Beauti-Tone is painting outside the lines.

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Beauti-Tone is painting outside the lines.

The Home Hardware-owned paint brand recently partnered with Canadian company, Kavtek, on a new AR app that allows Canadians to see what a colour would look like on or in their home before they buy.

 

“I think it’s something that consumers really latch on to,” says Doug Parsons, sales and marketing manager of Beauti-Tone Paint at Home Hardware. Colour is really what we do and that’s what customers really want as they look in the room, you know “how’s that blue going to look in a room?” “How is that [blue] going to make me feel, does it give me ambience or reflect my personality?”

Home Hardware previously has an AR app about five years ago that let people visualize products in their homes, but ultimately it proved early and didn’t take off, says Parsons. But he is confident now is the right time to dive back in, noting that mobile device penetration has continued to grow and the capabilities of AR technology has improved, especially among Beauti-Tone’s target consumer.

Beauti-Tone Paint’s customer base tends to skew a bit older, as people generally don’t buy much paint until they have their first home – meaning this is one app that isn’t targeting Gen Zers, but more targeting millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.

Who doesn’t want technology that does something instantly, or makes things easier?” Parsons says, adding that both the novelty and usefulness of AR is just as appealing for older markets. “You can just start clicking and working away on an iPad, or anything else you have, in the space, that’s the really cool thing about it.”

Like many other paint brands, Beauti-Tone also has a website, which lets people play around with different colours in stock images of rooms. The AR app takes things one step further so that customers can see what their own walls, for example, would look like with a fresh coat of paint.

While these types of tools are helpful Parsons says customers still need to come in to a store to actually buy the paint, and more importantly, see a paint chip IRL before committing. And while new DTC brands in the U.S., such as Backdrop and Clare, are selling paint online, Home Hardware has not taken that leap quite yet, with the AR app meant to give customers inspiration, as opposed to helping them make a purchase decision.

“It scares us to sell something online without people having actually seen the colour,” Parsons says. The downfall of these devices is what hasn’t been perfected yet, which is you can get an idea of colour, but it’s not an exact match. So we’d always temper people, yes, to get an idea from the app of what you want, but you want the actual chip that it’s reflecting. The colours in the store will be accurate, and that’s still needed.”

But Beauti-Tone Paint, and the 55-year-old Home Hardware brand as a whole, is committed to freshening up its image and  keeping pace with the times and may sell paint online down the line, once it can provide customers with the confidence that they know what they are getting. For now, Beauti-Tone is “testing the waters” for Home Hardware as a whole when it comes to AR and understands being what Parsons calls an :integrated retailer” is the future, meaning the St. Jacob’s, Ont.-headquartered brand is focused on delivering to the customer what they want, when they want it and how they want it.

 

Bullet’s captioned snippets make podcasts a lot more shareable

When I listen to a podcast, I usually find an idea or two that I would like to share with a friend, my social media audience, or just keep track of for later action.

Trouble is, a whole episode is tough to share. Most of us don’t have much time to listen on the fly. 

Enter Bullet, the easy way to share a clip from any podcast.

Bullet is available now. Download on the app store.

2019 State of AI Report

We believe that AI will be a force multiplier on technological progress in our increasingly digital, data-driven world. This is because everything around us today, ranging from culture to consumer products, is a product of intelligence. In this report, we set out to capture a snapshot of the exponential progress in AI with a focus on developments in the past 12 months. Consider this report as a compilation of the most interesting things we’ve seen that seeks to trigger an informed conversation about the state of AI and its implication for the future. This edition builds on the inaugural State of AI Report 2018, which can be found here. We consider the following key dimensions in our report: Research: Technology breakthroughs and their capabilities. Talent: Supply, demand and concentration of talent working in the field. Industry: Large platforms, financing and areas of application for AI-driven innovation today and tomorrow. China: With two distinct Internets, we review AI in China as its own category. Politics: Public opinion of AI, economic implications and the emerging geopolitics of AI.

Solar activity forecast for the next decade: weakest of last 200 years

Scientists predict that activity in the next solar cycle will be the weakest in the last 200 years. The number of sunspots in the Sun’s next 11-year cycle, starting in 2020, could be 30% to 50% lower than in its current cycle.

Sunspots are regions on the Sun with magnetic fields thousands of times stronger than Earth’s. Fewer of them at the point of maximum solar activity means fewer dangerous blasts of radiation spewing into space.

The research is led by Irina Kitiashvili, a scientist at the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute at NASA’s Ames Research Center.

Kitiashvili’s method differs from other prediction tools in the raw material for its forecast. Previously, researchers used the number of sunspots to estimate the activity of the solar magnetic field. The new approach takes advantage of direct observations of magnetic fields on the surface of the Sun — data which have existed only for the last four solar cycles.

