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OPINION: Mirror, mirror on the wall, tell me all

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JOHANNESBURG – In the 1812 tale of Snow White by the Brothers Grimm, a magical and powerful mirror with an autonomous reflection on the wall plays a central role. But it is a fairy tale. Or is it? There is strong proof to suggest that we are quickly moving into an era where devices that evaluate our appearance and change our behaviours are a reality. We are currently experiencing a wave of technically enhanced tools to help us optimise our daily lives and routines. 

One of these technologies is the “smart mirror” – a mirror with an integrated computer screen. Many of these mirrors have embedded cameras to examine your skin in microscopic and often unforgiving detail. Enabled to track the status of every line and blemish, people can accurately assess if the beauty products they are using are effective.

Also available are hairbrushes and styling tools with tiny built-in sensors that detect damage and dryness from the roots to the ends of the hair and then link to an app on a smart phone for restorative advice and personalised treatments.

Soon when we walk into a clothing shop “smart mirrors” will make our life so much easier. It will no longer be necessary to try on the same item of clothing in different colours. The mirror can simply switch the colour for you. And when you are visiting the hair or beauty salon the smart mirror will easily demonstrate the effect of different hair colours or make-up on you to avoid any nasty surprises.

Internationally and particularly in countries like Korea, this trend has taken the beauty world by storm, often to surreal effect. It seems that humans have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge about themselves. People want to know as much detail about themselves as possible, from the number of steps they are taking in a day to what is happening while they are asleep. The new beauty technology fits perfectly into this paradigm. In fact, fashion and beauty brands are leading with displays that allow customers to interact with products in Augmented Reality (AR) and thus create more meaningful experiences for in-store shoppers.

Furthermore, consumer trust is at an unsurpassed low and people just do not tolerate what the famous brands are telling them to believe. Consumers therefore reach out to smart technology as the ultimate truth teller. Due to the precision of modern-day smart technology, there is little room for interpretation – it can easily show the progress over time as a result of a skin-care product or the lack thereof. Technology is thus perceived by consumers as an objective voice to indicate if a skin-care product is working or not.

Many of these new immersive technologies give us power over our own environment. Smart mirrors that use machine learning to fine-tune the lighting around your face work with Amazon Alexa so that when it is time for a skin check the smart mirror provides exactly the same lighting as in previous occasions.

Due to an improved understanding of the immersive technologies, as well as more skilled people, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, robotics, virtual and augmented reality began to come together to deliver exciting results towards the end of 2018. This trend will accelerate in 2019 onwards. Technologies such as augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR) and virtual reality (VR) will transform how users see and interact with the world and will lead to a new immersive type of experience.

Systems that bring together real-time three-dimensional (3D) vision, sound, haptic feedback (the sense of touch), olfactory and location data, enable people to immerse themselves in an entirely new reality where they can respond to what is around them and change their virtual environment in real time. Gartner is optimistic that immersive technologies are in a growth phase and forecasts that by 2022, 70% of enterprises will be testing immersive technologies for consumer and enterprise use, and 25% will have implemented immersive technologies in production.

Organisations are more and more using immersive technologies (AR, MR and VR) across a broad range of human activity from art and entertainment to commerce, education and the military. VR is proving especially useful in training where employees have to deal with physical danger. VR that mimic real-life situations is used to train doctors, nurses, teachers, and police officers. Petroleum companies, for instance, use VR to provide staff with immersive experiences by using heated jackets mimicking the effects of fire. Where the hands of manufacturing and field workers are tied up, AR glasses provide real-time data to lessen errors and improve accuracy, safety and quality.

VR and AR technology is dramatically changing the way professionals work. Engineers currently use Internet of things (IoT) sensors to create a “digital twin” of complex objects such as wind turbines to allow them to inspect the object in VR without any physical danger or the need to travel huge distances. Through digital twins, engineers based thousands of kilometers away from a wind turbine that is posing a problem, could identify and resolve the issue in real time, as if they were on location.

Travel agents will in 2019 increasingly use VR to allow prospective travellers to experience the inside of a hotel room or the nearest beach before they book a particular holiday. 

