Invision App demonstrates new plugin Craft

NEW YORK – Imagine if you could prototype an app that allows you to put in a photo sample without downloading it; that’s how the new Invision product, Craft, works. Thinking of adding hot spots, you add in a url and Google Maps appear.  And if you want to configure pop-ups in your prototype, it can also do that.

Watch a demo on this link https://vimeo.com/153858834

Last July 21, UX Prototyping NYC featured Invision’s new Craft, with Rocio Werner, product designer/UX Designer, WeSolv, explaining how it works at the offices of Lifion. She was joined by Simon B. Kirk, Business Development director at Invision and John Laberee, Business Development specialist, also at Invision.

InVision is now one of the world’s leading design playforms with such impressive client as Apple, Disney, IBM and Verizon, to name a few. Craft brings real data to your design but from the demo, it’s impressive to see how photos from a URL need not be downloaded for use if you are merely doing a prototype and need sample photos.

But what really is Craft? It’s a suite of plugins for Photoshop and Sketch that help streamline your design workflow by automating cumbersome actions and pulling in more realistic sample data. As explained by Sean Kinney, Craft consists of three tools:

  1. Duplicate: Quickly copy and arrange a layer in no time at all
  2. LibraryGenerate a style guide inside of your Sketch file. It makes a new page with separate color palette, fonts, text styles and custom elements you can set up yourself. Share and sync the entire library with your team.
  3. Data: Bring real text, images, JSON, and live web content to your prototype, helping make your prototypes feel real without spending time making mock data within the app.

You will need the Craft Manager, an Os X app in your toolbar panel. With this, you reportedly get instant access to all Craft plugins. This will be music to your ears. It is free. You only need to go to http://labs.invisionapp.com/craft and submit your email address so its team can provide you with a download link.

As for the versions of Photoshop and Sketch that it supports, you have to have PhotoshopCC 2014.1 and later or Sketch 3.7 and later

 For a quick overview of Craft, visit https://labs.invisionapp.com/craft

Workload management firm launches new Grid Engine, among others

NEW YORK—Last July 20, Univa, the leading innovator of workload management solutions that optimize throughput and performance of applications, containers and services, introduced new products and featured some of its cutting-edge technologies, including Univa Grid Engine 8.4.0, Unisight 4.0, Univa Short Jobs and Navops at Tech Days at the Marriott in the city.

Headquartered in Chicago, with offices in Canada and Germany, the company assists companies in managing thousands of applications and run billions of tasks every day to obtain actionable insights and achieve faster time-to-results.

It is known for its proprietary software that optimizes workloads within data centers and cloud services and its deep expertise in distributed data

Its Grid Engine manages workloads automatically, maximizing shared resources and accelerates deployment of any container, application or service.

The solution can reportedly be deployed in any technology environment, on-premise or in the cloud. By using Univa Grid Engine software, enterprises and organizations can deliver products and results faster, more efficiently, and with lower overall costs.

With Univa Grid Engine, workloads are reportedly shared across machines in a data center to optimize the computing infrastructure. Scheduling policies are then applied to all work submitted to the cluster, ensuring high-priority jobs are completed on time while simultaneously maintaining maximum utilization of all cluster machines.

The solution also monitors any resource or software license and schedules applications ensuring they are automatically matched to the appropriate licenses and machines.

In terms of scalability, it can reportedly scale to a cluster of 120,000 cores in a single managed environment. A single Grid Engine cluster can contain more than 10,000 nodes and run 100 million jobs per month.

The solution continuously collects metrics from all cluster nodes. Afterwards, it uses scheduling strategies configured by the administrator to evaluate all pending workloads and match specific job requirements to available resources.

Ian Foster, founder, was present at the event presided by CEO and president Gary Tyreman. For more information, visit univa.com

How would you like images automatically tagged? Clarifai does it

NEW YORK—Last July 18, HUI Central featured Clarifai, the three-year old artificial intelligence company that focuses on visual recognition and solving real-world problems for businesses and developers in its midtown East office.

