Archive October 2014
Movies and books do more than just spark our imagination and send us on a virtual journey, for many they provide the spark for a lifelong quest to bring to life the objects and gadgets that the characters are using.
Star Trek (1966) spawned a dozen or more of today’s technologies including the mobile phone, the tricorder, replicators (3D printers).
Back to the Future (1989) gave us garbage fueled cars, goggles that let us see the real and virtual world, hoverboards and video calls.
Fritz Lang’s Woman in the Moon (1929) showed us a rocket taking off to the moon, 28 years before Sputnik attempted it and long before we knew how to do it and all of these and hundreds of other tantalizing glimpses in our books, television and movies have been the muse for innovators to say “why not” and to bring the impossible to life and to everyday.
This search through past inspiration for future technology was the topic for this weeks chat with Scott Lamond on radio ABC Wide Bay, have a listen now and then share what you would still like to see invented from a movie you watched or a book you read.
With only 365 days until we arrive at the 1989 hit film Back to the Future’s future time of October 21st 2015, Lachlan Hastings of MX News has already begun the search to find out what we might have invented in the last few decades and whether Marty McFly will be flying hoverboards, using waste to fuel cars, will be able to see the real and virtual worlds simultaneously though a pair of goggles and be able to make a video call on his phone, by the end of 2015.
Well guess what, many of these outlandish 1989 predictions are already around or just over the horizon including the Hoverboard – when I gave the interview there was no commercially available hoverboard for a myriad of long held technological and practical reasons, but by the time the article came out 24 hour later there was a Kickstarter campaign looking for $250,000 to bring it to market (and it has since been oversubscribed with 49 days left to go) which just goes to show that 24 hours is a long time in innovation land.
On the back of a keynote I am delivering this week to one of Australia’s largest commercial builders on the Future of the Construction Industry, I chatted with Jackson Stiles of the New Daily about what lies ahead for our cities and homes over the next 100 years.
Three skyscrapers span the sky, linked by roads, and riddled with apartments to live in, parks for children to play, offices to work and a vast array of leisure areas in one mega building.
Early in October, this vision won a Chinese competition to design the perfect skyscraper, and it could be the blueprint of how our children and grandchildren will live.
The vibrancy of the inner city, with its proximity to work and play, will draw more of us in future decades, but the Australian dream of owning your own home with three bedrooms, two garages and a Hills Hoist in the backyard may be dead.
University of Sydney Associate Professor Nicole Gurran told The New Daily that home ownership rates in Australia are falling, mainly due to unaffordability, as more and more of us flock to the city.
“That will continue unless there’s some kind of intervention,” she said.
Home ownership rates are falling. Photo: Urban Future Organization and CR-Design
In fact, the percentage of home owners has dropped from 71.4 to 67.5 per cent over the last 20 years, ABS data shows.
In 30 years’ time, without investment in the suburbs and no dramatic decentralisation, our cities may become higher, denser and full of renters in smaller apartments, Associate Professor Gurran said.
The latest ABS data shows that the proportion of first time buyers taking out a home loan dropped to a record low of 11.8 per cent in August, the lowest since the data set began in 1991.
Research by HIA Economics has found that the dwelling price to earnings ratio in Sydney climbed from around 4.4 times in the mid 1990s to 6.63 in mid-2014.
House prices continue to rise, and so does our sky line. Photo: Urban Future Organization and CR-Design
Data from Australian Property Monitors also shows that since 2004 the median national house price has increased by 72 per cent, with the biggest increases seen in Darwin (170 per cent), Perth (145 per cent), Adelaide (80 per cent), Melbourne (61 per cent), Brisbane (56 per cent) and Canberra (49 per cent).
Associate Professor Gurran drew comparisons to the US, where a gulf is widening between rich and poor, forever barring the impoverished out of home ownership.
“Those with parents who can help them get into the market or who have inherited wealth, they’ll be able to get in. Those who can’t get in will be locked out without intervention, certainly in the major global cities,” she predicted.
Property futurist Paul Ross compiles his own property data. He confirmed to The New Daily that the universal trend, whether at a local or a national level, is away from home loans and towards rentals, especially in the capitals.
“Grandkids renting in the clouds? You bet. That’s the way it’s going to be,” he said, because suburbs no longer hold the same quaint appeal.
Inner city living is all about proximity and lifestyle. Photo: Urban Future Organization and CR-Design
“Everything is now about lifestyle,” Mr Ross said. “People want accessibility to whatever their lifestyle pursuits may be.”
“Every single capital city except Hobart is going to see an increase in renting.”
Futurist Morris Miselowski, who has just returned from a tour of New York and several Asian cities, agreed that the worldwide trend is to live in the clouds, with home ownership “a dream of the past”.
Multiple generations will probably live together under the same roof in centralised, sky high buildings, although he hoped that Australians will spread beyond the cities into self-sufficient, satellite “villages” as well.
Up is not the only direction in which we can sprawl. Photo: Urban Future Organization and CR-Design
“Even though we are building corridors out, people are still pushing back in towards the centre, and I don’t think that will change,” Mr Miselowski said.
“We’re too blindly walking into denser, higher populations because many of us want to live close, which is not a crime.
“We are truly lucky in Australia because we have the ability to go wide not high if we wish to.”
But leading property industry figures argue that the dream of owning a traditional home is still alive, at least for now.
Housing Industry Association chief economist Harley Dale said that Australia still has a high proportion of home ownership by world standards – 67.5 per cent in 2011-12 – and that we are nowhere near becoming a “nation of renters’’ as some pundits have speculated.
“We are faced with a challenge in arresting the decline in home ownership rates, but it is by no means a lost cause, or a downward trend that is irreversible,” Mr Dale said.
Home ownership may yet be ingrained in our psyche. Photo: Urban Future Organization and CR-Design
Demographer Chris McNeill told The New Daily while home ownership rates have been falling in recent years it is likely to remain comparatively high on an international level because “owning your own home is ingrained on the Australian psyche”.
When asked if the declining rate of home ownership is something to worry about, the demographer replied: “At this stage, I don’t think so.”
“In fact, many financial advisors have long argued that people would be better off renting than buying a house. From a personal perspective, I’m not sure I agree with that view, but that’s mainly because I don’t have the discipline to channel the savings accrued from renting into other income producing investments,” he said.
On the back of a keynote I delivered in Hong Kong a few weeks ago, to a global catering company that produces 2 billion meals per year, I took a look at 2015’s Food Trends and this list was the starting point for a great segment with David Dowsett on ABC Wide Bay radio, looking at:
Trend 1: Glocal – a local twist on a global food – a Vietnamese twist on a Hamburger
Trend 2: Healthy – continuation of using great produce from known sources
Trend 3: Rustic – just like Mama used to make, full of love and warmth
Trend 4: Minimal – enough already with the sauces and fussy foods, give me a few ingredients that taste great together
Trend 5: Shared – its all about family and friends – big plates everyone digs in, what could be better
Trend 6: Nose to Tail – the East has done this for ever, but in the West we have been a bit fussier about the bits of the animal we eat – but all that’s changing
Trend 7: Alternate Proteins – think grasshoppers, ants and other insects, again its been eaten for ever by our Eastern counterparts and now we’re jumping on board
Trend 8: Foams and Aerated Foods – lots of volumes through aeration, great mouth feel and look
Trend 9: Frozen Hot Chocolates – frozen desserts are all the rage and making them appear as something hot or different than what they really are whilst serving them cold and sweet is the new “must have”.
Have a listen now and find out about the trends and the genesis of them.