Tecnologia

Augmented reality takes makeover tech to the next level.

It’s called the “makeup counter panic,” and we’ve all experienced it. At least, those of us who wear makeup. I’m at the store, trying to find a new foundation or shade of lipstick, but I have no idea what to go with. The tester samples look gross, and not one counter person is in sight. Do I steal a sample from an actual container, trust the color on the label, and hope for the best? It can be a mess.

Luckily, makeup has a new weapon in the fight against makeup counter panic: augmented reality.

Tech developers are teaming up with makeup, hair, and skincare companies to create augmented reality beauty simulators. Creative agency Holition recently paired up with Rimmel London to create an app, set to come out this September, where customers can test out makeup they can then purchase through the app. Mary Kay has a makeover app, and you can find independent apps like YouCam Makeup and ChouChou: Virtual Hair Makeover.

Makeup tech developer ModiFace has made apps for Urban Decay, L’Oréal, Avon Beauty, and other companies. Jennifer Tidy, ModiFace’s vice president of partnerships, said it gives makeup wearers the ultimate tool in “try before you buy.”

“Having the option to explore and try on an orange lipstick or a purple hair color really stretches the boundaries,” Tidy said. “[You can] have some fun with it without being horrified with the results.”
How ModiFace’s live effects work.

Tidy said augmented reality makeovers are great for people who buy their makeup or hair products online, or if they’re shy about getting professional consultations in person. ModiFace mostly licenses its product to outside makeup companies, but it also has several apps of its own for trying on things like makeup, hair and cosmetic surgery procedures. They have in-app purchases like more contact lens colors or celebrity hairstyles, but Tidy said the apps are more like product testers, showing beauty companies the type of work that they can do.

Makeup technology first came around in the late ’90s with Cosmopolitan Virtual Makeover CD-ROM, which The New York Times hailed as “part of a growing way of interactive computer applications directed at women.” The CD-ROM, which I owned as a teenager and used on a regular basis, let users upload a photo of themselves and create different “looks” from the safety of their computer. It was fun but rudimentary, definitely encouraging more outlandish, garish looks than realistic makeovers.

I asked Tidy what’s changed since Virtual Makeover.

“Everything,” she laughed. “That Cosmopolitan CD you can put into your computer and upload is a bit of a dinosaur, but it was the original. The technology now has a level of accuracy that makes showcasing the products in a realistic way easier. We’re light years ahead compared to where we started in 1999.”
YouCam can add hair and makeup to your face for an AR makeover.

Computer programs like Virtual Makeover required users to visibly trace their eyes, lips, and eyebrows, which mostly yielded troublesome results, but augmented reality apps like ModiFace use assisted tracking to shape those difficult areas. After a user takes or uploads a picture, ModiFace has them move targeted points around to frame where the eyes and lips are, as well as hair if you’re adding a new color to your existing style. Other apps like YouCam don’t even require you to make adjustments; it will automatically map your face and put the makeup on. It’s not as precise as others like ModiFace, but it still works well.

Having tried some of the latest makeup and hair apps, I was impressed. Augmented reality has taken makeover technology to the next level. I tried out a couple of looks and sometimes couldn’t tell what was real and what was digitally added. I was especially surprised to learn I could pull off mauve lipstick. Tidy herself said she discovered a new look thanks to the technology.

“I tried some hairstyles and I realized I looked good in bangs, which I wouldn’t thought of before,” Tidy said.

Even with all the advancements, the technology isn’t perfect. It absolutely depends on good positioning and lighting. When you use a bad photo, it’s easy to see the makeup as just being piled onto the face. Tidy recommended taking the photo in a well-lit area without a lot of shade or wind, ideally indoors.

“The thing with this type of technology is really, the type of photo you upload it does impact,” Tidy said. “If you’re in a shadow or your hair is covering up your face, there’s only so much compensation we can do to help that.”