What problems? Imagine having hundreds of images but tagging each one of them on your site? That would be too much of a chore. Clarifai does the tagging for you when you upload them—automatically.

Presenter Cassidy Williams showed Clarifai’s powerful image and video recognition technology, built on machine learning systems and made available to developers via a clean API. Williams showed how the technology works using “convolution neural networks.” It reportedly improves its image recognition capability with consistent use.

Williams compared convolution to adjacent by saying the former is fast to train and can find multiple items whereas the latter offers no recognition of special structure but is good for finding a single item. Both, she said, creates a multilayer neural network.

What are convolution neutral networks? Deeplearning.net defines it “as biologically-inspired variants of MLPs. From Hubel and Wiesel’s early work on the cat’s visual cortex, the visual cortex contains a complex arrangement of cells. These cells are sensitive to small sub-regions of the visual field, called a receptive field. The sub-regions are tiled to cover the entire visual field. These cells act as local filters over the input space and are well-suited to exploit the strong spatially local correlation present in natural images.

“Additionally, two basic cell types have been identified: Simple cells respond maximally to specific edge-like patterns within their receptive field. Complex cells have larger receptive fields and are locally invariant to the exact position of the pattern.

The animal visual cortex being the most powerful visual processing system in existence, it seems natural to emulate its behavior. Hence, many neurally-inspired models can be found in the literature.”

Today, big companies are confident how deep learning can handle large data sets plus have greater computing power. It’s a game changer for AI prototyping. Not only that, it can serve as a boon for advertisers trying to pinpoint better use and even best timing for any use of photo or videos.

Clarifai has both a REST API that could be integrated with your preferred language along with a Python, Java and Node.js API. For more info, visit developer.clarifai.com or github.com/clarifai

The cloud as commodity, just like your utility bill

NEW YORK–What if you could pay for usage of your Internet and your mobile phone data the way you use your gas or electricity bill?  At the TheoRise event at Rise last July 15, Nich Chung of Paper and Soap at Rise hosted a talk on cloud as community with panelists Tim Martin, COO of  Universal Compute; Jon Finkel, head trader and managing partner of Landscape Capital; Jack Thorburn, COO of Global Commodities.

The topic is timely as TheoRise theorizes how The Cloud could be treated (and traded) like a commodity or utility as innovation and investment slows, and chasing competitive parity becomes the norm among the Apples, Amazons and Googles of the world.

If not, many prophesy that what is termed “internet bankruptcy. “(Many companies) would not know how to pay for this,” he said.

Developers can use up more space, because the company they work for is growing and innovating; the more important it is then to have the cloud work as a commodity.

In our world of on-demand and open-source, TheoRise said approaching IT as a commodity would not only be a cost-effective measure, it could help pave the way for a truly neutral, universally accessible Internet. Even developing countries who can’t afford cloud could benefit substantially from it. “It will be advantageous for bit players,” Finkel said.

“(The cloud) would be like a metering company,” Martin said.

It’s a new way of thinking that will usher in ways of measuring services in the cloud.

It’s already happening. Martin said businesses can now measure their cloud consumption. When you plug your electric appliances, you don’t know where that power is coming from. With IT, there is a sense of security as much as there are ways to get data.

The cloud is a collection of physical assets. Its computing power will be key resources for a company, creating a transparency, according to Thorburn.

Commodity markets trading a contract in cloud services is not far-fetched.

The meetup used instant feedback and data from Remesh.

Design Driven takes Airbnb, Google Ventures and Equinox to the UN

NEW YORK — Last July 12, Design Driven NYC made history when it held its meetup at the United Nations. Because of the security measure at the revered venue, it took some time for attendees to get inside but once everyone took their seats in one amphitheater–with hundreds of microphones for each attendee to use–the venue took on a halo of significance.

“I loved being in the giant UN conference room with the microphones and earpieces. It felt very much like a Soviet Era secret government gathering!” attendee Maria Stegner said.

Just as awed by the venue were Amber Cartwright, design manager at Airbnb;  Verena Haller, SVP of design at Equinox Hotels and Braden Kowitz, design partner at Google Ventures: Design Culture – Creating Workplaces Where Design Can Thrive.

