B&O Play’s neat earbuds borrow from ‘90s design

Bang & Olufsen has debuted a new model of its wireless Earset headphones that borrow from one of its older, classic designs.
The B&O Play Earset specifically finds influence from a ‘90s design by Anders Hermansen, which the company says was more industrial in nature, focusing on the basic architecture of the headphones’ arm, piston, and ear hook. This design has been referenced in every iteration of the Earset, dating back to the first version, which was released in 2004.
The headphones were built with comfort at the forefront. B&O Play says that the actual earphone sits just outside the inner ear, which leads to a better long-wear experience and also allows for ambient noise to come through (so you can be aware of your surroundings). There are also multiple joints that can be adjusted to have the headphones better fit the shape of your individual ear.

Image: BeoWorldB&O Play Earset 1, released in 2004
Most of the Earset is made of anodized aluminum, with rubber housing over the hook. Inside, there’s a 14.2mm driver and behind the speaker, an integrated cabinet with two acoustic vents, and a bass port to help deliver the best sound possible. There’s also an omnidirectional mic and an in-line three-button control unit for controlling things like a virtual assistant or music playback. As far as battery life, the Earset is supposed to deliver five hours per charge, which is about what can be expected for wireless earbuds.
B&O Play’s Earset headphones cost $299 and come in two colorways: a matte black and “graphite brown,” available now, with a matte white and silver arriving on June 1st.
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Source: https://www.theverge.com/2018/5/2/17311650/b-o-plays-earset-earbuds-design

3 top-10 college teams who lost very little to the 2018 NFL Draft

Three top-10 teams combined to lose no players picked before No. 100.
One thing we like to have fun with after each NFL Draft: use a simple scoring system to see which colleges actually sent the most value to the pros, not just the most picks.
This year, there wasn’t much drama to that. Alabama dominated, no matter how you count it. So let’s do something else.
Here are 2017’s top teams in the final AP Top 25, ranked by how many Draft Points (explained below) they sent to the pros:

Note three top-10 teams toward the bottom here. If we included all college teams in this list, then Clemson, Wisconsin, and TCU would still be toward the bottom, ranking below some FCS and Division II teams.
The ACC champ, the Orange Bowl champ, and Alamo Lazarus combined to lose about as many draftees as Alabama alone … and lost very few high picks. Ohio State, Georgia, and Penn State each lost more draft value than the Clemson/Wisconsin/TCU group combined, no matter how complicated the draft value chart you prefer (this one is meant to be easy, but the old Jimmy Johnson chart or one based on expected career value would lead to the same basic conclusions). We should also note Michigan State and Northwestern lost basically nothing, yeah.
So it makes sense that Clemson’s once again No. 2 in early Playoff odds and expected to own the 2019 draft, thanks to its entire behemoth defensive line returning. But everyone already knew Clemson’s loaded.
I am now a little higher on Wisconsin than before the draft, though. The Badgers return basically their whole offense, but I worried about the defense’s losses, especially since that’s UW’s real strength. The NFL doesn’t seem to think as highly of UW’s departed defenders as we did, though. They’re still pro-quality players, but maybe their exits aren’t quite as damaging as expected, since none of them went in the first three rounds. (And/or the NFL’s wrong. We’ll see!)
Clemson’s defensive line vs. Wisconsin’s offensive line in the Playoff: let’s speak it into existence.
TCU’s another interesting one. With Baker Mayfield gone, the Big 12 feels a little more wide open. Texas and West Virginia hype waves are building, but for like the fifth year in a row, I might pick the Frogs to win (I’ll be right one of these days). Shawn Robinson replacing 35th-year senior Kenny Hill at QB means replacing a lot of statistical production — meaning TCU’s 2018 future looks much brighter in this post than it does in one based on stats — but as long as the new offensive line works, this team should win double-digit games.
Meanwhile, Bama’s replacing more than almost any other two teams combined and is still as bloated with talent as ever. Life has never been fair.

