istanbulbased venture capital fund.

DEMET MUTLU Mutlu founded fashion e-commerce site Trendyol in 2010, investing her own money to launch the business.

ROYS GURELI Gureli is founder and CEO of annelutfen.com, an online retailer for the home delivery of baby care items.


Play the fame game Olajide Olatunji won a YouTube following through FIFA sessions. Now it’s all kicking off… l a j i d e “ K S I ” O l a t u n j i s ta r te d uploading videos of himself and his friends playing the FIFA game series in 2009. It brought him fame (14 million YouTube subscribers) and fortune (an estimated net worth of £3 million). But Olatunji yearned for more. “I thought: ‘I really want to rap’, but I couldn’t do it. My audience wanted FIFA, FIFA, FIFA,” he recalls. Unfazed, in 2011 he started uploading non-FIFA videos – comedy, vlogs and jokey raps. Musician Sway got in touch and asked if he wanted to take music seriously; Olatunji, now 23, said yes. Before long, Hollywood came calling. KSI (“Knowledge, Strength and Integrity”) now juggles life as a FIFA player, film star and musician. In September 2016, he co-starred alongside fellow YouTuber Caspar Lee in buddy movie Laid in America. He has written a book, I Am a Bellend.

In November, he will embark on the UK leg of his first headline tour as a rapper. His debut EP, Keep Up, came out in January, with another single, Jump Around, released in October. “I might try stand-up next,” he says. Olatunji’s popularity on YouTube has opened doors: “If I didn’t have that platform I’d just be some rapper trying to do stuff,” he explains. “I’ve bypassed a lot of bullshit that you would normally have to do when you want to act or do music. Now, I’m not the FIFA guy, I’m known as KSI – the entertainer who does this, this and this.” Despite his success, he won’t be giving up YouTube just yet. “That’s my home, where I started from,” he says. But now he’s had a taste of life outside streaming, Olatunji wants it all. “I’ve always wanted to do other things,” he says. “Maybe I’m paving the way for the new generation of entertainers who can do more than one profession.” Chris Stokel-Walker ksiofficial.com Below: KSI says he never set out to be famous. In his first year on YouTube, he gained just 7,000 subscribers

PHOTOGRAPHY: ALEX LAKE. ILLUSTRATION: AVATAR

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ALAN MOORE Providence (below) is likely to be one of The Master's last comics after turning to novels

Move over, capes: mystery comics are proving an alluring alternative in an industry that netted $1 billion (£820m) in 2015. The genre has been around since the 60s – think DC’s House of Mystery – but the success of reprints of Will Eisner’s The Spirit in the late 90s set the stage for a comeback. Publisher Dark Horse has the most titles, including Black Hammer, which follows a super-team trapped in a rural town, prevented from leaving by an unknown force. Elsewhere, Snotgirl by Bryan Lee O’Malley – he of Scott Pilgrim – features a smash-hit YouTuber – but is her stalker real? And is she even famous? Unfollow explores what happens when 140 social-media users are named as heirs to a billionaire’s fortune. Even arch-scribe Alan Moore is getting on-trend with his neo-Cthulhu mythos. Now the big two, DC and Marvel, have noticed the upswing. Occasional Avenger the Vision is in the midst of a domestic murder-mystery storyline, while DC’s Gotham Academy – which follows the young detectives of Batman’s prep school – is one of a series of alt-mystery comics on their new slate. But what caused this mysterious return? It’s likely a response to super-saturation in mainstream culture. When will it end? Find out next time… Mike Dent

RISE OF THE MYSTERY COMICS

AUGUST’S TOPSELLING MYSTERY COMICS (SALES IN BRACKETS)

Hellblazer (59,734) Paper Girls (33,731) Snotgirl (23,830) Vision (20,523) Black Hammer (16,201)

69,520 Sales for issue #1 of DC’s Scooby Apocalypse (yes, that mystery-solving dog), May 2016


WIRED INSIDER’S PICK OF UPCOMING EVENTS

INSIDER

WIRED RETAIL WIRED Retail returns in November to gather those at the forefront of change in the industry – individuals, startups and large established companies – to explore the future of retail. The event will cover frictionless payment, VR, drone delivery and the blockchain. Speakers include Randy Dean, who is working to solve retailers’ problems with AI, and Filipa Neto, whose Chic by Choice dress-hire firm now operates across 15 markets. November 16, 2016 wired.co.uk/retail16

Events, new products and promotions to live the WIRED life Compiled by Cleo McGee

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WIRED Health will return in March to explore the future of healthcare and introduce the fastest-growing startups in the field. Our 2016 event gathered 21 groundbreaking speakers and 18 young firms to present their ideas on how to shake up the sector. The Main Stage line-up featured the scientific director of the Anthony Nolan Research Institute, the chief health officer of IBM, and the director of the Wellcome Trust. March 9, 2017 wired.co.uk/health17

1/Philips Sonicare DiamondClean in Rose Gold

2/Arctic Heat jacket by Paul & Shark

3/Aspinal & Lab Series grooming set

4/Mahabis Luxe slippers in white

This updated version of the Sonicare toothbrush features a travel-charging zip case, as well as a water glass mounted on a rose gold base – making it a luxurious addition to any bathroom. Settings include a sensitive mode and a brushing timer to ensure teeth get a custom clean. From £270 philips.co.uk

This smart parka protects you from the elements using patented Typhoon 20000 material, which is both breathable and durable. And when the temperature plummets far below zero, simply push a concealed button to activate the jacket’s built-in heating element. £1,100 paulshark.it

The combination of a black Aspinal wash bag packed with Lab Series goodies makes a serious statement about your commitment to grooming. The MAX LS line is perfect for revitalising tiredlooking winter skin with its comprehensive assault on the signs of ageing. £150 aspinaloflondon.com

This modern take on the trad house-slipper features sheep-wool lining and a very soft, durable leather outer. A detachable outdoor sole means you can pop into the garden with your coffee, then come back indoors without tracking any dirt in with you. Smart and comfy. £149 mahabis.com

In summer 2017, WIRED Money returns to celebrate the individuals and companies working to upgrade the money, banking and finance sectors. Expect more than 20 speakers and valuable insights on how the fintech industry will react to the UK’s decision to leave the EU. On the Startup Stage, the event will gather some of the leading growth-stage companies to pitch. Date TBC wired.co.uk/money17 Follow us on Twitter and Instagram: @WIREDINSIDERUK

PHOTOGRAPHY: SUN LEE

WIRED MONEY


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When I was a teenager in the 70s, my goal was to build a self-improving AI smarter than myself, then retire. So I studied maths and computer science. For the cover of my 1987 diploma thesis, I drew a robot that bootstraps itself in seemingly impossible fashion. The thesis was very ambitious and described the first concrete research on a self-rewriting “meta-program” which not only learns to improve its performance in some limited domain, but also learns to improve the learning algorithm itself, and the way it meta-learns the way it learns. This was the first

FOR SMARTER SOFTWARE, TEACH IT HOW TO EVOLVE Deep-learning pioneer Jürgen Schmidhuber explains why human-level AI is near


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in a decades-spanning series of papers on concrete algorithms for recursive self-improvement, with the goal of building a superintelligence. I predicted that, in hindsight, the ultimate self-improver will seem so simple that high-school students will be able to understand and implement it. I said it’s the last significant thing a man can create, because all else follows from that. I am still saying it. What kind of computational device should we use to build AIs? Physics dictates that future efficient computational hardware will look a lot like a brain-like recurrent neural network (RNN), a general-purpose computer with many processors packed in a compact volume connected by wires, to minimise communication costs3. Your cortex has more than ten billion neurons, each connected to 10,000 other neurons on average. Some are input neurons that feed the rest with data (sound, vision, touch, pain, hunger). Others are output neurons that move muscles. Most are hidden in between, where thinking takes place. All learn by changing the connection strengths, which determine how strongly neurons influence each other, and which seem to encode all your lifelong experience. It’s the same for our artificial RNNs. The difference between our n e u ra l n e t w o r k s ( N N s ) a n d others is that we figured out ways of making NNs deeper and more powerful, especially RNNs, which have feedback connections and can, in principle, run arbitrary algorithms or programs interacting with the environment. In 1991, I published on “very deep learners” 1, 3 – algorithms much deeper than the eight-layer nets of

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the Ukrainian mathematician Alexey Grigorevich Ivakhnenko, who pioneered deep learning in the 60s. By the early 90s, our RNNs could learn to solve many previously unlearnable problems. Most current commercial NNs need teachers. They rely on a method called backpropagation, whose present form was first formulated by Seppo Linnainmaa in 19703 and applied to teacherbased supervised learning NNs in 1982 by Paul Werbos. However, backpropagation didn’t work well for deep NNs. In 1991, Sepp Hochreiter, my first student working on my first deep-learning project, identified the reason for this failure: the so-called vanishing gradient problem. This was then overcome by a now widely used deep learning RNN called long short-term memory (LSTM) developed in my labs since the early 90s2,3. In 2009, LSTM became the first RNN to win international pattern-recognition contests, through the efforts of Alex Graves, another former student. The LSTM principle has become a basis of much of what’s now called deep learning. When people ask if I have a demo, my answer is: “Do you have a smartphone?” Because since mid-2015, Google’s speech recognition has been based on LSTM trained by our “connectionist temporal classification”. This dramatically improved Google Voice not only by up to ten per cent, but by almost 50 per cent – now available to billions of smartphone users. Microsoft’s recent ImageNet 2015 winner also uses LSTM-related ideas. The Chinese search giant Baidu is building on our methods, such as CTC. Apple explained at its recent WWDC 2016 developer conference how it is using LSTM to improve iOS. Google is applying the rather universal LSTM not only to speech recognition but also to natural language-processing, machine translation, image caption generation and other fields. Eventually it will end up as one huge LSTM. AlphaGo, the program that beat the best human Go player, was made by DeepMind, which is influenced by our former students: two of DeepMind’s first four members came from my lab. True AI goes beyond merely imitating teachers. This explains the interest in unsupervised learning (UL). There are two types of UL: passive and active. Passive UL is simply about detecting regularities in observation streams. This means learning to encode data with fewer computational resources, such as space and time and energy, or data compression through predictive coding, which can be achieved to a certain extent by backpropagation, and can facilitate subsequent supervised learning.1 Active UL is more sophisticated than passive UL: it is about learning to shape the observation stream through action sequences that help the learning agent figure out how the 1. Schmidhuber, J. (1992). world works and what can be done in it. Active UL explains Learning complex, all kinds of curious and creative behaviour in art and music extended sequences using the principle of and science and comedy4, and we have already built simple history compression. artificial “scientists” based on approximations thereof. There Neural Computation, is no reason why machines cannot be curious and creative. 4(2):234–242. 2 Hochreiter, S. and Kids and some animals are still smarter than our best Schmidhuber, J. self-learning robots. But I think that within a few year we’ll (1997). Long Shortbe able to build an NN-based AI (an NNAI) that incrementally Term Memory. Neural Computation, 9(8):1735– learns to become at least as smart as a little animal, curiously 1780. Based on TR FKIand creatively learning to plan, reason and decompose a wide 207-95, TUM (1995). variety of problems into quickly solvable sub-problems. 3. Schmidhuber, J. (2015). Deep learning Once animal-level AI has been achieved, the move towards in neural networks: human-level AI may be small: it took billions of years to evolve An overview. Neural smart animals, but only a few millions of years on top of that Networks, 61, 85-117. 4. Schmidhuber, J. to evolve humans. Technological evolution is much faster (2010). Formal Theory than biological evolution, because dead ends are weeded of Creativity, Fun, and out much more quickly. Once we have animal-level AI, a few Intrinsic Motivation (1990-2010). IEEE years or decades later we may have human-level AI, with truly Transactions on limitless applications. Every business will change and all of Autonomous Mental civilisation will change. Jürgen Schmidhuber is appearing at Development, WIRED2016 on November 3-4. wiredevent.co.uk/wired-2016 2(3): 230-247, 2010.


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HERE COME THE KILOBOTS

* BUT WITH FOOTNOTES. ILLUSTRATION: SPENCER HAWKES

Controlling one robot is easy, but making more than 1,000 work together sounds impossible. In 2014, Harvard robotics researcher Mike Rubenstein decided to try


BIOLOGY

THE APP THAT LOOKS FOR AUTISM Toddlers who see something amusing usually smile and look at their parents to share the experience. If a child takes too long to react, that could be a sign of autism. In hospitals, psychiatrists are trained to spot symptoms. Now researchers at Duke University, North Carolina, want to bring those skills to parents. Using Apple’s ResearchKit, the Autism&Beyond group created an app that can screen children. “It is made up of videos that provoke stimuli,” says lead researcher Guillermo Sapiro. “As the kid watches, the device’s camera analyses the reaction.” The app gauges if the child’s response is in line with a regular pattern. One goal is early diagnosis: autism can be identified at 18 months, yet the average age of detection is four. The data collected from screening more than 2,000 children could also help identify symptoms. “We wondered if we could discover new patterns,” Sapiro says. “But those findings are as yet unpublished.” Gian Volpicelli autismandbeyond. researchkit.duke.edu

Louisa Preston works in extreme environments – from volcanoes on Hawaii to acidic rivers in Spain and hot springs in Iceland – to find extremophiles: organisms that thrive in these otherwise uninhabitable places. Preston, 33, an astrobiologist based at Birkbeck, University of London, recently wrote a book, Goldilocks and the Water Bears: The Search for Life in the Universe, about her research. She studies these habitats and organisms as analogues for how life might survive on planets such as Mars. As part of her research, she also runs analogue missions in these remote locations, to test the technologies that could be used in space. WIRED spoke to the UK Space Agency Aurora Research Fellow about how analogue missions work on Earth, the extremophile that inspired her book, and the possibility of life on Mars. Emma Bryce

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ALIEN WORLDS ON EARTH To better understand life on other planets, Louisa Preston runs analogue missions a little closer to home WIRED: What are you researching? Louisa Preston: I’m studying different environments across Earth, like sub-glacial volcanoes, ancient rivers and impact craters, which look like what might be on Mars. On Earth, these types of environments have extreme-loving organisms that can live in harsh conditions that may have the potential to live on Mars today, or to have lived there in the past. So I’m studying them on Earth to figure out how they could survive on Mars. How do you define what you’re looking for? The good thing about looking for organisms that might live on Mars is that chances are, they’re going to be quite simple organisms like bacteria, which means there’s only a certain number we’re looking at. Ones that can survive the cold, extreme radiation, or acid conditions – those, we are particularly interested in.

1 Angela Maria Rizzo, 2015. “Space Flight Effects on Antioxidant Molecules in Dry Tardigrades: The TARDIKISS Experiment,” BioMed Research International Volume 2015 Article ID 167642 (page 7). 2 http://exploration.esa.int/mars/46475-trace-gas-orbiter/. 3 Louisa J. Preston, 2015. “Fourier Transform Infra-Red (FTIR) Spectral detection of life in polar subsurface environments and its application for Mars exploration,” Applied Spectroscopy, Volume 69 Number 9, 1059-1065.

One organism, the tardigrade, or water bear, features in the title of your book. What makes it a prime example of an extremophile? Tardigrades are found across the Earth in rainforest canopies, on mountain summits and beneath the frozen desert of Antarctica. Yet I’ve personally found many happily living in regular garden moss. If it feels itself under stress, in an environment without enough water or oxygen, it rolls into a tight ball called a tun, and expels about 97 per cent of its body moisture. It essentially becomes a mummified ball of the ingredients of life. We don’t actually know how long it can stay in that state – at least 100 years, possibly longer. It just waits until conditions improve.


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A project called Biokis, sponsored by the Italian Space Agency, took water bears into space – albeit in the tun state – and when they came back to Earth they uncurled in minutes and carried on with their lives. So if there was ever an organism that was able to survive on Mars, it would be a water bear. 1

ILLUSTRATION: JAMIE JONES; SARA ANDREASSON. PHOTOGRAPHY: MICHAEL ROSNACH

What’s the purpose of running analogue missions on Earth? Analogue missions were created to be the drivers of technology, and for us to practise going to other worlds. The Apollo astronauts did the same thing in Iceland to practice for the Moon. I spent a number of years running missions where we would simulate sending astronauts and rovers to impact craters, asking, what does that tell us about how we could refine operations on the Moon? That just gets extended to Mars. I’ll be working this year in Utah’s desert, in a collaboration between the UK, Canada, America and Europe, to run another analogue mission to figure out how we can make rovers and mission control teams more efficient at their jobs, when we do send them on real-life missions. But also, we want to get our own science done. Quite often when we do these analogue missions, we choose alien-like on purpose, with geology or extremophilic organisms that mimic where we might do research on other planets. Does our knowledge of space shape how this plays out on Earth? Absolutely. We’re lucky to live in a time where we’ve got such wonderful images of Mars. We see signs on them and think, “I wonder if there’s something like that on Earth?” whereas in the past it was about understanding the Earth and thinking, “That thing on Mars actually looks like this thing on Earth.” They’re interchangeable – the more we learn about Mars, the more we learn about Earth, and vice versa. In October, the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and Schiaparelli Mission will arrive on Mars to look for evidence of life. How important is this mission to you? It’s really important. It’s got two missions: the first is to deliver Schiaparelli, an entry-descent module,

to Mars. Its main job is to land safely and test all the procedures for landing that will be used when we send the ExoMars rover in 2020. Then the Orbiter is going to orbit Mars until 2022, effectively sniffing the atmosphere for methane and other types of carbon gases.2 The goal of TGO is, first off, to find the methane and map it. It’s also to figure out if that methane is biological or not. If it is, we have two options: either, once there was life on the surface of Mars that produced methane, which got trapped inside ice in the ground and as it started to melt the methane got released in bursts. Or, the more exciting option is that there is methanogen and methaneloving organisms just under the surface of Mars right now, pumping it out. How are you involved? I’m more involved with the ExoMars rover that’s being sent in 2020 than this mission. I’m using my knowledge of extreme Mars-like environments on Earth and their diverse ecosystems to test an instrument that mimics that of ExoMars’s infrared spectrometer. The goal is to identify signatures of life within Mars-like samples using Mars-like equipment, ahead of time, so that once we’re on the surface we know what we’re looking for.3 So I’m involved in helping to scout out environments where we might be able to test this instrument, to provide samples and help interpret the data. What are you working on next? In the next year I’ll be heading to Iceland to look at hot springs and outflow deposits from volcanoes that have erupted underneath ice sheets. We’ll be using some of the prototypes going on ExoMars to see what we can identify. I’m also diversifying a bit: I’m going to Lake Tirez in Spain, and instead of Mars we’re using it as an analogue for Europa, the icy moon of Jupiter. The hyper-saline waters here may bear chemical similarities with Europa’s hidden liquid ocean – and there’s extremophilic life living inside these salty waters and sediments. So we’re going to see how life survives and is preserved here, and, if we simulate the environment on Europa, what happens to this life and its biosignatures.

IMAGE OF THE MONTH

Embryonic fish help us learn about our own brains Researchers are examining how blood-brain barriers form This image shows the developing vascular system of an embryonic zebrafish, a reliable model organism for studying brain development in humans. Researchers at Brown University are using these fish to examine how the bloodbrain barrier forms,

an element that’s essential for brain health. Specifically, they’re looking at how its ability to function may be disrupted by exposure to genetic and chemical changes, or environmental contaminants, with trickle-down effects for the brain. EB


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BUSINESS

In the game of life, anything times zero must still be zero Marketers will come to understand our lack of rationality – By Rory Sutherland

Rory Sutherland is vice chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Group

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Whenever I wish to scandalise people, I have a sentence which works every time: “I would prefer my daughters took up smoking than started cycling in London.” My argument is as follows. If my daughters take up smoking and find it impossible to quit, there is a fairly high chance of a fairly bad outcome. They may die early and very unpleasantly. Perhaps at 58 rather than 85 years old. But if they take up smoking and resist the seductive lure of the bicycle, well at least they won’t die at 22 beneath the wheels of a truck. The first outcome is a disaster, the second is a catastrophe. Now I don’t claim that I am right here. There are other upsides to cycling – though I suppose if we are being intellectually honest, we should accept that there may be some upsides to smoking too. But I still maintain that I might be right. There is a case to be made that, in the game of life, avoiding elimination in the early rounds is a good approach. It always interests me that we are now more sanctimonious about tobacco than we are about drink, cycling, motorcycling and mountaineering. Almost every single person I know who has died before the age of 50 was killed by one of these four. Something economists don’t understand, with their narrow focus on utility, which is an artificial additive function accumulated in a series of independent transactions, is that life is multiplicative, not additive. And it is path dependent.

