Companies bet on AI cameras to track social distancing, limit liability – Hardware – Security – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Stores and workplaces eager to avoid spreading the novel coronavirus are equipping existing security cameras with artificial intelligence software that can track compliance with health guidelines including social distancing and mask-wearing.
Several companies told Reuters the software will be crucial to staying open as concerns about COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus, persist around the world. It will allow them to show not only workers and customers, but also insurers and regulators, that they are monitoring and enforcing safe practices.
“The last thing we want is for the governor to shut all our projects down because no one is behaving,” said Jen Suerth, vice president at Chicago-based Pepper Construction, which introduced software from SmartVid.io this month to detect workers grouping at an Oracle Corp project in Deerfield, Illinois.
Samarth Diamond plans to deploy AI from Glimpse Analytics as soon as its polishing factory re-opens in Gujarat, India, while two Michigan shopping centers owned by RPT Realty will have distancing tracking from RE Insight in two weeks.
Buyers expect the technology will work because they already have used similar tools to profile shoppers entering stores and find helmet scofflaws on construction sites.
But some technology consultants that advise retailers and office landlords have cautioned clients against introducing new technology at a chaotic time and investing in tools that may be needed only for a period of months. Privacy activists concerned about increasingly detailed tracking of people also are urging businesses to limit use of the AI to the pandemic.
“The question becomes whether the tech remains after the public health problem goes away, and that is the real privacy fear,” said Al Gidari, a privacy expert at Stanford Law School. “Video in the store today to ensure social distancing remains to identify shoplifters tomorrow.”
Computer vision
Reuters spoke with 16 video analytics companies, many of them startups with a few million dollars in annual revenue, that have added offerings because of the coronavirus. Their systems can be set to produce daily reports, which site managers can use to correct recurring problems and document compliance.
Most work on a branch of AI technology known as computer or machine vision in which algorithms are trained on image libraries to identify objects with confidence of 80% or higher.
Several customers said the technology, which can cost US$1,000 or more annually to analyze data from a handful of off-the-shelf video cameras, is cheaper than dedicating staff to standing guard. It also can be safer, as some guards enforcing distancing have clashed with people protesting safety measures, they said.
Pepper Construction’s Suerth said its SmartVid system has not flagged crowding issues yet because staffing has been limited. But Suerth said that as more crews arrive, the company will look at trends to issue reminders at “tool box talks.”
“It’s another set of eyes on the site,” Suerth said, adding that software is less prone to mistakes than people and the “accuracy we’re seeing is really high.”
Samarth Diamond manager Parth Patel said he could adjust procedures when the software identifies spots where his 4,000 workers are clumping together in busy areas. People tagged as not having masks quickly would be offered one by a team reviewing camera feeds, Patel said.
“It will surely be helpful for the safety of employees and their comfort level, and it will be helpful to show it to authorities that we are adhering” to regulations, Patel said.
Patel said he has confidence in the algorithms after his family successfully used computer vision last year at supermarkets it owns to count female shoppers and decide where to stock a new line of dresses.
RPT Realty, which Chief Executive Brian Harper said had used camera software to count visitors over the past few months at two of the 49 open-air shopping centers it owns in the United States, is moving to assess tenants’ compliance with reduced occupancy regulations across five malls.
It also plans to help consumers decide when to shop by using technology from startup WaitTimes to analyze lines of people waiting to enter stores, a phenomenon that has become common during the pandemic as part of social distancing efforts. Signage will inform shoppers of the anonymous counting, according to Harper.
“You can never have too much data at your hands,” Harper said.
But calculating whether people are six feet (1.8m) apart and detecting objects such as face masks are all novel uses now being tested and launched on accelerated schedules. Some startups even promise to spot sneezing and coughing, claims that drew skepticism from some experts.
“Most solutions will be in uncharted territory, without a proven track record, and likely susceptible to false-positives and bugs,” said Vinay Goel, a former Google Maps product leader who is now chief digital products officer at the tech unit of real estate services giant Jones Lang LaSalle Inc.
Beside costs, businesses are concerned AI will trigger too many reports of non-problems, like a family walking close together in an aisle, retail consultants said.
Indyme, a technology vendor that works with BevMo!, Office Depot and other U.S. retailers, said that its clients have preferred rudimentary boxes that can count people at entrances and automatically announce, “For your safety, please maintain a social distance of six feet, thank you.”