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Anthem protester Eric Reid files grievance alleging he is being kept out of NFL | Sport

Eric Reid, who knelt alongside Colin Kaepernick during the protest against racial injustice in the United States, has filed a collusion grievance against the NFL alleging he has been kept out of the league due to his political stance.
Reid’s deal with the San Francisco 49ers expired in March and he has yet to receive a formal offer from any other team. On playing ability alone Reid would have expected to receive more attention: in 2013 he was named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie after being drafted in the first round and has had a solid career since. At 26 he is firmly in his prime and, after being shuffled about in the 49ers’ defense, his head coach Kyle Shanahan said Reid had been “playing his best football” at the end of last season. Reid did meet with the Cincinnati Bengals during the offseason but was not offered a contract. Pro Football Talk said Reid was asked during the meeting whether he would continue to protest and the player said he did not plan to. Some figures in the game say Reid’s situation is down to a slow market for safeties, the position he plays, this offseason.

Kaepernick has already filed a grievance of his own, alleging NFL teams and owners have colluded to keep him out of the league. Both Reid and Kaepernick’s grievances have been filed under under the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.
“Our union is aware that Eric Reid and his legal representatives filed a collusion claim, which will be heard through the arbitration process as spelled out in our collective bargaining agreement,” the NFL Players Association said in a statement Wednesday. “Our union supports Eric and we are considering other legal options to pursue.”

Eric Reid
(@E_Reid35)
The notion that I can be a great signing for your team for cheap, not because of my skill set but because I’ve protested systemic oppression, is ludicrous. If you think is, then your mindset is part of the problem too.

In March, Reid said he had no doubt his protest had prevented him from finding a job. “The notion that I can be a great signing for your team for cheap, not because of my skill set but because I’ve protested systemic oppression, is ludicrous. If you think [it] is, then your mindset is part of the problem too,” Reid wrote on Twitter on Thursday night.
Reid added that he thought it was team owners, who tend to skew conservative, that are keeping him out of a job rather than anyone on the playing side. “[General managers] aren’t the hold up … It’s ownership. People who know football know who can play. People who know me, know my character,” he added.
Reid started to kneel alongside Kaepernick in 2016 after consulting with former NFL player and military veteran Nate Boyer on how they could protest respectfully. He then knelt during the anthem for the entire season. Reid planned to stand for the anthem during the 2017 season but knelt again after the violent far-right protests in Charlottesville in August of that year.
Reid’s younger brother, Justin, will enter the league this season after being drafted by the Houston Texans last weekend. Despite being touted as a first- or second-round selection by most evaluators he ended up dropping to the third round.

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The 6 biggest mistakes of the 2018 NFL Draft

