AI-powered filter app Prisma wants to sell its tech to other companies

Prisma, the Russian company best known for its AI-powered photo filters, is shifting to B2B. The company won’t retire its popular app, but says in the future, it will focus on selling machine vision tools to other tech firms.

“We see big opportunities in deep learning and communication,” Prisma CEO and co-founder Alexey Moiseenkov told The Verge. “We feel that a lot of companies need expertise in this area. Even Google is buying companies for computer vision. We can help companies put machine vision in their app because we understand how to implement the technology.” The firm has launched a new website — prismalabs.ai — in order to promote these services.

Prisma will offer a number of off-the-shelf vision tools, including segmentation (separating the foreground of a photo from the background), face mapping, and both scene and object recognition. The company’s expertise is getting these sorts of systems — powered by neural networks — to run locally on-device. This can be a tricky task, but avoiding using the cloud to power these services can result in apps that are faster, more secure, and less of a drain on phone and tablet battery life.

Although Prisma’s painting-inspired filters were all the rage last year (the app itself was released in June 2015), they were soon copied by the likes of Facebook, which might account for the Russian company’s change in direction.

Moiseenkov denies this is the case, and says it wasn’t his intention to compete with bigger social networks. “We never thought we were a competitor of Facebook — we’re a small startup, with a small budget,” he said. But, he says, the popularity of these deep learning filters shows there are plenty of consumer applications for the latest machine vision tech.

Moiseenkov says his company will continue to support the Prisma app, and that it will act as a showcase for the firm’s latest experiments. He says the app still has between 5 million and 10 million monthly active users, most of which are based in the US. The company also started experimenting with selling sponsored filters on its main app last year, and says it will continue to do so. It also launched an app for turning selfies into chat stickers.

There have been rumors that Prisma would get bought out by a bigger company. Moiseenkov visited Facebook’s headquarters last year, and the US tech giant has made similar acquisitions in the past — buying Belarus facial filter startup MSQRD in March 2016. When asked if the company would consider a similar deal, co-founder Aram Airapetyan replied over email: “We want to go on doing what we do and what we can do best. The whole team is super motivated and passionately committed to what we do

Source:-theverge

Cash Is Culture in India, but It’s Not Going to Be the Future

Cash Is Culture in India, but It’s Not Going to Be the Future

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Cash is not just the norm but also embedded in culture
  • New systems like mPOS terminals are making digital more convenient
  • Apps like BHIM help bring payments from India to Bharat as a whole

In India, cash is culture. It’s everywhere, inspiring Hindi film songs, being doled out by loving grandparents, occupying a key role in religious rituals, and even fuelling a parallel economy. So resistance to any alternative method of payment is only to be expected.

This is amply evident from the way digital transactions, which had spiked from 672 million in November 2016 to 958 million in December 2016 because of demonetisation, plummeted to 763 million (February 2017) once the new currency came back in circulation, as per RBI data. The latest numbers show some growth, but it’s a far cry from the peak in December even now.

It’s a challenge that Digital India is up for. Driving the shift from cash to digital payments are a host of factors – a huge population of young, aspiring people embracing the digital lifestyle, the “India Stack” of four technology layers (presenceless, paperless, cashless, consent), and a robust real-time payments infrastructure in which the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is the crown jewel. But beyond doubt, policies such as banning the use of cash for transactions amounting to Rs. 200,000 or more are also making an impact. In his budget speech this year, the Minister of Finance announced a mission tasked with achieving 25 billion digital transactions in the year 2017-18 through various means including Aadhaar Pay, UPI, USSD, IMPS, and debit cards.

payment systems

That’s a tall order for an economy where 98 percent of consumer payments are still made in cash. Before this can happen though, several barriers lie in the way. The “cash habit” is at the top of the list, followed by the complexity of using digital payment methods.