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Sky Bet declares horse racing Britain’s national sport- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Famous football pundits are running for their lives as they are chased out of town by horses and jockeys in Sky Bet’s latest campaign for this year’s Cheltenham Festival.
In a 60 second launch titled ‘CHARGE!’ Jeff Stelling, Jamie Carragher, Laura Woods, Matt Le Tissier and Charlie Nicholas are literally chased out of their studio by a pack of marauding horses and jockeys.
Ed Chamberlin takes over Stelling’s anchorman role bellowing “Move over football, Cheltenham coming through”.
Ross Sewley, head of brand at Sky Bet said: “We asked Who Wot Why to help us stand out at Cheltenham, our most important time of year, and they’ve certainly delivered. With Sky Bet’s rich football heritage, they’ve helped us develop an unexpected, provocative point of view and have executed it in a very disruptive way. We believe the power of a big idea is demonstrated in how easily it transcends channel, and every touch point in our Cheltenham campaign delivers the concept with ease and provokes response”.
Ben Walker, co-founder of Who Wot Why said: “For four heady days every March football takes a back seat and horse racing becomes the national sport. It’s something worth celebrating and that’s what this work does.”
The campaign is the first work to be shot by Outsider’s Jim Gilchrist and covers a multitude of touch-points including digital, social, TV, Radio and CRM. The work was written by Who Wot Why’s Ali Dickinson and Jack Walker working with Sky Bet’s in-house creatives Mark Forster and Andrew Mook.
Extra content will include footballer Jimmy Bullard being put through his paces riding a racehorse with the legendary jockey David Crosse.