Retired NFL lineman Geoff Schwartz wonders what the heck these teams were thinking on draft weekend.
There’s plenty to love about the NFL draft. I think it’s pretty easy to hit a home run for your fan base. Just draft a player of need, or many players of need, and fans should be satisfied.
But even though every general manager and player personnel director will come out and say they got the player they wanted, I can’t imagine that’s always the case.
There were some teams with certain draft picks I felt were not solid and even a few random “losers” in the draft.
The Raiders’ first pick was a huge reach and a terrible fit with Tom Cable.
For the life of me, I don’t get why Oakland offensive line coach Tom Cable has the reputation among NFL coaches, namely Pete Carroll and Jon Gruden, as someone who can develop offensive line talent.
The starting offensive line for the Seahawks team that won Super Bowl 48 had three of five starting linemen that were drafted or acquired before Tom Cable. After this line was dismantled their free agency, the Seahawks drafted and tried to develop a ton of “upside” offensive lineman.
Ask Russell Wilson how that’s worked.
The Raiders drafted Kolton Miller at No. 15 after a trade down. Kolton Miller has a terrible technique flaw, a bad false step in his stance. I discussed it in a pre draft article. I have no faith that Tom Cable can work this flaw out of Miller.
I study the top prospects of each season for offensive line, but I generally know the names of the next level of lineman. When the Raiders drafted Brandon Parker to open up the third round, I had to look him up. Here’s a line from his scouting report: “Parker is a bit of a project who will need to continue to work on his technique and core strength before he is ready to handle NFL pass rushers.”
Now, I’ll give this pick a tad of a break because Parker won’t be asked to play right away. The Raiders are set inside. However, Miller will be asked to roll now. I don’t think he will be successful.
The Saints doubled down on 2018.
The Saints drafted Marcus Davenport at No. 14 after trading up from No. 27. The Saints gave up a 2019 first-rounder for the production Davenport could offer in 2018.
We know the Saints need pass rusher, and Davenport has the raw talent to succeed in the NFL. I called a UTSA vs Rice game about mid way through the season and after the game I called a few people in the business to give them a heads up on Davenport. I know what the Saints were thinking, but Davenport isn’t worth two first-round picks.
I get it. The Saints are all in for 2018 and they needed the pass rush. It still doesn’t make that a great value pick.
Seattle picked a running back over an offensive lineman. Really.
I hope Russell Wilson has been running extra wind sprints every day to get ready for the upcoming season. He’ll need it since Seattle didn’t address the offensive line until late in the draft.
I know Seahawks fans, y’all have drafted a ton of lineman lately, but guess what, they haven’t panned out. New (or old) offensive line coach Mike Solari is tasked with improving these players. I can see how Seattle would give him the chance to make that happen. But when there’s plenty of quality offensive lineman still available at No. 27, and you draft a running back, that’s not a good value pick.

Josh Allen didn’t suddenly get more accurate when the Bills drafted him.
I understand the allure of Josh Allen, but his accuracy issues are a real issue. His lack of quality play against good opponents is an issue. When Josh Rosen was still on the board, he should have been the pick over Josh Allen.
Plus, I mentioned this before, their offensive staff doesn’t give me much confidence to develop Allen.
Underclassman …
There were 106 underclassman, a record, who declared for the NFL draft. Of those, 37 weren’t drafted. Last season 30 percent of underclassmen went undrafted versus almost 35 percent this year.
I know there are reasons outside of football for declaring to be a professional, but I just hate that these guys left school early and didn’t get drafted. Sometimes being able to choose your spot to play rather than getting drafted late can be a plus, but there needs to be a better vetting system for these players before they declare.
The Steelers had a fine draft, except for one thing.
They didn’t draft a linebacker in the first round, or anywhere else in the draft, because at No. 28 they didn’t want to reach for one. I get it. That’s their philosophy.
Outside of a team needing a quarterback, I’m not sure a team needs a player more than the Steelers need a middle linebacker. There was a noticeable difference when Ryan Shazier was out of the lineup. Right now, the Steelers don’t have a player of his talent, or even close it, on the roster.
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Best Samsung Galaxy J5 Deals: The #1 UK Deals For 2018

Paul Briden

02/05/2018 – 2:58pm

On a budget? Samsung's Galaxy J5 has a lot to offer for a low-cost outlay

The following deals apply only to the UK, and are for either the black or gold coloured versions of the Samsung Galaxy J5.
Samsung Galaxy J5 | 500GB Data | EE | 24 Months | £15 per month | No Upfront Cost + £10 Cashback
Why is this the best deal? Well it’s the lowest cost, costs you nothing up-front, and it’s virtually the same price per month as buying a phone SIM-free and getting a SIM-only contract.
Plus, you get £10 cashback, unlimited texts and minutes per month, and a rather hefty data allowance of 500GB. There are other deals at similar price points, but you either don’t get as much data or you don’t get unlimited minutes.