In his excellent blog Farnam Street, Shane Parrish explains the distinction between additive and multiplicative systems as follows. Let’s run through a little elementary algebra: what’s 1,506,789 x 9,809 x 5.56 x 0? Hopefully you didn’t have to whip out the old TI-84 to solve that one. It’s a zero. This leads us to a mental model called Multiplicative Systems, and understanding it can get to the heart of a lot of issues. Suppose you were trying to become the best basketball player in the world. You’ve got the following things going for you: 1. God-given talent. You’re 206cm tall, quick, skilful, can leap out of the building and have long been the best player in a competitive city. 2. Support. You live in a city that reveres basketball and you’re raised by parents who care about your goals. 3. A proven track record. You were player of the year in a very competitive Division 1 college conference. 4. A clear path forward. You’re selected as the second overall pick in the NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics. Sounds like you have a shot. What would you put the odds at of this person becoming one of the better players in the world? Still high? Let’s add one more piece of information: 5. You’ve developed a cocaine habit. What are your odds now? This little exercise isn’t an academic one; it’s the sad case of Leonard “Len” Bias, a young basketball prodigy who died of a cocaine overdose after being selected to play in the NBA for the Boston Celtics in 1986. Many call Bias the best basketball player who never played professionally. What the story of Len Bias illustrates is the truth that anything times zero must still be zero, no matter how large the string of numbers preceding it. In some facets of life, all of your hard work, dedication to improvement and good fortune may still be worth nothing if there is a weak link in the chain. Actually it’s a bit more complicated than this. Had Bias decided to become a cocaine addict late in life, his life might have been fine. But early losses – or an early zero – have a disproportionate effect on outcomes. Just as a great meal can be ruined by a single prong on your fork being out of alignment, a great life can be ruined by a single early mistake. In a

multiplicative, path-dependent world – one in which we are in competition with others – the rules are very different to the additive rules that economists frequently impose on us with the idea that they are “rational”. Perhaps where economists go wrong is that they think decisions are like archery – where, by aiming for the bullseye you are also minimising your chance of a zero. But real-life decisions are more like darts, where aiming for the highest score brings a higher chance of disaster. In archery the scoring is concentric. You simply aim for the bullseye, which scores ten, and if you miss, you get nine. Miss the nine and you get eight. The only strategy is to aim for ten and hope. It is a perfectly logical scoring

system, but it doesn’t make for great telly. The dartboard, by contrast, is not remotely logical, but is somehow brilliant. The 20 sector sits between the dismal scores of five and one. Most players, even amateurs, aim for the triple-20, because that’s what professionals do. However, for all but the best darts players, this is a mistake. If you are not very good at darts, your best opening approach is not to aim at triple-20 at all. Instead, aim at the south-west quadrant of the board, towards 19 and 16. No, you won’t get 180 that way, but nor will you score three. It is a common mistake in darts to assume you should simply aim for the highest possible score. You should also consider the consequences if you miss. So it is in life. Many decisions have a scoring rubric more like darts than archery. In deciding, say, whom to marry, aiming for the best may be less important than avoiding the worst. “Satisficing”, as polymath Herbert Simon named it, is the strategy whereby rather than trying to maximise an outcome, you seek a good solution with a low chance of disaster.


Perhaps we have evolved – quite sensibly – not so much trying to maximise anything as to minimise catastrophe. Certainly the fact that loss aversion is found not only in humans, but in a variety of animals, suggests it may not be safe to call loss aversion a “bias”. Perhaps what we have evolved to do is not so much to aim for the triple-20 on the dartboard of life, but to make sure we avoid missing the board altogether. And perhaps this is the right thing to do. The reason this matters to me is that, once you realise that people are programmed to avoid disaster rather than to achieve perfection, certain things about consumer behaviour make sense. A preference for famous brands is a poor way of buying a perfect product, but it is an exceedingly reliable way of avoiding buying something which is awful. Most of us, at some stage of our lives, have bought a car from a friend or neighbour. This is a ridiculous thing to do if we are trying to buy the perfect car for our money – but it is a very sensible thing if we are keen to avoid buying a clunker: no one with a bad car to sell is going to sell it to anyone they know. What we are doing when we buy a car from a friend is replacing a complex problem (“How good is this car?”) with a simpler proxy question (“Do I trust the person who is selling it?”). Since the person selling the car knows more about it than we do, this is not an irrational solution to the problem – it is a clever one. It is only irrational if you make the assumption that we are aiming for the triple-20. A great deal of marketing activity involves the creation of costly signals which are guarantees of the sender’s long time horizons. Anything costly or difficult, which involves spending money now in order to reap the gains later, whether it is an advertising campaign or a café reupholstering its chairs, is perceived as the seller expressing faith in his own futurity. This is probably the most reliable way to signal trustworthiness. It is hence a reliable signal of seller confidence, not seller desperation. The fact that we have an instinctive sensitivity to nuances like this is not evidence of human irrationality. It is evidence of an extraordinary evolved intelligence. Amos Tversky, one of the greats of behavioural economics, joked that there once had been humans who did not suffer from loss aversion – but they all died out.

IMMERSIVE TECH

VR will allow us to live in another world of our own design Artists and creatives will finally get to inhabit bespoke digital realms – By Philip Rosedale

Philip Rosedale is the creator of Second Life and founder of High Fidelity

I have dreamed about virtual reality since I was a teenager. In those dreams, I am floating in the darkness of empty space, but with no need for a spacesuit. On my belt there are tools; I use one to create great walls made of stone. I move and size them effortlessly, like using the Force. On waking, I wondered what such a place would look like if many other people could do the same things. I imagined some economy that would unify all this work into a single, unknowable space. Whether it was tinkering with body suits or building networked software, I’ve spent my working life chasing that dream. In 1999, right when broadband internet access became available, I created Second Life, my first attempt at making this dream real. And it did become something amazing: with a land mass about the size of Los Angeles and about a million people creating many designs and experiences. But the problem was that it was too hard. The mouse offers only two degrees of freedom: up and down, side to side. To use that mouse for design, particularly 3D, you must somehow learn to map your ambitions into those two degrees. That fact has stopped almost everyone from using it for spatial design. But that is all about to change. By the end of 2016, you’ll be able to buy two high-quality VR devices with full motion capture of the hands, in addition to head-mounted displays. For a designer, these devices will offer 18 degrees of freedom, in comparison to the two you get from a mouse. Just watch the amazing

videos of Disney animator Glenn Keane using Tilt Brush to draw Ariel floating in space, and you will immediately get it. This is barely scratching the surface: in the coming months, software engineers will figure out the best ways to do everything we have historically done with the 2D tools in 3D painting, sculpting, drafting and every other kind of visual or structural design. We will need to re-learn some things to take advantage of this revolution. Our brains will probably need to learn, for example, to move our arms and bodies as accurately as we’ve learned to move our mouseholding wrists. But there is plenty of evidence around neural plasticity to suggest this will be nothing but a small bump in the road. Three-dimensional artists and designers will now have a tool that is articulate, predictable and, perhaps most importantly, delightful. At our offices in San Francisco, we see this delight any time we strap the HTC Vive on to an artist for the first time. In fact, we are about to see a Cambrian explosion of widely available 3D content. The rapidly expanding availability of VR equipment (almost certainly there will be millions of active creators in the next two years) and live places to build inside (which is what we are working on at High Fidelity) will allow almost everything you can imagine to be built, in a manner similar to how YouTube created an explosion in online video content. Want to walk around inside the pyramids? Hundreds of people will have built them for you. Or dive deep into the ocean amid those strange glowing fish? This will all be built within the first few months. If we connected together, as servers, all the desktop computers now connected to the internet, it would already create a space the size and detail of Earth’s surface. And then we’ll rapidly fill it with our creations. This Cambrian explosion in creating spaces may result in digital places that are far larger, more complex and more unknowable than the world we call home today. Our fecundity in digital design may leave us removing those funny helmets to return to a physical world that we begin to regard as quaint – but no longer the place we go to imagine the future.


ENTERTAINMENT

CGI scans allow actors to return to their youth Hollywood’s stars will shine forever, thanks to digital scanning – By Olivia Solon

Olivia Solon is a freelance technology and science journalist

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In the past, Hollywood stars would re l y o n c o s m e t i c s u r ge o n s , make-up artists and lighting to extend their marketable shelf life. Now, it’s visual-effects artists who tighten and brighten faces and bodies, allowing actors to play characters decades younger and tens of kilograms lighter – even letting them perform from beyond the grave. The trend is borne out of the routine “ beauty work” that is secretly and painstakingly carried out in post-production of movies to erase pimples, wrinkles and muffin tops from Hollywood stars. When pushed to the limits, beauty work can shave years off actors and reduce the need for punishing body transformations: why spend hours in the gym when perfect abs can be added digitally? To future-proof franchises, studios have started to routinely make 3D scans to capture actors’ likenesses at a point in time. “It’s the modern equivalent of taking a life cast,” says Trent Claus, a VFX supervisor at Lola VFX, the London

company that pioneered digital de-ageing with Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The data collected in these high-resolution scans can be used as a reference point for skin texture and facial expressions in years to come, when the actor is required to play a younger character. By applying machine learning to footage of actors before and after de-ageing artwork, studios can automate the process – much as how phone filters can make selfies zing – to avoid frame-by-frame tweaks. Increasingly, visual-effects artists are actually enhancing actors’ performances. They might introduce the perfect tear to roll down a star’s cheek, reanimate brows frozen by Botox, or simply merge footage from several takes to create the desired cut without resorting to a re-shoot. When stunts are too dangerous for the star, photo-realistic computer-generated models can be inserted into scenes. These virtual doubles are created using sophisticated camera rigs, such as the University of Southern California’s Light Stage system, that shoot actors from every angle. As they pose, striking dozens of facial expressions and gestures, a library of movement is created that can be used to drive an animated performance. “It’s a way for actors to future-proof themselves,” explains Eric Barda, an effects veteran who worked on Tron: Legacy – in which Jeff Bridges time-travelled 30 years – and Benjamin Button. Nailing the essence of a character using CGI is extremely difficult, particularly in emotional close-ups. “We’re not looking at a static sculpture. We’re trying to capture all the perceptual cues that make us recognise that person and read their emotions as expressions change and they are communicating,” explains Martin Hill, the VFX supervisor at Weta Digital, which was tasked with creating a computer-generated Paul Walker after the actor died in a car accident part-way through filming Furious 7. “ Yo u n e e d t h e n u a n c e, t h e timings, the way the actors deliver lines, the way their eyes move – all of the subtleties that make their personality,” adds Barda. Failing to capture these aspects leaves digital characters squarely in the uncanny valley. (It might look like Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, but

does it behave and feel like her?) Once it’s possible to perfectly capture a single performance in CG, the next step is to try and replicate human actors’ ability to bring something unexpected to the set. “A good actor will give you a nuanced take between each performance. You’ll get happy mistakes and you need a director to draw that performance out. Sitting for weeks and weeks with an animator and fine tuning a microexpression is a painful way to achieve the same thing,” says Mike McGee, co-founder of visual-effects company Framestore. The end goal – which will require a significant leap in processing power – is real-time responsiveness in synthetic humans. “We want to be at a level where a director could work with a CGI actor in the same way as a real actor, and see the final frame as he’s working,” says Weta’s Hill. This creates the opportunity for actors to sell their future image rights for films they appear in after they are dead, or have their likeness feature in interactive virtual reality experiences or games. As a result, savvy stars are starting to demand ownership of their virtual selves. “It would make sense for actors to own their data and then make their money back by licensing their scan for use in a particular movie,” explains Paul Debevec, a professor at the University of Southern California’s Institute of Creative Technologies, who created the Light Stage system and is now working in Google’s VR team. Debevec says he’s seen a small number of “very high-end actors” starting to do this. Does this mean actors will be able to relax at home while their digital doppelgängers do the hard work? McGee is doubtful. “The celebrity of actors off-camera forms a big part of the hype around Hollywood films,” says McGee. Having said that, it may in the future become possible to apply perfect CG overlays to live footage – whether that’s on the red carpet or during press junkets, jokes McGee. “Then who knows what you’re looking at?”


EMPLOYMENT

Professionals, the algorithm is on its way The game’s up: banking and legal jobs now belong to computers – By Ben Hammersley

Ben Hammersley is an author and TV broadcaster

When I were a lad, watching the news on the telly, waiting to be allowed to use the set to plug in my ZX Spectrum, I’d be told to concentrate on the stories from the nearby towns: car workers being laid off as robots took their jobs. Stay in school, son, and get into a profession. A degree and a place in a management trainee scheme was the preferred route. Don’t make things, be a knowledge worker, I’d be told. The future isn’t (one word, Benjamin) plastics. Not goods, but services. Information is the new oil. Bits, not atoms, the most valuable of commodities. And that’s pretty much how it turned out. Today, around 80 per cent of the UK’s economy is services. In 2015, the latest figures show, the UK exported more services than goods. We don’t make much stuff, but we’re really good at moving information around. It’s what makes the City of London the financial powerhouse it is. It’s what gives British law its own special reputation. It’s what distinguishes British advertising agencies, architects and academic centres. Not a nation of shopkeepers, but a nation of knowledge pushers, data filers, accounts completers and money movers. The most valuable and well-paid jobs in the UK create value by changing meanings. And at the top of that pile are the professions: the subset of jobs to which entry is controlled by specialist qualifications and social acceptance. The bankers, lawyers, accountants

and so on, who are allowed to do their jobs because they have proven, to someone, that they understand the secret knowledge, the secret words they need to intone to get their jobs done. Those dudes, frankly, make a lot of cash. But here’s the idea: the rarefied position of the specialist professions is coming to an end, a change driven by both the increasing capabilities of digital systems – machine learning, big data, all the good AI buzzwords – and the changes wrought by a digital society. Let’s take those social changes first. The internet is good at two things: introducing people and making distance irrelevant. It’s weird to think, given the normalisation of the way we live today, but for the majority of human existence if you wanted to find an expensive professional to help you – say, a lawyer – you’d have to find one both through a specific type of introduction, and one that was local to you. There was no Googling it, and ordering something from a site hosted who knows where. Futhermore, that specific introduction is sometimes even codified into the rules of the profession: you can’t simply hire a barrister, for example. There are rules, and it is just not done. So here’s the deal with some professions: only certain people with certain knowledge are allowed to do certain work, and getting access to those people is limited by where you are and who you know. Naturally, in this world all sorts of dodgy power relationships evolve, but this has been the case for so long that it seems natural. Thinking in this way, however, ignores the artificial nature of these restrictions: what if the actual function of those jobs could be done by someone or something whose expertise wasn’t controlled by a guild? What if you could employ someone or something directly, and someone or something could fulfil their function from anywhere on the planet? If that were to happen, it would give all comers access to the same level of professional services. If that were to happen, it would rapidly plunge traditional professions into a new economic reality. If that were to happen, it would drive the price of professional services down rapidly and irreversibly. If that

were to happen, the power given by academic and geographic rarity would be neutralised. That is what is happening. You see, it turns out that the professions have a dirty secret: most of the things they do aren’t that tricky. A good deal of law, accountancy, even medicine can be aligned to a flowchart. Start at the top and work down: is the patient alive or dead? If dead, stop. And so on, and so on. A high proportion of rarefied professional work is actually entirely diagrammable in this way. And if you can do that, you can make it into a computer program. A complex one, for sure, but if a modern AI can beat a Go grand-

master, it can fight a traffic ticket in court, do your accounts, check your contracts, organise your diary, or invest your money. And all of those are specific examples of tasks that, in 2016, have given rise to companies whose digital systems have replaced humans. Digital systems whose location is utterly irrelevant. Digital systems that are only getting smarter. Task by task, certificate by certificate, AI-powered companies are doing the jobs that have traditionally been expensive solely through artificial means. Computers were built to manipulate data. In 2017, we’ll find they’re really good at it. Perhaps learning to make things would have been a better idea.


MARKETS

We need to act now to stop wealth concentration Economics needs to be reinvented – with a focus away from the privileged – By Muhammad Yunus

Muhammad Yunus was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for founding Grameen Bank

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In 2016, Oxfam estimated that the total wealth of 99 per cent of the global population was barely equivalent to the wealth of the top one per cent – and it would get worse each year. Over the past few months, United States presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has made the point that, in the US, the top ten per cent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 per cent. Concentration of wealth also means concentration of power – political and social, privileges and opportunities. The reverse is also true. If you don’t have any wealth, you have no power, no privileges, no opportunities. But can this wealth inequality be tackled? My answer is yes – but individuals must view it as a personal priority and put pressure on government to create policies that will facilitate it. The concept of the free market relies on the notion of the so-called “invisible hand”, which ensures competition and thus contributes to equilibrium in the markets. Also that society benefits automatically if individuals pursue their own interests without paying attention to social benefits. But does the invisible hand ensure benefits equally for everybody? Obviously, the invisible hand is dedicatedly biased to the richest. That’s why enormous wealth concentration continues. We need to transform this inverted pyramid of wealth concentration into a new shape; a wealth diamond with very few at the top, very few at the

bottom, and bulk of the people in the middle. The usual political agenda to reduce the problem focuses on income gap, not on wealth gap. It is done through a programme of income redistribution: taking from the top (through progressive taxes) and giving it to the bottom (through various transfer payments). Clearly, only governments can undertake such redistribution p r o g r a m m e s . H o w e v e r, i n a democratic environment a government cannot achieve success in a redistribution programme. People at the top from whom governments are supposed to collect heavy taxes are politically very powerful. They use their disproportionate influence on governments to restrain them from taking any meaningful step against their interest. I don’t think addressing income inequality is a real answer; it addresses the cause, not the manifestation. We must address the wealth gap which is the cause of the income gap. If we keep the wealth base unchanged, any reduction in income gap will be ineffective. On top of that, governments’ cash transfer programmes are usually charity programmes, which are excellent as temporary relief, but cannot give permanent solution to the problem. Although governments should continue with their redistribution programmes, I am proposing to bring the citizen’s power to transform the wealth pyramid into a wealth diamond. The central point in my proposal is to redesign the economic framework by moving from personal interest-driven economics to both personal and collective interest-driven economics. In 1983, I created Grameen Bank (GB) in Bangladesh. It wasn’t like o t h e r f i n a n c i a l i n s t i t u t i o n s. Everything a conventional bank did, we did the opposite. They love to operate where businesses and rich people locate their offices. As a result, they work in cities. GB works in villages. After 30 years, GB does not have branches in any city or municipal area. Conventional banks are owned by rich people; GB is owned by the poor. Conventional banks serve mostly men; GB focuses on women. Conventional banks believe that the poor are not creditworthy. GB established for the first time in history that the poor people, more so poor women, are creditworthy in any formal

banking sense. Grameen America has 18 branches in nine cities in the US with 62,000 borrowers, all of whom are women. It has given out $380 million (£285m) with the average start-up loan being $1,000, and repayment rates are 99.9 per cent. Conventional banks operate on the basis of collateral. GB is collateralfree. Therefore, it is lawyer-free. We have developed a banking system based on trust. In GB, borrowers don’t come to the bank, the bank goes to borrowers. GB created a pension fund to make sure that borrowers can take care of themselves in their old age. GB offers health insurance, loans to beggars, student loans for the children of GB families, loans to build sanitary facilities. GB partially covers the funeral cost of the borrowers and loans are written off when a borrower dies. At GB, total interest on a loan cannot exceed total principal, no matter how long it takes to repay. My belief is that we need to build separate institutions with completely different architecture. Rich people’s banks are not designed to serve the poor. They may take some token actions through NGOs, under pressure from above, but that won’t constitute even a fraction of one per cent of their business. The unbanked of the world need real banking, not some “let-us-look-good” actions. Credit should be recognised as a human right, so that it can be addressed seriously and be given the importance it deserves. We can establish this only by creating a financial system for the poor. I was amazed how easy it was to solve human problems by designing GB as a business with the sole mission of solving a problem, and with no intention to benefit financially from the business. We are always told that the business engine was designed for only one use: making money for personal use. I used the same engine for a completely different purpose: that is, to solve human problems. I wondered why the world left the problem-solving to the governments and charities alone, and found the answer: it was because the business world was given a very clear mandate by economic theory. Their only mandate was to make money, leaving the people’s problems to be addressed by governments and charities. A businessman is supposed to be driven by self interest. To him, business is business.


What is impossible today becomes possible tomorrow. Dramatic changes take place in technology in such quick succession that it does not surprise us any more. It is only the power of the imagination of young people that limits the exploitation of each new technology. The bolder their imagination, the greater their accomplishments. If they start imagining a world where wealth disparity shall not exist, I can guarantee it will not exist. The combined power of youth, technology and social business can become an irresistible force. Once we transform the education system to produce creative entrepreneurs, the global picture of the wealth gap will start changing. If we leave talented young people with the destiny of making other people rich, wealth concentration will continue to soar. We cannot let young people become mercenaries for this system. And we can decide to invest in social business directly or through others who are involved in it. We can earmark five per cent of our annual income and put it in a separate account, a sort of personal social business fund, to invest in social businesses. The time is ripe for us to recognise the gravity of wealth concentration, and take actions against it. As we learn from the process of arriving at a consensus on global warming, we can initiate a similar process to build a global consensus on bringing the speed of wealth concentration to zero in phase one, and going on to make it negative in phase two. We can undo both by reinventing ourselves as caring and sharing human beings. We may aim at creating a world of three zeros: zero poverty, zero unemployment, and zero net carbon emission. A world of diamond-shaped wealth distribution. A world of equality. It can happen if we take action in 2017.

NETWORKS

Faster internet speeds will upend our urban spaces The connected street will re-imagine travel, jobs and housing in our cities By Dan Doctoroff

Dan Doctoroff is CEO of Sidewalk Labs in New York

Fast internet access should be a basic right, but the digital divide is real: 1.1bn people, just 15 per cent of the global population, can afford access to high-speed broadband. Until everyone can participate in the connected world of the future, leaders of government and industry alike are failing. The good news is, we’re making progress. Take the US example: thanks to public-private programmes such as LinkNYC, Google Fiber, and HUD’s ConnectHome, the US is building a strong foundation of ubiquitous connectivity, especially across metropolitan areas. When nations do finally close the digital divide, everything will change in cities. By harvesting an endless stream of real-time data in a thoughtful way, cities can improve virtually every aspect of quality of life: cost of living, rent, convenience, health, safety, job or education opportunities, even the spontaneity that makes urban life so inspiring. Connectivity will enhance it all. 2017 will be the year when technology and government leaders shift their focus from providing connectivity to imagining how it can radically transform cities and help reduce inequality. With connectivity for all, you can start to imagine ways of doing even more to close the health care gap. Telehealth can bring a share of personal care right to a living room, saving travel time and preventing the spread of illness. Connected home devices – from smart mirrors and toilets to wearables – can conduct routine health and fitness diagnostics and make it easier to communicate with frontline providers. On-demand

delivery of medical equipment or prescriptions could potentially expand access while reducing cost. Connectivity can also help cities improve transportation equity, particularly when it comes to access to employment: the number of jobs within an average commute distance is falling, with poor and minority communities suffering the most. Over time this combination of fewer job opportunities and longer commutes makes it harder for low-income families to climb the social ranks. Fully connected streets can help cities re-imagine travel and expand job access across a metro region. On-demand ride services can connect workers to jobs, eliminate the cost of car ownership and reduce commute times. Data analytics can help cities understand travel patterns and increase bus or train service on routes during periods of high demand. Connected fare tech can provide subsidies to low-income riders and charge lower prices for shared rides. Housing equity can improve with connectivity, too. Connected buildings let cities re-imagine housing regulations in ways that drive down costs and encourage flexibility. Sensor networks linked to city databases can monitor environmental impacts like noise and air quality in real time, enabling simpler building codes and new zoning regulations that can encourage faster development and radical mixed-use neighbourhoods. Online permitting can reduce timelines and transactional costs. All of this will lead to more efficient use of land and buildings, which can produce more affordable development that keeps pace with demand. Ubiquitous connectivity has the power to make many critical areas of urban life more efficient, personalised, adaptable and transparent. Of course, the public discussion of these broad social benefits must include concerns with connectivity, especially around privacy and data security. But we’re standing at a special moment when it comes to the convergence of the digital and physical environments. As long as we continue to close the connectivity gap in a responsible way, 2017 will be remembered as the year when the street finally begins to meet the cloud.