Combining information from observations of the Sun’s surface with estimates of its interior activity generated a forecast designed to be more reliable than that from any one source alone. 

Knowing how the Sun will behave lets us protect technology we depend on: satellite missions studying the universe from space; landers and rovers heading to the Moon and Mars; and the telecommunications satellites right in our own backyards.

Inspirational quotes for writers

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

― Neil Gaiman, Coraline

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”

― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.”

― Saul Bellow

“Read, read, read. Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.

Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”

― William Faulkner

“Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly – they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.”

― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”

― Louis L’Amour

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”

― Philip Pullman

“The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”

― Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”

― Franz Kafka

“There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they’ll take you.”

― Beatrix Potter

“You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.”

― Annie Proulx

“If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.”

― Anais Nin

“So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say.”

― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

“He asked, “What makes a man a writer?” “Well,” I said, “it’s simple. You either get it down on paper, or jump off a bridge.”

― Charles Bukowski

“Indeed, learning to write may be part of learning to read. For all I know, writing comes out of a superior devotion to reading.”

― Eudora Welty, On Writing

“Writing simply means no dependent clauses, no dangling things, no flashbacks, and keeping the subject near the predicate. We throw in as many fresh words we can get away with. Simple, short sentences don’t always work. You have to do tricks with pacing, alternate long sentences with short, to keep it vital and alive…. Virtually every page is a cliffhanger – you’ve got to force them to turn it.”

― Dr. Seuss

“To write well, express yourself like the common people, but think like a wise man.”

― Aristotle

“A story was a form of telepathy. By means of inking symbols onto a page, she was able to send thoughts and feelings from her mind to her reader’s. It was a magical process, so commonplace that no one stopped to wonder at it.”

― Ian McEwan, Atonement

“Any writer worth his salt writes to please himself…It’s a self-exploratory operation that is endless. An exorcism of not necessarily his demon, but of his divine discontent.”

― Harper Lee

“Some writers enjoy writing, I am told. Not me. I enjoy having written.”

― George R.R. Martin

“You can’t blame a writer for what the characters say.”

― Truman Capote

“Writing fiction is the act of weaving a series of lies to arrive at a greater truth.”

― Khaled Hosseini

“Why did I write? Because I found life unsatisfactory.”

― Tennessee Williams

“Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”

― Gloria Steinem

“If people cannot write well, they cannot think well, and if they cannot think well, others will do their thinking for them.”

― George Orwell

“Write while the heat is in you. The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with. He cannot inflame the minds of his audience.”

― Henry David Thoreau

“My most important piece of advice to all you would-be writers: When you write, try to leave out all the parts readers skip.”

― Elmore Leonard, Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing

“The best way to become acquainted with a subject is to write about it. “

― Benjamin Disraeli

“If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn’t expecting it.”

― H.G. Wells

“Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.”

― E.B. White

“The best stories don’t come from “good vs. bad” but “good vs. good.”

― Leo Tolstoy

“If something inside of you is real, we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal. So you must risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act – truth is always subversive.”

― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

“Words – so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.”

― Nathaniel Hawthorne

“In order to write the book you want to write, in the end you have to become the person you need to become to write that book.”

― Junot Diaz

“We are important and our lives are important, magnificent really, and their details are worthy to be recorded. This is how writers must think, this is how we must sit down with pen in hand. We were here; we are human beings; this is how we lived. Let it be known, the earth passed before us. Our details are important. Otherwise, if they are not, we can drop a bomb and it doesn’t matter. . .

― Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within

“I have advice for people who want to write. I don’t care whether they’re 5 or 500. There are three things that are important: First, if you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you. Where you just put down what you think about life, what you think about things, what you think is fair and what you think is unfair. And second, you need to read. You can’t be a writer if you’re not a reader. It’s the great writers who teach us how to write. The third thing is to write. Just write a little bit every day. Even if it’s for only half an hour – write, write, write.”

― Madeleine L’Engle

“A writer, I think, is someone who pays attention to the world.”

― Susan Sontag

“it is all very well for you to write simply and the simpler the better. But do not start to think so damned simply. Know how complicated it is and then state it simply.”

― Ernest Hemingway

“The desire to write grows with writing.”

― Erasmus

“Write every day, line by line, page by page, hour by hour. Do this despite fear. For above all else, beyond imagination and skill, what the world asks of you is courage, courage to risk rejection, ridicule and failure. As you follow the quest for stories told with meaning and beauty, study thoughtfully but write boldly. Then, like the hero of the fable, your dance will dazzle the world.”

― Robert McKee

“You can’t edit a blank page”

― Nora Roberts

“The things that the novel does not say are necessarily more numerous than those it does say and only a special halo around what is written can give the illusion that you are reading also what is not written.”

