FaceApp changes your race with its latest selfie-editing filters (update)

FaceApp uses neural networks for realistic-looking changes to your selfie photos. Originally, it had filters to add smiles, change your age, change gender or “beautify” your face. Unlike Snapchat’s overlays, FaceApp uses deep learning technologies to change the photo itself. Now, a new update adds race to the mix, with an update to enable users to make themselves look Asian, Black, Caucasian or Indian.

There has been some outrage over the new filters, with some Twitter users calling it “digital blackface.” This isn’t the first time photographic filters have come under fire, of course. Snapchat’s 420 Bob Marley filter came under fire for the same lack of racial sensitivity, while its “anime-inspired” lens felt downright racist. FaceApp itself has already faced criticism when it released a “hot” filter that basically just made people look more “white.”

The app developer doesn’t feel that the new filters are specifically racist, however. “The ethnicity change filters have been designed to be equal in all aspects,” Yaroslav Goncharov, the app’s CEO and creator, told Engadget in an email. “They don’t have any positive or negative connotations associated with them. They are even represented by the same icon. In addition to that, the list of those filters is shuffled for every photo, so each user sees them in a different order.”

Update: Goncharov just emailed Engadget with the following: “The new controversial filters will be removed in the next few hours.”


E-sports is here to stay so it’s time we began to understand how it got here, who is behind it and what exactly it is

Game developer Activision Blizzard’s international city-based franchise, Overwatch League, is full-steam ahead, with teams reportedly selling for up to US$20 million.

Chinese internet giant Tencent has announced plans to invest US$15 billion into Chinese e-sports in the next five years. And the Hong Kong Tourism Board is presenting its HK$35 million e-sports gambit – the e-sports and K-pop music festival– this weekend in the Coliseum.

They are all part of a broader trend sweeping the worlds of sports, business and media from Los Angeles to Shanghai.

Announcements are made weekly of million-dollar prize pools, celebrity team owners (Shaq, Ashton Kutcher), massive team sponsorship deals (Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Vodafone) and serious investments from major media companies (Modern Times Group, Facebook).

The business world is giddy at the prospect of tapping into that most lucrative but tricky of demographics: millennials.

With 385 million e-sports fans around the world it’s easy to see why they’re so fired up.

In the e-sports community, many are delighted to finally get investment that could elevate the scene to the heights of traditional sports.

However, just as many are sounding the alarm at the glut of money that’s flooding the scene. They fear a crash is on it’s way that will set the scene back another 10 years.

Given the eye-watering sums of money being thrown around and the sometimes shocking lack of knowledge of those involved, it’s not hard to see why people are worried.

Even if the trend continues, the future will not be rosy for most of those involved. E-sports joining the big leagues means a repeat of the history of sports. The real history of sports is the business of sports. And that business was brutal. The backroom deals which built global powers like Fifa, the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL had no space for sportsmanship.

E-sports may yet prove itself a different beast. Endemic organisations, professional players, and the massive e-sports fan base regularly captivate with the kind of stories that we’ve come to expect from the socially conscious millennial generation.

E-sports fans are building passionate communities that may yet temper corporate ambitions.

We will introduce you to the world of e-sports, tell some of the most interesting stories, and guess (roughly) what the future may hold.

1 Business

The business world sees e-sports as a massive opportunity. Major players – game developers, traditional sports, media and advertising – see it fitting nicely into the well-defined and immensely lucrative existing framework. Endemics on the other hand, see it as a cultural movement that can forge its own path, upending the sports and business worlds in the process. We’ll take a look at the biggest deals and their impact on the business landscape.

2 People & Society

For those seeking to build a career in e-sports, the business is a roller coaster of heartbreak and elation. Players are betting their future on a place at the top of the professional scene. The scene is a window into the world of a new generation.

Fans see e-sports and participation in the scene as the evolution of competitive spirit. For those born in the age of the internet, traditional sport fails to deliver on the levels of engagement they enjoy in e-sports. Many are capitalising on this, making a living – and in some cases huge incomes – on Twitch and other platforms where they can connect with like-minded individuals. The mainstream rolls its eyes or shakes its head in disbelief.

E-sports isn’t just a dream for individuals. Governments are shaping legislation around it, and others, such as the Hong Kong Tourism Board are even staking the future of entire sectors on it.

3 Technology

E-sports was born in the arcade, and brought up in the era of social media. As a natural partner to technology, e-sports has amazing potential. New businesses are being founded all the time with the aim of meeting the needs of the scene. And many believe e-sports could be the area where the promise of augmented reality and virtual reality comes true.