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Moto E5 and E5 Plus review: Hands-on with Moto’s cheapest smartphones

Motorola recently announced its Moto E5 and E5 handsets alongside the new Moto G range at a global unveiling in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It was slightly puzzling timing in the sense that one of the groups of phones could easily have stolen all the headlines away from the other.
Of course, that was never Motorola’s intention. Since 2014, the Moto E range has given customers a lower-cost option and the Moto E5 and Moto E5 Plus are no different. Now that prices for the Moto G have slowly crept up – the Moto G6 will set you back £220 – that just makes the Moto E5 and Moto E5 Plus more appealing than ever.
Moto E5 and E5 Plus review: Specs, design and features
The Moto E5 Plus offers an especially tempting alternative, with a larger screen and a bigger battery for less money than the Moto G6. It has a 6in, 18:9 720 x 1,440 display, a 12-megapixel f/2 rear camera and a massive 5,000mAh battery, while inside is a Snapdragon 425 processor running at 1.4GHz with 2GB or 3GB of RAM and 16 or 32GB of storage plus microSD expansion. To get your hands on one, you’ll need to part with £150.
The Moto E5 is less interesting but it is even cheaper at £119. It has a smaller 5.7in 720 x 1,440 display, a 13-megapixel f/2 rear camera and a 4,000mAh battery – the same capacity as the Moto G6 Play. Inside, it runs predominantly the same hardware as the Moto E5 Plus and it comes with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage.
Considering the bargain-bucket prices, you might expect both E5 phones to look and feel cheaper than their G6 counterparts but that’s not the case at all. The glossy Moto E5 Plus looks fabulous in either grey or gold and, although less interesting, the E5 is still reasonably smart. Both devices feel solid in the hand and have a rear-mounted fingerprint reader – it’s just where you want it on both devices, falling perfectly under the tip of your index finger.
Thanks to its whopping 5,000mAh battery, the Moto E5 Plus measures a fairly chunky 9.35mm from front glass to its plastic rear, but fortunately this doesn’t seem to add to much extra weight (the phone tips the scales at 197g). As for the screens, they’re both 720 x 1,440 in resolution and employ IPS panels that look nice and bright and colourful. Neither is as sharp as the 1,080 x 2,160 screen on the Moto G6 and G6 Plus, however.
One notable difference between the E5 phones and the G6 handsets is that the cheaper devices charge via micro-USB instead of USB Type-C. This limits the speed at which the battery is topped up, which you’re especially likely to notice with the Moto E5 Plus, because of its super-size battery.
The Moto E5 and Moto E5 Plus cameras also haves none of the G6’s clever landmark recognition or its depth-editing skills, and neither device is water repellent. However, when you’re spending £150 or less on a phone, that’s hardly surprising.
Motorola Moto E5 and Moto E5 Plus: Early verdict
It hardly matters how quick the Moto E5 and E5 Plus are or, indeed, how good or bad the cameras are, or that they don’t have water repellency. They are budget handsets after all.
What will catch people’s attention – and rightly so – is the Moto E5 Plus’ enormous 5,000mAh battery. Its 65% larger than the 3,000 mAh battery in the Moto G6, nearly as large as the legendary Lenovo P2 and, hopefully, it’ll deliver two days, perhaps more between charges.
It won’t appeal to those looking for a more pocket-friendly smartphone, or something to play PUBG Mobile on, but if those two things aren’t a concern both Moto E5 phones look to be solid budget offerings, particularly the Moto E5 Plus with its absolutely enormous battery.

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The content sourced from: http://www.alphr.com/mobile-phones/1009252/moto-e5-and-e5-plus-review

LowePro PhotoStream SP 200 Travel 360°, m-Trekker HP 120, ​m-Trekker BP 150 and m-Trekker SH 150