BUSINESS STRATEGY

Develop a messy tactic and confuse your opponents Try a cocktail of incoherence, recklessness and improvisation – By Tim Harford

Tim Harford is the author of Messy: How to be Creative and Resilient in a TidyMinded World

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Hard as it may be to remember right now, as Donald Trump slowly descended the escalator at Trump Tower in New York City in June 2015 to announce his presidential bid, his candidacy was considered a laughing stock. He was running ninth in a crowded race for the Republican nomination – well behind Jeb Bush, the ultimate establishment pick. Trump, a mere celebrity businessman, wasn’t given a chance. Trump’s campaign was a mess. He was incoherent, unpredictable and often outrageous. Yet his willingness to shock won him headlines and a loyal following. His random improvisations made him fascinating to reporters who were used to hearing the same tidy talking points. And Trump was impossible to pin down. Whereas his opponents consulted their focus groups in an attempt to triangulate an acceptable line of attack, Trump would simply change the subject. When under fire for his crude schoolboy mockery of a disabled New York Times reporter, for example, he took to Twitter to criticise the “dopes” at the Times for making bad merger decisions. Rivals and journalists alike were left looking ponderous. Messy it might have been, but the mess was working. A few months into the primary campaign, a friend emailed me with a pithy comment about Trump: “He’s inside their OODA loop.” I knew what he meant. We’d been discussing the art of winning the

messy way, and both of us were fans of a military guru and US fighter ace named John Boyd. Boyd’s “OODA loop” is an acronym describing the process of “observe, orient, decide and act”. Boyd argued that disorienting your opponent provided the ultimate strategic advantage. You could paralyse him in a wheelspinning cycle of trying to figure out an ever-changing situation. But here’s the thing about Boyd’s approach: it means accepting that things will get messy. It requires swift, opportunistic manoeuvres. That means snap judgements. Errors are inevitable. You and your colleagues will get out of sync with each other: synchronisation, said Boyd, was for watches, not soldiers. Once you start thinking about using disorientation and sheer awkwardness as a strategy, you see it everywhere. As the UK pondered a referendum to leave the European Union, the Vote Leave campaign spilt acrimoniously, with some pushing a xenophobic pulling-up of the drawbridge, others a buccaneering embrace of deregulation and free trade. The chaos worked nicely: Eurosceptic voters tuned in to whatever message they preferred to hear, and the Remain campaign didn’t know who to try to refute. Against the odds, all expert advice and the leadership of every mainstream political party, the Brexiteers won. What works in politics can work in the ring, too. Rocky Balboa switched from an orthodox to a left-handed “southpaw” stance to become champion of the world. If you prefer a non-fiction example, Tyson Fury did much the same thing when he took Wladimir Klitschko’s WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight titles late in 2015. It was yet another victory in which the underdog triumphed not

by fighting skilfully, but by forcing his opponent to fight clumsily. “Wladimir looked bad tonight because Tyson Fury made him look bad,” said one pundit after the fight. Trump’s rivals know the feeling. But a messy win is still a win. All very interesting, but what if you’re not in a fight, political or otherwise? It turns out that Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, also embraced the messy road to success. His philosophy was simple: scramble to grab as much territory as possible, first books, then toys, then tablets and cloud computing. The result was years of chaos inside Amazon as the company kept embracing the next impossible challenge before conquering the previous one. When Amazon started shipping kitchenware, naked carving knives hurtled down sorting chutes while the database tried to categorise them as hardback or paperback. In the early days of the web, the conventional wisdom was that established retail players such as Barnes & Noble, with strong brands and deep pockets, would crush Amazon. Bezos could see the logic, but he disagreed. He explained his thinking in a talk at Harvard Business School just a few months after Amazon had launched. Students and faculty told him that he should sell Amazon to Barnes & Noble – a business with more than a hundred times his revenue – before he was wiped out. Bezos told them not to underestimate corporate inertia. Amazon might be a mess, but it was a fast-moving mess. The big players were disoriented. Bezos was convinced that as long as he kept going, his competitors would hesitate. He was proved right. We live in a world that admires care, planning and consistency – but recklessness, improvisation and incoherence can work, too. The year 2016 was a year of winning messily; get ready for 2017. It’s time to stop underestimating the power of mess.


MEDICINE

How to map the next Ebola outbreak Smartphones will speed up tracking infectious diseases – By Jeremy Farrar

Jeremy Farrar is director of the Wellcome Trust in London

When a toddler called Emile Ouamouno, in the village of Meliandou in Guinea, died from Ebola in December 2013, it took three months for the rest of the world to know about it and a further six months to act. The result was an epidemic that killed 11,000 people across West Africa. In fighting infectious diseases, speed is crucial. The faster you can detect and map an outbreak, the easier it should be to contain it – if you act fast as well. Today, people from rural areas in the developing world – often the reservoirs of novel infections – are moving in and out of towns and cities in their millions; the people they meet there fly on to countries around the world. The good news is that the way we fight infectious diseases is – finally – speeding up to match. Back in 2008, a researcher called Andy Tatem started studying malaria outbreaks in Zanzibar. He knew that carriers were flying in from Tanzania – but there was no data about who they were, or where they went next. So Tatem started tracking not the people, but their smartphones. By logging the number of calls from individual cell towers, he was able to map how people moved around the country. The same idea has been used to monitor malaria patterns in Haiti, Namibia and Indonesia; dengue in Pakistan; rubella in Kenya. Crunched together with other data such as satellite images of nocturnal

lighting use – it gives us nearreal-time population maps: millions of data points showing in unprecedented detail how people migrate and interact. Already, we’re getting immensely valuable insights about what happens during epidemics, and where we need to target our treatment efforts. For example, mobile mapping has confirmed that, in the wake of an epidemic or natural disaster, people head home to their families. So if you’re planning for worst-case scenarios, you can make a surprisingly good forecast by loading up migration data from national holidays such as Chinese New Year, Christmas or Diwali. It’s not just about modelling how people behave, but diseases. Simon Hay, of the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation Washington, has combined all sorts of data – phone use, climate patterns, fluctuations in bat population – to work out where diseases like Ebola and Zika are most likely to pop up, and what would happen if they did. Larry Brilliant, formerly of Google and the WHO, is doing fantastic work on using anonymised mobile data – for example, requests sent to health advice services – to track outbreaks. Without action, however, surveillance is just stamp-collecting. That’s why Raj Panjabi of Last Mile Health has used mobile phones to stitch together a rural health network in Liberia that not only monitors diseases but treats them, too. As technology gets more powerful, all sorts of possibilities open up. A few years ago, unravelling the nature of a particular malaria parasite meant sending samples off to the US or EU, then waiting for weeks. But during the Ebola outbreak, MSF, the Wellcome Trust and Institut Pasteur set up local laboratories that provided such sequencing in real time. Soon, that capability could be provided by a hand-held device linked to a smartphone, speeding up diagnosis still further. It is not just the phones, but the connectivity they provide. Checking blood samples for malaria parasites used to be a tedious and mistakeridden process. Now, doctors can take a picture of a microscope slide using their phone, and get an algorithmic verdict from a cloudbased system trained on 200,000 samples from Bangladesh.

In Vietnam, where I lived and worked for 18 years, 6,000 clinics now send daily text messages to a website created by Maciej Boni of the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Ho Chi Minh City and Oxford University. The messages contain two numbers: patients seen that day, and patients with flu symptoms. That means outbreaks can be spotted and treated in days, rather than waiting for the traditional monthly reports. One factor behind the fall in polio in Pakistan was that people could flag up via text message that the vaccination teams had missed their area. Technology is already helping to save lives in countless ways – and is only getting better. Indeed, the immediate limiting factor is increas-

ingly not technical capability, but the need to win the support of governments, business and the public. During the Ebola crisis, people were asked by text to report any symptoms - but many didn’t trust their government enough to reply. If we want to fight disease most effectively, there is a critical need to overcome such mistrust. We live in a world of SARS, MERS, Zika and Ebola, of drug-resistant bugs, of diseases that can travel across continents in less than a day. Technology gives us the ability not just to track these epidemics, but to contain them. For that to happen, we need to build robust and trusted structures to gather, share and act on that life-saving data.


PRODUCTIVITY

The cost of being distracted is higher than we realise To maximise production, turn off your app notifications – By Dan Ariely

Dan Ariely is the James B Duke professor of psychology and behavioural economics at Duke University, North Carolina

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We live in an age of interruption. Ping – you have a text message. Ping – you have a new email. P i n g – yo u h av e a Fa c e b o o k friend request. Ping – you have a match on your online dating app. Ping-ping-ping, all day long. A recent Gallup poll found that more than 50 per cent of Americans who own smartphones keep their phone near them “almost all the time during waking hours”. Over 50 per cent say check their smartphone at least several times an hour and 11 per cent say they check it every few minutes. And that’s just what they’re aware of and admit to – I would not be surprised if the real frequency and intensity is much higher. Until relatively recently in our technological history we did not have a lot of content coming to our devices. Now, we have texts, all kind of notifications and what seems like an endless stream of both personal and work emails. And it’s not just our phones. How many times have you been at your computer working on something when you get an email notification? And of those instances, how often did you stop what you’re doing to look at your email, realised that it was not that important and returned to your work – after taking a few minutes to remind yourself where you were and what your train of thought was? At t h i s p o i n t , i t s h o u l d b e painfully clear to everyone that we need to be worried about the interruptions economy. What value do

interruptions provide, under what conditions, and what are their costs? A little ping may seem innocuous, but there is cumulating evidence that the cost of an interruption is higher than we realise, and of course given the sheer number of interruptions, their combined effect can very quickly become substantial. In terms of the costs of interruptions, a recent study published in The Journal of Experimental Psychology showed the performance impact of notifications, even when we don’t switch tasks. In this study, participants were asked to complete a task involving seeing items and pressing a button every time the item was a digit from one to nine, unless it was the number three. Items were shown at a rate of about one per second and participants’ speed of response was measured. The participants were asked to put their phones to one side and not touch them until the end of the study. Unbeknownst to the participants, the experimenters called the phones of some of the participants from time to time, they texted other participants from time to time and they left the third group of participants interruption-free. The results showed that both notification groups were much more likely to make errors and not pay attention to their main task. And the drop in performance was about equal between the phone call notification and the text notification. And the news only gets worse because we often attend to the interruption, filling our minds with “task-irrelevant thoughts” – that is, thoughts that are unrelated to the task at hand. And finally, it has been shown that the need to compensate for interruptions can increase stress and frustration. So, what does this mean in the context of email? Currently, the default setup of most electronic communications is that we get a notification for every event and every email. Most of us have our email software open all day while we are at work. We get a notification for every email that comes in (even if we are doing something else that is objectively more useful, urgent, and important). You might wonder if the reason that we set up notifications to be on by default for every email, and have our email program open all

the time is because we often get super-important emails that we need to respond to right away. No. It turns out that the number of these extra important and urgent emails is very low. Our group at the Duke University recently worked with a mid-sized company that allowed us to survey their employees on their email use. For each employee, we showed them a sample of the emails that they received and asked them how soon they really needed to have seen each email. Immediately? At some point today? At some point this week? At some point this month? No need to see it at all? As it turns out, the recipients of emails indicated that only about 12 per cent of emails need to be seen within five minutes of being sent. Another 11 per cent could have been seen in the next few hours, and an additional 17 per cent could have seen by the end of the day. More disturbing, ten per cent of the emails could have been seen by the end of the week, 15 per cent at “some point,” and a whopping 35 per cent fell into the “no need to see it” category. What this means is that the interruption policy whereby each email is linked to a notification is therefore set to kidnap our time and abuse our attention without any justification. So what should we do? If we want to maximise productivity and wellbeing, we should stop notifying (distracting) ourselves every time there is an incoming email. We should recognise that not all emails are created equal, and that very few of them should deserve the right to interrupt and distract us. Perhaps if we (and the companies that provide us with digital communication tools) started thinking about the accumulating costs of interruptions and the more general implications of the interruptions economy, we would start taking some actions? And to start, how about if we all just set our defaults to “no interruption”?


FINANCE

It’s time to move your money to a digital-only bank Online accounts will take on other financial services in 2017 – By Charlie Burton

Charlie Burton is a WIRED contributor and commissioning editor for GQ

The world of banking, says Anthony Thomson, has a dirty little secret: “Nobody actually cares about banks.” But the 62-year-old British entrepreneur believes he can make people care about his new bank, Atom. The key? It’s not really a bank at all. “I could make a compelling argument to say that Atom is actually a data company that happens to have a banking licence,” he says. Atom is the first digital-only “challenger bank” to have been granted such a licence, beating others such as Tandem, Starling and Mondo to the punch. This new cadre of startups is the result of a post-credit-crunch regulatory shake-up that will mean 2017 is the year when consumers have the opportunity to manage their money with organisations that are digital first. Once, the high street was dominated by the “big four” (HSBC, Lloyds, RBS and Barclays), but recent reforms designed to inject competition make it easier to set up a bank and, for the first time in more than 150 years, the Bank Of England is welcoming new entrants to the marketplace. Metro Bank was the first to benefit, in 2010, but this was a bricks-and-mortar operation. When Atom opened for business in April, it heralded the arrival of a new type of bank that’s entirely online. At launch, the only product Atom offered was a fixed saver account – current accounts, debit and credit cards and mortgages are

all scheduled to arrive by 2017 – but at two per cent interest, it was the market-leading rate. Better returns are a crucial aspect of the challenger bank promise. According to Thomson, who was once Chairman of Metro Bank but left when the board refused to focus on mobile, high street banks have to use 55 to 70 per cent of their profits to finance their costs, whereas digital banks don’t have branch networks and can pass those savings back to consumers. Yet the significance of operations such as Atom goes well beyond value for money – as Mondo’s CEO Tom Blomfield puts it, this is “an Uber moment for banks”. Startups hope to transform banking through data analytics,

providing services to even the most entry-level consumers that previously relied upon a financial adviser or accountant. Atom expects to provide a more granular breakdown of your spending than you’ve ever experienced before. “You’ll be able to see, for example, how much you have spent on trainers – and if you continue at that rate how much you will have spent in the next three years,” Thomson says. “Traditional banks will give you last month’s bank statement. We’ll give you next month’s bank statement. Using analytics we can project what your future income and expenditure combinations are going to be.” Furthermore, for business customers, it will be able to spot problems before they develop into crises. “If we discover that the length of time people who owe you money are taking to pay you is getting longer, we can draw that to your attention and say, ‘Here are some things you might want to think about.’” Atom’s competitor, Mondo, is perhaps best known in the tech

world because it has run a series of hackathons to imagine new banking functions. Ideas include flagging up anomalies in bills, features for splitting payments in restaurants and facilities to offer overdrafts if funds are on course to get tight. Analysts anticipate that challenger banks may also create products designed for freelancers, such as accounts that automatically set aside the correct amount of money for tax returns, or mortgages that assess how income varies over the course of the year and adjust repayment demands accordingly. The gamble for all of these new banks is that the value of such services will entice customers to leave the big four. But – should that start happening – what’s to stop those established banks from simply mirroring the data-led approach? Thomson says that would be impossible. “One of the challenges the big banks have is that they can create these fantastic new apps, but they’re still having to plug them into this pig of a back-office system. As the old adage goes, you can put lipstick on a pig, but ultimately, it’s still a pig.” The reason they haven’t upgraded is that transferring the data would be a vastly complex problem. “But let’s say they did solve it – they still have these incredible expense bases, legacy issues of real estate, legacy issues of balance sheets – it’s just impossible for them to be as fleet of foot or as agile.” And what about those vaunted predictive analytics – consumers tend to hold accounts with various providers (they may have an American Express to collect British Airways points, for instance), so won’t Atom only have a very partial picture of their spending? “If you really want us to be your bank, then the more information you give us, the more we can be personal in what we do,” Thomson says. “You pays your money and you takes your choice.”


POST-REALITY

Coming soon: the end of the purely physical experience The more we live in a virtual world, the more real it becomes – By Wendellen Li

Wendellen Li is co-founder and CEO of Elsewhere

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Post-reality saved me the other day when I was getting a new phone at the Apple Store. The primary account holder, my father, needed to be there in person (store policy), so I FaceTimed him and it worked. No one could deny that a talking screen is as good as real – which makes me wonder what we mean by “real”, anyway? Reality, as we have always understood it, means the physical world in which we eat, sleep and breathe, and which behaves in certain fixed ways: seven colours of the rainbow are the basis of all we see; objects fall, not float off cliffs; the best things in life can’t be captured; and friendship is something we feel. But these days I’m no longer so sure. Digital and physical worlds have become inextricable, different but not separate, and together they make up a new form of reality – which I like to think of as post-reality. When I told my friends I was engaged, they got excited and called to talk about it – but only a year later, once it was true on Facebook. That’s post-reality.

When a woman begging in China held out her phone to me, asking me to scan her QR code – that’s post-reality. When my Uber driver drove down a one-way street because his GPS was more real than oncoming cars – that’s post-reality. When girls are shaving their eyebrows because tattooed ones look better on their Instagram posts – that’s post-reality. When you can’t eat the food because first we have to Instagram it for 1,000 people who also can’t – that’s post-reality. When our military can shoot people in the Middle East from trailers near Las Vegas, and when things I want in life are things advertised to me in sponsored content that I have trouble differentiating from journalism, and when strapping phones to our heads is old news – that is so post-reality. Are my friends on Facebook really my friends? Are we in a relationship if it’s not online? If I don’t post to Instagram, does it still count? If not-so-many people liked my post, do they still like me? This is the world I’ve grown up in. This is the reality in which I live, and most of it has nothing to do with the physical world. I no longer believe that the world in which I eat, sleep and breathe is all that’s real.

And it’s not just that the real is taking a back seat to the digital – it seems we’re preferring it. The real world is servant to our relationships and livelihoods in the digital worlds we’ve built up, where we value who we are online enough to trade the brows we were born with for Instaworthy ink. Uber drivers couldn’t find their passengers without the app, but the app will run without them some day. We’re living in a world where transport, hospitals and energy would stop without the internet. How much is real? How much is virtual? Even before VR devices become mainstream, we need to ask if reality will have a fighting chance. We were told that 2016 would be the year VR gave us a compelling alternative to current reality. But we’re already living in a post-reality – and that pixelated metaverse is only going to become more important to challenge in 2017. !

THE WIRED WORLD IN 2017 is published on November 17. It’s available to buy in print at WHSmith or through the WIRED app for iOS devices


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FUTURE FLIGHT

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FLIGHT UPGRADED _ W E LC O M E T O W I R E D ’ S AV I AT I O N S P E C I A L . O N T H E F O L LO W I N G PA G E S W E M E E T T H E B O L D A D V E N T U R E R S PHOTOGRAPHY: CAMERAPRESS

D E V O T E D T O P U S H I N G T H E B O U N D A R I E S O F F L I G H T. _ F E AT U R I N G B E R T R A N D P I C C A R D, T H E H Y 4 T E A M A N D A G L I M P S E AT T H E F U T U R E O F A I R T R AV E L . Y O U A R E C L E A R E D F O R TA K E O F F…


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BY JAMES TEMPERTON P H O T O G R A P H Y: A O R TA

LIMITS I N 1 9 9 9, B E R T R A N D P I C C A R D FLEW NON-STOP AROUND T H E W O R L D I N A H O T-A I R BALLOON. IN 2016, H E C I R C U M N AV I G AT E D T H E GLOBE IN A PL ANE POWERED O N LY B Y S U N L I G H T. H I S A I M ? T O P R O V E T H AT T H E F U T U R E O F AV I AT I O N L I E S WITH CLEAN TECHNOLOGIES


AT 4 : 0 5 A M , A PL ANE TOUCHED D O W N AT A L B AT E E N E X E C U T I V E AIRPORT IN ABU DHABI. IT CAME IN S L O W LY, N U D G I N G 50KPH AS ITS I N S E C T- L I K E FRAME DESCENDED OUT OF THE PRE-DAWN SKY AND EASED ON TO T H E R U N W AY. The aircraft, called Solar Impulse 2, had flown 42,438km in 558 hours and seven minutes, becoming the first manned solar-powered plane to circumnavigate the globe. Its pilot, Bertrand Piccard, emerged from the tiny cockpit smiling as camera flashes fired. Piccard and fellow pilot André Borschberg had just completed a bold and challenging mission: for more than 16 months, with a ground crew of around 60 people, the Solar Impulse project had battled technical, meteorological and bureaucratic challenges to complete the journey and return to Abu Dhabi without using a drop of fuel. But even before he landed, Piccard knew his mission was far from over. “To be heard, you need to be rich or famous, and I cannot be rich,” says Piccard, 58, when WIRED visits his home in the hills above Lutry, Switzerland, in September 2016. “The Solar Impulse gave me fame, so people listened to me.” It’s hard not to. Piccard is as engaging as he is adventurous. He speaks deliberately, leaning forward and fixing your gaze, his blue eyes surrounded by fine lines. “It was my goal from the start when I initiated Solar Impulse: I wanted to have a credible tool to show clean technologies can achieve the impossible.” Piccard is the initiator, chairman and co-pilot of Solar Impulse and its success

has given him the clout he so desired. In a July 2009 TED Global Talk in Oxford, Piccard joked that he had to fly a balloon around the world in 1999 for his views on protecting the environment to be taken seriously. Having completed two world-first circumnavigations, Piccard is morphing from inspiring adventurer into formidable environmental campaigner. He’s currently working to create an international organisation dedicated to the promotion and success of clean energy technologies. The project has been named the International Committee of Clean Technologies (ICCT); a catchier name, he says, is in the works. More than 400 associations and startups have already expressed an interest and Piccard hopes to launch the project by the end of 2016. The organisation, which will rely on sponsors to generate income, will use Solar Impulse’s hefty political and media influence to make people sit up and listen. Membership will be free and the Solar Impulse Foundation will provide support and advice. Having shown a solar-powered plane can conquer the skies, Piccard is unwavering in his belief that clean-energy technologies can provide a profitable, exciting solution to global warming. “This world organisation for clean technologies, it will have no end,” he says, pausing for thought. “You have a start, but you need it to grow and improve until the end of the world. My goal is that it becomes an organisation that helps governments take decisions in favour of solutions for climate change. We have now a huge network with Solar Impulse, a political and media network, where we can just inform.” Outside the window, Lake Geneva shimmers in the late summer sunshine. Inside, Piccard’s home is a shrine to adventure and his remarkable family history. Every shelf, every section of wall, is adorned with either a model plane or a sketch of a hot-air balloon. A propeller from Solar Impulse, signed by the team, stands on a plinth next to the TV. Jules Verne’s Voyages Extraordinaire takes pride of place on Piccard’s bookshelf; a copy of Le Petit Prince is tucked alongside books on the history of aviation. In his office, a bust of Patrick Stewart’s Jean-Luc Picard, named after Bertrand’s father Jacques, sits beside a model of Belgian cartoonist Hergé’s Professeur Tournesol, modelled on Auguste Piccard, Bertrand’s grandfather. For three generations, the Piccards have gone higher, deeper and further than anyone before them. In May 1931, Auguste became the first person to venture into the Earth’s stratosphere,

soaring to 15,781 metres in his FNRS-1 balloon. Twenty-nine years later, in January 1960, Bertrand’s father Jacques descended to the floor of the Mariana Trench, reaching a depth of 10,911 metres. Auguste invented the pressurised cabin, paving the way for cleaner, more efficient modern aviation; Jacques found life where life was thought to be impossible at the time, forcing governments to stop dumping radioactive waste into the ocean depths. For Bertrand, the achievements of his family had a profound effect: “That was the type of education I had: scientific exploration to protect the environment.”

