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April 13, 2015

Mini’s augmented reality glasses include X-ray vision

Lucire staff/11.49

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Augmented reality for drivers may be here sooner than some might think, as BMW’s Mini brand reveals its prototype eyewear at Auto Shanghai.
   The Mini Augmented Vision eyewear links the car and the driver, transmitting basic information such as speed and speed limits, but adds other practical features for the 2010s lifestyle.
   Mini foresees that one can enter the destination when outside the car, and have the data sent there for use in the eyewear. There will be a navigation display from one’s current location to the car, or from the car to the final destination. If a message has been received, an icon will appear, and the SMS can be read out by the car. Points of interest and navigation arrows can also appear in the eyewear; the latter can show highlight available parking spaces.
   The science-fiction-sounding features, which BMW believes can be realized, include “X-ray vision”, a virtual view through parts of the car, such as A-pillars and doors, rendering items that may be hidden from the driver’s seat.
   Finally, the company’s augmented parking feature projects images from a camera in the passenger’s side door mirror so the driver knows how far the car is from the kerb.
   All of this is in line with the BMW Group’s research, which forecast increasing urbanization and the need for associated services.
   BMW cooperated with Qualcomm on the technology, while the design and colour concept of the eyewear was created by Designworks.
   Project manager for Mini Augmented Vision, Dr Jörg Preißinger, said in a release, ‘This prototype with its customised, interactive functions succeeds in fusing augmented reality with the brand’s trademark sense of lifestyle.’
   ‘We are proud to have helped develop a breakthrough augmented reality interface between eyewear and the automobile,’ said Jay Wright, vice-president of Qualcomm Connected Experiences, Inc. ‘Mini Augmented Vision offers a compelling example of what’s possible today, and what we can expect in the future.’









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April 1, 2015

Jaguar launches second-generation XF saloon: lighter, roomier, more class-leading tech

Lucire staff/13.10

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A week after previewing the new XF in a high-wire stunt over Victoria Docks in London, Jaguar has released images and details of the car as it enjoyed its official début at the New York Auto Show.
   The second-generation XF is recognizably Jaguar, stylistically an evolution of the 2007 X250 model that brought the company’s saloon car range into the 21st century. Prior to the XF, Jaguar saloons had been stuck in a sort of time warp, reminding customers regularly of the 1968 XJ6. The original XF changed that, with its fresh, fastback styling and, in the interior, the rotary dial gear selector, which helped give the cabin a feeling of airiness.
   But underneath the svelte styling, the XF did not share the aluminium-intensive construction methods of the larger XJ, something which the second-generation model remedies. Now up to 190 kg lighter than the outgoing model, the use of aluminium has allowed Jaguar to create a more rigid, refined car that’s also more fuel-efficient, according to the company’s figures. Jaguar cites carbon dioxide emissions of 104 g/km and the new four-cylinder Ingenium diesel gets 71·7 mpg (Imperial) in fuel economy, though it remains to be seen just how well it will fare in the real world.
   The weight saving means that the new XF is cleaner, and Jaguar claims it is 80 kg lighter than the competition, using the base model for comparison. In terms of environmental impact, Jaguar Land Rover uses a form of aluminium alloy called RC5754, which is predominantly made from recycled material, for its pressings.
   The body is also more slippery, helping with efficiency, with the drag coefficient dropping from 0,29 to 0,26 on the new model.
   The company is emphasizing its leadership in aluminium usage, especially extending it from the large XJ saloon down to its entry-level XE, launched last year.
   By increasing the wheelbase by 51 mm while cutting overall length, Jaguar has increased the interior room, and with the sixth light added in the design, the car now appears lighter and roomier inside.
   The cockpit is dominated by a configurable 10·2-inch touch-screen, while the maps for the sat-nav are stored on a 60 Gbyte solid-state hard drive.
   The front suspension is modelled after the F-type sports car’s, with the company claiming segment-leading handling for the new model.
   Other goodies include parking assist for bay and parallel parking, adaptive cruise control, and even reverse traffic detection, to warn drivers of fast-approaching traffic. The laser head-up display is also sharper than comparable TFT systems, with higher contrast; the unit is also a third lighter, which helps the XF save weight.




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March 20, 2015

Will.i.am, Gucci collaborate on wearable technology: a new, stand-alone smart watch

Lucire staff/22.59

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The Image Gate

Will.i.am’s star power saw him create I.am+, a brand for consumer products that link fashion and technology. A camera accessory for the Apple Iphone was introduced several years ago, and now Will.i.am can add a Gucci timepiece to its credits.
   The new watch has been described as a a stand-alone ‘smartband’, untethered from a smartphone, by Gucci. So far only a concept has been shown at Baselworld, and planned functions include telephone, SMS, emails, music, maps, calendar, a fitness app, and a voice-activated personal assistant.
   The musician noted, ‘I.am+ and Gucci Timepieces are setting the pace with our vision for a untethered wearable. In creating a device that is both fashionable and technologically advanced, we aim to define this category. I coined the term “fashionology”, a merging of the worlds of fashion and technology, and that is exactly what this collaboration with Gucci represents.’
   Stéphane Linder, president and CEO of Gucci Timepieces, said, ‘Today, through this innovative collaboration with I.am+ and Will.i.am, Gucci Timepieces is fully embracing the future of wearable technology that is now ahead of us, with the objective of launching a wearable device concept that is a fashion accessory, incorporating the most comprehensive and advanced technological functionalities.’