The hairstyles also tend to fall short of the Uncanny Valley. While hair colors are surprisingly easy to integrate into your natural hue, as well as contact lenses, hairstyles end up feeling a bit layered on. ChouChou works all right, with cute hairstyles from Tokyo, but it still falls short of looking like your actual hair. It’s more a prototype than something to fool the neighbors. Even though the hairstyles don’t look the most realistic, the app did help me discover my inner Khaleesi.

Several of these apps don’t offer many, if any, options for men. A few have men’s hairstyles, but they definitely have less than those that focus on female beauty. And I couldn’t find any apps where the makeup or cosmetic surgery sections had comprehensive male options. That’s something companies should definitely take note of and improve in the future.

But the technology is constantly changing, and new features are being added all the time. Tidy said ModiFace’s newest venture was Live Video, where makeovers can be shown in real-time on the face with adjustable mapping. ModiFace’s Urban Decay app uses Live Video for trying on new lipstick shades, shown a few paragraphs above. Other apps like YouCam include tutorials for how to achieve the different looks, including costume makeup like “Queen Cleopatra.” We’re also seeing better brand integration and purchasing options, like with the upcoming Rimmel London Get the Look app. Tidy said it’s all about giving people a way to experiment with their look, and possibly discover something new about themselves in the process.

“You’re not committed to having to purchase something without trying it on first,” Tidy said. “You can explore every single color of lipstick or eyeshadow or eyeliner, with that zero commitment factor. It’s an entertaining way of exploring the brands.”

This post first appeared on UploadVR.

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Nvidia claims its new chip is the ‘world’s fastest GPU’ for game and VR design

Nvidia announced today the Quadro P6000 graphics card for workstations, using the “world’s fastest GPU,” or graphics processing unit. The graphics card is targeted at designers who have to create complex simulations for everything from engineering models to virtual reality games.

The Quadro P6000 is based on Nvidia’s new Pascal graphics architecture, and it uses a GPU with 3,840 processing cores. It can reach 12 teraflops of computing performance, or twice as fast as the previous generation.

Nvidia unveiled the new platform for artists, designers, and animators at the Siggraph graphics technology conference in Anaheim, Calif. Nvidia says the new workstation GPU and new improvements in software will enable professionals to work faster and with greater creativity.

Nvidia is also announcing VRWorks’ 360 video software development kit, to enable VR developers to create applications to stitch together 4K video feeds into 360 videos. It is also adding graphics acceleration to the mental ray film-quality renderer, and it is releasing Nvidia Optix 4, the latest version of its GPU ray-tracing engine for creating ultrarealistic imagery. Artists can use it to work with scenes up to 64 gigabytes in detail.

“Often our artists are working with 50GB or higher datasets,” says Steve May, the chief technology officer at Pixar. “The ability to visualize scenes of this size interactively gives our artists the ability to make creative decisions more quickly. We’re looking forward to testing the limits of Pascal and expect the benefits to our workflows to be huge.”

The Quadro graphics cards will be available soon from major computer makers and system integrators.

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the successor to the Surface 2 and the thinnest and lightest tablet the company has ever shipped. Instead of sporting Windows RT like its predecessor, the Surface 3 runs a full copy of Windows 8.1 (64-bit)

Microsoft today unveiled the Surface 3, the successor to the Surface 2 and the thinnest and lightest tablet the company has ever shipped. Instead of sporting Windows RT like its predecessor, the Surface 3 runs a full copy of Windows 8.1 (64-bit). This is likely why it is priced slightly higher, starting at $499 (compared to $449).

There are four price points in total. The Surface 3 goes for $499 while the Surface 3 with 4G LTE is an extra $100 at $599. Both com with 2GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, but you can double up to 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage for another hundred bucks: $599 for just Wi-Fi or $699 for 4G LTE.

The Surface 3 is available for pre-order today via the Microsoft Store, both retail and online, as well as select retail stores in 26 countries. Those same retailers and resellers will offer the Surface 3 for purchase starting on May 5. Microsoft is promising availability will expand that weekend in all 26 countries, making the device and its accessories available broadly by May 7.

The full list of launch countries is as follows: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Luxembourg, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, the U.K., and the U.S. Microsoft also confirmed the Surface 3 (4G LTE) will be available through T-Mobile and Verizon in the U.S. “later this year.”

