225: Autonomous cars and the future of cities. Always-on video communication. Ambient sound in the workplace.

Photo by <a href= 'http://www.flickr.com/photos/36495803@N05/5591761716/'>epSos.de</a>

Photo by epSos.de

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This week on Spark - Everyone's breathlessly talking about autonomous cars. We get beyond the hype for a look at what they would mean for the future of cities, and your commute. And, ever since The Jetsons, we've been looking for video phones that can bridge distance. Now that always-on video communication is a reality, why does working remotely still feel so...remote?

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Always-on Video Portal
Perch is a Vancouver-based company that recently released an iOS app for "always-on video communication." Host Nora Young used Perch to interview CEO Danny Robinson about it.

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Always-on Communicating
Saul Greenberg on how understanding the subtleties of the way humans communicate in person, will help us make two-way always-on video systems an effective workplace tool.

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Ambient Noise in the Workplace
Some research has suggested that the right amount of noise at work can enhance creativity, sparking a website called Coffitivity that provides a steady stream of ambient coffee shop sound to give people a creative boost when they need it. Sound expert Julian Treasure on why it's a fine line between the creative buzz of people working together, and it just being too loud to get any work done.

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Autonomous Cars - part 1
A primer on autonomous cars, followed by Toyota's James Pisz, on why fully autonomous cars won't be mainstream for at least a generation, until we overcome social hurdles like trust.

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Autonomous Cars - part 2
Ryan Chin of the MIT Media Lab, on the potential benefits of autonomous cars and how they may change the way we design and use cities.

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