I don’t know if this is a real project or a publicity stunt, but a British pool construction company has hit the viral jackpot today with renderings of a 360-degree infinity pool sitting atop a skyscraper in London, England. I do know that I would freak out in it, though.
First reported by CNN today and spreading faster than a Trump tweet, the “death defying swimming pool”—as the company refers to it—is a 158,500-gallon cast acrylic tank on top of a 55-story building. This material, the company claims, has a refractive index similar to water, so the pool would look like a solid block of water.
The Infinity London pool floor would be transparent too, so visitors on the floor below would be able to see people floating against the background of the sky. The company claims that the pool would be computer-controlled, with thermometers and anemometers monitoring the weather conditions to adjust the temperature.
In its press release, the company also says that the heating would be provided by the building’s air conditioning system: “The hot gas that is produced as a by-product of creating cold air in the building will run through a heat exchanger to heat the water for the pool.”
That’s all okay, but the part that really makes my head explode is the way you get into it. As you can see in the renderings, there are no stairs to go up and jump in. The pool’s walls are flush with the building’s walls. “Normally a simple ladder would suffice, but we didn’t want stairs on the outside of the building or in the pool as it would spoil the view—and obviously you don’t want 600,000 litres of water draining through the building either,” Alex Kemsley, the pool’s designer, explains in the company’s press release.
So they devised a solution based on the door of a submarine, coupled with a rotating spiral staircase that rises from the pool floor when someone wants to get in or out. They haven’t showed renderings of the design, but according to Kemsley, it’s a “a little bit James Bond.”
The company claims that “if all the partners and contractors are confirmed,” construction will begin “as early as 2020.” They say that Infinity London would have a five-star hotel on the top floors, and the pool would be for guests.
The death of footballer José Antonio Reyes in a car crash on Saturday stunned fans in Spain just as the country was preparing to host one of the sport’s most high-profile contests in Madrid: the Champions League final.
Reyes, who over a long career played for both Real and Atlético Madrid, Arsenal and his home team of Sevilla, was clearly well-loved.
But as tributes started flowing immediately after news of his death, including a homage at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in the Spanish capital before the final kicked off, questions started to arise over the nature of the accident.
‘Speeding is worthy of criticism’
The player was driving at more than 135mph (220kmh) when the accident occurred, according to Spanish police investigators.
In the car with Reyes was his cousin Jonathan, who also died in the accident, while the third person in the player’s Mercedes Brabus was another of his cousins, Juan Manuel Calderón, who remains in a serious condition in hospital.
While a definitive picture of what caused the crash will take weeks to be finalised in a Seville court, initial police reports suggest Reyes may have lost control of his vehicle while driving at high speed on the A-376 highway between Seville and his hometown of Utrera.
As the car left the road it smashed into building material, causing the vehicle to roll several times and burst into flames. The car’s final position was 200 metres away from the point at which it left the road.
In response to the news, Spain’s Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) postponed all matches that were scheduled to be played in La Liga’s second division on Sunday out of respect for Reyes, as well as awarding him a posthumous Gold Medal.
But the police reports also led to some criticism.
Santiago Cañizares, a former Real Madrid goalkeeper, wrote on Twitter: “Driving at excess speed is worthy of criticism. There were victims other than the driver Reyes [who] does not deserve a homage as if he was a hero.”
The post by Mr Cañizares, who became a rally driver after retiring from football, received comments from users who took issue with his point of view.
He later said that he was sorry for Reyes’ death and would “pray for his soul”, but that he merely wanted people to “reflect on the mistakes we make”.
‘Breaking speed limit has terrible consequences’
The need to focus attention on the dangers of high-speed driving was also the message of Ana María Campo, the president of road safety campaign group Stop Accidentes.
“People have to realise that breaking the speed limit has terrible consequences, as in this case,” she said.
Ms Campo, whose son was killed by the driver of another car, wondered how “a young man who was so loved and admired was unaware that excess speed steals your life away”.
According to Spain’s ABC newspaper, Reyes was reported for dangerous driving on the same stretch of road in 2015 by the mayor of a village near Seville.
Jerónimo Guerrero, the mayor of El Coronil, reported the player for allegedly tailgating him at high speed before performing other risky manoeuvres to show anger at being held up.
Reyes’ two cousins regularly accompanied the player as he travelled to and from matches or training sessions, as they did on the fateful day of the accident.
The three reportedly drove from Utrera to Almendralejo, home to second-division club Extremadura, which had signed Reyes in January, and back to Seville the same morning – a round trip of around 250 miles.