Unfortunately some people will become addicted to VR as a way to escape the unpleasantness of their real life. Dating simulators and VR travelogues will certainly contribute to this form of escapism.

But in 2019 AR will overtake VR. VR made its mark in gaming, journalism, filmmaking, education, sports and music, but since AR is more tightly integrated into smartphones, it will expand to more real-world uses beyond just games. The advantage of AR is that it can run on existing smartphones, via their cameras.

AR augments or adds to what a person is already seeing. A nurse, for example, could look at a human body and see not only the organs inside, but also detailed information about them.

Google Chrome for mobile will release in 2019 the first official browser supporting WebAR. Browser-based AR entails that users no longer need to download an app or special software. Web-based AR will work with existing websites and will alter the way AR content is delivered to users.

There is no doubt that AR, MR and VR show potential for improved productivity, with the next generation of VR able to sense shapes and track a user’s position and MR enabling people to view and interact with their world. It will also certainly bring new innovative ways of marketing and staying in contact with a customer base.

VR – and its sister technology AR – are continuously improving and diversifying. But the real success of these immersive technologies in 2019 will be determined by applications. Applications are what truly create a VR or AR experience and it is these experiences that will make this technology ubiquitous. 

2019 will see many new apps for smartphones, which will seems as if they are from the future. A good example is the impending Google Maps app. Consumers will be able to view the streets through the camera on their smartphone and see the directions appear on their screen.

Professor Louis Fourie is deputy vice-chancellor: knowledge & information technology – Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

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Riot police squads intervene as pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters clash in Montreal

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People wave flags atop cars in traffic during a demonstration to voice support for the people of Palestine, at Toronto City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 15 May 2021.


People wave flags atop cars in traffic during a demonstration to voice support for the people of Palestine, at Toronto City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 15 May 2021.

  • Violence
    between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protesters in Montreal was condemned by
    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
  • Montreal’s
    city police force intervened and declared the protests illegal after tensions
    heightened and clashes broke out.
  • Israeli
    strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
    toll in almost a week of clashes.

Montreal
– Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday condemned the violence and
“despicable rhetoric” that marked several weekend protests throughout
the country, after clashes between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters in
Montreal.

The
worst violence in years, sparked by unrest in Jerusalem, is raging between the
Jewish state and Islamist militants.

Israeli
strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
toll in almost a week of deadly clashes.

Speaking
after protests in Montreal, Trudeau condemned what he said was “despicable
rhetoric and violence we saw on display in some protests this weekend”.

While
insisting on the “right to assemble peacefully and express themselves
freely in Canada”, Trudeau stressed in a tweet that there was no tolerance
for “antisemitism, Islamophobia, or hate of any kind”.

Earlier
on Sunday, Montreal police used tear gas following clashes between pro-Israel
and pro-Palestinian protesters.

Several
hundred demonstrators, draped in Israeli flags, had gathered in a central
Montreal square to express solidarity with the Jewish state.

‘Protesting is a right’

Although
the protest started peacefully, tensions ratcheted up with the arrival of
pro-Palestinian demonstrators and clashes soon broke out.

The
SPVM, Montreal’s city police force, declared the protests illegal, and squads
of riot police intervened, using tear gas to separate and disperse the two
groups, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.

The
police spent much of the afternoon in pursuit of the pro-Palestinian
protesters, who spread out and regrouped in commercial streets in the city centre.

Following
the clashes, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said on Twitter that
“protesting is a right”, but that “intolerance, violence and
anti-Semitism have no place here”.

She said:

Montreal is a city of peace.

Several
thousand pro-Palestinian demonstrators had gathered on Saturday in central
Montreal to denounce what they said were Israeli repression and “war
crimes” in Gaza.

“Terrorist
Israel”, some protesters chanted, while others held up a banner that read,
“Stop the genocide of Palestinian children”.

Pro-Palestinian
protests happened the same day in multiple Canadian cities, including Toronto,
Ottawa and Vancouver.


