One of these models doesn’t exist

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Virtual humans are gradually scaling the uncanny valley, and like artificial intelligence, they’re coming for our jobs. A case in point is Imma, a digital Instagram model who has garnered over 50,000 followers thanks to her (its?) trendy, street-style selfies and photos. Imma just entered uncharted territory for 3D rendered humans, appearing in a makeup spread with two real models for Kate cosmetics in Vice‘s i-D site in Japan.

Imma is the creation of ModelingCafe, a CGI firm that has worked on Kingsglaive Final Fantasy XV, Shin Godzilla, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and this insanely good tourism video for the Kyushu region. It created Imma with astounding attention to detail, including dark roots on her pink dyed hair.

The end result is a 3D model who’s more realistic than other virtual Instagram personalities. That’s in part because the company put female modelers in charge of Imma’s skin, according to SoraNews24. It also helps that the company paid close attention to details like lighting.

In the spread, she’s posing in a composite shot with human models Mayben and Aria, wearing real and virtual makeup created by hair and makeup artist Torii. The creators of the spread, fascinated by "Kawaii" (cute) Instagram fashion and style filters, wanted to see how far they could push the virtual boundaries by using a model who was 100 percent fake.

Imma virtual instagram model

To really sell the idea, the magazine did a typical advertorial interview with all the models, Imma included. The questions and answers (translated), went along these lines: Q: Who was affected by "beauty"? A: Björk. Her work always crosses real and unreal. According to the song of All is Full of Love, it is possible for AI to understand love, which can be anything that you imagine.

While these responses were no doubt crafted by humans, it’s easy to see a day where AI could create equally coherent, fluffy answers. In that way, both the model and its (her?) personality could be fully generated by machines.

As with many things virtual and AI, there’s a dark side to this development. To gain buzz, brands are starting to rent out virtual models like Imma and Miquela, depriving real models of paid gigs. And ModelingCafe wants to take it one step further, eventually creating ultra-realistic animations of Imma that would make her nearly indistinguishable from a real person.

SAG-AFTRA (the union representing actors) understands the threat, and recently held a panel to discuss it. "I grew up in an era where I was asked, ‘Did you hear it with your own ears? Did you see it with your own eyes?’" said actress Heidi Johanningmeier. "We’ll never be able to trust that again."

Images: i-D japan

Via: Designboom

Source: i-D

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Parents are paying up to $1,000 a week to send their kids to YouTube camp for the summer

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youtube star filming video

With kids like Ryan of YouTube channel Ryan ToysReview generating millions of dollars a year by posting videos online, a new generation of children and teens are turning to summer camp to learn how to be become a YouTube star, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal’s Julie Jargon

Various camps and educational programs have popped up that promise to teach elementary- and middle-school-aged kids how to create videos and become bonafide YouTube sensations. The camps go beyond video production and editing classes, and aim to tech skills needed for someone creating an online presence that’s ready to go viral.

These YouTube camps can set parents back up to $1,000 a week to let their children pursue YouTube stardom. Ed-tech company iD Tech offers week-long camps at colleges nationwide, and puts video cameras in the hands of kids who want to create vlogs, video game walk-throughs, "safe but funny" fail videos, product reviews, and short music-dubbed clips for platforms like TikTok.

"This camp branches out from traditional storytelling to how to create the fun and hilarious content that kids love to watch," a camp called "YouTube STAR Creator Studio" advertises. "Become an Internet sensation … This camp is bound to go viral."

Read more: A 7-year-old boy is making $22 million a year on YouTube reviewing toys

Some of these camps are open to kids as young as 9, which is well below the minimum age of 13 that YouTube requires for users who sign up (in accordance with children’s online privacy laws). Camps claim they don’t help their young participants create their own accounts in violation of YouTube’s policies — they say they just teach kids how to create videos that their parents can then choose to post, the Journal reports.

The Journal talked to parents who are sending their kids to YouTube camps this summer, and many dismissed their children’s interests as mere hobbies, phases, and side gigs. But YouTube has produced a new crop of online personalities that can quit careers in favor of full-time jobs with full-time incomes as influencers and online creators.

SEE ALSO: This new line of wireless headphones mimics one of millennials’ favorite fashion accessories: the flower crown

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NOW WATCH: This startup turns 100 non-recyclable plastic bags into a high-end Bluetooth speaker

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Top investors say these 11 buzzy, under-the-radar consumer cannabis startups are set to raise fresh rounds and blow up this year

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Dosist

  • Investors are pouring money into consumer cannabis startups.
  • While it’s still early innings, investors are trying to figure out which brands will take off and capture significant market share.
  • We asked some of the top cannabis investors to pick out the consumer cannabis brands they think will blow up in 2019. 