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Why eSports is becoming the big bet for brands in Asia Pacific- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The growth of eSports worldwide has been well documented, with the latest Statista figures showing over 200m people worldwide frequently watch their favourite video gamers in action.
This figure is set to increase to almost 300m people by 2022, with a further 347m people tuning in occasionally. The huge prize sums given to these players are also well documented in the mainstream press, with headlines dominating in all countries, telling stories that even children are being made millionaires by turning their love of gaming into a business.
The story for brands has been mixed, however, with some brands flocking to the genre but many cautiously watching from the sidelines. It is translating into revenue and this part specifically is set to rocket, as brands take a more active role in investing in eSports. Market revenue worldwide reached $1.09bn in 2019, according to Statista, rising to $1.7bn in the next two years.
For Lenovo, a brand that makes laptops in its Legion range that are aimed at gamers, it’s perhaps a no-brainer to invest in eSports.
Its ‘Legion of Champions’ and ‘Rise of Legions’ competitions are now well established, with Legion of Champion’s December event being its fourth iteration and, according to Lenovo, was the biggest one yet with 1,000 teams from 12 markets participating, including Australia and New Zealand for the first time.
However, as the genre tips into the mainstream, Lenovo is adapting its strategy around the activation, with the insight that idea of what a ‘gamer’ really is, is evolving.
Ian Tan, head of the gaming team at Lenovo Asia Pacific, tells Tempemail: “As eSports is becoming more mainstream, we’re seeing greater interest from gaming enthusiasts who want to explore eSports as a professional career.”
“The definition of ‘gamer’ is evolving. Gamers seek to balance work, family and social life like everyone else. This is why many avid gamers tell us that they prefer gaming devices that are stylish enough for a home or office setting but have the hardware prowess to support intense, high-powered gaming.”
He adds: “With the Legion of Champions, our approach is to reach out to the broader market of gamers who want to break into the highly competitive field of eSports but may not have had opportunities to do so. Additionally, we are taking steps to encourage and celebrate women in eSports: this year we launched the Legion of Valkyries, our first women’s esports initiative in Asia Pacific.”
The misconception that gamers are a ‘type’ has potentially been holding some brands back from investing but news that Louis Vuitton had partnered with Riot Games title League of Legends last year caused a lot of brands to pay attention.
At Tempemail’s Programmatic Punch event in Singapore last year, leaders from L’Oreal, Essence and Adcolony attempted to dismantle the stereotypes around gaming for brands, with L’Oreal marketer Sheenum Kumar admitting that it could be a place for luxury brands to find new audiences.
For Singapore-headquartered telco Singtel, its investment in eSports has been a unifier for its international business and a way to attract new customers into its ecosystem, beyond its traditional telco services.
Speaking with Tempemail, Singtel’s international chief executive officer Arthur Lang, says gaming is fast catching up to video as a key mobile entertainment channel.
“It all started when we looked at what we could do on a regional basis. If we just look at the pure telco part of Singtel, it is multi-local as opposed to regional. That’s because if we have a license in Singapore, it doesn’t mean we can use that license and operate in Indonesia, for example. This isn’t the case when we talk about digital entertainment and gaming is a big piece of digital entertainment, you can really cross borders with that. What we did was look at our subscriber base, and we realized that one form of content that was fast increasing in prominence was gaming. It was fast catching up with video,” says Lang.
This fast-growth requires specialism and expertise, as many brands don’t know where to start in terms of investing in the eSports audience. This is why advertising and gaming experts joined up last year to formally launch Ampverse, a new eSports specialist business for Southeast Asia.
Since its launch last year, the business has now hired further talent and launched a talent management business. Ampverse now believes it has a business that can help grow eSports for both brands, gamers and influencer talent, with further plans to build out its own IP and media properties for 2020.
One of the Ampverse founders, Charlie Baillie, says that while eSports is growing, in Southeast Asia there’s still a lot of fragmentation, which is one of the challenges Ampverse is hoping to negotiate for brands and talent.
“Brands are still understanding how to participate in this space. In China and US, they’re more developed by nature of the markets, so brands being a bit more innovative with how they allocate marketing spend them into this area. That’s starting to happen here, but I think the challenge for us, and anyone in this space is how do we help educate the market right around the different opportunities from a brand space perspective?” he asks.
Baillie explains that many of his conversations with marketing managers have a similar line of inquiry, which is interest in the growing scale for gaming but no understanding of how to get started.
“It is the kind of thinking that aligns with the vision of the business. We recognize that, for some brands, who see the noise is around League of Legends and Louis Vuitton deal, which is a big, global, strategic partnership, it is a fantastic partnership, but that’s one, far end of the spectrum, and it’s a significant amount of Investment,” he says.
For this reason, the company is investing a lot in media channels and talent, such as YouTubers, who bring the eSports world into the lives of the growing audience. This, according to Baillie, is where brands can start testing and learning in eSports but it’ll take some development of talent to make it more attractive to brands.
“The more entry-level is the influencer activation, which just replicates what brands may already be doing. It is great because it’s entry-level and it’s little barrier to entry, but some brands, they don’t want to play in that space. Our strategy, therefore, is to help grow teams, grow content creators and help enhance their ability to produce better quality content, which makes it a much better opportunity for brands,” he explains.
He also believes that more investment in the talent and creating a greater range of IP around the media content on eSports will help to convince people that gaming isn’t just “boys sat in dark rooms”. He says the overall gamer audience is now almost evenly split but the perception will go away faster if the content around the sports if more reflective of this.
It’s a concern that Lenovo has had for a while and likewise invested in itself, which it believes puts Asia Pacific at a headstart against the rest of the world for eSports.
“Gaming is and should be, for everyone. In fact, in the US, women already make up about 30% of the eSports audience, dominate the casual gaming scene at 66% and make up 35% of eSports gamers. What is exciting is that these percentages may be even higher in other markets across Asia,” explains Lenovo’s Tan.
“We are likely to see a notable increase in female eSports athletes who are increasingly shaping gaming culture to be more inclusive—and businesses would do well to take note.”
He continues: “We hope that through the Legion of Valkyries we will also be able to better understand the real wants and needs of female gamers in Asia Pacific, and gain a better understanding of how we can truly support and empower this community.”
The eSports lure may not be one that every brand gets taken in by, but the tools and audiences have hit a point where brands can scale for Asia Pacific and beyond. The question remains, who will win?

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With its Kubernetes bet paying off, Cloud Foundry double down on developer experience – gpgmail


More than fifty percent of the Fortune 500 companies are now using the open-source Cloud Foundry Platform-as-a-Service project — either directly or through vendors like Pivotal — to build, test and deploy their applications. Like so many other projects, including the likes of OpenStack, Cloud Foundry went through a bit of a transition in recent years as more and more developers started looking to containers — and especially the Kubernetes project — as a platform to develop on. Now, however, the project is ready to focus on what always differentiated it from its closed- and open-source competitors: the developer experience.

Long before Docker popularized containers for application deployment, though, Cloud Foundry had already bet on containers and written its own orchestration service, for example. With all of the momentum behind Kubernetes, though, it’s no surprise that many in the Cloud Foundry started to look at this new project to replace the existing container technology.


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Uber commits $200 million to Uber Freight expansion in bet on trucking and Chicago – gpgmail


Uber Freight is establishing its headquarters in Chicago as part of Uber’s broader plan to invest more than $200 million annually in the region, including hiring hundreds of workers.