Cash is easy
The second factor is telling. A huge reason why cash still rules as a medium of exchange is that it is simple and convenient. Digital payment mechanisms, which might be convenient in some ways – (they save a trip to the bank and are easy to carry around) – are actually less convenient at the point of use. To understand this, visualise the process of using a mobile wallet – log in, authenticate yourself, scan code, enter amount, authorise payment – and now compare it to the ease of handing out cash.

Currently, there is friction on both sides of the digital payment transaction. The abundance of payment options with their different POS hardware and procedures is confusing merchants, who don’t know where to draw the line. This isn’t making life simpler for consumers either.

Clearly, digital payments must become frictionless before they can find mass acceptance.

mpos machine eze

Technology and innovation can do much to facilitate that. For instance, Ezetap has introduced a mobile-based payments acceptance device that merchants can use for all types of digital payments. Another good example is Tonetag, one of our partner firms, which has found an alternative solution to NFC technology with a communication mechanism that uses sound waves. Merchants can even accept cards in much the same way as before; customers need to authorise the payment like they do with NFC, with a swipe, password or OTP.

Ezetap, Tonetag, and others like them reduce the friction in payments, but they don’t eliminate it altogether. Some other forces need to come together to make digital payments as convenient as cash.

Bharat, and not just India
One of these is the digitisation of low-income consumers, which received a shot in the arm when the BHIM app was launched a couple of months after demonetisation with the goal of enabling those with a bank account but no cards, to make digital payments. Another factor is the growth of e-commerce players, who, by accepting card or wallet payments on delivery, have eased even reluctant cash customers into digital payments. The next level of e-commerce, namely smart commerce, will drive digital payments even higher, using AI and analytics to spur consumption.

bhim full

To see what that looks like, you need only look to Amazon, which has mastered the use of consumer analytics to anticipate needs, personalise recommendations, or simply remind customers of something they had shown interest in.

These forces are still brewing at present. When they take firm hold, India will make more meaningful progress towards digital payments. While the timeline for that is uncertain, once the conditions fall into place, the shift from cash to digital will be swift and irreversible.

Venkatramana Gosavi is Senior Vice President and Regional Head, Infosys Finacle, and has been working with Finacle for over 15 years now.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Jaguar Land Rover Wants Its Future Cars To Be More Aerodynamic

simplezoom-img

Jaguar Land Rover aero tricks will help in conserving fuel

Highlights

  • Jaguar Land Rover might adopt these aero packs in future products
  • The application is complex but the ideas are simple
  • JLR wants to channel air across the body to make cars more efficient

Automakers have a lot to think about now-a-days, making autonomous technology, building safer cars and of course making it look good. Aerodynamics too plays a major role and Jaguar Land Rover is taking note of this. The future vehicles coming out of the JLR stable could turn out to be more aerodynamic and the new patent shows the company’s plans for an extensive collection of tricks for channeling air around the side of the body. It’s clear from these patents that JLR want the body of the car to produce less drag and this will ultimately lead to better fuel efficiency.

In these patent drawings, you can see how the vehicle sees deployable vanes up front. When not in use, the strakes would be flush with the vehicle’s body, but they would extend on the road to clean up the airflow ahead of the front wheel. The devices could also rotate for fine-tuning the aero adjustments.
The body also sees active extending side sills. These would help channel air inward towards a rear diffuser, if the particular vehicle actually has one.

jlr patent

These sills would also act help make ingress and egress a breeze. Then there is the D-pillar which could be partially hollow and feature vanes inside and these parts could be fixed or adjustable. The air would be channelled inward and change the shape of the rear of the vehicle, thus reducing the aerodynamic drag.

While these tricks might sound simple, they are indeed difficult to implement, but having patented these technologies, we might soon see them being used in production cars, which will make things even more interesting. Jaguar Land Rover is the largest investor in R&D in the UK manufacturing sector and has already invested $15.7 billion in the last five years and in the current year alone will spend over USD$4.5 billion on new product creation and capital expenditure. We are just happy to see the money put to good use.

