TIME Special Effects

“Electronic Makeup” Will Probably Terrify You

A creepy vision of the future—maybe

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The project above, led by Nobumichi Asai, shows what is possible using cutting-edge face-tracking and computer-generated effects. So-called electronic makeup is the result of projected images on a models face. It’s all happening in real-time, making the possibilities for film and theater vast. If you watch the video, you can see it’s not perfect yet. But the experiment shows what may soon be possible.

TIME Small Business

This Is the Deeply Moving, Almost Unbelievable Story Behind Auntie Anne’s Pretzels

ABC's "Secret Millionaire" - Season Three
Auntie Anne's Pretzels founder, Anne Beiler. Fred Watkins—ABC via Getty Images

Sex, loss, grief, redemption and a Mennonite chicken farmer who made dreams come true

The genesis of most small businesses is filled with some measure of triumph and sacrifice, the natural elements that make up the heroics of entrepreneurship. But few “how I got started” tales are quite as rich as Anne Beiler’s, the woman behind mall staple Auntie Anne’s soft pretzels. Her’s includes devastating personal loss, grief, adversity, an abusive sexual relationship, long odds, achievement and at least one wildcard that appeared in the form of a Mennonite chicken farmer capable of writing million-dollar checks.

Fortune wrote about Beiler’s story last year (behind a paywall). Now, the site has a video (not behind a paywall) in which Beiler talks about how she grew her soft pretzel business from a single store to a worldwide brand with over a thousand locations. Here’s an excerpt from the 2013 story:

I was 19, and my husband, Jonas, was 21 when we married in 1968. We were a happy couple, and my only dream was to be a mom. We had two daughters until my daughter Angela was killed accidentally in 1975 when she was hit by a tractor on our farm. My life turned upside down. My husband and I weren’t able to connect emotionally, and I sought counseling with a pastor outside the Amish-Mennonite community. For six years I stayed in an abusive sexual relationship with that pastor, living in guilt and shame. The pastor’s license was revoked when his behavior with several women came to light. In 1982, when I began a life again with my husband, we were living paycheck to paycheck. My husband was a mechanic, and during our marital crisis he had studied to become a marriage and family counselor. He wanted to offer counseling services for free to our community, and we needed income. So I told him, “You’ve stayed with me despite all that I’ve done. So do what you want to do, and I’ll go to work.”

A friend told me that an Amish-owned store selling pretzels, ice cream, and pizza in the indoor Downingtown, Pa., farmers’ market was for sale. The owners wanted $6,000. I was astounded at the price because those kinds of weekend stores can bring in anywhere from $25,000 to $200,000 a year, depending on the location. We had no money, so we went to my husband’s parents, and they gave us the $6,000.

For anybody even remotely interested in starting their own business (or just reading an unbelievable yarn), it’s worth checking out.

TIME Advertising

Here’s How Apple Saves the World Every Day

At least according to the iPhone-maker

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Apple’s “You’re more powerful than you think” ad campaign shows how the company’s products are employed around the world to do various tasks beyond the basics like email and web browsing. The latest, titled “Dreams,” shows the myriad ways iPhones are used in humanitarian endeavors. The ad is set to Jennifer O’Connor’s “When I Grow Up.” For a full list of the apps used in the spot check out, 9to5Mac’s round-up.

[9to5Mac]

TIME Star Wars

For Nerds, This Video Is Absolutely Everything

A mash-up of epic proportions

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One Star Wars fan is recreating Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope entirely out of stills from Minecraft, the massively popular, low-res video game. The process has already taken three years, with individual scenes taking up to six months to recreate. Naturally, there’s not an official release date yet, though 90 minutes of the film are complete. When it does come out, it will be free to view.

TIME

Here’s Definitive Proof Nintendo’s Wii U Isn’t Dead Yet

Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto demonstrates the new control scheme in Star Fox for the Wii U. Nintendo

Nintendo hasn’t had a great run of it lately. Sales of its latest Wii U consoles have generally been down and, during its last earnings call, the company admitted how far away they were from the company’s original projections. Even its 3DS handheld—which had been a bright spot—has seen better days. Now there’s some good news for fans of the old-school Japanese game-maker.

As Time.com’s Matt Peckham writes:

Nintendo claimed Mario Kart 8 (reviewed here) was June’s top-selling game and gave us a few rare figures: 470,000 physical and digital units sold in June, bring the total to more than 885,000 units sold (in the U.S. alone) in the game’s first five weeks. Nintendo says June 2014 Wii U sales are up 233 percent over June 2013, while Wii U software sales are up 373 percent for the same period. (Nintendo says Mario Kart 8 was the top-selling game once you factor in digital sales.)