Hardware

Powered by a quad-core Intel Atom x7 processor, which Microsoft points out is the highest-performing processor within the Intel Atom processor family, the Surface 3 can feature a fanless design, unlike the Surface Pro 3. The device has a ClearType HD multi-touch display with a 3:2 aspect ratio (1920×1280 resolution).

The Surface 3 features stereo speakers with Dolby Audio-enhanced sound, a microphone, two 1080p HD cameras (8MP rear-facing and 3.5MP front-facing), and a three-position kickstand. Connectivity includes Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.0 low energy, and of course 4G LTE for those who are willing to spend an extra $100 (plus data plan).

As for physical connectivity, the Surface 3 offers a full-size USB 3.0 port, a Mini DisplayPort, a microSD card reader, and a Micro USB charging port (translation: you can use most smartphone chargers to recharge this tablet). It is compatible with the Surface Pro line of adapters so you can use it with the existing line of accessories.

Microsoft is also rolling out two new accessories today:

  • Surface 3 Type Cover, featuring an improved trackpad and the Surface Pen (silver, black, blue, and red), is $130.
  • Surface 3 Docking Station, featuring connections to an external monitor and all your desktop devices, is $200.
  • Surface 3 Screen Protector and Surface 3 Power Supply are also available separately for $50 and $40, respectively.

The Surface 3 weighs 1.37 pounds (622 grams) and has the following dimensions: 10.51 x 7.36 x 0.34 inches (267 x 187 x 8.7 millimeters). Last but certainly not least, Microsoft is promising up to 10 hours of video-playback battery life.

Software

The Surface 3 may ship with Windows 8.1, but users will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free when the latest and greatest ships this summer. This is the same deal offered to existing Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users: Surface 3 owners also have one year to upgrade to Windows 10 for free.

The Surface 3 comes with a one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote. Office 365 Personal also includes 1TB of OneDrive storage, though a subscription renewal will cost you $70 per year.

Who is it for?

Microsoft describes the Surface 3 as being similar to the Surface Pro 3 in that “it’s a tablet that can replace your laptop” but notes that it “thinner, lighter and even more affordable.” In other words, this isn’t aimed at the business worker, but the average consumer.

More specifically, the company is positioning the device at employees in various industries and students. In fact, Microsoft has already started striking deals with companies and educational institutions interested in offering cheap tablets to employees and students.

“Surface 3 brings what customers love about Surface Pro 3 to more people, delivering the premium design and productivity of Surface in a more affordable device,” Panos Panay, corporate vice president of Microsoft Surface, said in a statement. “We’ve taken everything we learned making Surface Pro 3 and poured that innovation into this newest Surface.”

In short, the Surface 3 is Microsoft’s third attempt at a cheap tablet that can double as a laptop. We’ll reserve judgment on whether the third time’s the charm until we can get our massive hands on the small device.

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El uso desmartphones, tabletas y próximamente también de dispositivos wearables promete seguir extendiéndose.

Un millón de puestos de trabajo en Europa, y creciendo. Es la puerta (o portón) que abre dominar un lenguaje de programación móvil. A medida que el sector madura, las aplicaciones que no aportan valor desaparecen y se sofistican las técnicas para destacarlas dentro de un ‘marketplace’.

No, no hay una burbuja móvil. Al contrario, el uso desmartphones, tabletas y próximamente también de dispositivos wearables promete seguir extendiéndose. En verdad, lo relevante no es el aparato en sí, sino las cosas que somos capaces de hacer a través de la tecnología. Y, aquí, el software, y más concretamente las apps móviles, son las grandes protagonistas.

Se calcula que el mercado de aplicaciones móviles, inexistente (tal y como hoy lo conocemos) hasta la llegada del primer iPhone en 2007, ha generado ya más de un millón de puestos de trabajo. Según los cálculos de la Comisión Europea, en los próximos cinco años este sector moverá 63.000 millones de euros y dará empleo a 4,8 millones de personas.