Lowepro has today announced the availability of a range of new photography / camera bags and cases – the PhotoStream SP 200 Travel 360°, m-Trekker HP 120, m-Trekker BP 150 and m-Trekker SH 150.
LowePro Press Release
PhotoStream SP 200 Travel 360°
Designed for enthusiast to pro photographers, the PhotoStream SP 200 is a lightweight and streamlined “spinner” bag optimised for airline travel.  Armoured exterior and flexible interior provide secure, customisable storage while 4 wheels deliver 360° range of motion.
The PhotoStream SP 200 can hold:
•1-2 Pro DSLRs, one with up to 70-200mm f/2.8 lens attached
•Up to 8 lenses/speedlights
•15″ laptop
•Tripod  & accessories
m-Trekker BP 150
The m-Trekker BP 150 features a discreet design that offers a modern look without the obvious outward appearance of a camera bag. Secure body-side access to the main compartment safeguards against theft, and the customisable interior can hold a mirrorless kit along with additional gear such as the DJI Osmo or Mavic Drone. SRP £109.95
Key features of the m-Trekker BP 150 include:
•Secure body side access
•CradleFitTM protection for 13 inch laptop
•Customisable interior
•Protective All Weather AW CoverTM
•2 durable fabric options: Black Cordura® / Grey CanvexTM
m-Trekker SH 150 Low Profile Mirrorless Carry
The perfect low-profile mirrorless carry solution. Compact with classic styling, this streamlined design is protective and comfortable to carry. Fits smaller mirrorless or mobile video kits, GorillaPod, lighting, audio equipment and tablet.  SRP £64.95

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Fortnite Player Finds Secret Lair Housing Nukes Under Map – Game Rant

Season 4 of Fortnite, which just released today, is already igniting conspiracy theories about the fate of the map. After Season 3’s highly-anticipated conclusion brought about the end of Dusty Depot, players are left wondering just what catastrophe awaits them next.

Today, YouTuber LJC (among others) found a hidden lair with what appeared to be a nuclear warhead inside, leading some to believe the evil counterparts to the superheroes of Season 4 are preparing to decimate the entire map.
The Fortnite video chronicles the player’s ascent to the map, from which they enter the hillside lair and find a couple of cars in the garage near the entry. The base of the nuclear warhead is seen in the first room, which the player examines for a moment before moving on to collect some pretty substantial loot.
The fairly intricate complex is decked out with machinery, from advanced computer systems and TVs to vending machines and washing machines. As far as secret lairs ago, this one wouldn’t make for a bad place to camp out for a while, complete with a fully-furnished bedroom and bathroom.

At the peak of the lair, which overlooks Snobby Shores, the tip of the massive missile can be found. The sighting is one of many interesting details uncovered within the last day (you can check out the patch notes here), and surely won’t be the last. However, the sight of a nuclear-tipped missile hiding in a lair is always cause for concern.
The Fortnite community on Reddit is in a tizzy over the new developments, formulating theories about how Season 4 will come to a close and what theme will take over in Season 5. Of the more interesting theories was one from Reddit user HomChkn, where Season 5 would emulate nuclear-themed movies from the 50s and 60s, with players mutated by the nuclear impact.

On the other hand, the “super villain” lair isn’t the only discovery causing a stir today. Players are also reporting various secret areas decorated to look like superhero lairs, in contrast to the apparent supervillain lairs being discovered across the map. To note, there is also an underground bunker sporting everything one might need to survive a nuclear blast. Whatever’s to come, it would appear Epic Games is gearing up for an epic conclusion to Season 4.

Fortnite is available now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.

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A smart home miracle: How Homey can network all your devices

I don’t know what ransomware is.
Is this also the case for you?

Home automation is a beautiful thing, especially when nobody is home. When a storm starts, it makes absolute sense to close the shutters and windows. When the mailman rings, it might be a good idea to open the door and watch him on the security camera. And if the CO2 level in the basement is suddenly too high, it’d be nice to switch on the light immediately and check what’s going on with the camera.
Imagine you needed just one bridge for all Smart Home devices. / © AndroidPIT