Investors are pouring money into consumer cannabis startups.

While the cannabis industry is still nascent — THC, the main psychoactive component of the plant isn’t federally legal in the US — consumer brands are rapidly carving out market share in an attempt to dominate the early innings of what some Wall Street analysts say could be a $194 billion global industry by 2030.

But figuring out what consumers want out of a cannabis brand is an ongoing challenge, many of the investors have told Business Insider. Without historical data to go off of, it boils down to somewhat of a guessing game with investors using their network — and their intuition — to help figure out the right bets.

Read more: The top 12 venture-capital firms making deals in the booming cannabis industry that’s set to skyrocket to $75 billion

That, however, hasn’t stopped VCs from dumping money into startups that they feel will win the battle. There are some trends emerging too: for one, there’s been an explosion in cannabis startups focused on the higher-end female crowd, like High Beauty, which makes luxury CBD-based skincare products.

Others, like Dosist, are targeting newer consumers who want to use cannabis to help them sleep, relax, or even get aroused by precisely controlling the dosage and chemical profiles of the cannabis strains they offer in their vape pens.

And investing in cannabis does come with some specific challenges for the mainstream VCs. Many of the larger VC funds are unable to participate in the industry as they’re backed by institutions like pension funds who don’t want to risk a gamble on a federally illegal industry. 

That’s carved out an area for niche funds that focus specifically on cannabis to access the most deals.

Business Insider surveyed 12 of the top cannabis investors about which startups they think will blow up or raise fresh rounds this year. 

Here are their picks:

SEE ALSO: Top cannabis investors reveal where they’re placing bets, but say there’s ‘pain to come’ in the crowded CBD space

Level Blends

Startup: Level Blends

VC: Vikas Desai, managing partner at Welcan Capital

Relationship: None

What it does: Level Blends is a San Francisco-based company that develops and sells vape cartridges, sprays, and sublingual tablets that contain both CBD and THC.

Why it’s hot: "I’m very bullish on the sublingual category within cannabis," said Desai. "Consumers continue to look for other form factors and delivery methods beyond combustion, vaping and edibles. Sublinguals are easy, discreet ways to offer a faster onset time and offset time in a discreet and controlled manner."

Mary’s Medicinals

Startup: Mary’s Medicinals  

VC: Todd Harrison, chief investment officer at CB1 Capital

Relationship: Investor

What it does: Mary’s Medicinals CBD and THC containing consumer products, including vapes and tablets, as well as cosmetics and pet care products. The startup also has a line of CBD-infused women’s cosmetics at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Why it’s hot: "In addition to a growing chorus of raving fans, the company is exploring use-cases with the minor cannabinoids, which promise an array of new therapeutic benefits," said Harrison. 

Leune

Startup: Leune

VC: Karan Wadhera, managing partner at Casa Verde

Relationship: None 

What it does: Leune is a female-focused, Los Angeles-based cannabis brand that sells pre-rolled joints and vaporizer pens. 

Why it’s hot: Leune "represents the Cannabis 3.0 consumer," said Wadhera. "It has beautiful, small footprint packaging, high aesthetic, and a consistent quality product."

Canndescent

Startup: Canndescent

Investors: Phyto Partners, Merida Capital Altitude Investment Management 

Recommended by: Larry Schnurmacher, managing partner at Phyto Partners

What it does: Founded by a Harvard MBA, Canndescent is one of the original luxury cannabis brands. The California-based company sells pre-rolled joints as well as marijuana flower.

Why it’s hot: Canndescent is the "#1 luxury cannabis brand," said Schnurmacher. "They were the first to abandon traditional strain names and direct their product to a high-end market."

The Lord Jones

Startup: The Lord Jones

VC: Emily Paxhia, founding partner at Poseidon Asset Management

Relationship: None

What it does: The Lord Jones makes CBD-infused skincare products, body lotions, oils, and tinctures. The company has recently inked a partnership with The Standard Hotel group and SoulCycle. 

Why it’s hot: "Lord Jones is recently smart about leveraging e-commerce channels," said Paxhia. "They’re positioned really well with their partnerships and capture lots of market share." 

Prima

Startup: prima

Investors: Greycroft Ventures, Lerer Hippeau

Recommended by: Dana Settle, partner at Greycroft Ventures

Recent raise: $3.3 million 

What it does: Prima is a California-based, consumer CBD startup founded by The Honest Company co-founder Christopher Gavigan. The company sells CBD oils and skincare products online.