While NPD says portable sales declined year-on-year, Nintendo notes that June 2014 3DS sales were up over the prior month by more than 55 percent, driven in part by sales of Tomodachi Life (175,000 digital and physical copies sold).

Nintendo still has plenty of challenges ahead of it. The Wii U lacks compelling specs or a sweetheart price. And worse, the company’s failed to woo third-party developers, leaving the Wii U’s cupboards bare on an on and off basis. But now, at least, the firm’s strategy of banking on beloved franchises appears to be working in the marketplace.

 

TIME technology

Silicon Valley’s Arrogance Is Out of Beta and Ready to Ship

The downtown San Francisco skyline and Bay Bridge are shown during a 30-minute ferry ride across to AT&T Park on July 10, 2013, in San Francisco.
The downtown San Francisco skyline and Bay Bridge are shown during a 30-minute ferry ride across to AT&T Park on July 10, 2013, in San Francisco. George Rose—Getty Images

Venture capitalist Tim Draper's proposal for a Silicon Valley state (and 5 others) is the apotheosis of tech hubris

Silicon Valley’s newest startup is not an app or a gadget. But it is, in the parlance of the hoodie-clad, disruptive. Wealthy venture capitalist Tim Draper, who funded products like Hotmail and Skype, wants to split California into six pieces, putting the state of Jefferson as well as North, Central, West and South California on the map. The sixth—the state of Silicon Valley—would stretch from the top of the San Francisco Bay ­Area down through San Jose, stopping just before the verdant vineyards of the Central Coast. The idea is that the new states would be more efficient and governable. On July 15, the consortium backing the plan announced that it had submitted enough signatures to put the issue in front of voters in 2016 as part of the state’s wildly democratic ballot initiative.

That the plan has little chance of becoming a reality—the Constitution requires the approval of the state assembly and Congress—hardly matters. A sovereign Silicon Valley, which would be the richest state in the U.S., with annual per capita income of $63,288, is the apotheosis of tech hubris, in beta for decades but now ready to ship.

Earlier this year, Draper told TIME:

The strongest argument for Six Californias is that we are not well-represented. The people down south are very concerned with things like immigration law and the people way up north are frustrated by taxation without representation. And the people in coastal California are frustrated because of water rights. And the people in Silicon Valley are frustrated because the government doesn’t keep up with technology. And in Los Angeles, their issues revolve around copyright law. Each region has its own interest, and I think California is ungovernable because they can’t balance all those interests. I’m looking at Six Californias as a way of giving California a refresh and allowing those states to both cooperate and compete with each other.

The idea is an ego trip of Randian proportions, a Galt’s Gulch kitted with Google Glass and $70,000 electric Teslas. It has its roots in the Valley’s libertarianism. This is a place, after all, where Facebook investor Peter Thiel is funding a floating utopia, venture capitalist Balaji Srinivasan has proposed a deregulated territory devoted to radical experimentation, and Elon Musk has toyed with the idea of a Martian colony. A place, in other words, that not only knows what it wants but thinks it knows what’s best for the rest.

Certainly, that arrogance is the twin of a more noble impulse in many technology innovators: a profound certainty that often yields wonderful results for the rest of us, from Gmail to gene therapy. The tradition holds that a good idea trumps convention or existing law. But the Silicon Valley that has created remarkable products (and wealth) is also prone to alienating detours like Bitcoin, the unregulated cryptocurrency, and Soylent, the trendy open-sourced food substitute. Or, a plan to create six new states, four of them awkwardly named some variation of California.

Then again, this wouldn’t be the first time California was shaped to serve powerful interests. At the turn of the 20th century, Harrison Gray Otis, owner of the Los Angeles Times and father of the Golden State’s most powerful political dynasty, used inside information and his newspaper to funnel resources from the agrarian Eden of the Owens Valley to the then fledgling city of Los Angeles. And why? As John Huston’s Otis-like character put it to Jack Nicholson’s Jake Gittes in Chinatown, “The future, Mr. Gittes. The future.

TIME

Nest CEO Tony Fadell on The Future of the Smart Home

Tony Fadell Portrait Nest Labs CEO
Ian Allen for TIME

The gadget whisperer is giving household objects a mind of their own

Tony Fadell is not a fan of the one button. If you grew up watching The Jetsons, you know the one. It’s the button that automatically dims the lights, draws the blinds and spins the record player. “The problem with the one button is that the one button shouldn’t do the same thing for everyone,” says Fadell, the 45-year-old CEO of Nest Labs. “The truth is, homes change over time–and technology has to adapt, not try to do everything at once.”