Uber said Monday it will hire 2,000 new employees in the region over the next three years, most of which will be dedicated to Uber Freight .

Uber Freight, which helps truck drivers connect with shipping companies, has become an important piece to Uber’s larger business strategy to generate revenue from all forms of transportation, including logistics for packages.

Since launching in May 2017, Uber Freight has grown from from limited regional operations in Texas to the rest of the continental U.S. and then to Europe.

Uber made Uber Freight a separate business unit in August 2018. Since then, the company has redesigned the app, adding new navigation features that make searching for and filtering loads easier to customize and more intuitive, as well as other features, including an updated map view and a search bar across the top of the screen.

It’s also made some key hires, one of which intimated the company’s global ambitions. The company hired Andrew Smith, one of Box’s early employees, to head up global sales at Uber Freight, and Bar Ifrach, formerly of Airbnb, to lead its marketplace team.

With signs of some success, Uber is doubling down on the trucking business.

Uber Freight has more than 400,000 drivers in its carrier network and 1,000-plus shippers as customers, including AB Inbev, Niagara Bottling and Land O’Lakes, according to the company. Uber Freight also has more than 50,000 carriers on the platform.

“I believe this makes Uber Freight  the biggest virtual fleet in the United States,” Lior Ron, head of Uber Freight, told gpgmail in a recent interview.

The company has been relatively quiet as it has scaled up, Ron said, noting that this announcement marks a turning point for Uber Freight.

“This is really a graduation moment for us and where we can share that because the business is doing so well we are doubling down on our investment,” he said.

The new Uber office located in The Old Main Post Office in the historic Chicago River area will serve as Uber Freight headquarters and its first engineering hub outside of San Francisco.

“Trucking represents an enormous opportunity for Uber, and this milestone is a testament to our long-term commitment to our Freight business,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a statement. “Chicago is the heart of America’s transportation and logistics industry, and there is no better place to open our dedicated Freight HQ. Uber has long recognized the incredible history, innovation, and talent that Chicago has to offer, and we’re excited about the thousands of new jobs our Freight business will help bring as we become one of the city’s largest technology employers.”

As part of its new investments in the region, Uber is collaborating with the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership (CCWP) to help with workplace diversity. Uber will start onboarding new employees in 2020 and will work with CCWP to develop a process for identifying potential candidates through their system.


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YC’s latest VR bet is a team building a cyberpunk anime MMO – gpgmail


There are niche startups and then there are VR companies going after fans of the “cyberpunk fantasy anime aesthetic.”

Ramen VR is one of only a few virtual reality startups that Y Combinator has bet on in the past few years and is only one of two in the company’s most recent batch of bets. It has a niche approach, but it’s hoping to build an MMO that can leanly grow alongside the slow-but-steady virtual reality market. Like any content play that’s hoping for VC dollars, Ramen VR wants eventually to be a platform.

“Long-term, our goal isn’t just to create a game, but we’ve seen the issues of VR platforms that tried to be platforms before they had a meaningful use case. If you’re just trying to be a chat room or platform without any users, that doesn’t work,” CEO Andy Tsen tells gpgmail.

The company’s first title is called Zenith, and it’s an anime-inspired fantasy title that plays with cyberpunk themes as well. The founders are really aiming to give VR geeks the game that they want, one that taps into the 80s futuristic aesthetic with gameplay that pays tribute to popular sci-fi books, movies and games of the era.

MMOs are attracting quite a bit of inbound interest in the venture-backed startup world. Part of the reasoning has been because of people seeing the scope a title like Fortnite was able to achieve so quickly after going virall; the other part is the prevalence of developer tools that gaming startups are able to easily plug into their tech stacks. Ramen VR is using Improbable’s SpatialOS to bring persistent online gameplay to its users.

The company just rolled out a Kickstarter to gauge interest for Zenith; they launched a week ago and have raised $132,000 in the crowdfunding campaign thus far. Backers get access to a VR version of the title as well as a desktop PC copy. The startup plans to roll out across VR devices, including PC systems, PlayStation VR and Oculus Quest.

“The whole point is that it’s not just on one device, it’s a world, it’s literally the Upside Down from Stranger Things layered on top of your entire world. At any point, no matter what screen you’re on, you can access that,” CTO Lauren Frazier tells us.

The startup still has a bit of development ahead of them, but the current plan is to launch an Alpha in six months, a beta in nine months and to go live broadly a year from now.


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