El mobile first y el omnichannel se imponen en los planes estratégicos de las compañías internacionales más punteras. Facebook, por ejemplo, hace ya dos años que exige que todos y cada uno de sus desarrolladores conozcan algún lenguaje de programación móvil.

Por supuesto, esto no quiere decir que triunfar en el entorno móvil sea coser y cantar. Hay quien sueña con crear una app y hacerse rico. Ha habido casos, pero lo cierto es que monetizar es más difícil de lo que parece. En España, un especialista en iOS cobra, de media, entre 30.000 y 35.000 euros. Para las empresas, rentabilizar una inversión en estos canales requiere, por norma general, de una cuidada labor de ideación (¿qué valor diferencial aporta mi app?), validación (¿está mi público objetivo interesado?; ¿de dónde obtendré ingresos?), posicionamiento (¿con qué palabras clave quiero que se identifique?), mantenimiento, actualización, etcétera.

Muchas de las más de un millón de aplicaciones que existen en las tiendas AppStore y Google Play desaparecerán. «A largo plazo, sólo tendrán cabida aquéllas que aporten un valor real al usuario», vaticina Carlos Rodríguez, consejero delegado de la firma de desarrollo Quadram, y profesor de The Valley Business School.Rehuye del ‘estar por estar’Hacerse rico con una app no es fácil, lo que tampoco significa que el entorno móvil no le pueda aportar sugerentes beneficios (aunque sea indirectamente) a un negocio. Igual que ya sucedió con las páginas web, los blogs y las redes sociales, conforme las empresas conocen, reconocen y comprenden el entorno móvil, el ‘estar por estar’ da paso a estrategias más meditadas.

Toda puntocom que nazca en la actualidad debe plantearse la siguiente pregunta: ¿nacer en el entorno web o directamente en el móvil? Para un comercio offline, en cambio, los canales digitales suponen una inversión relevante y de resultados inciertos. «Los clientes de una tienda tienen ya un smartphone, buscan información a través de éste y, cada vez más, compran bienes y productos. Especialmente si te diriges a un público joven y quieres fidelizarlo, una app puede serte de gran utilidad», opina Víctor Rodado, cofundador de Upplication.

Esta start up ofrece un servicio de aplicaciones do it yourself (similar a lo que 1and1 aporta para páginas web), por el que cualquier persona, sin conocimientos de programación, puede crear su app y pagar por ella una cuota mensual de entre 4,95 y 59,95 euros al mes. «Es una solución perfecta para las pymes que quieren probar», propone Rodado. Por un precio superior, de 299,95 euros al mes, Upplication ofrece asimismo desarrollo a medida y nativo (creado expresamente para una determinada plataforma móvil). «Una app tiene que servir para algo, ofrecer un valor. Si no, nadie la descargará», insiste Rodado.

Pero para que el usuario llegue a conocer tu aplicación móvil, ésta no sólo debe ser útil. Además, es necesario realizar una intensa labor promocional, que va desde el boca a oreja a la publicidad, pasando por contratar los servicios de un recomendador de apps, como Stellaps, AppGratis o AppDiaria, entre otros. Funcionan de la siguiente manera: a cambio de 10.000 ó 20.000 euros diarios, te garantizan un número determinado de descargas (a través de publicidad en otras apps y notificaciones push a su base de datos, fundamentalmente).

Por supuesto, hay modos amateur –pero lícitos y eficaces– de posicionar tu aplicación en los rankings de los marketplaces. Por ejemplo, si tu app es de pago, puedes hacerla gratuita durante un solo día. También puedes disparar el precio a 3.000 euros y comprarte a ti mismo la app varias veces (no olvides que recuperarías el 70% del precio; el 30% restante se lo queda la tienda de aplicaciones).Aprendiendo a monetizarLos modelos de negocio móviles están también progresando. El pago por descarga está claramente en desuso, en favor de modalidades freemium o las ofertas por geolocalización.