Mr Calderón is believed to have survived because he was thrown clear from the passenger seat as the car rolled over, while Reyes and his other cousin Jonathan, believed to have been seated in the back, suffered fatal injuries.
According to reports, Mr Calderón may have tried to help release his cousins from the burning wreckage, and sustained burns affecting 60% of his body.
Reyes is survived by three children, two of whom he had with his widow, Noelia López.
We’re seeing rapid growth in the sustainable furniture business. Why? Because more people know that making responsible choices about the products they put in their homes matters for the environment. But are all green furniture claims true? Not always, and there’s a term for that: greenwashing. So it’s important to know all the facts.
We’ve put together this eco furniture guide to help you make better-informed choices when shopping for eco-friendly furniture.
Natural materials and living plants protect the air quality in your home. Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock
Why is green furniture a better choice?
Eco-friendly furniture causes less damage to the environment and makes your home environment safer. When you choose eco furniture made with minimal amounts of chemicals, you’ll get less harmful pollutants, like volatile organic compounds (VOCs), released into your home’s air.
Paints, fabrics, furniture, carpets and building materials can all release VOCs that cause allergies, migraines and asthma in people. According to a report by the European Respiratory Review, “The possible health effects of indoor VOC exposure are a cause for concern, given that people in general, and children in particular, now spend most of their time indoors.”
Bamboo is an earth-friendly alternative to exotic wood. Image: Beata Becla/Shutterstock
What to look for when shopping for eco furniture.
When shopping for green or sustainable furniture, think about the following:
Does the country where the piece was made use green building practices? How far did the piece have to travel?
Is the piece durable? Pieces that are cheap in price and materials don’t last as long and end up in landfills soon after purchase.
What materials and chemicals are used in the piece? Is the frame of the furniture piece solid wood or particle board, containing formaldehyde? Did the manufacturer spray the fabric with a chemical to resist stains? It’s better to choose a microfiber or leather material than one that needs to be sprayed for stain resistance.
What finishes add color or seal the item? Is the paint, stain or finish water-based? If not, it’s probably high in harmful VOCs.
Could a different material be a better idea? Although exotic woods are stunning, bamboo, stone or porcelain may be more durable, require less harmful finishes and not affect forests.
Second-hand furniture and recycled furniture made of shipping pallets are a good way to reduce waste because they minimize the need to produce new materials. Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock
What are the best sustainable furniture choices?
The best sustainable furniture choices are created from recycled items like salvaged wood, recycled textiles and reused materials like wood pallets. Additionally, natural materials like bamboo, rattan and seagrasses are excellent materials for furniture and home decor.
Second-hand furniture and vintage pieces are also great green furniture choices. Pick vintage or antique pieces because they’re often handmade and built to last. Plus, their manufacturers often used fewer chemicals than modern manufacturers.
Look for these green furniture terms and certifications when you’re shopping for eco furniture:
Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE)
This partnership between industry and government increases carpet recycling and reuse to reduce the amount of old carpet going to landfills.
Cradle to Cradle (C2C)
C2C certified furniture can be dismantled to be repaired and recycled or so that parts can be replaced. This practice extends the life of the piece and makes a piece more sustainable because it keeps it out of a landfill.
This hang tag certifies that the manufacturer was responsible in their sourcing and manufacturing and, additionally, that they can provide safety, health and environmental information for each registered product.
FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) Certification
FSC-certified furniture uses woods that are responsibly harvested and meet the requirements of the Forest Stewardship Council.
Green Housekeeping Seal of Approval
This seal is available for many categories like cleaning and beauty products, building materials, paints and coatings and appliances. In order to award approval, scientists and engineers evaluate a product’s packaging, ingredients, logistics and manufacturing.
Green Label Plus
Look for this tag to ensure that the carpet you are purchasing emits the lowest amount of chemicals on the market.
Use this certification to find indoor goods like building materials and furnishings with low chemical emissions. It serves you and the environment because GREENGUARD certified goods do not affect air quality.
LEED(Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certified
LEED promotes and awards certification for a whole-building approach to sustainability. To certify a building, LEED checks five categories: water savings, energy efficiency, sustainable site development, sustainable materials and good indoor air quality.
Check a product’s label. Look for low VOC because it means the product or finish is water-based or does not contain chemicals that can off-gas, or release into the air.
This certification confirms that a piece of furniture actually uses reclaimed wood.
SBD(Sustainable by Design)
SBD gears their program towards furniture manufacturers to sustainably source and manufacture home furnishings.
Zero Waste to Landfill
This award goes to companies that send less than 1 percent of their waste to a landfill.
A little research and consideration are all it takes to make a sound choice about the furniture and home decor you bring into your home. Your choice will benefit the environment and your family’s health in the long run.