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January 6, 2015

Wearable technology from Misfit and Mercedes-Benz’s lounge on wheels are visions of the future

Lucire staff/11.36

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Wearable technology is all the rage as we head into the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week.
   Misfit has announced its Swarovski Shine line. The company, which makes trackers that can sync with your phone so you can measure your walking, running, swimming, cycling and other activities, including sleep quality and calories burned through its wireless technology, will show two new products. The clear Swarovski Shine, with a crystal face, is the first, while a violet Swarovski Shine has an “energy crystal” technology that allows solar charging, eliminating the need for charging or batteries. Both are waterproof.
   The collection is available for pre-order in the US at misfit.com, and will go on sale in the spring at Swarovski retailers in the US, China (including Hong Kong) and online at swarovski.com.
   Meanwhile, the Robotic Spider Dress, designed by Anouk Wipprecht, is 3-D printed, and reacts to motion through proximity sensors. Wipprecht told Motherboard that the dress will react to aggression by getting into an attack position, but if one approached the wearer more calmly, it would have more ‘suggestive gestures’.


Robotic Spider Dress (Intel Edison-based) from Anouk Wipprecht on Vimeo.


   Another vision of the future at CES is the Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion concept car, which is a self-driving saloon. Mercedes-Benz says that the ‘car is growing beyond its role as a mere means of transport and will ultimately become a private retreating space. This new way of travelling gives passengers the freedom to use their valuable time on the road in manifold ways.’ Mercedes-Benz sees people retreating to their cars in a more urbanized future, where time and space are the real luxuries.
   Its interior adopts the theme of a lounge, with open-pore walnut wood, soft white nappa leather, and metal and glass surfaces. It features four rotating lounge chairs in polished aluminium, which can swing outwards for easier egress, and the front seats can face forward if the driver opts for manual driving. The steering wheel then extends from the dashboard. Six screens are incorporated into the instrument panel and rear and side panels, which respond to gestures, eye-tracking and touch.
   Outside, the car glows blue if it is driving autonomously, or white if its driver is in control. The body structure uses carbonfibre-reinforced plastic, aluminium and high-strength steel, making the bodyshell 40 per cent lighter than today’s production cars’. Rear suicide doors allow easier access, and the B-pillars have been eliminated. The front and rear doors are interconnected with an interlocking system.




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December 5, 2014

Spanish luxury becomes more visible: Tous, Carrera y Carrera get attention

Lucire staff/20.12

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Above Tous’s autumn–winter 2014–15 campaign and Carrera y Carrera’s Romance en el Loto collection emerge.

The Spanish labels are getting far more active, giving their better known French and Italian rivals a run for their money.
   While Zara’s been flying the Spanish flag for years in the budget sector, the much posher Tous has been promoting its wares Down Under, lately with a new store in Auckland in the Tower Building at 8 Customs Street West, next to the Customs Street House. The brand says it will open in Wellington and Christchurch, and give New Zealanders a taste of its luxury jewellery.
   By opening near Prada, Dior and Swarovski in the Tower Building, Tous believes the area will become a magnet for luxury brands for Auckland shoppers.
   Carrera y Carrera of Madrid, meanwhile, has shown its new Romance en el Loto (romance in the lotus) collection, which it calls a celebration of love.
   The new jewellery collection, with a delicate frog at its core, tells the story of founder Manuel Carrera, who, 50 years ago, spotted Marina—and, unbeknownst to him, he had caught her eye, too. It took some time before he mustered up the courage to introduce himself, and they have been inseparable since. The frog represents a ‘fun way’ of remembering that first meeting and the looks they gave one another. The lotus leaves are a tribute to Marina Carrera, symbolizing elegance, beauty and grace.
   The collection features rubies, diamonds and emeralds, in white and yellow gold.