«La mitad de los usuarios que accede a una web lo hace a través de un dispositivo móvil, a lo que hay que sumar los que se descargan su app y acceden directamente a través de ésta. Sin embargo, la conversión [en ventas] de este tráfico es proporcionalmente muy inferior», subraya David Vidal,programme manager de IMBS.

Fundado en septiembre de 2014 y ubicado en Valencia, el IMBS ofrece un máster en creación de negocios digitales. «El entorno móvil ocupa una parte creciente del temario. Es un sector en auge pero aún muy inmaduro comercialmente», apunta Vidal.

«En unos años, quien no sepa programar no tendrá hueco en el mercado laboral», sentencia Gonzalo Manrique, cofundador de Ironhack, una start up de formación en desarrollo web y móvil, presente en Madrid, Barcelona y Miami. «No se trata de que todos sean expertos, pero sí es preocupante la falta de educación digital» que impera, en un momento en el que la mayoría de los Millenials ya ha alcanzado la mayoría de edad y toma sus propias decisiones de compra.Ojo, no todos los negocios necesitan una ‘app’Se calcula que cada smartphone tiene instaladas, de media, veinte aplicaciones móviles. Es evidente que ni los dispositivos tienen memoria suficiente, ni los usuarios disponen del tiempo o la voluntad de descargarse (y usar) las apps de todos y cada uno de los comercios que conocen.

Crear tu propia aplicación, al igual que ocurre con los blogs o las redes sociales, es una decisión que debe tomarse exclusivamente si tiene sentido para tu negocio, y si tienes valor que aportar. «Las appsson útiles para aquellas empresas que cuentan con un volumen importante de clientes que usan los canales móviles, y que quieren poner en marcha acciones de fidelización. Para captar nuevos clientes, en cambio, no suelen ser el mejor canal», insiste Víctor Rodado, cofundador de Upplication.Una vez creada, ¿cómo posicionarla mejor?Las tiendas de aplicaciones de iOS y Android albergan más de un millón de apps cada una. Lograr que el usuario te encuentre entre tal cantidad no es tarea fácil. El posicionamiento de apps (app store optimization, o ASO), depende de una serie de técnicas que implica entender el entorno móvil, y también el online en general. La asociación IAB Spain, junto con PickASO y Tribal Worldwide Spain, han elaborado una guía gratuita sobre ASO que incluye las siguientes recomendaciones:

1. En lo que se refiere a la creación de la propia app, se deben cuidar al máximo las palabras clave. En Google Play no existe un campo de keywords como tal, pero en cualquier caso el nombre de la aplicación debe contener las palabras por las que quieres ser encontrado. Lo atractivo que sea el icono o la descripción de la aplicación, aunque no influyen directamente en el ASO, ayuda a llamar la atención de los usuarios.

2. Las tiendas de aplicaciones no cobran por posicionarte en un lugar destacado. Éste es un privilegio que conceden por una combinación del número de descargas y las valoraciones de los usuarios, que dan a entender la relevancia y calidad de la app. Ojo, también se tiene en cuenta la cantidad de gente que la desinstala.

3. El proceso ASO no termina ahí. Existe una variedad de herramientas (gratuitas y de pago) que te ayudará a monitorizar tus rankings y los de la competencia.

4. Hay distintas posibilidades para dar a conocer una app. Los blogs, el boca a oreja o invitar ainfluencers a probarla es una de ellas. En cuanto a la publicidad, son frecuentes las campañas en redes sociales (Facebook y Twitter, fundamentalmente) y la publicidad dentro de otras aplicaciones móviles.

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Mattel and Google partner on a radically new and different View Master.

Mattel and Google partner on a radically new and different View Master

Remember taking the bright red Mattel View-Master you had as a kid, popping in one of those reels of film and looking at 3D pictures of far-away places or exotic animals?

The View-Master is back, and with a big upgrade: Mattel has partnered with Google to bring the search giant’s Google Cardboard virtual reality software to the View-Master, letting kids explore environments like a space shuttle or a new city in 360 degrees.

Mattel’s new View-Master works by combining what Mattel calls an “experience reel” with a specialized app on an Android smartphone. It can also run any of the 200 or so Google Cardboard virtual reality apps currently in the Google Play store, serving as an affordable gateway into the world of virtual reality.