Innovative manufacturers routinely encourage employees to generate ideas for improved products and processes. At Toyota, for instance, employees submit more than 700,000 implemented kaizen process improvement ideas every year. A machine operator might propose a tool modification that would help increase the throughput rate, or a forklift driver might suggest that stacking containers in a different way could improve materials flow.
In evaluating ideas like these for development, however, companies often rely on the expertise of the person presenting the idea. This is not a bad thing, per se: Ideators are often the most relevant experts, they know “what the idea is all about” and “how it really works.” In the words of one process innovation manager we met: “It will even take a method specialist two days to fully understand somebody else’s idea.” Manufacturing companies that strive for rapid idea implementation even allow shop-floor employees to select and implement their ideas right away and without management interference.
The trouble is, expert employees may well oversell or undersell their ideas, leading the company to pass up on good ideas while investing in bad ones. To understand the drivers of this “ideator’s bias,” we analyzed a large sample of employee-led process innovation ideas at an European automotive manufacturer. In addition, we conducted in-depth interviews with company experts and carried out a number of behavioral experiments.
Our first and perhaps most predictable finding was that idea overvaluation is a bigger problem than undervaluation, with 74% of all ideas in our dataset overvalued, versus 20% undervalued and 6% more or less correctly valued. Two factors drive this overconfidence on the part of ideating employees:
In another relatively predictable finding, our data show that the ideator’s bias is, on average, 53% stronger among employees who work at a higher versus lower organizational level. Ideas by managers are overvalued, on average, by 42%, whereas those of frontline workers are, on average, slightly undervalued (by 11%). This matches our intuition: we instinctively feel that an idea is likely to be more overvalued when submitted by a manager in contrast to a frontline worker.
Our research suggested that this effect stems from the ideator’s role and social identity in the company when generating an idea. Managers tend to project their increased confidence in their personal abilities onto their idea, even when ideation is not the key competence of a manager. We validated this effect in a controlled behavioral experiment, in which we asked participants (but not real manufacturing personnel) to put themselves into the shoes of either a manager or a frontline worker. To get them into the right mood, we showed participants pictures of managerial ideators (wearing suits) or frontline ideation (wearing blue overalls).
The participants’ behavior turned out to be remarkably consistent to that of the corresponding company employees—when enacting a “manager” (vs. a “worker”), they rated the same idea significantly higher than when enacting the lower level counterpart.
In a more surprising finding, company data shows that the ideator’s bias is 37% stronger among employees generating ideas in groups versus alone. Employees working alone overvalued their ideas, on average, by 4% versus those in teams by 41%. This flies in the face of intuition: people expect groups to be more impartial than individuals, and the larger the group, the wiser it is.
But our interviews with ideators in the company and our experiments suggest that during intense ideation sessions, group members do not only develop strong ties with the idea but also with fellow group members. This “we-feeling”—which is an explicit objective in team-building exercises—becomes problematic for idea evaluation.
In one case, a group of shop-floor manufacturing specialists developed an approach to replace a compound material in manufactured components with a lower cost plastic ingredient. Although the basic idea was feasible, the group members overlooked the challenging modifications needed in order to guarantee the durability of parts using the new material. As one group member explained: “In the team you feel more protected and stronger […] We believed in our collective expertise. At the same time, we played down the risks of mechanical stress on the parts that most of us were somehow aware of.”
Interestingly, the ideation bias was not stronger in teams composed of managers than in those composed of blue collar-workers. This is consistent with most theories about identity building, which suggest that most people do not link to more than one identity at a time when performing an activity. One’s confidence emerges either from being a high-level manager or from being part of (larger) group, but not from both simultaneously.
Our interviews also revealed that the more competitive mindset of managers suppressed the emergence of strong group identities in teams. As one plant manager explained, higher level ideation sessions were characterized by “a strong competition between the plant management personnel who head different units of the plants. […] Nobody wants to look like they are lagging behind their colleagues.”
So what do our two findings suggest?
Separate Ideation and Idea Assessment
We all knew that relying on the boss’s genius was a risky strategy. The bad news is that empowered employees aren’t necessarily that much wiser. But there was also good news: although the crowd coming up with an idea will likely overvalue it, that overvaluation becomes less likely if the ideators take some distance from the process of generating it.
Given that, ask your ideators to evaluate their idea after a break and in a different location. In addition, ask your evaluators to look a bit more critically at ideas pitched by managers or teams—these ideas are already favored because of their creators’ power or because of common expectation of superior team creativity. Conversely, be a bit more sympathetic when evaluating ideas from front-line employees as these are much more likely to accurately evaluated by the people who came up with them.