All of these things can be implemented, but the solutions to these problems are from manufacturers that are charging a fortune. As a customer, however, you could buy sensors, cameras and lamps from the cheapest manufacturers and then network them yourself. The only problem is that the many wireless standards from various manufacturers prevent you from doing this. And even if two manufacturers use the same wireless standard, it doesn’t mean the devices can interact with one another.
Conrad Connect and Athom Homey want to mediate
The Conrad electronics subsidiary Conrad Connect and the Dutch start-up Athom offer approaches to mediation. The German Conrad Connect builds a bridge online and networks several smart home devices that can be operated via web interfaces. Athom Homey, on the other hand, chooses a more direct route and seeks to replace all the connection bridges in your house with a single one. The different approaches have the same goal: to bring everything together that doesn’t belong together.
Athom Homey is the bridge of all bridges. / © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

Now you have to consider what your real goal is: if you want to reduce the number of bridges in your house, Athom Homey is your first choice. The small globe will cost you 299 euros (which is around 360 dollars).

NFC
RF 433 MHz
RF 868 MHz
Z-Wave 868 MHz
ZigBee 2.4 GHz
Bluetooth 2.4 GHz
Wi-Fi 2.4 GHz
IR 430 THz
RF

… it covers a wide spectrum. The manufacturers that are already integrated include Aldi, Bosch-Siemens Home Control, Devolo, Dyson, Google Chromecast, Ikea, Nanoleaf, Neato, Nest, NetAtmo, Nuki Smart Lock, Osram Lightify, Philips Hue, Roomba, Samsung Smart TV, Sonos, Synology Surveillance, tado, TP-Link and many inexpensive alternatives.
Additional integrations like IFTTT, Telegram, HomeKit, Slack, SMS or Twitter multiply the possible interactions with your smart home. And yes, SMS really means that you can unlock your home smart lock via SMS.
Homey as the bridge of all bridges
Atom’s great ambition is to replace all bridges with a single solution. Ideally you should buy the Homey first, and then compatible lamps and other devices. You can buy them without their bridges and save yourself from their rather high prices.
Unfortunately, in some cases this doesn’t work out as well as you’d hope. The bridgeless pairing with Philips Hue Lamps, for example, turns out to be inadequate, but this isn’t Athom’s fault. Lamps that were already coupled to a Hue bridge cannot be put into a coupling mode without a Hue bridge, or if they can it’s very complicated. Athom strongly recommends that Philips Hue be used in combination with the Hue Bridge. There is, however, an excellent unofficial bridge-less solution from the remarkable Athom community.
Open the door; turn on the lights. Athom Homey connects Devolo with Philips Hue. / © AndroidPIT

In any case, your Hue light can now be activated with devices from other manufacturers, provided that they’re connected to Homey. This is done through the so-called flow. These are graphically created scripts where you define if-then relationships in your home automation. These could be…

IF

Netatmo in the cellar measures CO2 over 1,500 ppm

AND

Netatmo in the cellar measures a temperature of over 85 degrees

THEN

Activate Philips Hue in the basement with 100 percent brightness
Activate Philips Hue in the basement two seconds later with Color Loop
Send a Telegram message to the family chat
Start the Nest Cam in the cellar

Homey flows allow much more complex interrelationships than these. / © AndroidPIT

In the test setup consisting of Devolo Home Control door/window contacts and Philips Hue Shape Light we were able to use Devolo without a bridge. The Shape Light is also compatible with Homey without a bridge through the community apps mentioned above. It’s also suitable for the flow that we programmed. Thanks to the bridge-less combination, Homey could help you save a lot of money here.
Philips Hue Smart Bridge
And you don’t need to sign up for the online services of Devolo or Philips. A lot of overhead becomes superfluous with Homey.
Disadvantages of Homey
No updates for accessories
One question left unanswered is how to provide individual devices with updates. This is usually done via the respective bridge or app. If these vectors are eliminated by Homey, Athom would have to offer manufacturers an alternative route for updates. In the test, however, we couldn’t observe that a connected device received an update.
The interface is too complicated at times
The Homey is currently configured via app or web interface; in both cases networking is done via your Athom user account. However, new devices can only be connected on the desktop and not on a smartphone. Programs for Windows or Mac OC are already available, but I didn’t want to test them on Linux. For Linux users, the web interface via Google Chrome is still recommended.
The app allows access to all devices. / © AndroidPIT