The inspiration for Solar Impulse came from one of his own adventures. On March 1, 1999, along with British a e ro n a u t B r i a n Jo n e s, P i cc a rd completed the first successful non-stop balloon circumnavigation of the globe. The journey lasted 19 days, 21 hours and 47 minutes. When the pair took off, they had 3.7 tonnes of liquid propane – they landed with just 40 kilograms. “I was afraid every day that we would run out of fuel,” Piccard says. “That’s why I created Solar Impulse. The sky is not the limit, the fuel is the limit. And

PHOTOGRAPHY: EYEVINE

O N J U LY 26 , 2 0 1 6


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R I G H T Bertrand Piccard (pictured far right) and André Borschberg, Solar Impulse’s pilots, complete their round-the-world solar-powered flight in Abu Dhabi on July 26, 2016 B E L O W Solar Impulse flies over Hawaii, heading towards the west coast of the United States, on April 21, 2016, 408 days into its solar-powered circumnavigation of the globe

with Solar Impulse there was no fuel – we could fly as long as we wanted.” Piccard’s belief in clean technologies is driven by an optimistic, romantic belief that humanity can change for the better. It was an approach he used throughout the Solar Impulse mission: “For the team, it was important to have André explaining how to do the things and me explaining why to do the things,” he says. “Because people need to know how to do it, but they need the motivation, the inspiration for why they do it.” Then there are the facts. Global

sea levels have risen 17cm in the last decade, double the rate of the last century. Twenty of the warmest years have occurred since 1981 with all ten of the warmest years occurring in the past 12 years. “We are wasting time, we are wasting money with old technologies and we should now work a little bit more and move towards the future.” There are several sides to Piccard: the romantic adventurer, the reasoned diplomat and the passionate communicator. He describes flying Solar Impulse as a “fairytale”. “I loved the take-off,” he says, suddenly excited by the memory, the sensation of the aircraft silently lifting into the skies. “You put full throttle, you have no noise, no noise, you start to move and you get in the air and then you say: ‘Wow. I’m flying now for several days, several nights, I make no pollution, I have no fuel, I just do something for the first time ever.’ It’s a fantastic moment.” The landing? Not so much. “When you land you go back in the past. You go back into a world that burns one million tonnes of oil every hour, you land in a world that is polluting the environment, that leaves incredibly high deficits for the next generation who are never going to be able to pay it back, back into a world where we have violence and wars, and you come from a world of fairytales. And the contrast is just really hard. It’s really hard. I hate to land.” Before his adventurous streak took over, Piccard was a psychiatrist. In an industry of engineers, physicists and aviators it offered him an unusual perspective. “I’ve noticed how much people are reluctant to change if they are not in a crisis or if they are not obliged to change,” he says. “The crisis will soon happen if we continue with climate change, but it will be too late.” The debate around climate change, he

continues, has been getting it all wrong. Yes, this is a crisis, but it is also a huge opportunity. “This is where we have to work. And here the solutions are clearly in the field of clean technologies. So let’s try now to really push people to change. Show them that it’s in their personal interest to do it.” Piccard is impatient, frustrated by pessimists and those in government and business whose perceived lack of action is blocking solutions to climate change. He’s just spent the morning at the Swiss parliament ahead of a vote on the country implementing a so-called green-economy ballot. The proposals, later rejected by two-thirds of Swiss voters, would have required greater resource efficiency in the country. “You cannot imagine how much resistance there is,” says a visibly dismayed Piccard. “They say: ‘Oh, we should not have more regulations. Oh, it will be too expensive. Oh, it will be too complicated. Oh, we don’t know how to do it.’ Look, we have all the solutions, they are profitable, just go for it. Be ambitious.” Politicians, he continues, entrench themselves in failed ways of thinking. “The president of a country has advisers from the same political party as him, the same religion and the same geographical region. How can you understand the world like this? If I was president of a country, my advisers would be from the opposite political party, from other religions and from other geographical regions,” he says, without a hint of hubris. “So they would tell me: ‘Hey, Bertrand, stop, you’re wrong. Don’t do that. Try to understand the vision of the world of the other one.’ The only things you can learn in life


come from people who think differently. If people tell you, ‘Oh, you are the best, Mr President,’ what do you learn? Nothing. If somebody says what you do is bullshit, then it’s useful.” It is the rate of change that most irks Piccard. The internal combustion engine has been around in one form or another since the early 19th century. Edison’s incandescent electric lamps were installed on the steamer Columbia in 1880. “We still use all these things that are responsible for climate change,” he says, the pitch of voice rising with incredulity. “To run an incandescent light bulb you lose 95 per cent of the energy to produce five per cent light. It’s crazy, it’s stupid, yet we still use it,” he continues. “We still use energy systems and electrical systems and combustion systems that lose more than half the energy put into them. It’s lost. And this has to be changed. The electrical engines we had in Solar Impulse have 97 per cent efficiency. Combustion engines are finished.” At home, Piccard has installed new insulation, new windows, a heat pump and energy-efficient lighting. “It’s really profitable, I tell you, eh?” he says. It’s April 22, 2016 and Piccard is sitting in the cockpit of Solar Impulse, flying a non-stop 62-hour leg from Hawaii to San Francisco. He isn’t allowed to sleep, taking 20-minute naps and relying on self-hypnosis to keep his body fresh and his mind awake. He is completely alone apart from the company of United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-Moon, who is speaking to him via satellite phone from New York. A live stream projected on to a screen in the United Nations General Assembly hall shows him smiling, gesticulating with excitement. Below him, the world’s diplomats have assembled to sign the landmark Paris Agreement. “Thank you for joining us on this historic day,” Ban says. More pleasantries are exchanged before the secretary general bids farewell to Piccard. Thinking his line to the UN has been cut, Piccard confides in his team at Solar Impulse mission control in Monaco: “That was probably the most important speech of my life and you made it happen, thank you,” he says, putting his hands together in applause. Appropriately, his final remarks ring out through the UN. “I knew it was good leverage to promote this message, more than having a solarpowered car or a solar-powered boat,” says Piccard, reflecting on the

mission and his appearance at the UN. “André, my colleague, always says, ‘With an aeroplane you cannot cheat. It flies or it doesn’t fly’.” Forty-six years before his in-flight call with the UN, an 11-year-old Piccard was at Cape Canaveral, Florida, watching the launch of Apollo 12. It was there he met Charles Lindbergh, the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic. His 1927 flight from Long Island, New York to Paris in the Spirit of St Louis, a single engine, single-seat monoplane, took 33 hours and 30 minutes. At the time, Lindbergh was pushing technology to the limit.

In August 1938, 26 passengers disembarked from Lufthansa’s four-engine Focke-Wulf Fw 200 at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn after a 25-hour, non-stop flight from Berlin. It had taken just 11 years to go from pioneer to the first commercial, land-based transAtlantic flight. Technology has the capacity to surprise, but does Piccard envisage the same pace of change for solar-powered flight? “I would be crazy to say yes and stupid to say no,” he says. “Today, the technology does not allow us to transport 200 passengers on Solar Impulse, but when Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic there was also


PA G E 1 2 5 B E L O W Bertrand Piccard in his home near Lausanne, Switzerland, where he has brought together memorabilia celebrating his grandfather’s, father’s and his own adventures. On the cabinet to the right is a Jean-Luc Picard action figure – the Star Trek character was named after Bertrand’s father, Jacques. By the window is a model of Professeur Tournesol from Tintin – he was based on Bertrand’s grandfather

no technology to fly 200 people across the ocean,” he says. “It’s like the computer – people who say that Solar Impulse is very big and very slow forget the first computer was as big as a house.” Having circumnavigated the globe twice, it’s the small things that now infuriate Piccard. At home, he’s always first to switch off lights left on unnecessarily and proudly points to thermostatic controls on his radiators. When we meet, he’s just returned from New York and is about to head to Brittany, M a r ra k e c h , M o n t re a l a n d S a n Francisco. “Speeches, a lot of speeches,” he says of his current work establishing

the ICCT. It’s also a lot of flying. “When I travel I offset the CO2 and give money to a project that saves CO2 somewhere else,” says Piccard. But it’s on the ground that big changes can be made. “Aviation produces five per cent of the greenhouse gas in the world, 95 per cent is on the ground. Aviation will be the last one to renounce to fuel because it needs a lot to fly. But on the ground, we can have carbon-neutral houses, cars and industrial processes. It makes me much more crazy to drive a car that uses a lot of gasoline because I know we can do better,” he says. So does he get in a taxi if it’s a gas guzzler? “I hate

‘THE SKY IS NOT T H E L I M I T; T H E F U E L I S T H E L I M I T. AND WITH SOL AR IMPULSE THERE I S N O F U E L’

it. When it’s a Porsche Cayenne, I don’t want to get in. It’s an energy waste.” The creation of the ICCT is the next step in what Piccard now sees as his life’s work. Fifteen years ago, when he first conceived of Solar Impulse, he was told it was impossible. “One runs the risk of weeping, if one lets himself be tamed,” writes Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in Le Petit Prince. The narrator, the great explorer, mourns for those who cannot dream. Throughout Piccard’s mission, people told him he would fail. It was a pessimism that surprised him, and one he’s determined to remove from the climatechange debate. “It shows how many people have no imagination, how many people have no capacity and ability to dream. People are blind in this world, they don’t see the potential of technology, they don’t see the potential of human beings, they don’t see how important it is to dream.” Bertrand Piccard is appearing at WIRED2016 on November 3-4. wiredevent.co.uk/wired2016. Visit wired.co.uk/video to see Piccard’s cockpit tour of Solar Impulse 2


S O L A R F L I G H T P T. I I

F LY I N G ON THE EDGE I T ' S O N E T H I N G T O F LY C L O S E T O E A R T H – A N O T H E R T O R E A C H T H E S TA R T O F S PA C E . RAPHAËL DOMJAN PL ANS TO PILOT A SOL ARP O W E R E D A I R C R A F T I N T O T H E S T R AT O S P H E R E


PA G E 1 2 7 B E L O W When it is completed in 2018, SolarStratos will have a 24.8-metre wingspan and weigh just 450kg


INDUSTRIAL ESTATE IN Y VERDONL E S - B A I N S, S W I T Z E R L A N D, A SMALL TEAM OF ADVENTURERS IS P R E PA R I N G F O R A MISSION TO THE E D G E O F S PA C E . If they succeed, their solar-powered aircraft will fly higher than any plane before it and show that renewable energy can not only match fossil fuels but surpass them. “Our goal is to be the highest plane ever, not only solar and electric,” says Raphaël Domjan, 44, initiator and pilot of SolarStratos. Echoes of Bertrand Piccard are everywhere: both are Swiss, both are based near Lausanne and both believe adventure can inspire people to take action to tackle climate change. “With this project we take technology you can find in the supermarket and we push it to the limit,” Domjan says. If a solar-powered plane can take a human being to the edge of space and back again, he continues, it could send a very strong message about the potential of clean technology. “We still have so many things to explore. Maybe exploration can be used to protect our planet.” Domjan’s mission is a daring one. In late 2018 he plans to climb into SolarStratos and take two hours and 30 minutes to ascend to 25,000m. There, on the edge of space, he hopes to spend 15 minutes in the stratosphere before slowly spiralling back down to Earth. He will do so without using any fuel. “It’s like the Icarus flight,” Domjan jokes. “But I hope I will not lose my wings.” Founded in March 2014, SolarStratos has already raised $5 million (£3.8m) from sponsors and work is underway to manufacture the experimental aircraft. A further $5 million will be required to get the mission off the ground. Solarpowered aviation specialist PC-Solar is expected to deliver the completed aircraft by the end of the year. Everything about the project is incongruous: Domjan himself is understated

and quiet; he wears a blue bomber jacket with a SolarStratos patch on the arm, his hair gelled into spikes. His office in the Y-Parc incubator is flanked by software firms and app startups. Domjan, who previously worked as a mechanic and paramedic, now dedicates his life to exploring and promoting clean technologies. In 2012 he completed the first circumnavigation of the globe in a solar-powered boat dubbed PlanetSolar. In 2003, he coated the roof of his parents’ house in solar panels and founded a solarpowered web-hosting company. It was his work as a mountain guide that

inspired his fascination with solar energy. “When I was in Iceland for the first time, in 1993, we stayed next to a big glacier,” says Domjan, searching on his computer for a picture he took. “When I came back 11 years later, the glacier wasn’t there any more.” The finished SolarStratos aircraft will weigh 450kg and be coated in 22m2 of solar panels. Its wings will measure 24.8m across and it will have just two seats. But for his record-breaking attempt into the stratosphere, Domjan will be completely alone. SolarStratos’s two 19kW motors produce around 50 horsepower, the same amount as a

PHOTOGRAPHY: AORTA

ON THE EDGE OF AN


PA G E 1 2 9 small scooter. To get up to 25,000m they need all the help they can get. Domjan himself will have to lose ten kilos before take-off. “We have to be careful with the weight, it’s a big, big challenge,” Domjan says. Another big challenge: keeping Domjan alive. At 25,000m there is two per cent of the oxygen available at sea level, temperatures plummet to -70°C and air pressure falls to 0.019 atmospheres. At these altitudes Domjan will have to wear a pressurised spacesuit to keep

him alive. Russian spaceflight specialist Zvezda has agreed to develop a specially adapted, lightweight suit for the mission. The suit, costing around $1 million (£780,000), is being donated to SolarStratos free of charge. Although most parts of the plane will be off-the-shelf, some parts are being developed from scratch. Austrian battery firm Kreisel Electric is working on an experimental 20kWh lithium-ion battery that can operate safely in the B E L O W Domjan at the SolarStratos HQ in Yverdon-Les-Bains; a 500m2 hangar is being built at nearby Payerne

harsh stratospheric conditions. “If we have a problem with the battery in the stratosphere, it’s finished,” says Domjan, nervously. If the mission goes as planned, SolarStratos will take off and land with its batteries almost fully charged using only solar energy. The first test flight is scheduled for the end of the year. In the second half of 2017, SolarStratos plans to make its first record-breaking attempt: to climb above 9,420m, the highest altitude achieved by Piccard’s Solar Impulse. But Domjan doesn’t intend to take this flight alone. “My goal is to make this flight with [Piccard] on board. I think that could be a nice message,” says Domjan of his friend. “We are not in competition.” Although Solar Impulse has completed its round-the-world flight, for SolarStratos there remain many unknowns: can it raise the extra $5m it needs? Will the battery hold? How will the plane operate in the stratosphere? If successful, Domjan has ambitions to turn SolarStratos into either a specialist solar-powered drone manufacturer to compete with the likes of Facebook’s A q u i l l a p r o g r a m m e o r, m o r e ambitiously, to launch a solar-powered stratosphere-tourism business. “Our aeroplane will be the first step before the commercial stage,” he explains. The plan is to construct a threeperson, solar-powered aeroplane with a pressurised cabin and start operating commercial flights with one pilot and two paying customers by 2021. “You need much more power,” he continues. “It’s a big challenge. Much more difficult, much more expensive.” And Domjan’s potential SolarStratos tourism venture won’t be alone: Zero2Infinity, Space Vision and WorldView are all working on stratospheric balloon rides priced at between $75,000 and $120,000. “The goal is to be cheaper than the balloon,” he says. The company is already offering those willing to pay $60,000 a chance to fly into the edge of the stratosphere in the first SolarStratos plane, though nobody has stumped up yet. But Domjan is hopeful that whisking more people to the edge of space using solar power alone can be a powerful tool for promoting clean technologies. “We can change and we can be optimistic,” he says, echoing Piccard. “It could be a huge opportunity for mankind to change, to use what we get from the sky for free.” James Temperton is acting deputy editor at wired.co.uk


10 SpaceShipTwo

I L L U S T R AT I O N : J O E WA L D R O N

AERONAUTICS IS MOVING INTO A NEW ERA OF INNOVATION AS ENGINEERS WORK ON NOVEL AIRCRAFT â&#x20AC;&#x201C; FROM DELIVERY DRONES TO SUPERSONIC JETS. FASTEN YOUR SEATBELTS FOR A CRAZY RIDE

1 CityBird


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9 Bloostar

8 Boom


4 EHang 184

7 Airlander 10

5 Jetpack

2 3 Prime Air

Zip


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6 Carplane

4 VC200


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FACTS 1 CityBird length: 24 metres Weight: 12,344kg

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CentAirStation and CityBird, by Glasgow School of Arts and Bauhaus Luftfahrt

It takes the CityBird aeroplane just a few seconds to race across a 640-metre-long runway before taking off from Alexanderplatz in central Berlin on its route to London. The city-centre runway has been built on top of railway tracks – CityBird takes off and lands among startup HQs and is equipped with quiet engines for inner-city approaches. This is one vision of flying in 2040 – if Munich think-tank Bauhaus Luftfahrt can convince city planners and aircraft manufacturers of its CentAirStation concept. “There are undeveloped urban railway areas all over the world,” says Kay Plötner, project manager for economy and transport at the institute. Traffic scientists have identified almost 100 suitable locations, including Tokyo, Calcutta, San Francisco and Frankfurt, where such inner-city airports might work. Flying, of course, has its limits: air traffic has been increasing by almost five per cent every year – which would mean a tripling of today’s traffic by 2040. Even today, handling the 3.8 billion passengers expected by the end of 2016 is causing problems for airports. At the same time, urbanisation is on the rise: according to the United Nations, 80 per cent of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. Plötner says the original idea of building city airports on top of railway infrastructure originated from students at the Glasgow School of Arts while browsing on Google Maps. Based on this, the university is now working in collaboration with

Bauhaus Luftfahrt, which developed the concept of the CentAirStation. Plötner estimates that, with all the planning, permits and construction required, it would take around 25 years before the first passengers can fly from station to station. But not only will it save time, it will add a level of excitement reminiscent of the golden age of flight. “The acceleration at the start would be just like being in a sports car,” says Plötner. And all the while taking in views of the Houses of Parliament or the Eiffel Tower outside your window…

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Zip, by Zipline

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3

Aeroplanes can save lives – and this model doesn’t even need a human pilot. Zip is a robotic transport plane that can supply 23 clinics in the west of Rwanda with blood reserves. The 2 African country has an underde- Maximum altitude: veloped infrastructure, but people 150m in need of blood transfusions can’t Maximum wait. The GPS-controlled Zip trans- permitted load: 1.5kg ports its medical load for up to Reach: 150km at 100kph before dropping its 150km package near clinics. Zip has been developed by engineers who previously worked for Boeing, SpaceX and 3 Nasa, and Google Ventures has Air corridor: invested in the company. Up to 150 60m-120m flights will be executed daily by 20 Zip Maximum permitted drones in 2017 before a planned load: expansion to the rest of Rwanda. 2.2kg Top speed: 100kph 2

4 Maximum attitude: 7,000m Maximum speed: 100kph Passengers: 1 (plus pilot)

Prime Air, by Amazon Paul Misener, vice president for innovation at Amazon, wants his drones to transform the retail experience: order an item online and have your purchase on your doorstep within 30 minutes, via a hovering drop-off UAV. Prime Air is currently being tested in Cambridgeshire under restricted conditions. (Eyewitnesses have spotted drones flying near Amazon’s development centre; the company has already revealed that it has tested more than a dozen prototypes recently.) Drop-offs in gardens in rural areas already work. However, the perfect drone for delivering in urban environments is still a work-in-progress. One of the challenges is noise: they need to operate as quietly as possible. Amazon has already set standards for its future aircraft: they need to be able to carry up to 2.2kg (very few Amazon packages weigh more) and be autonomous for up to 24km. Looking like a cross between a helicopter and an aeroplane, the latest concept takes off vertically and is brought up to speed by a tail rotor. One thing that does need figuring out is where the drones will actually be allowed to fly. At present, there are very few regulations in place worldwide, but Misener imagines a 60- to 120-metre-wide air corridor exclusively reserved for his drones.