4 What is it?

E-sports is many different things to many different people. For the mainstream it’s an exciting new phenomenon. For e-sports fans it’s the evolution of a scene that traces its roots back to the competitive gaming and arcade scene of the ’70s and ’80s. E-sports is complicated and frequently misunderstood. The development is also not always viewed positively by those involved in the wider gaming community. We’ll take a closer look at the different games and their cultures, the different aspects of the scene, and we talk to those involved to get their perspectives on what e-sports is to them.

5 The Future

Lastly, we’ll take a stab at where e-sports might be going, the factors at play that will determine which road the scene will go down, and the potential impact it could have on those involved, business, and society as a whole. We’ll discuss some possibilities, and get opinions of those who really understand the scene.

The only thing that’s certain is that it’s here to stay, in some form or another.


Lexus inaugurates its fourth showroom in the country

Lexus inaugurates its fourth showroom in the country

In efforts to further strengthen its presence in the country, Lexus has inaugurated its fourth showroom in the country in Bengaluru. The showrooms called Lexus Guest Experience Centers (GECs), is present in other three locations – New Delhi, Mumbai and Gurgaon. The New Delhi and Gurgaon outlets were inaugurated on 25th March, while the Mumbai outlet was inaugurated on 28th March 2017.

The company claims that the GECs have been designed in line with Lexus’ value of ‘Omotenashi’ which focusses on providing exceptional hospitality. Moreover, the company claims that the guest experience centers were designed specifically to allow guests to experience Lexus vehicles as well as the Lexus lifestyle, which begins right from the moment they step into the experience centers and receive a warm welcome from an exclusive Lexus Relationship Manager.

The newest GEC in Bengaluru is a combination of Kannadiga and Japanese cultures. The ‘Sangam Jaali’ in the hosting area refers to unity of two rivers and is inspired from the Indian style of greeting Namaste and Omotenashi of Japanese culture. The ‘Jaali’ also draws historic inspiration from the provincial-age window patterns. The beautiful amalgamation of advanced mobility and fine craftmanship is seen in the handcrafted Hampi Chariot installed on the wall while the guests also witness signature ‘L’ type elements in the design of palletes and exterior elevations, with spindle shaped lights drawing from core Lexus design features.

Speaking on occasion of inauguration of Bengaluru facility Akitoshi Takemura, Senior Vice President, Lexus India said, “The best part is that no two Lexus Guest Experience Centers are the same. Each center is uniquely designed to suit local tastes and provide an exclusive experience to our guests. Core to the ownership experience is the relationship with Lexus, which begins the moment a guest steps into one of centers – and lasts a lifetime.” Lexus sells the ES 300h, RX 450h and LX 450d in India.


Jaguar Land Rover SVO division wants to build its own bespoke cars

Jaguar Land Rover SVO division wants to build its own bespoke cars

Following the reveal of the most potent Jaguar ever, the XE SV Project 8, Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division is keen on developing its own bespoke car, similar to what Mercedes-AMG has done with the AMG GT.

Currently, the SVO division specialises in creating pumped up variants of existing production models from the leaping cat’s portfolio, similar to how the AMG initiated with Mercedes-Benz vehicles. But looking at the success with the XE SV Project 8, and the F-Type Project 7 before it, the performance division doesn’t want to be limited to using existing products. “Deep down we want to make our own model,” says John Edwards, managing director of SVO, “Just look at the success of the [Mercedes] AMG GT.”

However, before foraying into building their own bespoke sports car to take on the AMG GT, Edward emphasises on the need to perfect their work with the ‘Project’ cars. What the next ‘project’ car will be is not divulged yet, although Edward confessed that the Jaguar F-Pace and upcoming Range Rover Velar SUVs have “great potential”. A test mule of the SVO treated Velar has been spotted testing already.

The British performance division can employ the hardware from the F-Type and add a new bespoke coach-built body with a lavish yet performance-oriented interior to beginwith. Given the fact that the XE SV Project 8 was churned out in a short period of 12months, the SVO has proven that they have got what it takes. Edward also praised the freedom his team of engineers were given to develop the Project 7 and Project 8 and hence, the team is looking forward to the next generation of products under their banner, and so are we.


Sony launches new edition of its Wena smart wristwatch

Sony launched a new version of its Wena Wrist smartwatch, called Three Hands Square. It is unique because the body is analog, but the strap is smart – it comes with LED and has NFC chip for mobile payments.

The latest version adds a leather band to the already launched series with steel and rubberized sport-strap. Three Hands Square has a square body and a round face with three size options – 18 mm, 20 mm and 22 mm. The larger round Wena Wrist comes only in 22 mm.

The leather leash does not have LED notifications, but the NFC is available. You can also mix and match since Sony started selling the steel band separately.

The body’s price starts from JPY10,380 ($93), but the steel band will make you part with JPY33,880, or around $300. The leather band is much cheaper – only JPY8,380 or $75.