Athom quickly gave up Homey’s voice control, so this form of operation also wasn’t tested. You could theoretically upgrade it with Echo Dot and Alexa Skill.
New devices can easily be integrated. / © AndroidPIT

One of the most challenging riddles was Athom’s management of the Wi-Fi password. Once connected to Wi-Fi, the Wi-Fi can only be changed in recovery mode. Homey is always one click away from completely deleting your data, and that can ruin a lot of what you’ve done.
An early conclusion
Athom is showing great potential. We had the Homey in operation for half a year. Throughout this time, the manufacturer has prepared launches in more markets. In the meantime, the software department consistently improved the difficulties with the setup and was able to integrate new smart home hardware.
Homey seems to be delivering. However, it’s recommended that you first select compatible devices and then buy the Homey. As the example of Philips Hue shows, it can be difficult to free coupled devices from their first bridge.
Athom still has to solve the update problem, learn more languages and fix some bugs in the software, and then the Homey will become a really good product. At the moment it’s already a really successful feasibility study.
What do you think? Does the Homey sound useful to you?

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‘SmartLens’ app created by a high schooler is a step towards all-purpose visual search – TechCrunch

A couple of years ago I was eagerly expectant of an app that would identify anything you pointed it at. Turns out the problem was much harder than anyone expected — but that didn’t stop high school senior Michael Royzen from trying. His app, SmartLens, attempts to solve the problem of seeing something and wanting to identify and learn more about it — with mixed success, to be sure, but it’s something I don’t mind having in my pocket.
Royzen reached out to me a while back and I was curious — as well as skeptical — about the idea that where the likes of Google and Apple have so far failed (or at least failed to release anything good), a high schooler working in his spare time would succeed. I met him at a coffee shop to see the app in action and was pleasantly surprised, but a little baffled.
The idea is simple, of course: You point your phone’s camera at something and the app attempts to identify it using an enormous but highly optimized classification agent trained on tens of millions of images. It connects to Wikipedia and Amazon to let you immediately learn more about what you’ve ID’ed, or buy it.
It recognizes more than 17,000 objects — things like different species of fruit and flower, landmarks, tools and so on. The app had little trouble telling an apple from a (weird-looking) mango, a banana from a plantain and even identified the pistachios I’d ordered as a snack. Later, in my own testing, I found it quite useful for identifying the plants springing up in my neighborhood: periwinkles, anemones, wood sorrel, it got them all, though not without the occasional hesitation.
The kicker is that this all happens offline — it’s not sending an image over the cell network or Wi-Fi to a server somewhere to be analyzed. It all happens on-device and within a second or two. Royzen scraped his own image database from various sources and trained up multiple convolutional neural networks using days of AWS EC2 compute time.
Then there are far more than that number in products that it recognizes by reading the text of the item and querying the Amazon database. It ID’ed books, a bottle of pills and other packaged goods almost instantly, providing links to buy them. Wikipedia links pop up if you’re online as well, though a considerable amount of basic descriptions are kept on the device.
On that note, it must be said that SmartLens is a more than 500-megabyte download. Royzen’s model is huge, since it must keep all the recognition data and offline content right there on the phone. This is a much different approach to the problem than Amazon’s own product recognition engine on the Fire Phone (RIP) or Google Goggles (RIP) or the scan feature in Google Photos (which was pretty useless for things SmartLens reliably did in half a second).