[“Source-auto.ndtv”]

Cash Is Culture in India, but It’s Not Going to Be the Future

Cash Is Culture in India, but It’s Not Going to Be the Future

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Cash is not just the norm but also embedded in culture
  • New systems like mPOS terminals are making digital more convenient
  • Apps like BHIM help bring payments from India to Bharat as a whole

In India, cash is culture. It’s everywhere, inspiring Hindi film songs, being doled out by loving grandparents, occupying a key role in religious rituals, and even fuelling a parallel economy. So resistance to any alternative method of payment is only to be expected.

This is amply evident from the way digital transactions, which had spiked from 672 million in November 2016 to 958 million in December 2016 because of demonetisation, plummeted to 763 million (February 2017) once the new currency came back in circulation, as per RBI data. The latest numbers show some growth, but it’s a far cry from the peak in December even now.

It’s a challenge that Digital India is up for. Driving the shift from cash to digital payments are a host of factors – a huge population of young, aspiring people embracing the digital lifestyle, the “India Stack” of four technology layers (presenceless, paperless, cashless, consent), and a robust real-time payments infrastructure in which the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is the crown jewel. But beyond doubt, policies such as banning the use of cash for transactions amounting to Rs. 200,000 or more are also making an impact. In his budget speech this year, the Minister of Finance announced a mission tasked with achieving 25 billion digital transactions in the year 2017-18 through various means including Aadhaar Pay, UPI, USSD, IMPS, and debit cards.

payment systems

That’s a tall order for an economy where 98 percent of consumer payments are still made in cash. Before this can happen though, several barriers lie in the way. The “cash habit” is at the top of the list, followed by the complexity of using digital payment methods.

Cash is easy
The second factor is telling. A huge reason why cash still rules as a medium of exchange is that it is simple and convenient. Digital payment mechanisms, which might be convenient in some ways – (they save a trip to the bank and are easy to carry around) – are actually less convenient at the point of use. To understand this, visualise the process of using a mobile wallet – log in, authenticate yourself, scan code, enter amount, authorise payment – and now compare it to the ease of handing out cash.

Currently, there is friction on both sides of the digital payment transaction. The abundance of payment options with their different POS hardware and procedures is confusing merchants, who don’t know where to draw the line. This isn’t making life simpler for consumers either.

Clearly, digital payments must become frictionless before they can find mass acceptance.

mpos machine eze

Technology and innovation can do much to facilitate that. For instance, Ezetap has introduced a mobile-based payments acceptance device that merchants can use for all types of digital payments. Another good example is Tonetag, one of our partner firms, which has found an alternative solution to NFC technology with a communication mechanism that uses sound waves. Merchants can even accept cards in much the same way as before; customers need to authorise the payment like they do with NFC, with a swipe, password or OTP.

Ezetap, Tonetag, and others like them reduce the friction in payments, but they don’t eliminate it altogether. Some other forces need to come together to make digital payments as convenient as cash.

Bharat, and not just India
One of these is the digitisation of low-income consumers, which received a shot in the arm when the BHIM app was launched a couple of months after demonetisation with the goal of enabling those with a bank account but no cards, to make digital payments. Another factor is the growth of e-commerce players, who, by accepting card or wallet payments on delivery, have eased even reluctant cash customers into digital payments. The next level of e-commerce, namely smart commerce, will drive digital payments even higher, using AI and analytics to spur consumption.

bhim full

To see what that looks like, you need only look to Amazon, which has mastered the use of consumer analytics to anticipate needs, personalise recommendations, or simply remind customers of something they had shown interest in.

These forces are still brewing at present. When they take firm hold, India will make more meaningful progress towards digital payments. While the timeline for that is uncertain, once the conditions fall into place, the shift from cash to digital will be swift and irreversible.

Venkatramana Gosavi is Senior Vice President and Regional Head, Infosys Finacle, and has been working with Finacle for over 15 years now.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]