Video: Inside Tokyo’s huge VR arcade

This VR arcade is proving to be a new Tokyo hotspot, with 12 virtual reality titles – including Mario Kart – available for gamers.

If you’re in Tokyo, the arcade is at 1 Chome-29-1 Kabukicho, Shinjuku.

An absolute beginner’s guide to machine learning, deep learning, and AI

Meet Samantha. She’s your friendly assistant from 2025. She sorts your mail, sets up your meetings, and orders groceries. She paints and writes poetry. She’s your best friend. She’s also an artificial intelligence from the movie Her, which imagines how a juiced-up Siri will change our lives.

Now, tech companies large and small are racing to make this a reality. You’ve read the news. You’ve heard the jargon: AI, machine learning, deep learning, neural networks, natural language processing.

Maybe it’s all a little confusing. So here’s a primer on these concepts and how they’re interrelated.

What is artificial intelligence, or AI?
AI, simply put, is an attempt to make computers as smart, or even smarter than human beings. It’s about giving computers human-like behaviors, thought processes, and reasoning abilities.

There are two kinds of artificial intelligence:

Narrow, or weak AI
That’s AI focused on one narrow task. Weak AI is already all around us. It has beaten us at chess, Jeopardy, and most recently, Go.

Digital assistants like Siri and Cortana are giving us the weather, and self-driving cars are on the road. But they have limits. A self-driving car can’t play chess. Siri can’t read and delete your unimportant emails. Weak AI has a narrow scope: It can’t go beyond its original programming.


TransferWise sets up Singapore office to serve as Asia-Pacific HQ

Online money transfer startup TransferWise announced today it is setting up its Asia-Pacific hub in Singapore.

The Singapore office will be in business by next week, starting with eight employees. The company hopes to have that number up to 30 by the end of the year. It will be hiring for a variety of roles including engineering, operations, customer support, and regulation.

This gives Transferwise a central location in Asia-Pacific, allowing it to reach more customers in the region. The city-state’s progressive central bank and fintech-friendly regulations make it an ideal place for the UK-headquartered startup to be closer to its local users and address their specific needs.

“Whenever we launch somewhere, we make sure we build in very good feedback loops, conduct lots of research,” TransferWise co-founder and CEO Taavet Hinrikus tells Tech in Asia. The startup also places great emphasis on word of mouth, which is still a major driver of new sign-ups to the service – over 60 percent of them.

TransferWise allows its customers to send and receive money across borders for a fraction of the charges imposed on bank transfers.

To do that, it uses a peer-to-peer system that matches users according to the currencies they want to send and receive. Users’ money is credited into bank accounts the startup operates in each market so that corresponding payouts are made without funds ever actually crossing borders.

The service has been available in Singapore for some time but due to regulations, users had to verify their identity by contacting TransferWise and doing it manually. Now, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has approved online verification for the startup. This means that people in Singapore will be able to prove who they are as easily as snapping a selfie with their phone through the TransferWise app.

“This is super cool and shows how the regulator is very responsive and really thinking about how to develop the local ecosystem,” says Taavet.

While MAS is embracing tech like the blockchain for money transfers, TransferWise isn’t jumping into it just yet. “We’ll use whatever enables us to offer the fastest payments for the lowest cost,” Taavet muses. “We’ve looked at bitcoin and the blockchain but we haven’t seen how we can use it yet.” If the opportunity arises, the startup will move quickly to use it, he adds.


How to Charge For Your Graphic Design Work (& Get What You Deserve)

Earn Your Worth!

Over the years, we’ve had so many designers come to us and ask, “What should I charge?” Back in 2007, Bill shared A Designer’s Guide to Pricing, one of our most popular posts to date, which shares many of his thoughts on this subject. Since then, our Cleveland Design Firm has learned a lot more about pricing. And as always, we’re happy to share our latest insights with you.

Graphic Design Pricing Guidelines

Determining your fees can be tricky. There’s a fine line between too much and too little. You want to be competitively priced while also ensuring profitability (we are in business to make money, right?).

So, we wanted to not only update Bill’s post, but also share some graphic design pricing insights from our designer friends Jennifer Cirpici, Sophia Chang, Lenny Terenzi, Mike Jones and Scott Fuller.

We’re also eager to share valuable tidbits from Bill’s book, Drawn to Business, and from Go Media’s own Project Manager and Account Manager, Sarah Traxler and Lauren Prebel.

Choose Flat or Hourly Billing.

The first step in determining your fee structure is deciding whether a flat rate or an hourly billing system is right for your business.