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VC200, by e-volo

Many companies are working on small aircraft, based on drone technology, that will be able to transport people from one side of a busy city to another: Airbus presented its CityAirbus concept in the summer of 2016; Munich-based startup Lilium has set a January 2018 launch date for its electric vertical take-off and landing jet; and, starting in 2017, China-based drone producer EHang will apply to obtain a US registration for the EHang 184, the world’s first autonomous quadcopter people-carrier. “We are the only company to have been granted permission for manned flight,” says Alexander Zosel, founder and CEO of e-volo, based in Karlsruhe, Germany. Zosel steered the craft’s maiden manned flight in March 2016. The two-seater VC200 volocopter has 18 electronically powered rotors, and the company plans to launch the craft commercially in the next 18 months.

4

5 Maximum altitude: 5,200m Span: 2.40m Maximum speed: 315kph

The company’s volocopter is also being tested for humanless flight – despite autonomous airborne transportation of people being illegal under aviation law. Zosel, however, believes these laws could change in the near future, “and we will be ready.” He sees the biggest opportunity for the craft in shuttling passengers over short distances. One battery charge will be enough for a 30-minute flight transporting people up to ten kilometres – from one side of a city to the other.

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Jetpack, by Yves Rossy

Yves Rossy, aka Jetman, is a former pilot for the Swiss Air Force who flew Boeing 747s for Swissair. He has developed a 55kg carbon-fibre jetpack, powered by four Jet-Cat P200 turbine engines. It’s attached

using a custom harness, meaning the 57-year-old doesn’t need a physical shell to protect him when he’s up in the air. WIRED talked to him about his flying machine. Does your jetpack make you more aeroplane or bird? Yves Rossy: That depends. Traditional aircraft use steering commands; you follow the machine. Our aircraft is the opposite: the body is the steering mechanism, like a bird. Then there’s the legal perspective. In Switzerland or Germany, I’m simply counted as a skydiver: I jump out of a plane to start and I land using a parachute. In other countries such as the US it becomes more absurd. In order to fly over the Grand Canyon, I had to be registered as an experimental aeroplane. In the past year, you flew over Dubai next to an Airbus A380. What kind of preparation did you have to do? I can fly at up to 170 knots, or 315kph. We had to work out the slowest speed an Airbus could fly while remaining safe. We calculated that it was 250kph, so we were able to keep our formation. What would have happened if you had collided with the A380? The Airbus weighs 560 tonnes – it would have been fine! Even with my wing I only weigh 160kg – compared to the A380, I’m nothing more than a mosquito. If I have a collision – with the Airbus, a bird or another jetpack – I would fall, and at 250 metres my parachute would automatically open. But life does have its dangers, and in the end we all die. When will WIRED’s readers be able to fly like birds? We should be able to bring something to market within the next five years. This won’t, however, be anything you can simply buy – you’d have to learn to fly it first. And a jetpack costs €120,000 (£105,500). This is high tech: an engine alone costs €20,000 – and we would need four of them. Yves Rossy is appearing at WIRED2016 on November 3- 4. wiredevent.co.uk/wired2016


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Carplane, by John Brown

John Brown, 53, wanted to be able to drive to the airport and take off in the same vehicle – so he designed and built the 200kph Carplane at his base in Braunschweig, Germany. But in 2015, an aircraft from Slovakian competitor AeroMobil crashed – and regulation changed. “We had to go back to the drawing board,” Brown says. The Carplane should finally be ready in 2017. All the Carplane’s parts must be standardised and have a serial number to be registered as a car. Its headlights are from Porsche, the wheels from a Smart car, the chassis and body from various sports cars. Brown has been in talks with Siemens about a hybrid engine. “I’m a fan of electric engines,” he says. “They can be placed anywhere in the vehicle, they solve the problem of emissions and they’re quiet.” Thanks to Alphabet CEO Larry Page’s recent high-profile investments in flying-car startups, Brown’s company is now in the spotlight. “Investors keep calling us,” he says. The attention, it seems, could give Brown wings. 7

7

Airlander 10, by HAV

It took just one week for a celebrated new aircraft to become something of a national joke. On August 17, 2016, Airlander 10, the biggest airship in the world, made its maiden test flight in Bedfordshire. Seven days later, it landed on its nose in the middle of a field, making headlines around the world. Nevertheless, the engineers of the 92-metre craft want to prove that airships have a future. When it eventually launches for real, it should be able to remain airborne for more than two weeks unmanned, carrying cargo or undertaking surveillance work for the military or commercial customers. UK-based company Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), which won a £500 million contract with the US military in 2009, still believes there’s a significant opportunity for airships. It’s at a preliminary stage in planning the Airliner 50, which will be able to carry 50 tonnes – five times as much weight as the Airlander 10. It plans to take the craft airborne in the early 2020s.

8

Boom, by Boom Technology Two years ago, entrepreneur Blake Scholl quit Groupon to pursue his dream of supersonic flight. His startup, Boom Technology, wants to construct a jet to change air traffic. No aviation company has tried to break the sound barrier since Concorde. Why did you decide to do it? Blake Scholl: Because it simply doesn’t make any sense that we are making technological breakthroughs in all areas except aeroplanes, which are still travelling at the same speed as they did 50 years ago. Why haven’t Airbus or Boeing taken up the challenge? They have other things to worry about. 6 Boeing and Airbus are in a price war Maximum altitude: in all model classes. The next techno4,570m logical innovations therefore come Top speed: from startups like ours. 222kph Concorde had problems finding Passengers: 1 (plus pilot) sufficient customers willing to pay £16,000 for a ticket. What’s Boom’s 7 business model? Maximum altitude: The basic problem with Concorde was 4,880m its astronomical consumption of Top speed: kerosene. The Boom will be 30 per cent 148kph more efficient. That’s not easy to do, Maximum flight but it is possible. And we’ll construct time: 5 days (manned) an aeroplane with the right amount

PHOTOGRAPHY: ALAMY

6


9

PA G E 1 3 7

of seats so that the airlines will be able to fill them with passengers. The Boom will have 40 seats instead of the Concorde’s 100. A round trip from New York to London will cost only £4,000. How difficult is it to design? The technology and materials are all currently available. Airbus and Boeing are using the composite materials in their planes that we use to construct the Boom. When comparing the sum of individual pieces with those of a colour palette, we use the same colours as other producers – we just paint a different picture with them. Virgin is a partner of yours. What kind of advantages does this bring? Virgin is a customer as well as a production partner. Virgin Galactic runs a test area for supersonic flights that we’re able to use. We also c o - o p e ra te w i t h Vi r g i n i n t h e construction of our aeroplane. How far along are you with your plans? Our team has been working on the prototype since mid-2015. Our goal is to start the first test flights at the end of 2017. We are on track to reach that goal. Have you ever flown on a supersonic flight yourself? No. I’ve heard that when you fly at 18,000 metres instead of conventional intercontinental f lights’ 12,000 metres, you can see the curvature of the Earth. And the sky is a blue like you’ve never seen before.

8 Cruising altitude: 18,000m Top speed: 2,700kph Passengers: 40

10

Bloostar, by Zero 2 Infinity Spaniard José López-Urdiales wants to be the first person to use a balloon to hoist a rocket system into the stratosphere, 18km above the equator. “Then we cut the cord and the rocket falls for a moment – just like a bomb in a fighter jet,” he says. The rocket then ignites and shoots further into orbit, eventually releasing a payload of small satellites into space. Zero 2 Infinity, and its high-altitude Bloostar balloon, offer an alternative method to the way tech companies shoot communication satellites into

9

9

9 Maximum altitude: 30,000m Ascent speed: 17kph Passengers: 4 (plus two pilots)

10 Maximum altitude: 110,000m Top speed: 4,300kph Passengers: 6 (plus two pilots)

orbit. CEO López-Urdiales believes his balloon, which will launch from a test area in Spain, will avoid the risks that recently caused a SpaceX Falcon 9 to explode before launch. López-Urdiales also wants to transport commercial space tourists into the stratosphere with his balloon – at a cost of €110,000 (£99,000) per ticket. His competitors, however, are faster and cheaper: Arizona-based World View aims to offer passenger flights in its Voyager balloon as soon as 2017, offering views from a height of 30km at a cost of £75,000. Chinese company KuangChi also wants to join the race. Its balloon, Traveller, will rise 24km. The race to take human payloads into space is on.

10

SpaceShipTwo, by Virgin Galactic

Despite his space-tourism company experiencing setbacks recently – including the in-flight loss of VSS Enterprise, which killed co-pilot Michael Alsbury – Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson does not give up easily. In August 2016, the company announced that it had been granted a licence by US regulators for the test flights of the new SpaceShipTwo, Unity. However, it only allows for further testing over the next two years. Before a SpaceShipTwo can take the first batch of six passengers 110km into space, Virgin Galactic will have to prove the safety of its vessel. How long will we have to wait until the beginning of the space-tourism era? For the first time in its 12-year history, Branson has not stated a deadline.

WORDS: PEARL ABBEY-OBARO; MAX BIEDERBECK; JOELY KETTERER; CHRIS KÖVER; KARSTEN LEMM; DIRK PEITZ; DOMINIK SCHÖNLEBEN


GREEN

HOW DOES A TEAM OF AVIATION PIONEERS TACKLE THE ENERGY CRISIS? WITH THE HY4, A HYDROGEN-FUEL-CELL ENGINE THAT POWERS AN AIRCRAFT


PA G E 1 3 9

MACHINE

BY KAI SCHÄCHTELE P H O T O G R A P H Y: C H R I S T O F F E R R U D Q U I S T

HY4 Built by an international team of experts, the HY4 is claimed to be the world’s first zeroemission passenger aircraft.


FUEL A hydrogen tank sits in the fuselage behind the passengers. A single fuel load should last 1,500km.


PROPELLER The propeller on the central shaft is the aircraftâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s only form of propulsion. It can accelerate up to 200kph.


PA G E 1 4 3

<< COCKPIT The pilot sits in one of the two cabins and can monitor the performance of the fuel cell on a display.

LANDING GEAR A lithium battery provides the power needed to reach take-off speed. After that, the fuel cell takes over.

ENGINE DETAIL The fuel cell relies on a filter, along with a complex system of coolant and air hoses.

ENGINE MAINTENANCE The engine behind the propeller has two chambers which direct the cooling air into the interior of the system.

HANGAR Aircraft manufacturer Pipistrelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s production area. The aircraft will be transferred to Stuttgart for its maiden flight.


PA G E 1 4 5 << REFUELLING One of the advantages of fuel cells is that refuelling only takes between three and eight minutes.

This is the HY4, claimed to be the world’s first passenger aircraft to emit zero carbon into the atmosphere. With two fuselages positioned left and right, each with two seats beneath a perspex canopy, it has a wing section with a propeller in between, and a wingspan of 21.36m. With partners including the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the team has spent the past 18 months working towards electromobility, from the road to the air. In the wake of Solar Impulse 2’s successful solar-powered circumnavigation of the globe in summer 2016, a fossil-fuel future looks set to be the aviation industry’s next big thing. The HY4 uses no fossil fuels. Four fuel cells, which convert hydrogen and oxygen into water and electric power, are the hybrid aircraft’s main source of energy. About 1.2kg – stored in a carbon-fibre-reinforced highpressure tank – is enough for a flight of around 100km. A new fuel-cell system developed by DLR, and a refuelling pressure of 700 bar, should eventually extend a flight to as much as 1,500km. The craft also carries a high-performance lithium battery on board, which provides sufficient power for the take-off and initial climb. An aircraft that is emission-free in normal operation would be a massive first step into the post-fossil-fuel era for the aviation industry. If the world is serious about a future without oil, aircraft manufacturers will have no choice but to find alternatives. Josef Kallo is the co-ordinator for energy system integration at DLR and, for the past year, the director of the Institute for Energy Conversion and Storage at the University of Ulm. Before then, he was a driving force behind the development of fuel-cell technology for

AIRBORNE If all goes to plan, the HY4 will soon be carrying out shuttle flights over Germany, as this CGI shows.

cars at General Motors. To test the viability of fuel cells for aviation, DLR teams in Hamburg and Stuttgart worked in parallel on small and large engines. When the Antares DLR-H2, the world’s first single-seater fuel-cell-powered plane, took to the skies in 2009, it was the university team that was responsible for developing its propulsion system. In 2011, in Hamburg, DLR’s own Airbus A320 ATRA used a fuel-cellpowered nose wheel. As a result, the aircraft was able to manoeuvre on the ground without producing any emissions. A new fuel-cell concept is currently being developed for the A320’s auxiliary power unit, which is normally a gas turbine. Slovenian company Pipistrel came up with the format that allows the

aircraft to carry passengers. Five years ago, its designers won the 2011 Green Flight Challenge, a competition organised by Nasa and sponsored by Google. They sent a battery-powered plane, Taurus G4, into the competition – a plane with a fuselage either side of a central wing section. Since Spring 2016, the HY4 team has been assembling an aircraft from constituent parts at its workshop. “We’re a team with a flat hierarchy,” says Kallo, 43. “Without the enthusiasm and commitment of each individual team member, we would never have come this far.” Kallo points out the significant contributions of a workforce that includes Tine Tomažić, Pipistrel’s technical director, Steffen Flade from DLR, who is responsible for drive system development, and Thomas Stephan, CEO of the Stuttgart-based DLR spin-off H2Fly. It’s unlikely, though, that people will be able to fly emission-free from Paris to New York any time soon. The aircraft still has a limited range and minimal space. “With today’s technology, we can build a 40-seater with a range of around 1,000km travelling at between 450kph and 500kph,” Kallo says. “That’s the most you are going to get from hydrogen-storage technology.” Kallo thinks that the HY4 will be used for shuttle flights between airports and from cities to more remote regions. And even then, he expects we will have to wait up to 20 years for this to happen. Lall likens being part of the plane’s development to like being present at a child’s birth. After the maiden flight, there will be a two-and-a-half-year test phase, during which time they expect to discover potential problems and define the aircraft’s maintenance requirements. But right now he feels relieved. “I know that I will still be able to fly when I’m older and there is no more jet fuel,” he says. In the meantime, Kallo, an enthusiastic recreational pilot, has fulfilled his particular dream of flying. Kai Schächtele is a Berlin-based technology writer and a contributor to WIRED’s German edition


HERE COME THE

146


BY

JAMES TEMPERTON ILLUSTRATION:

JAN VAN DER VEKEN

APPS CHANGED EVERYTHING – BUT THEY’RE ABOUT TO BE ECLIPSED BY A NEW CONVERSATIONAL INTERFACE. THE BOT KNOWS WHAT YOU NEED AND IS READY TO SERVE YOU. JUST TALK TO IT

BOTS


he app boom is over. There are now more than 4.2 million apps available for Android and iOS, but three-quarters of American smartphone users download a grand total of zero new apps per month. They might be mostly free and easy to access, but apps are struggling to make it on to our phones and tablets. According to comScore, we spend the majority of our screen time using just three apps, with the average American spending almost half their time in just one. The most popular type of app? Messaging. With the eyeballs of the world glued to WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat and Skype, developers have started turning once-simple chat apps into complex ecosystems. And at the centre of this change is a horde of subservient bots. It’s Friday, November 2, 2018. You’ve just walked into your kitchen after a long week. “Play Etta James,” you say. “At Last” starts playing throughout the house. Your phone vibrates in your pocket; a notification on the screen reads “Return flight to Toronto now £220 per person. Book?” You type “Yes” and confirm your identity using the phone's thumbprint reader. You open the kitchen cupboard and scan for ingredients

148

to cook before returning to your phone and entering two emoji: pizza, wine. Twenty minutes later, the doorbell rings. Think of the last interaction you had with a software application. You likely used a mouse, keyboard or touchscreen to navigate a series of options to complete a task. In doing so you were forced to follow the rules of software laid down more than 30 years ago; it is the software that dictates the rules of engagement, not you. Now, thanks to bots, those rules are changing. On chat platforms in China, government services in Singapore and speech-based personal assistants in the UK, bots are taking over. The next user interface won’t be based on skeuomorphic design or muddled menus; it will be based on simple conversation. From Slack to WeChat, Kik to Facebook Messenger, and Telegram to Amazon Alexa, bots are becoming the main interface between humans and machines. “There’s a huge opportunity here,” says former Evernote CEO Phil Libin. “Within a few years bots will be in the fabric of everything.” Libin, who is now managing director at the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based venture capital fund General Catalyst, is investing in and working with startups that he believes will take bots mainstream. The bots he’s interested in are not intelligent, human-like assistants; they are far simpler. He refers to them as a “conversational interface”, a means of interacting with software through speech, text, emojis, images, video or other means. “You don’t have to learn how to use it, you just use it,” he says. “You have a conversation and it lets you do whatever you want without having to navigate through a stack of options.” For writer and publisher Tim O’Reilly, the emergence of bots harks back to the earliest days of computing. “As we move into conversational interfaces we really are moving back into the world of the command line,” he explains. The limitations of the command line, with its reliance on explicit prompts, soon saw it

usurped. Despite its limitations it remains the simplest way of interacting with a computer. After all, what’s more natural than having a conversation? “Look at the long history of user interface as a convergence of what machines are able to understand and how much work humans have to do to help them do so,” says O’Reilly. “In the old days it had to be very, very explicit but now it’s becoming less and less explicit because there’s more fuzziness in what the machines are able to handle.” What exactly a bot is depends on whom you ask. For some developers and investors, a bot is a sophisticated, artificialintelligence-infused creation capable of understanding pretty much any interaction. For others, it is an intentionally dumb interface, capable of understanding only a limited number of predetermined commands. Whereas the former seeks to ace the Turing test by engaging a user in a conversation, the latter might simply ask, “What pizza would you like? Press one for Margherita, two for Diavolo, three for Hawaiian and four for Quattro Formaggi”. O’Reilly describes bots as having “a little sprinkling of AI” rather than relying on a layer of artificial intelligence. “If you look at a bunch of bot toolkits they’re really just much smarter

‘I EXPECT A BOT TO TALK TO ME IN A WAY THAT’S MUCH BETTER THAN A PERSON’


versions of branching,” he argues. Libin agrees: “There are some misconceptions in the popular imagination about what this is going to be like,” he says. “Probably the main one is that bots should talk like people. If I engage with a bot to do something, I don’t expect it to behave like a human, I don’t expect it to talk to me as a person would. I expect it to talk to me in a way that’s much better than what a person would. I don’t want to mimic a human experience – I want to have a much better experience.” One of Libin’s investments is Growbot, a messaging bot that listens for and encourages praise on Slack. “The bot is a participant in the conversation that adds structure and functionality,” he explains. When Growbot spots praise it reacts, keeps a tally of who’s saying what and compiles a report for managers. The company has raised $1.7 million (£1.3m) in two rounds of seed funding and is used by more than 2,000 companies, from Starbucks to Londonbased advertising agency Spongecell. Slack, with its focus on teams at work, has become an early pacesetter in an industry still searching for its killer product. In July, it announced a $2 million investment in 14 startups working on bots for its platform. The money is part of a bigger $80 million investment vehicle announced in December 2015 featuring Accel, Andreessen Horowitz and Index Ventures. Since launching in August 2013, Slack’s growth has been rapid. It has three million daily active users and 930,000 paying subscribers. “We have some bots that totally reside within Slack,” says April Underwood, vice president of product at Slack. These bots, she explains, are helping people to complete irritating tasks that aren’t core to their job: file expense reports, get budget approval or order new office supplies. “Slack allows bots to join the conversation and solve those tasks in a quick way from the application teams that are already in.”


Where Slack has already gone, others will follow. “The kind of behaviours that you see in Slack are going to be fundamental to all the Microsoft platforms,” argues O’Reilly. “It’s how you’re going to invoke actions on a computer – whether that’s a typed or a spoken conversation probably doesn’t matter.” A bet against bots would, according to O’Reilly, be “totally stupid”. For bots on Slack, simplicity is key. “A lot of these bots right now don’t have to be super sophisticated. They can start from very simple commands,” says Underwood. This means you don’t have a conversation with a bot – you just tell it what to do. “Think of them not as people but almost like service animals,” says Libin. “A sheepdog is super-humanly good at its job: it’s going to herd sheep much better than any person could. But it isn’t clever. It’s something that is fantastically good, much better than any human could possibly be.” Take Envoy, a Slack bot that sends direct messages to employees whenever someone arrives at the office to see them. It solves a simple, non-core job task in a simple way, without staff needing to install and learn a new system. Founded in San Francisco in 2013, Envoy has raised $20.31 million in three rounds from investors including Reddit co-founder and executive chairman Alexis Ohanian, and Jeremy Stoppelman, co-founder and CEO of Yelp. “If we can do that a thousand times over for all the things that need to happen inside the typical workplace every day – then I do think the experience of being a worker is going to get better and better,” Underwood says. Outside the workplace, bots have even greater potential to change how we engage with technology. “A lot of people I interact with believe they now type more words than they speak,” says Sarah Guo, an investor working on the enterprise team at Greylock Partners. “That’s a fundamental shift, for most of our communications to be digitally captured. And yet most of our software today doesn’t take advantage of the rich data we are creating in our constant communications, instead requiring us to do structured, unnatural data entry.” You’ve been unwittingly interacting with a bot since 1998 – it’s called Google search. So why has software been so stubbornly skeuomorphic? Why should ordering a pizza involve downloading an app, signing up for an account and then finding the menu option for extra chillis? The great promise of bots is that they will break down the stubborn barrier between human and machine and make scores of apps redundant. According to O’Reilly, the switch to conversational interfaces will be rapid: “Will I be pawing at the screen of a 2019 Tesla? No, I won’t. I’ll be talking to it.” In the space of just three months, Facebook, Google and Microsoft collectively fired the starting pistol in the next big platform race. In March, Microsoft launched and open-sourced its developer tools for making bots; in April, Facebook announced its own bot developer platform based around its Messenger app; and in May, Google showed off Assistant, a new AI personal assistant. But the west is playing catch-up. Messaging platforms in China, unconstrained by an established app economy, are already showing the way.

eixin, the Chinese name for Tencent’s WeChat app, enables 762 million people a month to book taxis, check in for flights, buy concert tickets, donate to charity and play games without opening another app. Bots are also bridging the gap between the physical and digital worlds: C h i n e s e r e s t a u ra n t s a r e combining Weixin bots and QR codes to let customers browse menus, order food and pay – all by chatting to a bot. “It becomes the new interface to the offline world,” says Ted Livingston, CEO and founder of messaging app Kik. “There are now more bots put on Weixin every day than there are websites put on the internet in China,” he explains. “In other words, Weixin is the internet in China.”