Wikipedia was founded with the aim of making knowledge freely available around the world — but right now, it’s mostly making it available in English. The English Wikipedia is the largest edition by far, with 5.5 million articles, and only 15 of the 301 editions have more than a million. The quality of those articles can vary drastically, with vital content often entirely missing. Two hundred and six editions are missing an article on the emotional state of happiness and just under half are missing an article on Homo sapiens.
It seems like the perfect problem for machine translation tools, and in January, Google partnered with the Wikimedia Foundation to solve it, incorporating Google Translate into the Foundation’s own content translation tool, which uses open-source translation software. But for the editors that work on non-English Wikipedia editions, the content translation tool has been more of a curse than a blessing, renewing debate over whether Wikipedia should be in the business of machine translation at all.
Available as a beta feature, the content translation tool lets editors generate a preview of a new article based on an automated translation from another edition. Used correctly, the tool can save valuable time for editors building out understaffed editions — but when it goes wrong, the results can be disastrous. One global administratorpointed to a particularly atrocious translation from English to Portuguese. What is “village pump” in the English version became “bomb the village” when put through machine translation into Portuguese.
“People take Google Translate to be flawless,” said the administrator, who asked to be referred to by their Wikipedia username, Vermont. “Obviously it isn’t. It isn’t meant to be a replacement for knowing the language.”
The Wikimedia Foundation, which administers Wikipedia, defended the tool when reached for comment, emphasizing that it is just one tool among many. “The content translation tool provides critical support to our editors,” a representative said, “and its impact extends even beyond Wikipedia in addressing the broader, internet-wide challenge of the lack of local language content online.”
That may be surprising if you’ve seen headlines in recent years about AI reaching “parity” with human translators. But those stories usually refer to narrow, specialized tests of machine translation’s abilities, and when the software is actually deployed in the wild, the limitations of artificial intelligence become clear. As Douglas Hofstadter, professor of cognition at Indiana University Bloomington, spelled out in an influential article on the topic, AI translation is shallow. It produces text that has surface-level fluency, but which usually misses the deeper meaning of words and sentences. AI systems learn how to translate by studying statistical patterns in large bodies of training data, but that means they’re blind to the nuances of language that are used more infrequently, and lack the common sense of human translators.
The result for Wikipedia editors is a major skills gap. Their machine translation usually requires close supervision by those translating, who themselves must have a good understanding of both languages they are translating. It’s a real problem for smaller Wikipedia editions that are already strapped for volunteers.
Guilherme Morandini, an administrator on the Portuguese Wikipedia, often sees users open articles in the content translation tool and immediately publish to another language edition without any review. In his experience, the result is shoddy translation or outright nonsense, a disaster for the edition’s credibility as a source of information. Reached by The Verge, Morandini pointed to this article about Jusuf Nurkić as an example, machine translated into Portuguese from its English equivalent. The first line, “… é um Bósnio profissional que atualmente joga …” translates directly to “… is a professional Bosnian that currently plays …,” as opposed to the English version “… is a Bosnian professional basketball player.”
The Indonesian Wikipedia community has gone so far as to formally request that the Wikimedia Foundation remove the tool from the edition. The Wikimedia Foundation appears to be reluctant to do so based on the thread, and has overruled community consensus in the past. Privately, concerns were expressed to The Verge that there are fears this could turn into a replay of the 2014 Media Viewer fight, which cause significant distrust between the Foundation and the community-led editions it oversees.
Wikimedia described that response in more positive terms. “In response to community feedback, we made adjustments and received positive feedback that the adjustments we made were were effective,” a representative said.
João Alexandre Peschanski, a professor of journalism at Faculdade Cásper Líbero in Brazil who teaches a course on Wikiversity, is another critic of the current machine translation system. Peschanski says “a community-wide strategy to improve machine learning should be discussed, as we might be losing efficiency by what I would say is a rather arduous translation endeavor.” Translation tools “are key,” and in Peschanski’s experience they work “fairly well.” The main problems being faced, he says, are a result of inconsistent templates used in articles. Ideally, those templates contain repetitive material which may be needed across many articles or pages, often between various language editions, making language easier to parse automatically.
Peschanski views translation as an activity of reuse and adaptation, where reuse between language editions depends on whether content is present on another site. But adaptation means bringing a “different cultural, language-specific background” into the translation before continuing. A broader possible solution would be to enact some sort of project-wide policy banning machine translations without human supervision.