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Peter Thiel Helps Fund an App That Tells You What to Do

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“How would you feel about being able to pay to control multiple aspects of another person’s life?” asks the BBC.

“A new app is offering you the chance to do just that.”

When writer Brandon Wong recently couldn’t decide what takeaway to order one evening, he asked his followers on social media app NewNew to choose for him. Those that wanted to get involved in the 24-year-old’s dinner dilemma paid $5 (£3.50) to vote in a poll, and the majority verdict was that he should go for Korean food, so that was what he bought…

NewNew is the brainchild of Los Angeles-based entrepreneur Courtne Smith. The app, which is still in its “beta” or pre-full release stage, describes itself as “a human stock market where you buy shares in the lives of real people, in order to control their decisions and watch the outcome”. For many of us that sounds a bit ominous, but the reality is actually far less alarming. It is aimed at what it calls “creators” — writers, painters, musicians, fashion designers, bloggers etc. It is designed as a way for them to connect far more closely with their fans or followers than on other social media services and, importantly, monetise that connection…

Whenever a vote is cast the creator gets the money minus NewNew’s undisclosed commission… In addition to voting, followers can also pay extra — from $20 — to ask a NewNew creator to do something of their choosing, such as naming a character in a book after them. But the creator can reject all of these “bids”, and if they do so then the follower doesn’t have to part with the money…

Co-founder and chief executive Ms Smith, a 33-year-old Canadian, has big plans for NewNew, and has some heavyweight backers. Investors include Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal, and the first outside person to put money into Facebook. Others with a stake in the business include leading US tech investment fund Andreessen Horowitz, and Hollywood actor Will Smith (no relation to Courtne). Snapchat has also given technical support.

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Sandpapergate will haunt Australia cricket forever: ex-bowling coach

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Cameron Bancroft. (Photo by Brenton Geach - Gallo Images/Getty Images)


Cameron Bancroft. (Photo by Brenton Geach – Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The 2018 ball-tampering scandal will haunt Australian cricket forever, much like the infamous underarm delivery of 40 years ago, the team’s former bowling coach David Saker said on Monday.

Saker was responding to opening batsman Cameron Bancroft suggesting that Australia’s bowlers knew about the plan in Cape Town to alter the ball which earned him a nine-month ban and rocked the game.

Saker was Australia’s bowling coach when Bancroft was caught trying to rough up the ball with sandpaper during the third Test against South Africa.

While refusing to be drawn on who knew what, Saker said “the finger-pointing is going to go on and on and on”.

“It’s like the underarm, it’s never going to go away,” he told Fairfax Media, referring to a 1981 incident when Trevor Chappell bowled underarm to ensure New Zealand lost a one-day match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The notorious delivery is still cited in New Zealand and in cricketing circles as a prime example of unsporting conduct.

However, the ball-tampering scandal – dubbed “sandpapergate” – had a greater impact on Australian cricket, with the then-captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner suspended for a year from all cricket and stripped of their leadership roles.

Darren Lehmann also quit as coach and all the top brass from Cricket Australia left after a scathing review blasted their “arrogant and controlling” win-at-all-costs culture.

No one else among the team or coaching staff was held to account but Bancroft’s remarks in an interview with The Guardian newspaper hinted that the team’s bowlers at least knew about the plan.

“Obviously what I did benefits bowlers and the awareness around that, probably, is self-explanatory,” he said.

Saker added: “There was a lot of people to blame. It could have been me to blame, it could have been someone else. It could have been stopped and it wasn’t, which is unfortunate.

“Cameron’s a very nice guy. He’s just doing it to get something off his chest … He’s not going to be the last.”

In response, Cricket Australia said that if anyone had new information, they would look into it.

Saker said he was not opposed to a fresh investigation but added “I just don’t know what they’re going to find out.”