Kik, which has partnered with and received a $50 million i n v e s t m e n t f ro m W e i x i n owner Tencent, is now one of several western companies taking lessons from China’s burgeoning bot economy. In April, Kik launched its own bot store, which has already attracted more than 20,000 bots serving CNN, Victoria’s Secret and H&M. To date, more than 1.8 billion messages have been exchanged with bots on the chat app, with users who spend 32 per cent more time chatting than non-bot users. Bots provide style advice, help with bra fittings and give weather updates. “The potential i s l i m i t l e s s,” L i v i n gs to n s a y s. “ C h a t a p p s a re t h e new browsers and bots are the new websites.” Despite the hyperbole, he admits it’s early days. But the bot industry’s development will be rapid. “During the next six to 12 months I think you’re going to see the release of the next wave of bot ideas that are actually well thought through and well designed and intended to be taken seriously,” says Libin. The current limitations of bots are clear, agrees Livingston, but better developer tools will help build richer experiences.“Today it’s largely text-driven,” he says. “I think about it like the browser was 20 years ago; there was just a bunch of multicoloured text


and then people added pictures, videos and elements that can move. Fast-forward 15 years and you can build any app you want in a browser. Chat apps will go through a similar progression.” To make the shift to transformative technology, bots need a substantial back-end. “There are going to be big cloud platforms that will deliver the fundamental intelligence that makes a lot of bots possible,” says O’Reilly. Step forward Apple’s Siri, Google’s Now and Microsoft’s Cortana, all the result of significant investment in artificial intelligence and natural language processing. The huge quantities of data already collected by these platforms will underpin conversational user interfaces as they spread throughout technology. “If I were Google Cloud Platform or Cortana, I would be out there going, ‘OK , how are we going to speech-enable every device that’s out there in the world?’” O’Reilly says. “There’s going to be a lot of platform-level functionality from the big players, which is going to get better and better. And it will include more and more AI. You already have Azure Machine Learning and Google Cloud Machine Learning and things like that. A lot of things that are complex today are going to be solved by platforms.” “Bots are the new apps,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella declared in March 2016. Of all the major technology companies, the Seattle-based firm has made the biggest statement of intent on bots. Its open-source Bot Builder is a gamble, but one that could enable to it become the leading provider of the “fundamental intelligence” posited by O’Reilly. So what’s in it for Microsoft? Whenever a user interacts with a bot built on its platform, even if it is deployed on Slack, Facebook Messenger or elsewhere, Microsoft’s AI gets smarter. “The more traffic we see on our system, the more intelligent it becomes,” says Derrick Connell, corporate vice

Weixin and can now understand text, images, video and voice. In December 2015, Xiaoice’s familiar female voice started presenting the morning weather on the popular news channel Dragon TV. She’s since moved on to reading the news and has fronted the channel’s 2016 Olympics coverage. Microsoft’s other big bot experiment, Tay, was less successful. The bot, based on Xiaoice, was designed to mimic the language patterns of a 19-year-old American girl and learn from interacting with humans on Twitter. Released on March 23, 2016, within a day Tay – having learned from the worst social-media has to offer – was spouting racist and sexually violent messages. Two days later, after more than 96,000 offensive tweets were deleted from Tay, the experiment was taken offline. Undeterred, in July Microsoft announced a partnership with the Singapore government to develop a bot to handle public services. “If you’re a citizen of Singapore you can interact with a bot that works on behalf of the Singapore government. It can answer questions, you can register complaints, you can interact with a bot representative of the government,” explains Connell. In the west, it’s Amazon that has had the surprise success. Amazon Echo, launched in November 2014, uses a conversational interface called Alexa. Want to listen to Daft Punk? Say, “Alexa, play Daft Punk”. Want to set a timer to boil an egg while the music is playing? Say, “Alexa, set a timer for four minutes”. Want to order an Uber? Say, “Alexa, ask Uber to request a ride”. Amazon’s bot is always listening and can understand commands. In June 2015, Amazon opened up Echo to developers – within a year, 1,400 new “skills” (Amazon’s jargon for “app”) had added support. Unlike Microsoft’s Xiaoice, which tries to imitate human interaction, Echo follows the same “dumb” bot principles laid down by Weixin. You’re not going to have a conversation with it, you just tell it what to do. “Speech is more game-changing than people realise,” argues O’Reilly. “It’s been around a long time with Siri and Google Now and all kinds of applications powered by Nuance, but, to my mind, Alexa and Amazon Echo are game-changing in the same way that the iPhone was game-changing.” Google, seemingly, agrees. In May 2016, it announced Home, a voice-enabled wireless speaker in the mould of Amazon Echo. “Once you have a device that’s always listening, you have a different relationship with speech,” says O’Reilly. In October 2009, Apple launched in-app purchases for the App Store. The software industry hasn’t looked back. In the second half of 2013 alone, Candy Crush Saga made $1.04 billion from microtransactions. More recently, Pokémon GO, Niantic’s runaway-success game, made $35 million from in-app purchases in two weeks. According to analysts IDC, revenue from mobile apps, not including advertising, was around $34.2 billion in 2015. For bots, the opportunity could be even greater. “Bots have emerged as a high-potential channel of distribution for mobile services,” says Guo. Not only do messaging apps have a captive audience, the cost of developing bots is lower than for apps. “The progression from trivial to sophisticated is going to happen faster,” says Underwood. “App developers have been able to learn from the introduction of prior interfaces because it wasn’t long ago that mobile apps came on the scene. It took a few years in mobile. With bots I think it will happen in half the time.” Libin, one of the bot industry’s leading investors, has no doubts about its transformative potential. “There are going to be 100 million bots. It’s going to be similar to the app gold-rush, but magnified,” he says. As with apps, the vast majority of bots will be pointless, he argues. “But the few hundred that are actually really good are going to be world-changing.”

‘A LOT OF PEOPLE BELIEVE THEY NOW TYPE MORE WORDS THAN THEY SPEAK’ president of Microsoft’s Bing division. With its new bot obsession, Microsoft is also looking to China, where it has scored an unlikely success of its own. Since it launched in May 2014, more than 40 million people have held more than 20 billion conversations with Xiaoice, its artificial-intelligence-powered chatbot. “We started with a theory: can we maintain a conversation with another human?” says Connell, who also heads the engineering team that powers the bot. A key measure of the bot’s success was how long it could keep the conversation going. “With our first version we were at 12 conversations per session. Three years later we’re now up to 23 on average.” The bot lives on

151

James Temperton is acting deputy editor at wired.co.uk


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10.16 THINK BIGGER – DESIGNING THE FUTURE

09.16 TOP 100 RANKED TALENT – WHO’S SHAPING THE DIGITAL WORLD?

07.16 THE SCIENCE OF WINNING

06.16 BUILD SOMETHING MEANINGFUL – THE RISE OF MISSION-DRIVEN BUSINESS

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154 / DETAILS / OVERHEARD / CONTACTS

OVERHEARD AT WIRED THIS MONTH “I like the mix of the mundane and the bonkers. It seems more considered.” “It’s never about the doing. It’s about the looking like you’re doing.” “Isn’t this what you put babies in?” “I prefer to think of it as being an all-terrain onesie.” Journalists: pitch stories to editorial @wired.co.uk PRs: contact us at pr@wired.co.uk Reader feedback: rants@wired.co.uk

“I can’t move my legs, and the photographer keeps laughing at me” – WIRED’s product editor, mid-boot-camp. “That beautiful amp has arrived.” (Blank face from designer.) “The one you think is ugly and hate.” “Oh! That one!” “All we need is for it to be epic, basically.” “VR for dogs. There, I said it.”

DRONES THIS MONTH.

EXTRA CREDIT THIS MONTH Special thanks to Romanys ironmongery and hardware store on Brewer Street in Soho, which provided the maker-friendly backdrop to our portrait of Barbara Belvisi on p16.

WIRED’s deputy creative director, Phill Fields, spent a day with DevBot – an autonomous race car that can drive itself, but not, sadly, style itself for a photo shoot: “It’s amazing to see how small and purposeful race cars are in person,” he says. “It still weighed loads, though, and as it was powered down, we had to position it manually, as mechanics shook their heads at us.”

REJECTED HEADLINE THIS MONTH “To infinity – and beyond!”

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156 / INFORMATION / WE SOURCE EVERY THING. SEE RIGHT

Units of the Ether cryptocurrency – equal to about £37 million at the time – that was stolen from blockchainbased venture The DAO following a hack in June 2016. Launched less than a month earlier, The DAO had been billed as the world’s first self-running company

100,000 The number of chickens Bill Gates offered to Bolivia through his charitable foundation. Bolivia, an exporter of 36 million chickens a year, turned it down

The record-breaking span, in kilometres, of a beam of light sent between the islands of La Palma and Tenerife by scientists from the University of Vienna

Rewards paid to hackers who found vulnerabilities during a Hack the Pentagon initiative

Number of online vulnerabilities found in US Department of Defense’s websites

Age of Europe’s oldest living thing, a Bosnian pine found in Greece by scientists from Stockholm University

Number of "unicorn" companies in the EU as of April 2016, according to a report by consultancy GP Bullhound

Number of those unicorns based in the UK, according to the report

Ratio of neurons in songbird brains to primate brains of the same mass, according to a paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA Proportion of mammal species in North America that became extinct during the same event that wiped dinosaurs from the Earth, according to University of Bath research published in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology

WORDS: GIAN VOLPICELLI. ILLUSTRATION: GIACOMO GAMBINERI. SOURCES: GATESNOTES.COM; HACKERONE.COM; ARXIV.ORG; JOURNAL OF EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY; UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, DAVIS; GB BULLHOUND; S&P GLOBAL MARKET INTELLIGENCE; PNAS.ORG; ETHERCHAIN.ORG; HAL

Amount of money loaded on Starbucks’ customer cards or its mobile app as of Q1, 2016, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence

The proportion of URL links mentioned on Twitter that are never clicked – sometimes not even by the people who post them – according to a joint study by Microsoft and Columbia University


20+ MAIN STAGE SPEAKERS WILL INCLUDE:

IDRISS AL RIFAI Al Rifai founded Dubaibased Fetchr, an app that uses mobile geolocation to deliver packages in the Middle East and North Africa.

NICK BRACKENBURY The former Ogilvy account director founded NearSt in London, connecting shoppers with nearby high-street inventory.

JEFF CHAPIN Chapin co-founded Casper, a US mattress firm that has embraced radical design and delivery methods.

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RANDY DEAN Dean is chief business officer of Sentient Technologies, a Silicon Valley firm using AI to tackle problems faced by large retailers.

MICHAEL FEINDT Blue Yonder, Feindt’s UK- and Germanybased startup, builds forecasting tools that allow retailers to optimise supply chains.

JODY MEDICH Director of design at Singularity University Labs in San Jose, Medich’s AR and VR tools have potentially huge retail applications.

E V E N T PA R T N E R S

T I C K E T I N G PA R T N E R

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10 18 20 26 28 32 38 46 48 50 53 58 64

Rides Jewellery Chalets Snow Horology Sound Fetish Fashion Turntables Food Watches Automobiles Leisure

The Aston Martin DB11’s innovative Aeroblade is an invisible spoiler that works by channelling air through the car’s bodywork


CARRINGTON COLLEC TION

Mappin & Webb pays homage to its original identity, Carrington, with an array of coloured gemstones. Founded in 1780, Carrington held Royal Warrants and was the jeweller of choice. mappinandwebb.com


Editor David Rowan Supplement editor Jeremy White Creative director Andrew Diprose Managing editor Duncan Baizley Supplement designer Mary Lees Deputy director of photography Dalia Nassimi Chief sub-editor Mike Dent Deputy chief sub-editor Simon Ward App producer Pip Pell Supplement free with WIRED 12.16 Contributors Rachel Arthur, Jonathan Bell, Alex Doak, Chris Hall, Chris Haslam, Ken Kessler, Vicky Lees, Sun Lee, Julian Love, Laura McCreddie, Keirnan Monaghan & Theo Vamvounakis, Mitch Payne, Alistair Weaver, Eric Wolfinger Photography (cover and this page) Sun Lee Cover model Yvonne Chibueze Make-up Bethan Owens Fashion pages model Grace Hodge Make-up Charlotte Yeomans

>> DEVIALET GOLD P H AN T O M In 2015, French high-end audio brand Devialet brought out a formidable wireless multiroom speaker called the Phantom. Hewn from aluminium and polycarbonate, the speaker hit 750W while its pimped brother, the Silver Phantom, topped out at 3,000W. For some reason the company has decided this power wasn’t quite sufficient – so here is the new Gold Phantom. It pushes out an astonishing 4,500W, making it six times more powerful than the original. Frequency response has also been improved to 14Hz at the low end, while high frequency range has been upped to 27kHz, thanks to an upgraded pure titanium tweeter. The 22-carat rosegold-plated finish on the sides is the final luxurious touch. €2,590 devialet.com

Commercial director Nick Sargent Associate publisher and head of advertising Rachel Reidy Head of corporate and event partnerships Claire Dobson Partnerships manager Silvia Weindling Partnerships director Max Mirams Senior account manager Elaine Saunders Account manager Pavan Jhooti Production director Sarah Jenson Production manager Joanne Packham Commercial production manager Xenia Dilnot Production controller Alicia Shepherd Production and tablet co-ordinator Skye Meelboom Commercial senior production controller Louise Lawson Commercial and paper production controller Martin MacMillan Advertising enquiries 020 7499 9080

Published by The Condé Nast Publications Ltd, Vogue House, Hanover Square, London W1S 1JU (tel: 020 7499 9080; fax: 020 7493 1345). Colour origination by Altaimage London. Printed in the UK by Wyndeham Roche Ltd. WIRED is distributed by Condé Nast & National Magazine Distributors Ltd (Comag), Tavistock Road, West Drayton, Middlesex UB7 7QE (tel: 01895 433600). A one-year (ten-issue) WIRED magazine subscription is available to the UK, Europe, US and the rest of the world. Order at www. magazineboutique.co.uk/wired/ W173 or call +44 (0)844 848 5202, Mon-Fri 8am-9.30pm, Sat 8am4pm. Enquiries, change of address and orders payable to WIRED, Subscription Department, Lathkill St, Market Harborough, Leics LE16 9EF, United Kingdom. Change of address or other subscription queries: email wired@subscription. co.uk or call 0844 848 2851. Manage your subscription online 24 hours a day at www.magazineboutique. co.uk/youraccount. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is strictly prohibited. WIRED cannot be responsible for unsolicited material. Copyright © 2016 THE

CONDÉ NAST PUBLICATIONS LTD, Vogue House, Hanover Square, London W1S 1JU. The paper used for this publication is based on renewable wood fibre. The wood these fibres are derived from is sourced from sustainably managed forests and controlled sources. The producing mills are EMAS registered and operate according to highest environmental and health and safety standards. This magazine is fully recyclable - please log on to www.recyclenow.com for your local recycling options for paper and board. WIRED is a member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (which regulates the UK’s magazine and newspaper industry). We abide by the Editors’ Code of Practice [www.ipso.co.uk/ editors-code-of-practice] and are committed to upholding the highest standards of journalism. If you think that we have not met those standards and want to make a complaint please see our Editorial Complaints Policy on the Contact Us page of our website or contact us at complaints@ condenast.co.uk or by post to Complaints, Editorial Business Department, Vogue House, Hanover Square, London W1S 1JU.


010 | TRANSPORT

PHOTOGRAPHY: ABED SABEH

From the Tarmac to the clouds, here are four of the most advanced vehicles on the market


W ORDS B Y ALEX DOAK

CO B ALT CO 50 VALK Y RIE

WIRED readers will be familiar with today’s technology entrepreneurs’ desire to “disrupt”. But would you really want your air travel to undergo a similarly reckless redux? According to French aerospace engineer David

Loury: yes, probably. For the past ten years, the founder and CEO of Cobalt Aircraft has pursued his singleminded mission to change the face of the private-aircraft experience with a new category of light planes

that are designcentric, fast, easy to fly and very safe. The result is the Co50 Valkyrie, which debuted in San Francisco in November 2015, and is now available for pre-order in the US. Driven by a rear propeller and blessed

with sublime clean lines and a gorgeous 320º bubble canopy inspired by classic fighter jets, the Valkyrie has a “canard” configuration, with a forewing acting as an aerodynamic fuse to prevent stalling. cobaltaircraft.com

SP EC PRICE

$595,000 CAPACITY

Five (including pilot) ENGINE

Continental TSIOF-550-D turbocharged six-cylinder TOP SPEED

260 knots RANGE

2,656km


012 | TRANSPORT

SORA SIGNAT U RE SERIES ELECT RIC SU P ERBIKE

Newly formed Montreal bike manufacturer LITO Green Motion is billing this as the world’s first all-electric luxury superbike. Where there was once an engine is now a series of polymer lithium batteries. These can power the formidable two-wheeler up to 190kph with just the rush

of wind and an addictive hum as the soundtrack. But the designers haven’t stopped there, going above and beyond with thoughtful and extravagant extras such as carbon-fibre bodywork, plus an integrated touchscreen GPS that tells you if you have the necessary battery charge to get there. It will even switch modes to save electricity, based on your riding style. soraelectric superbike.com

SP EC PRICE

$104,000 POWERTRAIN

Motor Liquidcooled 3-phase AC induction BATTERY

12kWh highdensity lithium polymer modules CHASSIS

Aircraft-grade aluminium TOP SPEED

190kph RANGE

200km (city); >100km (motorway) CHARGE TIME

Nine hours


“As a boy, I picked up an extra paper round in Petersfield to save for flying lessons.” —Richard Pillans, Boeing UK Chief Test Pilot

“As a boy, I picked up an extra paper round in Petersfield to save for flying lessons. I managed to get my pilot’s licence before I could even drive a car. It’s freeing to get up in the air and see the world from that perspective. Even though I left the British military I still feel like I’m part of it as a civilian test pilot. The data we gather proves the Chinooks are safe before the frontline fly them. We feel good about supporting the team overseas.”

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E V O YA C H T S E V O 4 3

PHOTOGRAPHY: JÉRÔME KELAGOPIAN

Spend enough time strolling the waterfronts of Monte Carlo and you’ll soon notice a trend in bespoke megayachts: fold-out cabin balconies. Given all the Sun decks and wet bars already available above deck, this may initially seem superfluous, but this 43-foot (13m)

day-cruiser’s patented “XTensions” bathing platform, whose sides slide outwards in less than 30 seconds, extends its teaklaid sunbathing and boozing surface area by 40 per cent. Just a tap of its iPhone app will increase the beam to 6.3 metres. The concept is yet to see fruition, but given the Med’s scant mooring availability, boats like this are sure to be in demand. evoyachts.com

S PE C PRICE

£tbc ENGINE OPTIONS

2x Volvo Penta IPS 600 (total of 870hp) / 2x Volvo Penta IPS 500 (total of 740hp) / 2x Cummins 550 straight shaft (total of 1100hp) LENGTH

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PHOTOGRAPHY: JLUDOVIC PARISOT

Carbon fibre has finally become democratic in road bikes – you can now pick up a carbon-frame model for less than £1,000 – which means it takes something special to push the envelope in this field. That something is the Heroin bike. Designed and assembled in France from parts made in Italy by former Formula 1 technicians, the design is inspired

by the “modulor” – an architectural concept of ideal proportions coined by Le Corbusier. Each frame is calibrated to the buyer’s size before it’s cured in the autoclave. Dimples on every windfacing surface, meanwhile, improve the drag coefficient by ten per cent. It’s difficult to imagine a lighter or faster bike. heroin-project.com

S PE C

PRICE £tbc MATERIAL

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Ace 11-speed DI2 full electronic groupset, 11-28 cassette CRANK

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018 | FINERY


She’s better-known for her breathtaking architecture, but one of Zaha Hadid’s final creative outputs was smaller in stature – a jewellery collection for Georg Jensen

WORDS BY LAURA MCCREDDIE PHOTOGRAPHY: SUN LEE

Three other designers who, like Zaha Hadid, take a more sculptural approach to designing jewellery: Gaelle Khouri Khouri’s pieces are inspired by the female form. Her debut collection, Garden of Earthly Delights, represented the relationship between woman and nature; in her latest range, rings spiral around the hands in forms that resemble electrons orbiting a nucleus. gaellekhouri.com

ith their swooping, manta-ray-like curves and striated metal that plays with perceptions of light and shade, these dynamic additions to Georg Jensen’s pioneering silverware and jewellery stable could only have been designed by one person. Each one is a wearable architectural model, a Zaha Hadid building in miniature. Hadid, who worked with the brand on the collection before she died in March this year, was encouraged to collaborate by Georg Jensen’s creative director David Chu after the two were seated together at a dinner party in Beijing in 2014 to celebrate the opening of her Wangjing Soho towers, a major office and retail hub for the Chinese capital that resembles three giant pebbles. “The Wangjing Soho buildings were a relatively recent project and [Hadid] felt she could draw inspiration from her

<< The Zaha Hadid-designed Lamellae Double Ring and Lamellae Twisted Cuff

Imogen Belfield Belfield refers to her jewellery as sculpture. It’s no exaggeration, although her nuggety, natural-looking creations seem to more resemble stalactite formations rather than anything sculpted by a hand. Her Galactica Finger Glove resembles the inside of a deep-space asteroid. imogenbelfield.com Ute Decker It’s never clear whether you should wear one of Decker’s creations or put them in a display case. Off the body, her bracelets look like a child’s scribbles made 3D; once worn, they spiral elegantly. utedecker.com

grander themes of fluidity,” explains Chu. “As with the natural outlines of the complex, which Hadid envisioned as an ‘interweaving mountain’, this collection of rings and cuffs echoes nature’s distinct sculptural forms.” It’s a brave and dynamic collection, with eight designs available in silver, black rhodium or gold with diamonds, that manages to translate Hadid’s signature architectural style into jewellery that’s unusual, but still wearable – a factor that Hadid herself tested over the course of a year along with Meeling Wong, Georg Jensen’s managing director of jewellery. The two took the prototypes on trips with them worldwide to ensure they wouldn’t just be left on the dressing-room table. “During its debut, Zaha said it was a ‘constant process of balance, proportion and scale’,” says Chu when asked if the project caused any of the headaches Hadid was famous for giving to her building contractors. “Zaha worked very closely with the design team to ensure the pieces were fine tuned and redefined to work on the wrist and hands. She and her team were dynamic partners as we refined the collection – it called on our years of engineering and craftsmanship to perfect the designs. It was a relationship that played on each of our strengths. She brought the vision and we brought the precision to bring the collection to life.” It is certainly an impressive collection that fully embodies both Hadid’s style and Georg Jensen’s talent for harnessing the skills of those not from a traditional jewellery background. And now, owing to the vagaries of life, it also stands as a memorial to the singular talents of a unique designer.