Hourly Billing

Here at Go Media, we work with hourly billing (although we used to work on flat rates). As Bill notes in Drawn to Business, “At its core, our system is hourly billing. I call it “hourly billing with caveats.” If a client asks us: “How do you derive your estimates?” we will tell them: “It’s based on hourly billing rates.” But we no longer give the client a line-by-line breakdown of how we’re adding up those hours. We also stopped showing them the hours we’ve actually worked, which we used to do. Sometimes we eat hours. Clients don’t like it when you go over budget. If a client stays “on scope” and we just go over budget because we misquoted, or the client was a little pickier than we expected, we will eat a number of hours to try and close out the project on budget. I think we would be willing to eat up to 20% of the project’s hours to try and come in on budget. This puts a little pressure back on us to work efficiently and to quote accurately. However, we make sure to let our client know the value they’re getting. We’ll trumpet the fact that they just got X hours of free design services so we could stay on budget. However, if the client is going WAY over budget, then we start billing them again, but at our hourly rate.”

In Drawn to Business, Bill stresses the importance of communicating policies before the project kicks off (even though most clients nod their head and tend to ignore the information). Putting things in writing always helps! At Go Media, that statement looks something like this:

Our quote is an estimate based on an hourly rate. If your project goes over budget we will be billing you at $XX dollars an hour. We are going to work very hard to stay on budget. Our quoting is typically very accurate, but you need to be aware of this policy.’

Now, this isn’t to say that Go Media wouldn’t work with a client who wants a flat rate. Should this be the case, we would be sure to discuss all of the project details and manage expectations at the onset.

Flat Rate Billing

Some of our designer friends who freelance prefer to bill based on a flat rate system.

Here’s a few words from Jennifer Cirpici on her billing system, “I don’t often work with hourly rates, I mostly work with fixed prices. I’ve worked with hourly rates in the past and it usually scares the clients off. They often ask for more hours to put into and in the end it’s a ridiculous amount of money I have to ask them to pay. The amount you know they won’t pay anyway. In my fixed prices I include the amount of rounds of feedback we would do, the copyright (will it be a year, two years, or a buy out? Will it be for a magazine, commercial or the web? Will they sell it to someone else? etc.), how long I think I’ll work on it and the deadline. It’s a different price when they want a project done within 24 hours or when they want me to have a lot of freedom and the deadline is in 3 months.”

Lenny Terenzi, also a freelancer, notes, “I always bill flat rate. It seems to make it easier for my clients to digest. If I go over, I go over and know to charge more next time. If I go under by a large amount I adjust the final bill to reflect that though by the time all phone calls, and email and project management and file prep and all the little things that so many people do not account for come into play, I rarely am under by much.”

On the other hand, Scott Fuller says his billing practices can ebb and flow based on the client. “I want to know, do they need X amount of options? What’s their budget? Will they still be around to pay me?”

He notes, “I’m not above charging a ‘Put Up With You’ fee. It’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into.”


The winning formula: how data analytics is keeping football teams one step ahead

When Simon Wilson first arrived at Southampton football club he was a consultant for a technology startup called Prozone. Prozone had developed a proprietary player-tracking software which, fed by eight cameras around the pitch, would output a two-dimensional bird’s-eye animation of a football match. The machine could track each player’s movement every 0.1 seconds, registering an average of 3,000 touches of the ball per game, and provide an answer to a range of statistical questions. Southampton adopted Prozone and later hired Wilson to work as a performance analyst for the first-team manager.

“Prozone wasn’t part of the culture of the game and most managers weren’t used to it,” Wilson says. “I was naïve but I couldn’t understand why they didn’t want this kind of information.” Once, just before an August 2005 football league Championship game between Luton Town and Southampton, Wilson gave a pre-match briefing to the team and the manager, at the time, Harry Redknapp. “Harry was more intuitive than analytical,” says Wilson. “He was nervous about overloading the players with information.”

Southampton lost 3-2. On the team bus, Redknapp turned to Wilson and said, “I’ll tell you what, next week, why don’t we get your computer to play against their computer and see who wins?”

Some managers, however, did get it – and one in particular was Clive Woodward. He had been the coach of England’s World Cup-winning rugby team in 2003, and in 2005 had been offered a one-year contract to serve as Southampton’s director of football. He had been the first coach to adapt Prozone to rugby, installing it at Twickenham four years before the World Cup, which allowed him to collect data on how England and its opponents played.

“When I first saw it I was fascinated because I’d never seen a game where you’re looking down and just see dots and data and movement,” Woodward says. “It removed a lot of the preconceived notions we had about how other teams played. It made a big difference when we started to see them as data, as opposed to teams we had never beaten before.” Once, after his players insisted that there was no space on the field to run into, Woodward took a printout of a Prozone freeze-frame taken 24 seconds into a match against France. It showed both teams around the ball in a small area on the pitch and acres of unoccupied space everywhere else. He stuck it on board with the message: “The space is the green stuff”. “Clive would challenge me at every level,” says Wilson about Woodward’s time at Southampton. “He would ask questions about every aspect of the game: why do we spend so much time working out how to score goals and not how to stop them? I would try to explain to him what they’re doing and he’d just keep asking why.”