Jeffrey Zeldman and Jen Simmons also talked about the Past, Present, and Future of Web & Interaction Design. Zeldman has been recognized as the king of web standards, while Simmons is a designer advocate at Mozilla and host of “The Web Ahead”.

Cartwright talked about her work at Airbnb and how she “works with machines (machine learning).“In tapping machine learning for a new pricing tool we wanted to build for our hosts, she and her team worked on a model that would answer the question, ‘What will the booked price of a listing be on any given day in the future’?”

Cartwright then showed a Smart Pricing regression model which explained the model made up of three parts.

Cartwright emphasized the importance of working with a team that consisted of a design manager (herself), product lead, data scientist lead, engineering manager and financial manager. “We collectively made decisions with each other’s disciplines in mind. I learned how the other worlds operate and how to leverage the expertise and capabilities of my partners to build something better.”

The work with her team takes many forms, from storyboards to prototypes, strategy decks and diagrams, which result in a shared understanding of a product vision. She believes a “shared knowledge allows innovation to happen as a step change on in micro steps. Visualizing the roles that data and the machine play in the discovery process is the first part of Invisible Design.”

Cartwright talks at length about Invisible Design in her piece on Medium. “I’m continuing to work with my teams to build data visualizations that tell stories along with the interfaces our users interact with. These visualizations tend to vary as much as the products we’re creating, but the outcome is always that they help to motivate, inspire and educate the broader product team.”

“After understanding what we’re designing and how it works, we can start building the product with a variety of tools. A carpenter has a hammer. A photographer, a camera. A product designer, sketch. A software engineer, code. What’s interesting about all of the examples above is only one of them has a tool with the ability to learn, change and grow over time.

“Most product designers today sculpt UI with reactive tools–shapes and pixels are drawn on screen input directly from a designer. We also use these tools for designing outputs that are controlled programmatically in systems like responsive platforms and components. Our data partners in product are adept with tools that evolve over time. Physical systems, economic models and algorithms organically grow as variables shape their outcomes.”

As a result, they have created a new Design Language System (DLS) at Airbnb.

Can machines do design? “No, because we are the arbiters of interpretation,” she said. “Machines are good with constraints but not with images ratios, brand, style and legibility, but our (DLS), we have an intelligent framework for creative expression.”.

Google Ventures’  Kowitz came from Silicon Valley to talk about creating workplaces where design can thrive. He showed an old video about “group norms.” In the video, a man facing the elevator turns his back when people coming in did the unconventional by facing the back of the elevator as everyone did.

He talked about setting 3 cultural values in an organization:

  1. Have faith in quality, even if it can’t be measured. Create a process around critiquing.
  2. Hold designers accountable. Designers go through this process in understanding design based on surface value, user value and  business value, the latter being what designers should focus on.
  3. Design is everyone’s job. Borrowing a quote, he said an employee should be exposed to customers for two hours..He added the importance of how an employee would need to write down a critique before every meeting

Haller of Equinox talked about how the fitness company is building a hotel that is rising on Hudson Yards. “We want people to maximize their potential,” adding how they are doing a “slightly hedonistic take on elevation.”

Jo Biang and where virtual card Privacy is headed

NEW YORK — Last July 7, Mobile Payments NYC Meetup in cooperation with Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator hosted a fireside chat with Bo Jiang, CEO of Privacy, a new startup that generates a virtual Visa debit card, so you can control your online purchases at Alley Midtown.

“You don’t have to worry about a merchant overcharging you,” he said.

Privacy does the worrying for you. It has to maintain a large cash flow, so it can handle all the money, technology and marketing.

How does it work? You install a tiny icon from Privacy’s Google Chrome Extension. When you click the icon, the extension automatically generates a new virtual Visa debit card. An iOS app should help you get things going if you’re not in front of a computer.

Launched in March this year, Privacy has 5 staff based in Brooklyn.  ‘We’ve experienced 50% growth in the past 30 days,” he said. “Our no. 1 driver of growth is media and word of mouth,” he said.