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Mexico’s Andrea Meza crowned Miss Universe

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Miss Universe Andrea Meza


Miss Universe Andrea Meza

UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 IS ANDREA MEZA FROM MEXICO:


UPDATE:

THE MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 TOP 5:

1. Mexico

2. India

3. Brazil

4. Dominican Republic

5. Peru


UPDATE:

HERE ARE THE MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 TOP 10 CONTESTANTS:

1. Jamaica 

2. Dominican Republic 

3. India

4. Peru 

5. Australia 

6. Puerto Rico

7. Thailand

8. Costa Rica

9. Mexico

10. Brazil


UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE TOP 21 IN SWIMWEAR:


UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE TOP 21: 

1. Columbia

2. Peru 

3. Australia 

4. France

5. Myanmar

6. Jamaica 

7. Mexico 

8. Dominican Republic 

9. USA

10. Indonesia 

11. Argentina 

12. India

13. Curaçao

14. Puerto Rico

15. Phillipines 

16. Brazil

17. Great Britain

18. Nicaragua

19. Thailand 

20. Costa Rica

21. Vietnam


 UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE SOUTH AFRICA NATASHA JOUBERT WALKS THE STAGE AT MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021:


74 contestants will compete for the title of Miss Universe on 16 May in Hollywood, Florida. 

The Miss Universe pageant takes place on 16 May in the US (02:00 to 05:00 on 17 May SA time). The show will be broadcast live on 1 Magic (DStv Channel 103) with a repeat at 21:30. 

Reigning Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa will crown her successor at the end of the event.

Representing South Africa is Natasha Joubert, and South Africans are hoping for the “magic double” – back-to-back consecutive wins, which has only happened once before in the pageant’s history.

Natasha wowed crowds at the national costume competition last week and on Friday impressed during the preliminary round

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Miss Mexico crowned Miss Universe 2021

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By AFP Time of article published 16m ago

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Washington – Miss Mexico was crowned Miss Universe on Sunday in Florida, after fellow contestant Miss Myanmar used her stage time to draw attention to the bloody military coup in her country.

Sunday night marked the Miss Universe competition’s return to television, after the pageant was cancelled in 2020 for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Andrea Meza, 26, finished first ahead of the Brazilian and Peruvian finalists in a flashy televised event, hosted by American actor Mario Lopez and television personality Olivia Culpo.

Former Miss Universe contestants Cheslie Kryst, Paulina Vega and Demi-Leigh Tebow (who won the title in 2017) served as competition analysts and commentators, and a panel of eight women determined the winner.

Dressed in a sparkling red evening gown, Meza tearfully walked the catwalk as Miss Universe for the first time, before rushing back for a group hug with the other competitors.

Meza beat more than 70 contestants from around the globe in the 69th installment of Miss Universe, which was held at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

In the days leading up to the final competition, Miss Myanmar Thuzar Wint Lwin, who made the top 21, made waves when she used her time in the spotlight to bring attention to the coup in her country.

“Our people are dying and being shot by the military every day,” she said during her biographical video, which showed photos of her taking part in the anti-coup protests. “Therefore I would like to urge everyone to speak out about Myanmar.”

Natasha Joubert, Miss Universe South Africa 2020 competes on stage in Ema Savahl swimwear during the MISS UNIVERSE® Preliminary Competition.

She also won the award for best national costume: during that competition segment on Thursday, she wore an outfit beaded in traditional Burmese patterns and held up a sign that said, “Pray for Myanmar.”

Myanmar has been in uproar since February 1, when the army ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

At least 796 people have been killed by security forces since then, according to a local monitoring group, while nearly 4 000 people are behind bars.

Miss Singapore Bernadette Belle Ong – who did not make the top 21 – also used the national costume portion to make a political statement.

Dressed in a glittering red bodysuit and matching thigh-high boots, she turned around to reveal her cape – in the colours of the Singaporean flag – was painted with the words “Stop Asian Hate.”

“What is this platform for if I can’t use it to send a strong message of resistance against prejudice and violence?” she wrote on Instagram alongside pictures of her outfit.

The United States in particular has seen a surge in anti-Asian violence in the past year, which activists have blamed on former president Donald Trump’s rhetoric, especially his repeated description of Covid-19 as the “China virus.”

The pageant has also drawn criticism in the past for objectifying the contestants.

In recent years, the competition has shifted image, focusing more on female empowerment and activism.

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