Most of the users that The Verge interviewed for this article preferred to combine manual translation with machine translation, using the latter only to look up specific words. All interviewed agreed with Vermont’s statement that “machine translation will never be a viable way to make articles on Wikipedia, simply because it cannot understand complex human phrases that don’t translate between languages,” but most agree that it does have its uses.
Faced with those obstacles, smaller projects may always have a lower standard of quality when compared to the English Wikipedia. Quality is relative, and unfinished or poorly written articles are impossible to stamp out completely. But that disparity comes with a real cost. “Here in Brazil,” Morandini says, “Wikipedia is still regarded as non-trustworthy,” a reputation that isn’t helped by shoddily done translations of English articles. Both Vermont and Morandini agree that, in the case of pure machine translation, the articles in question are better off deleted. In too many cases, they’re simply “too terrible to keep.”
James Vincent contributed additional reporting to this article.
Disclosure: Kyle Wilson is an administrator on the English Wikipedia and a global user renamer. He does not receive payment from the Wikimedia Foundation nor does he take part in paid editing, broadly construed.
5/30 9:22AM ET: Updated to include comment from the Wikimedia Foundation.
If you were sad about “Game of Thrones” ending this week, you’re not alone.
Well-crafted fictional worlds and characters let us step outside ourselves for an hour or more at a time so we can observe more objectively.
At the same time, we relate to these characters — which makes it easy to become personally invested in their outcomes, and take it badly when things don’t go well for our favorites.
Any type of storytelling that allows us to spend more time exploring a given fictional world gives fans more to talk about, which generates deeper discussion and may yield greater insights and camaraderie among fans.
With endless amounts of media out there, it can be hard to find one that seemingly unites everyone in interest. But every once in a while TV shows can capture the world’s attention, inspire deep fan love, and cause endless conversation, such as the newly ended “Game of Thrones” series on HBO.
INSIDER asked licensed independent social worker Arianna Galligher of the Ohio State Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health about why certain TV shows and movies affect us so deeply — including why some onscreen choices in these fictional worlds have the power to make us angry.
For one, finely honed storytelling and characters can reflect our own lives back to us in a way that feels safe
The “real” world can be a scary and intimidating place and finding ways to process the myriad of feelings and information we deal with on a daily basis can be a challenge. But well-crafted fictional worlds and characters who we find relatable can help us to feel those real-world emotions in a less painful way because they’re not actually happening directly to us.
“Different people have individual motivations for participating in fandom, but broadly speaking, well-crafted fictional worlds provide the opportunity for people to engage with nuanced topics related to morality and the human condition in a way that is one-step removed from their own lives,” Galligher told INSIDER. “While it’s possible to relate to characters who may reflect our own perspectives or experiences, there is enough distance that it’s safe to think about these topics on a deeper level.”
This is why you may often like to watch movies about breakups when you’re going through one or read about grief when you’re dealing with it yourself. Seeing others tackle these tough feelings and also seeing them often come out on the other side can help you process those emotions in a safe way.
Tackling those universal issues is also a way to bond us, no matter where we are
These popular shows also tend to tell stories with truly universal human themes. No matter what social, cultural, geographical, and other differences we may have, every one of the record 19.3 million viewers who watched the GoT series finale live are human. As it turns out, that’s what we all have in common — and at the end of the day, that’s all we need to see onscreen.
“It sounds trite, but there really is more that unites us as human beings than divides us. All human beings experience emotions, and the most accomplished blockbusters succeed in taking the audience on an emotional journey,” Galligher told INSIDER.
OK, so we may not all be trying to conquer kingdoms or dealing with dragons, but if you cut down to the core of it, shows like “Game of Thrones” tell stories with emotions that many can relate to, and that’s part of what makes them so beloved.
Generally speaking, stories that are longer and feature more material give fans more to talk and think about — and so, they do
One-off movies can be moving, but for the most part, don’t seem to attract the same kind of massive fanbases as TV shows or films in franchises do. These fans are willing to talk endlessly about things they love — or hate — in these TV shows or movies in a series because there is just more there to talk about.
“I think different people respond to different mediums. A single full-length film may be every bit as moving as a multi-installment series. However, the more material there is to engage with, the more opportunity there is to have multiple conversations about it,” Galligher told INSIDER. “The more fans talk about it, the more the hype builds and more people join in the discussion. These discussions, and the human connections that we make as a result of a shared interest in the topic, leads to greater emotional investment.”
Episodic entertainment like this intrigues us for one very simple reason: every day, we all wake up not knowing what could happen
“The episodic nature of television or movies with multiple installments plays on our natural sense of curiosity,” Galligher told INSIDER. “When episodes leave us in suspense, our brains crave more. We want to know what will happen next, and the fact that we have to wait for it makes it that much more enticing.”