“To keep us ahead things, our first hire was a compliance expert,” he said.

As it generates dynamic numbers every time you need a card, it protects you from credit card fraud. Its CVV works like any visa card. There are no charges to customers but they get a share of income from every transaction – as well as the banks they are partners with.

How are people using it? One would think the cards are being used for porn, but Jiang is quick to point out how porn only represents 1 percent of transaction. “Vast majority is subscription volume,” he said.

How did they convince banks and other partners to work with them? “We have been at this for two years ,” he said, adding how it took the company up to 9 months to work on streamlining the process with banks.

Jiang offers some perspective about his startup, admitting how the first 3 years has been rough.  As advice to those just starting their business, he said it’s crucial to “make your initial product as narrow as possible.” You product, he said, may be too broad.

Jiang saw an opportunity in the business as banks usually think customers don’t like virtual cards. What annoys him about the payment system? “There are so many things that can be automated and faster.”

In terms of security, he said Privacy offers a layered firewall.  “We maintain minimal information – we store your account and routing number,” he said.

Jiang pauses when asked a question about bitcoin, as he has dabbled on bitcoin for many years but from the way he talks about Privacy, he has clearly moved on.

Home stove, factories get smarter; outsourcing to China

NEW YORK—Tracy van Dyk, head of electronics at Biolite, was one of three presenters at the Hardware meetup last June 27 at Microsoft, but Van Dyk, but beyond talking about Biolite’s amazing cookware products, she got everybody’s attention by talking about how she and Biolite learned while searching for and manufacturing its products in China.

  • Construct a good RFQ package. Have full gerbers, BOM, description of product, test criteria and order quantity.
  • Cast a large net. Look for vendors that fit with your company size. See if they have employees
  • Set up a vendor qualification criteria.

Must have an English website

Fast response time/eagerness

Able to answer technical questions.

Good product detail/management

Willing to set up on-site visit

Must be willing to negotiate price

Having Van Dyk talk about the company’s manufacturing process makes perfect sense, as it also demonstrates a manufacturer’s capability.

One of many Biolite products is the HomeStove, a clean-burning stove that combines emissions reduction with cost-saving electricity generation. It reduces indoor smoke by more than 90 percent while fuel cost in half.

How does it work? The user feeds local fuels — whether it’s wood, cow dung, or crop residue — through the side of the stove. Then, they light the fuel much as they did their open fire. The heat from the flame is converted into electricity through a thermoelectric generator. This electrical powers an internal fan, which force-feeds oxygen into the flame, eliminating the smoke, and leading to the near and clean combustion of the fuel.

The stove generates surplus electricity, enough to charge a mobile phone and provide an evening’s worth of LED light. For developing countries with a dearth of wood, it also reduces wood use by 50 percent.

In terms of  reducing waste and increasing productivity, what tools do you need? Industrial software costs an arm and a leg. Not only that, it falls short of expectations.

Oden Technologies is on a mission to eliminate waste in manufacturing, as CEO and founder Willem Sunblad conveyed to the audience at the Hardware meetup.

The SaaS company combines industrial hardware, wireless connectivity, and big data architecture in one platform so all manufacturers can analyze and optimize their production from any device.

CEO Assaf Glazer’s presentation was personal, as the idea came to him monitoring his own baby.  He came up with a smart baby monitor for the IoT era. It’s called Nanit.

“When I had my son 4 years ago, I wanted to understand his behavior, make sure he was safe and healthy,” he said.

Now, he claims to have developed advanced computer vision and machine learning algorithms to help measure human behavior. “This is for parents and babies everywhere,” he said.

Unlike other baby monitors, Nanit does not require wearables or monitors on any baby. Instead, it uses an advanced camera that uses machine learning to provide sleep insights, measuring things like behavior throughout the night.

Lending credence to its Glazer’s claim is Nanit’s team composition, which reportedly comes from established companies such as Diapers.com, Philips and Time Warner.

Expected to launch in September at $350, the Nanit baby monitor reportedly collects temperature, humidity and sound. It closed a $6.6 million seed round.