Woodward and Wilson tried things such as filming players striking the ball, to study technique from a biomechanical perspective. Those initiatives, however, never had much impact. Redknapp left before the end of the year and Woodward departed at the end of his contract. Wilson had left the club shortly before Woodward, convinced that there was a better way of running a club. “Woodward believed that evidence, be it video or statistics or any kind of data, was fundamental to how you prepare a team,” Wilson says.

Woodward remains his biggest influence. “He taught me that we didn’t have to do things just because they had always been done in a certain way.”

Today, 19 of the 20 Premier League teams use Prozone. Each has its own team of performance analysts and data scientists looking for the indicators that quantify player performance, the events that determine matches and trends that characterise seasons.

They are scientists dissecting the world’s most popular game, looking at data from Prozone and other sources to understand what dictates the difference between winning and losing. In the environment of the multimillion-pound Premier League, clubs don’t just want a competitive advantage, they need it.


Cross Platform Mobile Development Tools: Ending the iOS vs. Android Debate

A guide to the 10 best cross platform mobile development tools

It’s the mind-wrenching question that never really gets answered … should I develop for iOS or Android?

With all of the articles that have been published on the topic, you’d think the app world would have come to some sort of conclusion by now on iOS and Android development.

But they haven’t. And it’s because there is no easy answer to the question — both platforms are great, for equal and different reasons.

(For more on the pros and cons of iOS and Android development, check out our previous article on the differences between the two platforms.)

For consumer apps, it’s best to choose one platform first and build an amazing native experience for it. There are hundreds of millions of users on each platform, and they have come to expect a fluid experience with their apps.

Cross platform apps have limitations in terms of what they can deliver. However, in a few scenarios, the advantages of cross platform apps might make them a compelling proposition.

If that’s the case for you, we’ve put together a list of the 10 best cross platform mobile development tools currently available.

As you’ll see, different cross platform mobile development tools have different specialties: some focus on gaming, some are focused on data security for business purposes, and others specialize in letting you use whatever programming language you like, so you (or your developer team) don’t have to learn new ones.

Ultimately, which of these cross platform mobile development tools you choose depends on your needs and goals for your app-based business.



How much does it cost to build the world’s hottest startups?

Could $100,000 and the right developer skills make you an overnight billionaire? How much does it really take to build a product like Twitter or Instagram? With mobile development agencies and product incubators on the rise and more corporate “labs” spinning out each day, there’s no shortage of talent to help you build the next great Web or mobile app.

We interviewed the heads of the top Web and mobile development companies, incubators, agencies and labs to understand what it takes to design and develop the most successful apps of our generation. Here are their breakdowns of the costs and time investments to create 10 of the world’s hottest startups.

1) Twitter

Henrik Werdelin, the Managing Partner of Prehype, a venture development firm based in New York City that has helped build companies like Tradable, Barkbox, FancyHands, Basno and Path, says recreating Twitter isn’t necessarily difficult, but the layered features will take time to get right.

“The short answer is that it will take 10 hours,” answers Werdelin, who built a Twitter clone in a one-day Ruby on Rails course. “But a good developer could make it quicker.”

This means — assuming you already have a laptop — the cost is almost nothing to build the next Twitter. Assume $160 for a Ruby on Rails course plus free Heroku, a cloud platform as a service that allows you to instantly deploy an app.

However, Werdelin is quick to qualify his statement. “It’s not that simple,” he says. “These days, it’s less an issue of creating a technology stack and more about creating the ‘experience layer’ on top, the interface that makes a product relevant and intuitive for people to use while quickly demonstrating its value.”

Still, a product is nothing without scalability. “You can’t just build a product today, you need to build a venture. And that involves processes, structures, feedback loops, analytics and a community.”

Therefore, if you want to bring an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) to market, Werdelin approximates that you’ll need $50,000 to $250,000, depending on the skill sets of the developers and designers you hire.

Werdelin equates building a successful product to building a nightclub. “You need more than a DJ, a dance floor and a few bottles of alcohol. You have to ensure that the right people come in at the right time, and you have the right decor, ambiance and music. And of course, the cocktails” he says.


These 115 facts will help you navigate social media (Infographic)

There is just too much data in the world of social media. In this infographic you’ll get to see how many active users each platform has, where these users reside, the gender of their users, and much more.

You know what they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. So we’ll leave you with this infographic and, hopefully, you will take away new thoughts and ideas about how you could better use social media in your life or business.

social media part 1
social media part 2
social media part 3


IT services: the coming storm and why India needs to be worried

The IT services industry is facing significant headwinds of late. This is no secret. Most people tend to attribute this to the advent of “automation and artificial intelligence.” But that is a bit of a red herring and the technology industry should really be the last to use it. Automation and technology have consistently replaced low skill, repetitive jobs in industries across the ages. Agile businesses don’t shut down because of automation. They move up the value chain.