“Combining technology and innovation with this classic toy gives kids an enhanced experience allowing for play opportunities not yet imagined through new, digitally curated content,” said Mattel SVP and Global Brand General Manager, Toy Box Doug Wadleigh in a statement.

Announced Friday, the View-Master will be available early this year for $29.99 along with a sample reel. Customers can buy packs of new experience reels with fresh content for $14.99 each. Mattel told Global2net.com that it’s experimenting with bringing back some of its classic View-Master content for the new platform as well.

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Outlook will let you manage your work and personal email on your phone and tablet as efficiently as you do on your computer.

Microsoft today launched Outlook for Android and iOS. The former is available (in preview) for download now on Google Play and the latter will arrive on Apple’s App Store later today.

The debut comes less than two months after Microsoft acquired email startup Acompli for $200 million. In fact, Julia White, general manager of Microsoft Office, tells VentureBeat the Acompli team has already been integrated into the Outlook team, and today’s launch is a direct result of that.

outlook_android_phone

The pitch is simple: Outlook will let you manage your work and personal email on your phone and tablet as efficiently as you do on your computer. The app also offers calendar features and attachment integration (with OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and iCloud), along with customizable swipes and actions so you can tailor it to how you specifically use email.

Outlook for Android will be in preview for a few months, unlike its iOS counterpart. This is a strategy Microsoft has adopted for its various cross-platform apps: There are simply more types of Android devices out there, and the company wants user feedback to work out any potential kinks.

outlook_iphone

 The Outlook app for Google’s and Apple’s mobile platforms is free for consumers. It supports Office 365, Exchange, Outlook.com, Yahoo Mail, Gmail, iCloud, and other major email services.

 We say “free for consumers,” but it is technically free for businesses users as well. That said, Microsoft does plan to offer business-specific features for the app that will require an Office 365 subscription.

 White tells us these premium features are currently slated “for the first half of this calendar year.” While we don’t know everything that’s coming, she confirmed data protection, rights management, and encryption are all in the pipeline.

 Microsoft says Acompli users will find the Outlook app a familiar experience because it was built from the Accompli code base. The company also promised to “rapidly update the Outlook app” — aside from pay-for premium features, however, it didn’t discuss what’s next.

 “Since the acquisition, we’ve been working hard on integrating our team and development processes to ensure we’re able to continue rapidly delivering new features and functionality to our customers,” Javier Soltero, Outlook general manager and former CEO of Acompli, said in a statement. “Our mission is to bring the best mobile email experience across platforms, in a way that is as familiar and functional as Outlook itself.”

 Soltero also threw out some interesting numbers: The average business user today sends and receives 121 emails per day, and users spent an average of 24 seconds inside Acompli’s app every time they opened it, which happened dozens of times per day. He believes those 24 seconds need to be “as productive as they can be,” and today’s Outlook app is supposed to deliver just that.

 Will the real Outlook app please stand up?

Microsoft already offers the Outlook Web App (OWA) for business users on iPad,iPhone, and Android. None of these apps can access other email providers outside of Microsoft’s.

 As such, they have never really properly represented Outlook, and when we asked, White confirmed that they are going away. Going forward, they will all be merged into the main Outlook app released today.

 These apps will remain in their respective app stores for the time being, although Microsoft plans to move users over “as quickly as possible.” That said, White noted Microsoft doesn’t have “a specific timeline” nor “a hard deadline” and aims to make the transition a “gradual one” for users.

 All of the above is for Android and iOS. Windows Phone, you might remember, is the only mobile platform that has a “proper” Outlook app. With the release of Windows 10, Microsoft is planning a touch-optimized version of Office that includes Outlook as a universal Windows app. That means this new Outlook, when it arrives along with Windows 10, will work on PCs, tablets, and smartphones.

In short, Microsoft appears to be cleaning up its email act for those on the go. If all goes according to plan, this is the year Outlook will finally get an experience on mobile that is comparable to the desktop.

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