Why it’s hot: Settle told Business Insider that she views CBD as a rapidly growing health-and-wellness category. "It’s almost too bad that CBD is inextricably linked to cannabis," she said, "because it has such powerful healing qualities to it."

 

 

Cann

Startup: Cann

VC: Sean Stiefel, CEO at Navy Capital

Relationship: Investor

What it does: Cann makes low-dose CBD and THC-infused beverages for the California market.

Why it’s hot: Cann is the "most exciting low-dose beverage concept we have seen," said Steifel. "Awesome branding, and it has two founders from Harvard Business School and Stanford Graduate School of Business who worked at Bain." 

Old Pal

Startup: Old Pal

Investors: Canopy Rivers

Recommended by: Narbe Alexandrian, president at Canopy Rivers

What it does: Old Pal is a low-cost cannabis brand that grows and distributes raw flower and pre-rolled joints in the California market. 

Why it’s hot: "They are proudly trying to capture the low end of the market by licensing their brand to producers for low-priced cannabis," said Alexandrian. They have the highest volume of sales in California, according to data from Headset, said Alexandrian, and a "very strong marketing background has led to Old Pal becoming an immediate success."

Dosist

Startup: Dosist

Investors: White Owl Capital Partners, others 

VC: Vikas Desai, partner at Welcan Capital

Relationship: None

What it does: Dosist makes precision-controlled THC and CBD vaporizers that are designed for specific moods or effects. 

Why it’s hot: Dosist products are top sellers in the California market, said Desai. Plus, Desai said he expects the company will raise a "very large round" next time they hit the funding circuit.

High Beauty

Startup: High Beauty

VC: Narbe Alexandrian, president of Canopy Rivers

Relationship: Investor

What it does: High Beauty makes and distributes high-end cannabis-based skincare products focused on female consumers.

Why it’s hot: "CBD products have difficulties scaling across states and countries due to the inherent legality of the products," said Alexandrian. "High Beauty has created a line of hemp seed oil products (branded as cannabis) that are currently being sold internationally. Their strategy of building an international brand first and then adding CBD, is a strategy that can win. They’ve been showcased in dozens of publications, in the Oscars celebrity swag bag and had a big presence at Coachella."

Caliva

Startup: Caliva

Investors: Joe Montana, Carol Bartz, other angel investors 

Recommended by: Carol Bartz, former Yahoo CEO and angel investor

Recent raise: $75 million

What it does: Caliva is a dispensary chain and marijuana brand in California that sells both CBD and THC containing products in brick-and-mortar stores and online.

Why it’s hot: "Their philosophy and aspiration to be the number one trusted lifestyle brand in cannabis resonates with me," said Bartz. "Caliva is setting out to make it the highest quality, safest, and most reliable cannabis products and to provide information and education to customers to make it all accessible." 

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Add eco-friendly traveler to your resume with these unique bicycle designs

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Bicycles are the most eco-friendly mode of transport ever designed by humans as is possible, especially for smaller traveling distances in city life. It is a vehicle that creates zero emissions while keeping you healthy and with the addition of electric motors, they have added an element of ease or comfort to the cycling experience. The bicycle’s unique yet simple design works with its basic setup, but designers have spent a lot of time creating variations of the humble bicycle that will add features to it such as an additional retro boombox you can carry to the ever-popular urban favorite – a foldable bicycle. Our curation today walks you across unique bicycle designs that showcase different materials, features as well as designs, of which one is sure to appeal to you, and if not, these will surely inspire you to innovate and create your own design!

Noordung bike by Gregor Fras.

Zippable tire-tread system by reTyre

Pi Bike by Tadas Maksimovas & Martijn Koomen

Volk Wooden Bike by Volk Evolution

AK1 Folding Electric Bike by Ronsben Huen with Factory Five Germany Group

SPA Bicicletto by CAMAL Studios

Berlin Bicycle Rack by Adrian Bogdan

Opus Wood Bike by Ecce Cycles

The Brum Brum Bike by The Brum Brum Balance Bike Team

Side Car Bicycles by Horse Cycles

VRZ 2 3D Printed Titanium Lugged Carbon Bike by Ralf Holleis

Astan Bike with Pedal Brakes by Astanbike

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How to Trick Your Kid Into Becoming a Book Lover

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Photo: Click&Boo (Getty Images)

I’ve always been a huge book nerd, so my dreams of parenting definitely included my kids being as book-obsessed as I am. I love the experience of the real world melting away as I lose myself in a story, and I want my kids to know that feeling too. But when my son Lucas reached age 8, about the same age I was when I began my love affair with books, he didn’t show much interest. I’d read to him since birth, and though he enjoyed some picture books and non-fiction, I couldn’t get him to dive into an honest-to-goodness chapter book, no matter how much I promised him he’d love it. I didn’t want to keep pestering him about it because that would only make him more determined to dig in his heels. I needed to get creative.