What we see here is the industry itself is getting disrupted and there seems to be little that the big players are able to do about it. This is something that India should worry deeply about.

Over the last few decades, the IT services industry has soaked up young, employable talent emerging out of engineering colleges like a sponge. But this scenario may not last long. We may soon be faced with serious challenges set off by rising rates of unemployment among the middle class.

Faced with a crisis of growth and profitability, the big offshoring firms are quick to point out that they have the perfect get out of jail card. “Digital,” they exclaim in unison, whenever asked how they plan to salvage falling fortunes. The reality, though is that most of the large players are poorly positioned to take advantage of the digital opportunity.

The poisoned pool
There was a time when they could have spent their large reserves of cash on serious upskilling and building future ready business models. Instead, most of them continued playing the labor arbitrage game and amassed fat margins at the expense of the future. After all, who wants to break a highly successful model when it seems to be working fine?

The downside was that the industry was constantly forced to “down-hire” for decades. Starting with talent from the elite IITs and top engineering colleges, they moved to just about any engineering college and then to regular graduation colleges, colleges from smaller cities and so on. Soon they were hiring droves of people almost blindly. Entire batches passing out were hired on the basis of rudimentary tests. Higher “volumes” and lower productivity became the de-facto business strategy.

The problem with this strategy is that it poisons the talent pool over time. Businesses end up employing masses of average talent with no one to inspire or direct them. They end up creating a culture of mediocrity. Over time, the same talent becomes mid and senior management. They have no incentive to change the status quo and actively resist any change that discomforts them.

The other casualty tends to be front line sales. When the central promise of a business becomes mere predictability and scale sales folk also slowly become slothful order takers because there is really no extra edge that they can deliver or play on.

Over time this strategy simply stops working as smaller, nimbler firms start snapping at the heels of big firms. Customers learn the game and start setting up captive delivery centers. Technical disruptions inevitably came by and customer expectations start to shift. This is when the industry looking for the next tide to lift all sinking ships finds “digital”.

There is only one problem though.

Unlike earlier tides, digital is complicated, layered and difficult to manage because it integrates so many diverse competencies. It places little value on the ability to deliver predictable outcomes at scale. That can well be left to the bots and AI. Customers now require a zesty soup of innovation, creativity, design, marketing, data sciences, emerging technologies and high-end coding to come together and deliver transformational solutions. What most large services firms have on the table instead, are masses of mediocre talent and managers who simply cannot see beyond the mundane.

One way to fix this broken engine is to fundamentally re-imagine future business models and start rebuilding for the same. This means a lot of pain in the short run, though. Accepting a few years of flatlining or declining revenues as new leaders and practices find their feet and steer the ship on a new course. This is a near-impossible task for firms that are answerable to Wall Street every quarter. So far, only one giant has shown the willingness to try and take this pain. The rest continue to pay lip service to digital, innovation etc while showing no inclination to make bold, decisive moves.

So what can the industry do differently, if it is unable and unwilling to disrupt the existing cash cows? There are two significant steps that are still eminently doable, given the strength of this industry, which are its cash reserves.

1. Acquisition, acquisition, acquisition
The industry needs to stop believing that it can learn how to fly to the moon just because it has successfully driven a bus for 50 years. Everything cannot be achieved organically. Especially because the skills and the environment required to deliver new capabilities in the digital world may be in complete opposition to existing core values.

For example, innovation and creativity are rarely process driven, cost-optimised team sports. They tend to be driven by stars. Quite often by prima donnas who will refuse to fit into the brick wall. How can an industry which has operated in a factory model, even hope to attract and retain such talent? The alternative is to start behaving like a holding company and acquire strategic capabilities through acquisitions. Let the acquired companies and talent flourish without trying to integrate them into the existing culture. Hold them as separate entities. Let their innovators and sales team be the tip of your arrow. Use them to sell the ideas and push the innovations. Make money off the long tail of execution work that inevitably follows through.

2. Set up aggressive venture capital units with long horizon investment objectives
Instead of trying to foster innovation within choking environments through so-called self-directed teams etc, simply identify talented start-ups. Take a stake in them and support them through funding and access to markets only. When it reaches a stage where the model is proven and ready to scale, then and only then, step in and get involved in management.

The above actions should not be difficult to execute. But it will require a willingness to step out of comfort zones and take risks. Leaders will need to stand up to boards and shareholders and justify why investments are being made into areas that don’t fit with traditional business models. Pulling off this change through vision and conviction will perhaps script the success stories in the next chapter of this industry.