There’s an added layer of world-building depth in fandoms that exist across multiple media, such as ‘Game of Thrones’ or ‘ Harry Potter‘ — and it invites fans to wade deeper
When books are adapted for movies or TV, there are always fans of the written version who are dissatisfied with the new, visual version. And of course, they just have to tell everyone about it. But then there are fans who are just as enthusiastic about the movies or TV shows — and don’t necessarily come into it knowing anything about the books. And then they might read those books later because they love the movie or TV show so much — or they might not.
All of these different levels of understanding can enrich and inform fan discussion. Add in lore, fan fiction, and enthusiastic online communities and this can inspire tons of discussion and a rich world even beyond the show.
“Successful adaptations of written source material tend to engage fans on a deeper level, in part, because it’s fun to see how well the TV or movie adaptation aligns with how the reader imagined it when they read the book(s). Often, the source material can provide additional context and nuance that it’s not always possible to incorporate into the show or movie, so fans who’ve read the source material also have the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the story and the characters,” Galligher told INSIDER.
When you love a fictional world and its characters, you get attached — and that makes it much easier to take any ‘bad choices’ you see onscreen personally
Fan and critical reactions to “Game of Thrones” season eight have been somewhat divided— and that’s putting it mildly. If you’re a fan of any franchise, especially one with as much written about it as “Game of Thrones,” you definitely have opinions, and you’re probably very passionate about them. There’s a very simple reason for this, according to Galligher.
“Fans take it so personally when storylines become sloppy or take abrupt turns because they relate in some way to the characters,” she said. “The characters that we love or hate (or love to hate, or hate to love) tend to reflect some aspect of ourselves that we’re proud of or that we’re grappling with.”
And keeping in mind that viewers often see their own issues playing out in some way onscreen, well, that’s a good reason enough to take it personally and get emotional.
“The experiences of the characters may remind us of things that we’ve been through ourselves, so we have a vested interest in the decisions that the characters make to resolve conflict, survive through adversity or celebrate success,” she said. “There tends to be a strong desire for characters to behave in a way that is consistent with how they’ve been represented thus far in the story. If there is to be a shift in perspective or behavior, there needs to be a thread of logic that weaves the story together and shows the progression of the character over time. When that doesn’t happen, some fans react so strongly because of the personal connection they feel to the characters. ”
You might already know about augmented reality, but do you know about foldable phones and three-dimensional design?
6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
What is user experience (UX) and what does it mean? On paper, it is how a user feels when they are interacting with a product such as a piece of software, an application or a website. However, its meaning can be the difference between the success and failure of a company. Simply put, a product with a great UX makes our lives easier and makes us feel good, so we want to use it more.
In 1955, the wireless remote gave us full control of our televisions from the convenience of our couch. In more recent times, mobile phones have gone from featuring monophonic ringtones and snake to revolutionizing our everyday lives and how we interact with our digital media. 2018 saw many advances in UX and 2019 seeks to improve on those advancements. With that being said, here are the top 10 UX design trends that the rest will start following.
1. Voice-user interfaces (VUIs)
With the rise in popularity of virtual assistants such as Siri, Alexa and Bixby, speech recognition and voice command software is not only becoming much more accurate but could help change UI and UX in 2019. Instead of using our fingers to type, our voice could be the main way of interacting with applications going forward. It’s more convenient, delivers quicker results and has a great user experience.
Companies such as Netflix have already started implementing and seeing the success of an interface customized to an individual user’s experience. It collects data from previous shows you have watched and then knows what to recommend the next time you log into Netflix, like a best friend who knows your exact taste. It has already shown that if you cater to the needs of the user based on their previous interactions, purchases and preferences, it is a recipe for success. Why risk trying to develop a UI that pleases everyone when you can create an interface that learns from the user and adapts to personalise the experience for each user?
3. Augmented Reality (AR)
Popular in games like Pokémon Go, AR has been around for only a few years but Walmart, Ikea, MTV and Cadbury have already implemented AR into their applications. In particular, the Ikea app is revolutionary in its user experience. Instead of wondering how a piece of furniture will look in your home, you can open the app, select which furniture you are looking to buy, point your phone at the desired space in your house and you will instantly see in real time how it will look.
We use multiple devices such as laptops, desktop computers, mobile phones and tablets, so why have an app that’s only designed for one platform? Businesses need to utilize device-neutral, cross-platform apps in order to provide a much better UX and reach a wider audience. “Device agnosticism” may not be a new buzzword, but it will be one of the hottest trends across all industries.