I came up with a sneaky, multi-part plan. I had a strong feeling my son would love Harry Potter, so one night I snuggled up with him to read as I would any other night—with J. K. Rowling’s The Sorcerer’s Stone in hand. I read the first few chapters, and in the middle of chapter 4, right after Hagrid drops the bomb on Harry that he’s a wizard, I stopped.

“Ugh, my throat is hurting. I can’t go any further.”

“Aw, Mom, just a little more?”

“I’m sorry honey, my voice just can’t take anymore tonight.”

Please?”

Ha! My plan was working. I told him if he wanted to read on a little bit by himself, I’d allow him to stay up a little past his bedtime.

He enthusiastically agreed, totally convinced he was getting away with something. And that was the night my son became obsessed with Harry Potter and fiction in general. I’ll never forget how, several months later, he came running into my room long after he should have been asleep and threw himself in my arms, sobbing because of that special character who dies in book 5 (I won’t spoil it just in case any readers have somehow managed not to read or see Harry Potter).

We’re pretty consistent with bedtimes, but when it comes to late-night reading, I tend to look the other way. Within reason, of course, but to me, it’s worth my kids missing few minutes of sleep if it means they’re developing their love of reading. And, to further sweeten the deal, whenever my son finished the next book in the series, I rewarded him with a family movie night, complete with buttered popcorn and candy.

Today, at 13, my son is rarely without something to read within arm’s reach, and I credit it all back to that first night when I tricked him into falling in love with J.K. Rowling.

So, if you have a reader who doesn’t think they enjoy reading, I wholeheartedly recommend my little sneak attack. The key points to nail are:

  • Make sure to pick a genre and story you know they’ll love—ideally one that has a movie to go along with it.
  • Start out by reading to them (you’re doing the work here!) until you know you’ve got them totally, irrevocably hooked. Wide, glazed eyes and sagging-open jaw are clues that it’s the perfect time to complain that your throat hurts and you simply cannot read one more sentence.
  • Have a reward built in. A later bedtime is a easy one if you typically do your reading at night like us. A few sleepy mornings now and then are worth assuring your kid becomes a lifetime reader.
  • Offer them a book light. This is a necessity if they’re sharing a room with a sibling—and it’s somehow more thrilling to read with the bedroom lights off.
  • Build up the movie night as a major event. When he was first starting out, this was a big motivator for my son to keep going, especially for the thicker books. I wouldn’t cave in and let him watch it ahead of time, either. He had to finish the book first.

Watching the movie after reading the book is also fun because you get to compare the book to the movie with your kid, teaching them critical thinking skills they can use in school and life. And you get to prove to your kid that the book really is always better than the movie. A truth that every proud book nerd knows.

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Japan is running out of phone numbers

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We’ve reached the point where we’re running out of 11-digit phone numbers. Japan plans to release 10-billion 14-digit numbers by 2021, in response to concerns that the country may run out of its 11-digit phone numbers by 2022. The rapid adoption of IoT devices (which require their own phone number in Japan) has almost depleted the nation’s supply of 11-digit phone numbers it released for that purpose, reports The Japan Times. Japan’s roll-out of 5G in 2020 is expected to use up even more of the current phone numbers.

Japan’s communication ministry proposal to release the 14-digit numbers was accepted by the country’s three major mobile phone operators: NTT Docomo Inc., KDDI Corp. and SoftBank Corp. Currently, 11-digit numbers starting with "090," "080" and "070" are used for mobile phones in Japan. Back in 2017, the nation released 80 million 11-digit "020" for IoT devices, of which nearly half have been claimed.

Japan likely won’t be the only nation facing the problem of needing more numbers for more devices. Last year, the number of IoT devices in the world surpassed the number of mobile phones. Since 2008, there have been more connected devices on the planet than people, and by 2020 it’s predicted that there will be 50 billion connected devices globally.

10- and 11-digit numbers have become the norm in North America since the late 90s, coinciding with the advent of the internet and cell phones. Back in 2001, the New York Times even lamented the rise of "number exhaustion" due to New Yorkers needing the area code just to dial their neighbors. Given that Instagram handles and Facebook Messenger have largely replaced phone numbers for Gen-Z and Millenials, it appears we’ve avoided number exhaustion — at least for now.

Source: Japan Times

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