“With the several past generations of smartphones containing desktop-class processors and the advent of native machine learning APIs that can harness them (and GPUs), the hardware exists for a blazing-fast visual search engine,” Royzen wrote in an email. But none of the large companies you would expect to create one has done so. Why?
The app size and toll on the processor is one thing, for sure, but the edge and on-device processing is where all this stuff will go eventually — Royzen is just getting an early start. The likely truth is twofold: it’s hard to make money and the quality of the search isn’t high enough.
It must be said at this point that SmartLens, while smart, is far from infallible. Its suggestions for what an item might be are almost always hilariously wrong for a moment before arriving at, as it often does, the correct answer.
It identified one book I had as “White Whale,” and no, it wasn’t Moby Dick. An actual whale paperweight it decided was a trowel. Many items briefly flashed guesses of “Human being” or “Product design” before getting to a guess with higher confidence. One flowering bush it identified as four or five different plants — including, of course, Human Being. My monitor was a “computer display,” “liquid crystal display,” “computer monitor,” “computer,” “computer screen,” “display device” and more. Game controllers were all “control.” A spatula was a wooden spoon (close enough), with the inexplicable subheading “booby prize.” What?!
This level of performance (and weirdness in general, however entertaining) wouldn’t be tolerated in a standalone product released by Google or Apple. Google Lens was slow and bad, but it’s just an optional feature in a working, useful app. If it put out a visual search app that identified flowers as people, the company would never hear the end of it.
And the other side of it is the monetization aspect. Although it’s theoretically convenient to be able to snap a picture of a book your friend has and instantly order it, it isn’t so much more convenient than taking a picture and searching for it later, or just typing the first few words into Google or Amazon, which will do the rest for you.
Meanwhile for the user there is still confusion. What can it identify? What can’t it identify? What do I need it to identify? It’s meant to ID many things, from dog breeds and storefronts, but it likely won’t identify, for example, a cool Bluetooth speaker or mechanical watch your friend has, or the creator of a painting at a local gallery (some paintings are recognized, though). As I used it I felt like I was only ever going to use it for a handful of tasks in which it had proven itself, like identifying flowers, but would be hesitant to try it on many other things when I might just be frustrated by some unknown incapability or unreliability.
And yet the idea that in the very near future there will not be something just like SmartLens is ridiculous to me. It seems so clearly something we will all take for granted in a few years. And it’ll be on-device, no need to upload your image to a server somewhere to be analyzed on your behalf.
Royzen’s app has its issues, but it works very well in many circumstances and has obvious utility. The idea that you could point your phone at the restaurant you’re across the street from and see Yelp reviews two seconds later — no need to open up a map or type in an address or name — is an extremely natural expansion of existing search paradigms.
“Visual search is still a niche, but my goal is to give people the taste of a future where one app can deliver useful information about anything around them — today,” wrote Royzen. “Still, it’s inevitable that big companies will launch their competing offerings eventually. My strategy is to beat them to market as the first universal visual search app and amass as many users as possible so I can stay ahead (or be acquired).”
My biggest gripe of all, however, is not the functionality of the app, but in how Royzen has decided to monetize it. Users can download it for free but upon opening it are immediately prompted to sign up for a $2/month subscription — before they can even see whether the app works or not. If I didn’t already know what the app did and didn’t do, I would delete it without a second thought upon seeing that dialog, and even knowing what I do, I’m not likely to pay in perpetuity for it.
A one-time fee to activate the app would be more than reasonable, and there’s always the option of referral codes for those Amazon purchases. But demanding rent from users who haven’t even tested the product is a non-starter. I’ve told Royzen my concerns and I hope he reconsiders.
It would also be nice to scan images you’ve already taken, or save images associated with searches. UI improvements like a confidence indicator or some kind of feedback to let you know it’s still working on identification would be nice as well — features that are at least theoretically on the way.
In the end I’m impressed with Royzen’s efforts — when I take a step back it’s amazing to me that it’s possible for a single person, let alone one in high school, to put together an app capable of completing such sophisticated computer vision tasks. It’s the kind of (over-) ambitious app-building one expects to come out of a big, playful company like the Google of a decade ago. This may be more of a curiosity than a tool right now, but so were the first text-based search engines.
SmartLens is in the App Store now — give it a shot.

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The content sourced from: https://techcrunch.com/2018/05/01/smartlens-app-created-by-a-high-schooler-is-a-step-towards-all-purpose-visual-search/