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December 4, 2014

Sam Mendes reveals Spectre, next James Bond film, and Aston Martin DB10

Lucire staff/23.27

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As we suspected, the DB10 moniker will not go to the DB9 successor at Aston Martin, but to a limited-edition model released for the 24th EON James Bond movie, Spectre.
   Aston Martin says it will build 10 of the bespoke cars next year, hence the name, and claims that the vehicle was developed specifically for the film, to star Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Monica Bellucci (who was tipped to be in a Bond movie even in the 1990s), Léa Seydoux, David Bautista, Andrew Scott, and Naomie Harris. Sam Mendes (Skyfall) returns to direct.
   The car, along with the name of the film, were officially released on the 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios. Mendes himself took the cover off the DB10.
   Aston Martin’s chief creative officer, Marek Reichman, worked closely with Mendes to develop the car. It previews the company’s design direction for the next generation of production models.
   Dr Andy Palmer, CEO of Aston Martin, said, ‘In the same year that we celebrate our 50-year relationship with 007, it seems doubly fitting that today we unveiled this wonderful new sports car created especially for James Bond.’
   The cinematic James Bond first drove an Aston Martin in 1964, when Sean Connery got behind the wheel of the DB5 model in Goldfinger.
   The car will be built at Gaydon, Warwickshire. Spectre, which begins filming on Monday, including locations in London, Roma, Ciudad de México and the Austrian Alps, will be released on November 6, 2015.

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November 18, 2014

Bentley gauges interest with Grand Convertible concept as it guns for Rolls-Royce Drophead

Lucire staff/13.19

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Since Volkswagen took over Bentley, the company has only fielded one convertible line in the top tier, the Azure. Since 2010, the marque has left the convertible market for the Continental GTC to pursue, but those wanting something more exclusive have had to turn to Bentley’s former sister brand, Rolls-Royce, which had tapped into the Azure’s former market with the imposing Phantom Drophead. The Rolls-Royce took cues from expensive motor boats, with its wooden rear deck, and the cubic capacity was 6,749 cm³, a single cubic centimetre less than the 6,750 that the company’s cars had as standard for much of the period under Vickers ownership.
   Bentley, not to be outdone, has taken its Mulsanne, which débuted in 2009, and created a new convertible, called simply the Grand Convertible. Under the bonnet is the company’s 6,752 cm³ twin-turbo V8, developing 537 PS (395 kW), while externally, the Grand Convertible has a wooden deck, signalling just which car it is gunning for. However, it is just a concept for now, developed to gauge potential consumer interest.
   Bentley calls the Grand Convertible its ‘most sophisticated open-top car’ and it is relying on being more understated than its rival. It is certainly elegant, and its proportions are more classical than the Continental GTC’s.
   Bentley chairman and CEO, Wolfgang Dürheimer, said at the car’s unveiling in Los Angeles, ‘This concept demonstrates Bentley’s ability to create a pinnacle convertible Grand Tourer, while embodying elegance beyond compare. With this car we combine the opulent Mulsanne experience with the full sensory indulgence of open-air touring, continuing to unite luxury and performance in new ways.’
   The car will go on display at the Los Angeles Auto Show from November 19. In December, it will be displayed at Art Basel in Miami.

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October 27, 2014

Ikea will move into fashion next, predicts Swedish author Stefan Engeseth

Lucire staff/10.50

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Swedish author and business thinker Stefan Engeseth predicts that Ikea’s next move will be into the world of fashion.
   Engeseth says that Ikea’s expertise lends itself easily to the world of apparel. ‘Fashion is an expression of how to package and sell design,’ he says.
   He believes that fashion is in a repetitive cycle, stuck in history and needing renewal.
   Ikea could offer both complete apparel items and composite parts that customers could assemble themselves, says Mr Engeseth. The parts could be “tailored” at home in inventive ways without the need for complex sewing.
   ‘Emotionally, this connects people to how life was in the beginning,’ he says. ‘Customers can personalize and “hack” the designs.’
   Jack Yan, publisher of Lucire, and a branding expert in his own right, says Engeseth’s ideas have a great deal of merit.
   ‘This taps in to its existing fan base, and just as importantly, Ikea can make full use of its channels, outmanœuvring many existing fashion labels,’ says Yan. ‘Ikea has an international retail base and it has distribution down to a fine art.’
   For completed clothing, Engeseth says that Ikea could offer Unisex dressing, without the divisions of male and female, but as an ‘Ikea member’.
   He sees Ikea clothing as being high-tech and low-cost, harder-wearing than the apparel found in mass-market retailers.
   ‘We’re already seeing some shoppers go to outdoor and living stores to buy longer-lasting clothing. Ikea already sells reusable Kr 4 bags that are good and cheap; their clothes could be equally practical, as strong as work clothes,’ he says.
   ‘You could even extend this hard-wearing philosophy into wedding gowns—after all, there are already some people opting to get married in Ikea stores.’
   Engeseth says Ikea could offer the clothing range to its fans first, so they have a “uniform”, much like football teams.
   ‘There are 57 million Ikea “family members” already, so let them be the only ones who can buy the clothes first. This would be the longest catwalk ever.’
   He goes further, saying that those wearing Ikea clothing could qualify for greater discounts at the point of sale. ‘Not only will this build their tribe, it will “dress it up” to become a worldwide community.’
   Fans who have furnished their homes could host ‘Ikea days’, where dressed-up fans could invite their friends to their homes, which become pop-up fan showrooms. ‘That could give Ikea millions of stores, and greater exposure to how homes can be designed. That would bring in sales and the company could treble its profits,’ he says.

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