5. Material design
Minimalism might be a good lifestyle choice, but it’s a terrible UI design choice. Gone are the days of flat design with its simple two-dimensional UI elements, use of simple shapes with no added effects and a “function over fashion” approach. Material design has taken center stage with 3D icons, responsive animations, shadow and lighting depth effects, grid-based layouts and more. We will continue to see the rise of material design being implemented to provide better detailed patterns and textures, customization and increased interactivity for a much more engaging user experience.
Mobile data is becoming less of an issue and file size compression is enabling faster loading times, so videos could be the main form of consumable content. Videos are nothing new, of course, social media is popularizing short videos and it only takes a few seconds to gain or lose the user’s attention. That makes it hard if you want to get a message across in a short amount of time with words. That’s why more companies are implementing short videos on their apps and websites to convey more information in a condensed amount of time while holding the user’s attention.
7. Biometric authentication
Online digital threats have increased and businesses, as well as customers, are focused on their security more than ever. Biometric authentication can be the answer to that problem. It increases security by scanning the user’s biometrics such as a fingerprint to confirm the user’s identity before granting access to sensitive information. This can be seen in banking apps or before a user makes a purchase from the Google Play store.
When it comes to loading a webpage, you have about three seconds until your user leaves. This means two things: your webpage has to be optimised with compressed file sizes for faster loading and navigation needs to be clear and simple. Material design allows you to add an incredible amount of detail and effects, but don’t fall into the trap of cluttering the page and making navigation hard. Three seconds is not a lot of time, and businesses have to make the most of those few seconds with clear navigation and faster loading, all crucial to UI and UX design.
9. Foldable phones
Prototypes have already started making waves from brands such as Samsung and Huawei with their unique foldable displays. But what’s so great about a foldable phone you may ask? Well, a foldable device takes up less space and is lighter in weight, but one of the biggest benefits is that the material used for a foldable display is stronger and more durable to accidents such as dropping the phone without having to worry about cracking the screen. This is an issue mobile (iPhone) users know far too well.
10. Content always will be king
Every business needs to have high-quality content, including a compelling story as to why the user needs to buy their product. One way to do this is to use user behavior and preferences to know what to focus on and who to target.
Technology will always improve and so will UI and UX design. The game continues to change, and businesses need to keep up with the latest UX trends in order to keep their users happy and engaged.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Danny Farquhar allowed two unearned runs during two-thirds of an inning Friday in his first extended spring training game for the New York Yankees.
Against Toronto Blue Jays minor leaguers, Farquhar gave up a single and a double but two errors cost him a scoreless inning.
The 32-year-old right-hander collapsed in the Chicago White Sox dugout on April 20 last year because of a ruptured aneurysm and brain hemorrhage. Farquhar signed a minor league deal with the Yankees during the offseason. He appeared in three spring training games, giving up six runs, four hits and five walks over two innings.
His fastball had move life during Friday’s 20-pitch outing than in his spring training appearances. He spent the past month building arm strength
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Officials in Ecuador have reportedly agreed to handover any documents, including hard drives, computers, and cell phones to US authorities as they search the Ecuadorian embassy where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was previously holed up for nearly 7 years.
According to Spanish newspaper El Pais, Ecuador’s attorney general has approved a search of one of the rooms in the embassy Assange used during his stay. Ecuador has agreed to pass any documents or data found during the search to US authorities, who are planning to extradite Assange from the UK on charges related to hacking classified US government computers.
The Department of Justice has outlined charges against Assange linked to his activities with former US soldier Chelsea Manning. The two leaked a massive collection of state secrets in 2010.
On Monday, Swedish prosecutors announced plans to reopen a previously dropped investigation into rape allegations made against Assange. If found guilty, the 47-year-old could face up to four years in Swedish prison. Assange has consistently denied the allegations.
Earlier this month, WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson was denied entry into the embassy after trying to retrieve Assange’s belongings, referring to the incident as “theft.”
“It’s pictures of his family, it’s his personal belongings, equipment. He’s been in there for seven years, you can imagine how much is there that needs to be retrieved,” Hrafnsson told supporters and press outside the embassy. “They have no right to hold his material.”
According to El Pais, the search will take place on May 20 as part of a petition by the US Department of Justice for judicial assistance from the Ecuadorean government. The plans to search the sealed-off room have been communicated to Assange’s lawyer in Ecuador, Carlos Paveda, the report said.
For many at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, January 1 this year didn’t mean a New Year’s celebration. Instead, it meant the first arrival of data from New Horizons’ visit to a small Kuiper Belt object. But, like its earlier flyby of Pluto, the probe was instructed to grab all the data it could and deal with getting it back to Earth later. The full set of everything New Horizons captured won’t be available for more than a year yet. But with 10 percent of the total cache in hand, researchers decided they had enough to do the first analysis of 2014 MU69.