020 | ARCHITECTURE

Eschew Swiss chocolate-box stylings and embrace more exciting tastes â&#x20AC;&#x201C; this is the new pinnacle of alpine design W O R D S B Y J ON AT H AN B ELL


Main: Saunders Architecture’s V House is one of just 44 homes being built in Carraig Ridge in Banff, Canada

Mountain culture is a contemporary gear fetishist’s dream – whether you’re skiing, hiking, or launching yourself downhill in any number of dramatic ways. Yet as you trudge back to your accommodation, a glaring anachronism becomes clear: traditional design dominates in domiciles. Still, there are notable exceptions. The maverick Italian Carlo Mollino

interspersed a “lively” career – racing cars, creating kinkily elaborate wooden furniture and taking smutty Polaroids – with designs for alpine buildings, including the former ski-lift base in Lago Nero. Norman Foster built the Chesa Futura, a bulbous chalet complex in St Moritz. And the French resort of Flaine in the Haute Savoie stands as a concrete tribute

to the Brutalism of Marcel Breuer. Even the late Zaha Hadid created a museum for climber Reinhold Messner that threads through the slopes of Mount Kronplatz in Italy. The following four projects offer a fresh take on the age-old mountain cabin, re-interpreting traditional forms to create audacious alpine modernism for the truly adventurous.


022 | ARCHITECTURE

Below: the V House incorporates a viewing deck along one side, linking the master bedroom and living area

1. C A R R A I G R I D G E V H O U S E , B A N F F, C A N A D A S A UN DE R S A R C HI T E CTS ( O P E N I N G SPR EA D & A B OV E

)

– To call Saunders Architects’ Carraig Ridge a mere “housing estate” would be rather unjust – think of it as a new vision for sensitive land-use. Set in 2.6km2 of pristine Canadian wilderness, the firm will build just 44 homes, each based on either one of five long, low models inspired by a letter of the alphabet (I, O, T, V or Y), or, depending on it’s location, a Stack, Passive, Switch or Earth House. Shown above is the interior of a V House. Divided into two wings, one side provides a main living area and master bedroom and bath; at the tip of the V is a large, open kitchen and entry to the house; the other side of the V has a second bedroom and utility. The architects promise that each property will be placed so as to be hidden from sight from any other. carraigridge.com

>>


PHOTOGRAPHY: SĂľREN HARDER NIELSEN

2. SP L IT VI E W MO UNTAI N L O DGE , BUSKERU D,NORWAY R E I U L F RAM STAD ARCHITE CTS â&#x20AC;&#x201C; A family chalet designed to exploit the best views of the Hallingdal Valley, a resort in the centre of Norway, about 100km north of Oslo, the Split View Lodge offers up landscape vistas through the twin gables that fork off the main living space. Four bedrooms are set in the main body of the building (with a small annexe alongside), with the V-shaped living area branching off to create those dramatic views. Reiulf Ramstad has disrupted the more traditional forms associated with the ski lodge, rendering the results with typically thorough Norwegian craftsmanship and carpentry. reiulframstadarchitects.com

The walls of the 130m2 chalet will develop a grey patina over time, as the elements take their toll


024 | ARCHITECTURE

3. CHALET ANZÈRE, ANZÈRE, SWITZERL AND SE A R C H A R C HI T E C T S –

The chalet Anzère references the traditional gabledroof form and stone foundation of the local architecture

SeARCH’s Chalet Anzère sits among a thicket of trad chalets and apartment buildings in the Swiss resort of Anzère. Taking inspiration from the region’s traditional farmhouses and the monumental 17th century Grand Chalet of Rossinière, this private house was created for a Dutch client to replace the spec design sold with the site. The main living space is a concrete-coated temple with stunning views. The plot includes a garage complex lower down the mountain, linked to the chalet above by an underground walkway and elevator. The principal façades are broken up by geometric divisions that reference the main elements of the house – private apartment, main living area and owner’s top floor eyrie. search.nl


PHOTOGRAPHY: OSSIP

During the summer, cooler air is drawn up from the concrete lower level to adjust the temperature in the upper part of the chalet

4. H A D AWAY H O U S E , WHISTLER, CANADA PAT K A U A R C HI T E C TS â&#x20AC;&#x201C;

This bold reinvention of the traditional British Columbian cabin was designed by Vancouver-based Patkau Architects for a businessman client. The Hadaway House is located in the BC resort of Whistler and is conceived as an origami-esque deconstruction of the conventional chalet form. The angular façade appears to fold into itself, planned like a rhombus-shaped wedge that fans out to provide sweeping mountain views. Ipe-wood cladding and glazing bars are all set at a variety of angles, while the internal floor levels also step down and up within the large living area, with built-in furniture blending into the ribbon-like walls. The jagged forms are partly shaped by the strict rules that determine how snow must fall from roofs, and where it can land, creating a shape that the architects emphasise through the relationship between inside, outside, roof, wall and floor. patkau.ca


00 20 6 | S WEI CNTTIEORN

WORDS BY CHRIS HASL AM PHOTOGRAPHY: SUN LEE

HUBLOT X

H E I E R LING H1

GIRO AVANCE

KJUS 7SPHERE

OAKLEY PRIZM

PFD MOUNTAIN

KJ U S J AC KE T -

S KI B O OTS -

M IPS H E LM E T -

L AYERING -

INFERNO -

CHARGER SKIS -

Stealth black and supremely insulated with PrimaLoft Silver Down, a blend of duck down and quick drying man-made fibres, this jacket is limited to 200 pieces. Key features include a watch window, carbon-fibre zip and a waterproof membrane for extra stretch and first-class breathability. $3,999 kjus.com

Bespoke boots mean longer, comfier days on the slopes, and there’s none finer than the H1 from the world’s oldest boot company. Each shoe is custom-moulded for a perfect fit, with handstitched leather inners, power straps, buckle attachments and fur toe-liners. Temperaturestable plastic and a handmade shock-absorbing wooden board helps improve ski feel and minimise vibrations on the slopes. £1,100 profeet.co.uk

Engineered for racers demanding maximum protection with minimum weight, the Avance MIPS helmet consists of a stiff TeXtreme carbon shell and two layers of EP-Premium foam that redirects and absorbs rotational energy from impacts. Each helmet can be sculpted using a 3D scanner for the perfect fit. $500 giro.com

Getting layers right can be a lottery, but with the Kjus 7SPHERE system you can let the tech decide. Its app will suggest the best outfit based on weather conditions, picking from four jackets/ layers, pants and two-inone gloves. All layers interact with each other through a mix of vents and air-permeable fabrics to deliver cosy in all conditions. £tbc kjus.com

These innovative ski goggles from Oakley promise fog-free, pinsharp visibility with added comfort. Their strap-mounted battery pack and internal micro heating elements (think a car’s rear-window heater) will keep your lenses crystal clear, whatever the weather, for up to six hours. $tbc oakley.com

With a core made using a combination of triaxial fibreglass, carbon-fibre strips and bamboo, PFD has produced a ski with phenomenal flex that never feels sloppy. Thanks to the 102mm waist and 280mm tip, it’s built to carve up any slope in a variety of conditions. £960 pfdskis.com


F O IL OR O -

CO LLE C T I O N Inspired by the Arpin clothing worn by 50s polar explorer Paul Emile Victor, this high-performance line combines traditional wool – spun from raw fleeces at the firm’s very own alpine mill in Séez – with highspec PrimaLoft insulation, fusing classic style with practicality.

NE RO S K I - >> Luxurious doesn’t come close to describing these skis from Italian maker Foil. Each made-tomeasure pair is built using a graphite nanotech base and “Quadriaxial” carbon stripes, and comes finished in a veneer taken from an 8,000-year-old bog oak. They’re also topped with 14-carat goldplated bindings and inlays, and come with ski poles – also goldplated – that will fit the buyer exactly. £50,000

£poa arpin1817.com

foilskis.com

ARPIN ADVENTURE

Luxury winter-sports equipment for style on the slopes

ROSSIGNOL

BURTON GENESIS

IN&MOTION

INMARSAT

SONY FRD-X1000V

CHAMONIX BLACK A casual all-winter boot designed for the mountains, but stylish enough for slippery city streets, the Chamonix Black is based on boots from Rossignol’s 100-year-old archive. They are constructed using waterproof leather with a breathable membrane and Wintherm insulation for added warmth without bulk. £350

X EST BINDING This snowboard binding is ultra stiff but highly responsive for freeriders looking to carve up every inch of the mountain. The 28 per cent carbon-fibre and nylon baseplate offers superlight cushioning, and the heel cup design ensures the baseplate flexes in harmony with your legs to minimise fatigue.

AIR B AG V E S T The batterypowered In&Motion POC Airbag Vest is undetectable beneath your jacket, but monitors your actions, detects imbalance and can inflate in less than 100 milliseconds in the event of a fall to offer injury-preventing protection for your hips and upper body. £1,200

ISAT P HONE 2 A satellite phone for the price of a smartphone, the IsatPhone 2 offers a guaranteed phone signal from anywhere on the planet. Operating at -20°C to +55°C, it is dust-, splash- and shock-resistant, comes loaded with a prepaid SIM and features 160 hours of standby. An indispensable back-country accessory. £630

4K ACTION CAM Give dramatic alpine landscapes and gnarly riding the attention they deserve with this 100mbpsshooting Wi-Fi/ GPS camera. HD/240p allows perfect slowmotion capture from the 170° panoramic ZEISS Tessar lens, and SteadyShot image stabilisation means hardpack conditions won’t spoil the action.

rossignol.com

£325 burton.com

inemotion.com

inmarsat.com

£319 sony.co.uk

Digital extra! Download the WIRED app for more winter-sports kit


028 | WATCHES


High in the Swiss mountains, a breakaway team from Audemars Piguet has changed the centuries-old tradition of minute repeaters. The difference is loud and clear

WORDS BY CHRIS HALL PHOT OGRA P H Y: J U L I A N L O V E

hat does a hearing aid have in common with a sophisticated and prestigious Swiss watch? If you thought that they are both likely to be found on horologists of a certain age, you’d be very wrong. The answer is that Audemars Piguet’s Supersonnerie owes its current breakthrough to a man who just a couple of years previously was working on conductive hearing aids. Step changes in the field of mechanical watchmaking come along rarely enough to begin with (most of the really heavy lifting was done a couple of centuries ago), let alone from micro-engineers specialising in psychoacoustics. But that’s what Lucas Raggi managed. Fresh from studying at Lausanne’s École Polytechnique (where he was engaged by hearing-aid company Phonak to improve sound transmission), he came up with a concept that transformed a 200-year-old craft. Minute repeaters are some of the oldest examples of complicated watchmaking. Developed to enable one to tell the time in the dark, they consist fundamentally of a set of miniature hammers and gongs, controlled by a sliding “rack and snail”. At the press of a lever, the repeating watch is able to sound the time by striking different tones for hours, quarter-hours and minutes. The complexity of creating such a mechanism – not to mention that their invention coincided quite closely with the widespread introduction of gas lighting – means that for the past two centuries, minute repeaters have been status symbols more than anything else. Left: Audemars Piguet’s assembly workshop, in the Swiss village of Le Brassus, was set up in 2008


030 | WATCHES

Below: Alain Petitpas, head of AP’s acoustic research lab, checks parts in an anechoic chamber

Nowhere specialises in such things like the valleys that nurture Swiss watchmaking, but even in these concentrated pastures the most skilled minds agglomerate together. Raggi’s work led him to the doors of an outfit called APRP, a workshop that in 30 short years has proven itself as an incubator of the most creative and ambitious watchmaking. Stephen Forsey, Bart and Tim Gronefeld, Christophe Claret, Peter Speake-Marin, Carole Forestier-Kasapi, Tony de Haas, Andreas Strehler: these names may not mean much to non-horophiles, but rest assured, this is to watchmaking what FC Barcelona’s La Masia academy is to Spanish football. Founded in 1986, APRP was the breakaway venture of Dominique Renaud and Guilio Papi. Renaud & Papi, as it was then, was born of frustration. Both watchmakers had apprenticed at Audemars Piguet, but on learning that it would take decades to reach the profession’s upper echelons, they decided to go their own way, setting up a shop that would specialise in the highest complications – particularly minute repeaters – from day one. The pair left Audemars Piguet on good terms, which was handy as, in 1992, the nascent firm fell upon hard times and reached out to AP in search of assistance. A partnership

was brokered which saw the formation of APRP; Renaud and Papi could pick their own projects and talent, AP would have first refusal on inventions, but there was no block on working with rival brands. APRP has since been behind several of Audemars Piguet’s top-end watches, as well as creating complications for Cartier, Chanel, Richard Mille and many others. So, we have a horological skunkworks with a tradition of shortcircuiting the established methods and questioning tradition, part-owned by a brand with arguably the richest history of all Switzerland when it comes to repeating watches (75 per cent of its 19th-century watches were chiming watches of some kind). There could hardly be a more logical place for this old technology to get a shot in the arm. Which brings us back to the Supersonnerie. So – what makes it so super? Lucas Raggi had realised that the traditional construction of a minute repeater – metal chiming gongs screwed to the baseplate of a movement – was flawed. The resonance of the sound was deadened. His design separated the chiming gongs from the movement entirely and introduced a resonant membrane on which they could sit at the bottom of the watch. This drastically improved the volume, clarity

and duration of the sound, as well as permitting another advance. To allow the sound to be heard, minute repeater watches have perforated cases – not good for protecting your movement from water or dirt. The Supersonnerie’s membrane allows the watch to be rated to 50-metre water resistant. Lucas compares the membrane system to bagpipes, as it consists of a resonating device anchored only at one end. To fine-tune the sound, he consulted a conservatoire musician, as well as referring to Audemars Piguet’s library of repeaters. One watch, a tiny piece from 1924, was identified as having a particularly desirable sound – but Lucas also looked closely at the psychology of sound perception. To better grab the attention, the Supersonnerie chimes at close to 4kHz, the same frequency as a baby’s cries. Developing the watch in a purposebuilt anechoic chamber, the APRP team experimented with different materials for the membrane before landing on a brass alloy whose formula is a close secret. Surgical alloys were used for the chiming mechanism. The result is a watch that doesn’t just outperform the competition, it obliterates it. It’s like Iron Man entering Robot Wars. The Supersonnerie’s chimes register at nearly 55dB, resonating well over a second each. WIRED can attest that it’s the only watch we’ve encountered that could make itself heard in a crowded restaurant. Audemars Piguet has confirmed that it will no longer make a repeater without this technology, drawing a line under 140 years of inherited wisdom and raising the bar for the whole industry. The name may be bombastic for a Swiss watch, but you have to say, it’s earned it.

Above: Audemars Piquet’s Supersonnerie


S T O R E S N AT I O N W I D E

S N O WA N D R O C K . C O M


032 | GEAR

W HALET ONE GRAND HY BRID

W OR D S B Y C H RI S HA L L P HOT OG R A P HY: S UN LE E

Whaletone is to pianos what Bugatti is to cars: large, lavish and not about to compromise. The three-metre by two-metre Grand Hybrid digital piano uses Roland processors with amplifiers and speakers from Danish specialist Scan-Speak to

create the widest possible range of modes and tones. It can simulate vintage pianos from the 60s, top-end classical chamber pianos or full-blown organs. A range of recording connections are available, but if all that sounds like too much effort, it

will play itself from a library of tunes at 200W per channel, controlled through a bundled iPad. And if black or white is too traditional for your taste, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a full range of colour options and finishes available for you to channel your inner Liberace.â&#x201A;Ź98,000 whaletone.com


YAR A UDI O Y- DE R SPEAKER S

YAR confidently claims that its Y-der speakers “blend into the background when playing”. This doesn’t mean these handsome units disappear before your eyes, but rather their design, which eliminates any parallel surfaces to reduce resonance, places the individual drivers in such a way as to render the source

of the sound immaterial. Carbon-fibre elements help get rid of interference, and the floor mounts are adjustable down to the micrometre. WIRED has experienced the awesome power of the these speakers, and can confirm that they are among the best on the market. €250,000 yaraudio.com


34 GE EC A TR I O N 00 0 | S

M A RK LEVINSON N O 5 3 6 M O N A U R A L P O W E R A M P L I F I E R As a general rule in high-end audio, the more you separate components out and lavish attention on each element of the sound, the better.

The Mark Levinson No 536 follows this principle admirably – it’s a monoblock amp, meaning you will need two of them for standard two-channel

stereo sound. Each unit can deliver 400W at 8 ohms or 800W at 4 ohms (also known as “a lot”), and operates in what’s known as class A conditions

for minimal distortion. marklevinson.com $15,000 each (two required for stereo sound)


T7 Bluetooth Speaker with Micro Matrixô Or in laymanís terms, it sounds great. It has taken Bowers & Wilkins 50 years of acoustic knowhow to make the T7. And thanks to high-resolution streaming via Bluetooth aptXÆ and an incredible 18 hours battery life, youíre guaranteed best-in-class performance wherever you are.

£299.99 from authorised retailers Buy direct from bowers-wilkins.co.uk/T7 Two-year warranty Free delivery


YOU KNOW YOU CANâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;T BE TRUSTED. ONE IN FOUR PEOPLE BREAK THEIR NEW PHONE WITHIN A MONTH.

IF YOU TRUST ANYONE WITH YOUR IPHONE 7, TRUST TECH21 TM

TECH21.COM


BANG & OLU FSEN BEOL AB 9 0 For its 90th these 135kg anniversary, Bang aluminium-and& Olufsen has come fabric flagships are out swaggering. “the culmination of Indeed, the BeoLab the wildest dreams 90 speakers look of [the] acoustic like they’re actually department”. swaying to their Eighteen individual own beat. B&O says speakers deliver a titanic 8,200W of power, with a 360° design that lets you place them anywhere and still achieve top results. The speakers even calibrate their sound depending on the size, shape and furnishings of the space they’re used in. bang-olufsen.com £26,995 per speaker


038 | GEAR

SIRIN L ABS SOL ARIN The 5.5in Solarin calls, and on the smartphone is back of the case touted as the last is a fingerprint word in hand-held switch called privacy – outside Security Shield national espionage that can plunge agencies, at least. the device into It uses 256-bit lockdown. This AES encryption disables incoming (a current military calls, but allows standard) for its communication

with other Solarin handsets. It’s no dumb brick, either; the Solarin runs on Android Lollipop, has 24-band LTE for global use, and is pre-prepped for superfast Wi-Fi standards. £9,500 sirinlabs.com


PORSCHE DESIGN S H I S HA 2 .0 Porsche Design’s online store has all the brand’s obvious accessories: sunglasses, watches, a soundbar made from the tailpipes of a 911 GT3… (And why not?) But it may surprise you to learn the brand also has created a shisha pipe. To be precise, this is actually Porsche Design’s second iteration. Totally in keeping with an Eames chair-strewn Philippe Starck apartment, this 73.5cm pipe is milled from aluminium with a blownglass chamber and synthetic leather pipe. Its ceramic heating elements are designed to last for the object’s lifetime. €1,550 porschedesign.com


040 | GEAR

HAS S ELBL A D X 1 D Hasselblad’s latest mirrorless camera packs a huge 50MP medium-format sensor in a body the size of most compact systems, putting studioquality power in a truly portable 725g package. With a shutter speed range of 1/2,000 of a second right up to 60 minutes, 14 f-stops and ISO rates up to 25,600, you’ll struggle to

outwit the X1D. There’s also built-in GPS for geotagging images, Wi-Fi (which allows for remote camera control) and two SD card slots – you can even, if you wish, save JPGs on to one card and RAW files to the other. €7,900 (body only); basic lenses from €1,900 hasselblad.com

MONTBL AN C U RBAN SP IR I T MOTORCYC L E HELMET - >> Until now, the hardiest thing Montblanc made was probably its leather rucksack - and you wouldn’t get that wet just because it’s too nice. But the Urban Spirit motorbike helmet is pure badass. Available in full- and openfaced versions (depending on whether you’re feeling more like a hitman or an F-22 fighter pilot), the helmet is swaddled in Montblanc leather inside and out, with the main outer section concealing a reflective underlayer. The sole adornment comes in the form of the Montblanc rounded star on the forehead and stitched into the visor joins. £tbc montblanc.com


40 2 | S G EE CA TR I O N 00

LOUIS VUITTON ROLLING LUGGAGE BY MARC NEWSON Australian industrial designer Marc Newson has updated the luxury brand’s iconic trunks, making them lighter and more spacious. Available in three sizes, the four-wheeled suitcases’ key innovation comes from the extendible handles, which retract into the outside edge of the body, rather than the centre, which results in increased packing space. It’s an idea that makes WIRED wonder why it hasn’t been done before. The smallest case in the collection weighs a mere 2.9kg, but features 13 per cent more internal space than similar bags. £tbc uk.louisvuitton.com


THE STER LI N G COLLECTION T H E E P I T O M E O F D I S C R E E T F L A M B O YA N C E . Timeless craftsmanship informs every hand-turned edge and subtly contrasted stitch. Smooth, black calf enrobes every wallet and purse in the collection. Yet within, extravagant colours burst from soft, drum-rolled leather. A pleasure contained, for the more individual. ET TINGER . TO E ACH TH EIR OWN .