― Italo Calvino

“This is the other secret that real artists know and wannabe writers don’t. When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.”

― Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles

“Always carry a notebook. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea for ever.”

― Will Self

“You should always be trying to write a poem you are unable to write, a poem you lack the technique, the language, the courage to achieve. Otherwise you’re merely imitating yourself, going nowhere, because that’s always easiest.”

― John Berryman

“Write only if you cannot live without writing. Write only what you alone can write.”

― Elie Wiesel

“Writer’s block is only a failure of the ego.”

― Norman Mailer

“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it.

That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”

― Octavia E. Butler

“You will write if you will write without thinking of the result in terms of a result, but think of the writing in terms of discovery, which is to say that creation must take place

between the pen and the paper, not before in a thought or afterwards in a recasting…

It will come if it is there and if you will let it come.”

― Gertrude Stein

“There was a moment when I changed from an amateur to a professional. I assumed the burden of a profession, which is to write even when you don’t want to, don’t much like what you’re writing, and aren’t writing particularly well.”

― Agatha Christie, An Autobiography

“The best work that anybody ever writes is the work that is on the verge of embarrassing him, always.”

― Arthur Miller

“Every few weeks she would shut herself up in her room, put on her scribbling suit, and fall into a vortex, as she expressed it, writing away at her novel with all her heart and soul, for till that was finished she could find no peace.”

― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

“Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.”

― Ray Bradbury

“I sometimes think it is because they are so bad at expressing themselves verbally that writers take to pen and paper in the first place”

― Gore Vidal

“Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e., do not cave in to endless requests to have “essential” and “long overdue” meetings on those days. The funny thing is that, although writing has been my actual job for several years now, I still seem to have to fight for time in which to do it. Some people do not seem to grasp that I still have to sit down in peace and write the books, apparently believing that they pop up like mushrooms without my connivance.”

― J.K. Rowling

“I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.”

― Pearl S. Buck

“Books are for nothing but to inspire.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Another unsettling element in modern art is that common symptom of immaturity, the dread of doing what has been done before.”

― Edith Wharton, The Writing of Fiction

“If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth writing.”

― Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanack

Doubting the Carbon-Capitalism Equation

It has become fashionable on social media and in certain publications to argue that capitalism is killing the planet. Even renowned investor Jeremy Grantham, hardly a radical, made that assertion last year. The basic idea is that the profit motive drives the private sector to spew carbon into the air with reckless abandon. Though many economists and some climate activists believe that the problem is best addressed by modifying market incentives with a carbon tax, many activists believe that the problem can’t be addressed without rebuilding the economy along centrally planned lines.

The climate threat is certainly dire, and carbon taxes are unlikely to be enough to solve the problem. But eco-socialism is probably not going to be an effective method of addressing that threat. Dismantling an entire economic system is never easy, and probably would touch off armed conflict and major political upheaval. In the scramble to win those battles, even the socialists would almost certainly abandon their limitation on fossil-fuel use — either to support military efforts, or to keep the population from turning against them. The precedent here is the Soviet Union, whose multidecade effort to reshape its economy by force amid confrontation with the West led to profound environmental degradation. The world’s climate does not have several decades to spare.

Even without international conflict, there’s little guarantee that moving away from capitalism would mitigate our impact on the environment. Since socialist leader Evo Morales took power in Bolivia, living standards have improved substantially for the average Bolivian, which is great. But this has come at the cost of higher emissions. Meanwhile, the capitalist U.S managed to decrease its per capita emissions a bit during this same period (though since the U.S. is a rich country, its absolute level of emissions is much higher).

Continue reading on Bloomberg

Australia is planting a billion trees to fight climate change

The Australian government is gearing up to plant a billion new trees, as part of a vast campaign aimed to meet the climate targets set by the Paris Agreement.

The government estimates that the project, which will run until 2050, will eventually remove 18 million tons of greenhouse gases per years — an intriguing example of a less technical response to climate change.

The news dovetails neatly with new research, by researchers at ETH Zurich, that found that a widespread campaign of tree-planting worldwide could make a substantial dent in the world’s net greenhouse gas emissions.

Zurich researcher Thomas Crowther told The Independent that trees are “our most powerful weapon in the fight against climate change.”

A billion trees is an impressive start, of course, but it’s substantially less than the trillion extra trees that Crowther and his colleagues estimate the Earth could support.

“It’s a beautiful thing because everyone can get involved,” Crowther told The Independent. “Trees literally just make people happier in urban environments, they improve air quality, water quality, food quality, ecosystem service, it’s such an easy, tangible thing.”

This article originally appeared at: https://futurism.com/the-byte/australia-planting-billion-trees.