If Fadell’s philosophy matters, it’s in no small part because four-year-old Nest has helped kick-start the current boom in connected gadgets. The company’s first product, also called Nest, was a $250 thermostat that learns the habits of its users in order to save energy–automatically lowering the temperature when nobody’s home, for example. Its second, the Nest Protect (current price: $100), was a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm that gives voice alerts and can differentiate between burning toast and actual emergencies.

By now it’s clear that Nest plans to work its way through the average American home, looking for staples to make smarter–much as its CEO reimagined the music player and the mobile phone during his 2000s gig as a senior vice president at Apple. (Fadell is known in Silicon Valley as the Godfather of the iPod.) And it will do so alongside a powerful partner: Google, which in January acquired the company, based in Palo Alto, Calif., for $3.2 billion.

But Fadell’s view of smart gadgetry differs greatly from that of most of his competitors. When he set out to reinvent the thermostat, the prevailing thinking was that it would turn into a miniature computer. Manufacturers “were adding photos. They were adding a calendar. They were adding the weather,” he says. In other words, they were loading thermostats with bells and whistles, but they weren’t actually making them work better. “It made no sense to me,” he says. “How about we look at the basic function of this device and not overly complicate?” The same could be asked of the connected-home market, now brimming with hundreds of products–wi-fi-enabled toothbrushes, touchscreen toilets, toasters that can tweet–all claiming to be “smart” simply because they can do the same things your tablet can.

Fadell argues that truly smart gadgets should have built-in intelligence like the Nest thermostat. They should be able to automatically adapt to your wants and needs, so you don’t have to think about them if you don’t want to. “We have enough technology trying to take our attention away, trying to give us an excuse not to talk to each other,” he says. Instead, he says, he’s designing products for the conscious home–“the home that is aware of what your family is doing and tries to help you,” as he puts it. In that habitat, there will be no one button. Because the smartest technologies may not even require your input.

Fadell was born near detroit and grew up in a large family of Lebanese and Polish-Russian descent. He attended 12 schools in 15 years as the family shuffled around the country, a result of his father’s sales job with Levi Strauss. On visits home, his grandfather–a superintendent of schools and a handyman–encouraged a love of tinkering, and Fadell became fascinated with electronics. Because he moved so much, he says, “computers became my way of communicating.”

Fadell was a natural entrepreneur too. In his spare time at the University of Michigan, where he studied computer engineering, he started two companies. One made educational software; the other manufactured microprocessors to speed up Apple II computers. He sold the latter to Apple before graduating and moving to Silicon Valley.

Bald and broad-shouldered, Fadell has a tendency to get worked up when he’s on a roll, darting his blue-green eyes in your direction to make sure you’re still with him. “There was always a joke that when Tony gets excited, you have to watch his chair,” says Yves Béhar, the award-winning industrial designer and chief creative officer at Jawbone, who first met Fadell in the late 1990s. “In meetings he would get up and bounce around–literally like a bouncing ball. A couple of times he broke the chairs in my office.”

In 1991, Fadell’s tech enthusiasm led him to a job at General Magic, one of those Silicon Valley footnotes that made products that were ahead of their time. It was also a hotbed of young talent. As a 20-something, Fadell worked alongside Pierre Omidyar, who later founded eBay, and Andy Rubin, the creator of Google’s Android mobile operating system. “We basically created the technology for the iPhone 20 years too early,” he recalls.

But there and during a later stint at Philips trying to create early handheld computers, Fadell found that mere excitement about underlying technology was not enough to make a hit product. By the time Steve Jobs persuaded him to take a full-time role at Apple working on what would become the iPod, he was convinced that marketing and a keen sense of what not to put in were just as important as engineering. The success of the iPod and, later, the iPhone validated his thinking.

Fadell left his full-time job at Apple in 2008, taking a year and a half to travel with his wife Danielle Lambert, a former Apple vice president, and their children. He also threw himself into designing a second home, near Lake Tahoe. As he imagined the hallways and rooms of his yet-to-be-built house, he came to see dozens of items that could benefit from better brains. That’s when he hit on the idea of a smarter thermostat.