ETTINGER.CO.UK


ZUCCHET TI.KOS WOSH BATH AND SHOW ER MIXER – Zucchetti WIRED, however, specialises in highis captivated end bathroom taps; by the mixer’s Kos in whirlpool geometric lines, bathtubs and angular beauty and multifunctional luxurious finish. If shower-cabins – you want to splash and Wosh is out, it’s available the result of a in chrome, collaboration polished nickel between them. and gold. £1,977 Their mission zucchettikos.it statement is to create products that are functional, but also a big style statement. Designer William Samaya says this bath and shower mixer is “Centred on two notions: formal complexity and anti-minimal inclinations.”


046 | STYLE

Luxury clothing is making nature and sustainability key to its future collections – lab-grown leather and spider silks are now trending…

This dress, created by Eco-Age and Calvin Klein using recycled plastic bottles, was worn by Emma Watson at this year’s Met Gala in New York

he fashion industry is, according to eco-friendly clothing designer Eileen Fisher, second only to oil as the largest polluter on Earth. It accounts for ten per cent of global carbon emissions, uses a quarter of chemicals produced worldwide each year, and falls just behind agriculture in the amount of water it consumes. From textiles to landfill, clothing is a threat to the environment and the planet’s resources at every stage. Fast fashion is the biggest culprit, but there’s a responsibility on luxury brands to start enforcing change, too.

Fortunately, technology is serving as a positive force. “New technologies are making it feasible to create eco yarns and fibres using agricultural ‘waste’ and unused byproducts,” says Juhi Shareef, a senior sustainability consultant and account director at Eco-Age consultancy. “This in turn prevents the use of virgin resources and valuable natural capital, creates employment and develops new revenue streams.” Piñatex is one such textile. The byproduct of the pineapple harvest, it doesn’t need additional land, water, fertilisers or pesticides to produce it. It also provides extra income for the farmers. During Berlin Fashion Week in July 2016, designer Mayya Saliba showcased a Piñatex coat and bag. New York’s Prabal Gurung has experimented with Himalayan Wild Fibers, which harvests stinging nettles from Nepal’s mountain forests. The nettles are abundant and it provides local work. Others are looking at things like citrus juice byproducts, mushrooms, coffee grounds and cow manure as opportunities for luxury textiles. All of these fit with the idea of a cradle-to-cradle or closed-loop economy of materialsas-nutrients that can be reused. Biomimicry is another area of significance. “We’re seeing engineers looking at the natural production of an animal substance, like spider silk, and reproducing it at scale,” says Rebeccah PailesFriedman, adjunct associate professor at the Pratt Institute in New York.

>>

Companies such as Bolt Threads in the US and Spiber in Japan are brewing spider silks in fermentation vats and spinning them into yarn. The aim, according to Pailes-Friedman, is to replace petrochemical textiles with these bioengineered versions that live up to, if not exceed, the performance properties we’ve come to expect. “If you take a living organism as your factory, you can think about designing and engineering all sorts of materials,” says Suzanne Lee, chief creative officer at Modern Meadow, which grows leather


W O R D S BY RACHEL ARTHUR P HO TO GR AP HY: SUN LEE

in a lab. Composed of the same protein and fibres found in skin (collagen), it is made without the environmental damage of farming livestock. By 2025, an estimated 430 million cows will need to be slaughtered annually to satisfy global fashion demands, making the potential impact from lab-grown materials huge. Yet Lee argues that in order for luxury brands to jump on board, it’s not so much the sustainability factor that matters most. “Where something comes from is not what consumers will pay more for alone

– there has to be other value,” she says. “It could be in the material’s performance or aesthetic. Designers know their customers are driven by desire, not need. That has to be satisfied first.” The advantage of growing leather in a lab is that Lee can biodesign aesthetic features into it that traditional leather could never have. She refers to her work as “using science as creativity”. Similarly, one of the sustainability targets set in 2012 by Kering, which owns brands including Gucci and Saint Laurent, was to remove hazardous

chemicals from production by 2020. It recently reiterated that significant research was needed to ensure its product’s quality levels remained high. Stella McCartney, another Kering brand, is well known for her dedication to sustainability. But she likewise outlines the fact organic fabrics and low-impact dyes will only be used widely if they offer the right quality. Ideas consultancy Eco-Age is also thinking about post-consumer waste as another opportunity for luxury design. As part of its Green Carpet Challenge, it worked with Calvin Klein on a look for actress Emma Watson at this year’s Met Gala. This was woven from Newlife yarn made from 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles. Processed into a polymer by mechanical means, it requires 94 per cent less water and 60 per cent less energy than standard polyester. Eco-Age has also introduced the GCC Brandmark to recognise sustainable excellence. As a part of this, Shareef adds that such innovation can come with unintended circumstances – in removing one environmental impact, they could easily influence another. What it classifies as best practice is therefore constantly evolving. “We’re still very much in the R&D phase,” says Lee. “None of these products are really on the market yet, but they will be in the next two-anda-half years. By then, people will have done the life-cycle analysis; they’ll be able to compare the environmental profile of [sustainable materials], and see some appealing reasons why they’re the smarter option. Luxury brands will be striving to make them a big part of their value proposition.”


048 | TEST

WORDS BY KEN KESSLER PHOTOGRAPHY: SUN LEE >>

An ICM survey in April 2016 indicated that nearly half of the current wave of vinyl buyers don’t even own turntables – and many that do use a sub-£99 USB deck. So, WIRED picked three premium alternatives, with prices ranging from under £800 to nearly £19,000. Each offers relative value for money, backed by companies with real longevity.

The III produces

PRO-JECT CL ASSIC your standards Resembling the

a performance

all-in-one decks of

ascend. Offered

that’s impossible

the 50s and 60s,

in walnut, rosenut

to fault. Fitted with

with its wooden

or eucalyptus,

arms from SME,

plinth and metal

the Classic’s

Graham or the like,

top-plate, this

build quality is

and a cartridge

charming slab of

excellent, aided by

from Koetsu or

retro comes with a

the design’s sheer

Lyra, the sound

2000s touch: the

timeless simplicity.

is transcendent.

tonearm is carbon

9/10 From £18,998

fibre. The damped

techdas.jp

aluminium platter

7/10 £798 (with Ortofon cartridge) project-audio.com

TE CH D AS AI R FORCE III

Yes, even at a hair short of £19,000, this is TechDAS’s entry-level platter (it’s half the price of the next model up). The 50kg Air Force III still features much of the high-end tech found in its pricier siblings: air suspension, air bearing beneath the platter and vacuum disc holddown. The chassis has four tonearm mounts – ideal for OCD audiophiles – and construction is all-metal, with the external motor isolated from the main chassis.

is supplied with a felt mat, and SP EC

sound is punchy

SP EC

-

with firm bass.

-

SPEEDS 33 1/3, 45 and 78rpm MOTOR external AC synchronous motor POWER External box SIZE 500mm x 360mm (chassis and motor)

It’s fairly light at

SPEEDS 33 1/3 and 45rpm MOTOR Low-noise AC type POWER External wall-wart SIZE 460mm x 131mm x 351mm (allow 500mm for open lid)

10.2kg, so it won’t suffer springy floors. The arm is the secret to this deck’s resistance to obsolescence: its cartridges can be upgraded as


<<

CDs, MP3s and streaming have all enjoyed the spotlight over the past 35 years, but record players remain the audiophiles’ favourite. WIRED takes three premium models for a spin

REGA RP 8 Like the Pro-Ject, this unit comes with its own tonearm, and it’s a honey. Rega’s original RB100 is one of the bestselling tonearms of all time, and the RB808 here is a direct descendant. The deck is fully adjustable, and cartridges can be upgraded. Fitted as standard with excellent cables, an external power supply with on/off, and speed select buttons, the RP8 can be up and running in minutes. The plinth is an ultralight, 6.5kg mix of magnesium and phenolic materials – dual

Digital extra! Download the WIRED app to read extra and extended reviews

bracing ensures rigidity and eliminates resonance. The lower octave reproduction sounds similar to the Pro-Ject’s, but the upper frequencies are more refined. WIRED’s tip: invest in a good stand. 8/10 £1,598 (without cartridge) rega.co.uk

SP EC SPEEDS 33 1/3 and 45rpm MOTOR 24V lowvoltage motor POWER Wall-wart and TT-PSU box SIZE 440mm x 360mm x 130mm (allow 500mm for open lid)

HO W W E TE ST E D

SET DESIGN: VICKY LEES

-

Each deck is considered an exemplar in its price bracket, but all three were auditioned under the same conditions – with a legendary entry level moving coil, the Denon DL103 (£175) – even if supplied with their own. Testing was undertaken in a special 4m x 6m listening room with separate AC supply, 1m poured concrete floor and 50cm-thick walls. All were played through the EAT E-Glo Phono Stage into two systems: a high-end set-up with the Audio Research Ref 6 pre-amplifier, Audio Research Ref 75SE and Wilson Alexia loudspeakers; and a real-world system of Quad VA-one integrated amplifier and MartinLogan Motion 15 speakers. LPs ranged from Leslie West’s heavy-metal milestone Mountain to an operatic Paul Robeson from 1958.


050 | FOOD

HOW IT WORKS: MOMOFUKU’S THEORY OF DELICIOUSNESS W H AT Y O U ’ R E E AT I N G V E R S U S W H AT Y O U ’ R E T H I N K I N G DISH: SPICY PORK SAUSAGE AND RICE CAKES D AV I D C H A N G ’ S N O T E S : F L AV O U R PAT T E R N S C R I S S - C R O S S C U LT U R E S. THIS DISH REVEALS A KIND OF MISSING LINK BETWEEN CHINESE A N D I TA L I A N C L A S S I C S

MAPO TOFU

IN YOUR MOUTH

B O LO G N E S E

UMAMI, SILKINESS, PUNGENCY

IN YOUR MEMORY

MOMOFUKU CAVIAR AND FRIED CHICKEN Chef David Chang varieties of pickled is constantly roe: white sturgeon innovating caviar farmed in with flavour Idaho, and smoked combinations, steelhead trout roe experimenting from the Columbia with fermentation River in the US. and seasoning Truffle cream, to create new spring onion sensations. scones, potato One of his most chips, baby carrots, successful uses red ball radishes, Chang’s theory bibb lettuce, three of taste and how sauces and a it is influenced herb basket round by memory (see out the feast. chart, left). It’s $500 for a party an unlikely union of four to eight. of southern fried noodlebar-ny. chicken with two momofuku.com

WORDS: JEREMY WHITE. PHOTOGRAPHY: KEIRNAN MONAGHAN & THEO VAMVOUNAKIS; ERIC WOLFINGER

SPRING ONIONS, RED CHILLIES, PORK, FERMENTED BEAN, WHIPPED TOFU


This ceviche of fruit and vegetables with flowers was created by three-Michelinstarred chef David Kinch and served on a sculptural porcelain plate made by artist Erica Iman

STEINBEISSER EXPERIMENTAL GASTRONOMY -

Founded in 2012 by Jouw Wijnsma and Martin Kullik, Steinbeisser organises the Experimental Gastronomy initiative, based at the Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy in Amsterdam and active around

the world. Each event is a unique experience in which renowned chefs and artists come together to create a gastronomic happening. Food and drink ingredients are entirely plantbased and sourced

from local organic and biodynamic suppliers. The dinners â&#x20AC;&#x201C; $700 for the San Francisco event â&#x20AC;&#x201C; showcase contemporary cuisine at the highest level, uniting design, gastronomy and nature. steinbeisser.org


W OR DS B Y A L E X D OAK PH O T O G R A PH Y: S UN LEE

CH AN E L M O N T RE D E MON S IE UR –

Whether or not you agree with fashion brands getting in on fine Swiss watchmaking, this piece was one of the big stories of Basel. Not only is the Monsieur the first men’s watch from Chanel (the J12 was, technically, unisex), it is the first to be driven by an entirely in-housemanufactured

movement – created from scratch and five years in the making – and what a beauty it is. There is no rotor to obscure the sleek black anthracite mechanics, which means you can see all the wheels, some of which were supplied by indie CNC-machinistturnedwatchmaker Romain Gauthier. To top it all, dial-side, the design is pure, monochromatic Chanel chic, with a jumping hour and retrograde minutes, depicted in a specially commissioned typeface. £23,500 chanel.com


054 | TIMEPIECES

BREITLING SUPEROCEAN HÉRITAGE C H R O N O W O RKS – Little did we know, but Breitling has been furtively establishing its own skunkworks at its “Chronométrie” factory in La Chauxde-Fonds, tasked with stripping down, fine tuning and honing its in-house movements – improving every element by even marginal gains, and turning things up to 11. This launch – a prototype Blackbird spy plane in wrist

form, if you like – soups-up the brand’s in-house B01 chronograph calibre by introducing a ceramic baseplate and geartrain (self-lubricating, doing away with the need for 11 bearing jewels), a silicon escapement, plus an ingenious way of introducing elasticity to the chronograph wheels’ meshing, meaning the hands sweep immediately. £30,410 breitling.com

DE GRISOGONO SAMSU NG S2 SMART WAT CH – The smartwatch as a product category has been legitimised in the past two years – but in style terms few would dispute that they’re considerably more Birkenstock than Berluti. Well, no longer. Samsung has crossed paths

with none-moreflamboyant jeweller and watchmaker de GRISOGONO to create this diamond-studded hybrid. It’s a smartwatch you could wear to a film premiere,

with 127 diamonds (white and black, naturally), a galuchat strap and a rose-gold rotating bezel to control the watch. It packs heart rate and light sensors, a barometer and NFC. $15,000 degrisogono.com


DISCOVER THE CHANGING FACE OF HOROLOGY TIME 2017 SUPPLEMENT. FREE WITH WIRED 07.17


ROLEX OY ST ER P ERP ET U AL DAY T ONA COSMOGRAP H – of “The Crown” – previously steel There are glaciers its legendary bezel, whose capable of moving chronograph – logarithmic faster than Rolex’s they weren’t going “tachymetre” famed product to revolutionise; calibration became development team. just improve and easily scratched. But when they do future-proof It’s now rendered make their move, its icon for another in Rolex’s tough it’s always the right decade or so. Given Cerachrom one, executed that the Daytona ceramic. An perfectly – and it was already a incremental yet sticks. So when it bulletproof watch, masterful move. came to updating from the automatic £8,250 rolex.com the crowning glory movement to the design and functionality, what has changed is the

Digital extra! Download the WIRED app to see a gallery of additional images

PHOTOGRAPHY: MITCH PAYNE

056 | TIMEPIECES


I W C P I L O T ’ S T I M E Z O NE R CH R O N O G R APH – A rather heavy genuinely handy, you need do here is aesthetic belies but off-putting push the springthe virtuosity and in the doing. mounted bezel lightness of touch Even its name, down, turn to the that’s gone into “Timezoner” does relevant city, and this remarkable few favours, as release: the hour timepiece, this is a pedigree hand, 24-hour day/ simplifying a worldtimer, not night display and function that – just a seconddate rearrange unlike so time-zone “GMT” themselves much frippery watch. Whereas to sync with your in the world of you usually need present location. watchmaking – is the instruction £10,250 iwc.com book to adjust your worldtimer watch to wherever you’ve landed, all

HU BLOT MECA-10 – A watch whose mechanism is inspired by Meccano – why hasn’t anyone thought of this before? The relationship between the construction toy’s struts, bolts and panels, and mechanical watchmaking’s tiny bridges, screws and mainplates is a no-brainer,

not to mention tremendous fun. Most brands’ reverence for their own heritage would forbid them from something so whimsical, but Hublot has ploughed its furrow as a future-forward experimentalist, and its high-tech

aesthetic lends the perfect playground. The result is actually one of the brand’s most coherent blends of “chassis” and “engine”, with its iconic “porthole” case providing a titanium frame for an architectural, ten-day-powerreserve movement. £15,000 hublot.com


058 | CARS / THREE-WHEELER

Luxury SUVs, a new breed of supercar and a desirable three-wheeler: WIRED presents seven cars youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll never tire of driving W O R D S BY ALISTAIR WEAVER & J EREMY WHITE


M OR G AN EV3

Morgan first built a three-wheeler back in 1910, but has re-imagined the concept with the launch of the EV3. The classic silhouette has changed little since the 1930s and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s still a hand-crafted piece of automotive couture, but the tubular-spaceframe chassis now houses a 20kWh lithium-ion battery and a 46kW electric motor powering the solitary rear wheel. The EV3 weighs less than 500kg, and Morgan claims a top speed of 145kph and a range of 240km. ÂŁtbc morgan-motor.co.uk


BEN TLEY B E N TAY G A

Bentley’s Bentayga claims the accolade of being the first luxury SUV. With 600bhp, the 2,422kg car can hit an astonishing 300kph powered by a new 6.0L W12 engine (that will also offer 0-100kph in 4.1 seconds). Packed with superb tech, the Bentayga can sport dashboard-displayed infrared night vision that highlights pedestrians and animals in the vicinity of the road, as well as a Naim for Bentley stereo system that is seriously loud: 1,950 Watts, 20 speakers and a 300W subwoofer. From £160,000 bentleymotors.com

JAG U AR F - PA C E

Jaguar’s first SUV is built on an aluminium shell that weighs just 298kg and offers superb economy in its class (24.5kpl combined). It’s no slouch either; the F-PACE reaches 0-100kph in 5.5 seconds and has a 210kph top speed. Inside, it has the new 10.2-inch touchscreen InControl Touch Pro entertainment system as an upgrade. Outside, the waterproof Activity Key wristband locks and unlocks the car, letting you leave the real keys in the car when water activity calls. The keys automatically deactivate while the band is in use. From £34,450 jaguar.co.uk


L AND ROVER D I S C O V E RY

With faster lines taking influence from the Discovery Sport, this new styling is an elegant reworking of the Discovery 4. A redesigned rear spoiler optimises aerodynamics while also channelling air over the back windscreen. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s narrower than the 4, but its wheelbase is 38mm longer so cabin space is still cavernous. Indeed, the third row of seats can now be folded or raised via the 10-inch touchscreen or with a smartphone app. Talking of phones, no one will be left without power as it boasts nine USB ports and 4G connectivity that can serve up to eight devices. From ÂŁ43,495 landrover.co.uk


062 | CARS / SUPERCARS

Forget all the James Bond nonsense: the DB11 marks the launch of a new era for Aston Martin. It features the company’s first turbocharged engine – a 600bhp, 5.2 litre V12. A partnership with Mercedes-Benz has given Aston Martin access to new tech, including gesture control, but the smartest feature is its AeroBlade. By channelling and accelerating air through the rear of the car, Aston has created a “virtual spoiler”. This provides the downforce required to keep the car stable at 320kph without the need for a rear wing. Clever. From £154,900 astonmartin.com

PHOTOGRAPHY: SUN LEE

AS TON M AR TI N D B 1 1


MCL ARE N 57 0 G T

The GT or Grand Tourer marks a subtle shift in emphasis for McLaren’s 570, transitioning from track-day warrior to continental express. A glass hatchback liberates a new, leather-lined load bay – meaning this 328kph supercar now has more luggage space than a Ford Focus. There’s a giant glass roof pinched from the P1 hypercar and it’s worth upgrading for the epic Bowers & Wilkins sound system. The suspension has been retuned for comfort, but this is still a proper supercar with a 562bhp, 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8. From £154,000 mclaren.com

B R I S T O L B UL L E T

The Bullet is only the 18th new car that Bristol has introduced since its car division was founded in 1945. Just 70 examples of the roadster will be hand-built in Chichester and customers will be invited to tailor the cockpit to their own tastes – even the luggage is bespoke. It’s not all old-school charm, though. There’s a 370bhp, 4.8-litre V8 engine from BMW, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Apple CarPlay. There’s even a concierge button so you can summon Bristol’s dealership in Kensington. £250,000 bristolcars.co.uk


064 |

Rolls-Royce has rethought the travel requirements of its customers and designed a set of luggage that fits snugly into its Wraith models

W R AI TH LUG G A G E Like a large, deluxe version of Jenga, all six pieces of the Wraith Luggage Collection – two Grand Tourers, three Long Weekenders and the Garment Carrier – have been designed to fit perfectly into the luggage compartment of the RollsRoyce Wraith. The

C O L L E C TION Grand Tourers are constructed from carbon fibre with a high-grade aluminium frame, and its wheels feature a selflevelling central monogram, like those on the car itself. The Long Weekender features a magnetic zip that keeps belongings secure, and the Garment Carrier fits over the rest of the luggage. The design process led the in-house

development team to seek input from head butlers at some of the world’s top hotels, just to make sure no part of the bags’ potential journey was left unconsidered. £24,248 rolls-royce motorcars.com

The handles of the Long Weekenders are designed to distribute weight evenly – and they feature the same stitching as the car’s steering wheel

>> Why stop at luggage? The limited-edition Rolls-Royce Cocktail Hamper is made from American walnut and contains “RR”monogrammed utensils, a jigger, muddler, crusher, and tumblers, plus a recipe book and napkins. Just 15 units will be produced. £26,366

WORDS BY JEREMY WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY: SUN LEE


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Wired (UK) Dec 16 2016  

Wired Magazine (UK Edition) Dec 16 2016 in 228 pages to feature: The WIRED World in 2017 | The Gear of The Year, 2016 Product Special

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