2014 MU69 is thought to preserve material as it condensed in the earliest days of the Solar System’s formation. And everything in the New Horizons’ data suggests that this is exactly what it has done. With the exception of one big crater temporarily named “Maryland” and the gentle collision that created its two-lobed structure, the object appears to have been largely untouched by more than 4 billion years of the Solar System’s existence.
The dawn of time
The Kuiper belt is a sparse donut of small bodies near the outer edges of the Solar System. The bodies there are formed primarily of icy materials, most of which would otherwise remain gases in the warm, inner regions of the Solar System. Some of them, like Pluto, are large enough and/or have a complex collision history, which can ensure that they undergo geological changes that alter the materials that were present at their formation.
But 2014 MU69 is much smaller; early estimates placed it at under 50km in diameter. This raised the possibility that it could preserve the materials present at its formation over 4 billion years ago. Bodies like 2014 MU69, collectively termed planetesimals, also contributed to the formation of the outer planets and larger Kuiper Belt Objects. So New Horizons’ study of 2014 MU69 provided a potential opportunity to better understand the conditions present at the start of the Solar System, including those that went into building larger bodies. But that would only hold true if 2014 MU69 hadn’t been changed during its time in the Solar System.
To study the object, New Horizons came equipped with seven scientific instruments, including cameras, spectrometers to map its surface composition, and even particle and dust collectors to capture any material that 2014 MU69 was releasing into space. The spacecraft’s closest approach was about 3,500km from 2014 MU69, which allowed it to capture images that could resolve features down to a kilometer across (and, in some cases, even smaller).
Even as the data was still coming down, the New Horizons team used it to build and refine models of the body’s surface. They tested whether imaging data was consistent with the dips and curves of the model and altered the model if they weren’t. The results confirm those of the earliest images: 2014 MU69 is really two objects smushed together gently until they connected via a constricted “neck.” Researchers had nicknamed 2014 MU69 “Ultima Thule,” and in this paper they refer to the larger lobe as Ultima and the smaller one as Thule.
Ultima may be the larger of the two in most dimensions, but it is also squashed flat. This gives it the appearance of a thick pancake about 20km across but only 7km thick. Thule is a bit more well-rounded, with dimensions varying between 10 and 14 kilometers, but it is also home to the most obvious impact crater on the body. That crater has been nicknamed “Maryland,” and other surface features have been tagged with the names of states where the New Horizons team works. (All of these names are temporary and will almost certainly be replaced.)
A quiet place
There’s no indication that the two lobes were brought together violently. Both lobes seem to have retained their original shapes, as there aren’t any signs of compression or fracture, and their orientation suggests the two spent enough time close to each other to become tidally locked before merging. The New Horizons team suggests that the two were brought together at speeds similar to what you’d expect based on their mutual gravitational pull (which, given their size, is small). However, Ultima and Thule seem to have formed somewhat separately, as the two lobes can be distinguished based on the color of their surface materials.
2014 MU69, like other Kuiper Belt objects, is reddish in color; New Horizons confirmed that the reddish tint continues into the near infrared. The brighter areas on the surface tend to be at the edge of slopes, such as in the Maryland crater and the neck between the lobes. This, the researchers suggest, may be the result of loose material piling up at the base of a slope.
While the instruments picked up plenty of indications of water ice, there was no indication of the nitrogen and methane ices that are prevalent on Pluto. Temperature estimates suggest that the whole body should have equilibrated to about 42K, which is warm enough to cause these materials to boil off; the orbit of 2014 MU69 also ensures that some areas will spend decades in the sunlight, causing localized heating that should enhance this process.
There was no indication of any material coming off the surface at the moment, however, suggesting that the water ice was stable and other volatiles were already gone. While this may be due to the limitations of New Horizons’ instruments, the researchers estimate that, at most, 2014 MU69 would have lost about 10cm of material from its surface during its entire history.
Finally, there’s a remarkable absence of obvious impacts aside from the large Maryland crater. Beyond that, there are some pits that are about 1km across, but these aren’t clearly the product of impacts. And there’s absolutely nothing in the size range between the two.
Overall, 2014 MU69 looks exactly like what we’d hope for: a world that underwent some major changes immediately after its formation but has since become static, preserving its state largely as it was billions of years ago. Hopefully, more details on that state are sitting in storage on New Horizons. Because we’re not likely to send something back to 2014 MU69 any time soon.