“Tony said, ‘There is no iPod of thermostats,’ and I was on board immediately,” recalls Matt Rogers, Fadell’s former intern at Apple, whom he approached over lunch in October 2009. (Rogers, now Nest’s co-founder and vice president of engineering, was also the first software developer for the iPhone.) Fourteen months later, they had a working prototype. The company’s gadgets were soon widely heralded–including in TIME, which named the Nest Protect one of the 25 best inventions of 2013.

Nest and Nest protect are just phase 1 of the company’s plan to reimagine the household. Rogers, like Fadell, is convinced that much of the smart-home gear that’s currently in vogue among designers–kits that plug into and control a variety of appliances, for example–is overly complex and inelegant. “Nobody wants to buy [that kind of] smart home. It’s for geeks,” says Rogers. “People want to buy great products. It should be all these little touchpoints that make your life simpler.”

Rogers is particularly excited about Nest’s new open platform, which will enable devices to talk to one another without a lot of babysitting by users. For instance, beginning this summer, some Mercedes-Benz vehicles will be able to communicate with Nest thermostats to automatically adjust a home’s temperature according to how long it will take you to get back from work that day. Similarly, Jawbone’s wearable fitness trackers–which know when you are about to wake up in the morning–will be able to raise the temperature just as you get out of bed. As for more hardware, Fadell won’t reveal specifics, though on June 23 the company announced it would acquire home-security-camera maker Dropcam for $555 million. Says Fadell: “We look for unloved products, the things that haven’t changed since I was a kid.”

There will be obstacles. Competition, for one, is growing. Honeywell, the giant manufacturer of thermostats, introduced a Nest competitor in June that it dubbed Lyric. And earlier this year, Nest issued a software fix for 440,000 smoke detectors when it determined that a defect could cause an alarm to be delayed. A later bulletin from the Consumer Product Safety Commission generated unflattering recall headlines.

Then there’s Google. Although Nest is being operated independently of its search and data parent, that hasn’t stopped some from speculating about targeted ads appearing on connected Nest devices. Rogers and Fadell reject the idea, saying the data their company collects won’t be shared without customers’ explicit permission. For Nest, too much is at stake. Its future depends on getting users to trust technology to learn about them in the most private settings. If anyone knows how to do that, it’s the man who helped create the iPod and the iPhone, two of the most lionized gadgets ever. “At Apple, we changed society,” Fadell says, somewhat contemplatively. Now he’s trying again.

TIME Smarthome

Google’s Nest Is Coming After the Rest of Your Home

Nest Labs, maker of the “learning” thermostat, is opening its platform to outside developers in a bid to expand the range of Internet-connected home devices it can interact with. Through Nest, which search giant Google acquired for $3.2 billion in January, users will be able to communicate with Mercedes-Benz vehicles, Whirlpool appliances, Jawbone fitness trackers and other gadgets.

Google is among the partners announced as part of the program. Google Now, the company’s personal digital assistant, will be able to set the temperature on a Nest thermostat automatically when it detects that a user is coming home, for example, or through voice commands. Nest said it will share limited user information with Google and other partners. Nest co-founder Matt Rogers told the Wall Street Journal that users have to opt in for each new device.

The move allows partners to link their software and applications to Nest’s thermostat, which will act as a hub for devices in the home. For example, Jawbone’s UP24 band knows when its users are about to wake up in the morning. Now, a Nest thermostat can automatically raise or lower the temperature just before a user gets out of bed in the morning. Likewise, a connected Mercedes-Benz can tell Nest when a user will be home from work, timing the house’s temperature correctly.

Nest is independently operated from Google. But the device maker is leading Google’s charge into the connected home market. Earlier this month, Nest announced it was acquiring Dropcam, a maker of connected cameras, for $555 million. The company’s founders have also said they are looking for unloved or poorly designed devices to reinvent.

TIME Advertising

‘Banned’ Grey Poupon Commercial Is Gross, Hilarious

Ew

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A parody commercial for Grey Poupon mustard has racked up close to 2 million views on YouTube with a humorous take on the brand’s pronunciation. The ad, above, asks “What do you Poupon?” (Say it to yourself out loud.) The answers, delivered by sketch comedians, include “I Poupon my kids’ lunches” and “I Poupon my fingers.” The viral video was created by comedy group Online Broadcast Virtual Station, which has no link to Kraft, the brand’s owner, or its advertising agency, Crispin Porter + Bogusky. The actual advertising for Grey Poupon has recently drawn on its classic line “Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?” while adding extravagant twists like car chases. The company’s new (real) slogan is “Spread good taste.”

[AdWeek]

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