Strongbody Apparel Uses Nanotechnology from Ocean to Make Next Generation of Activewear

Posted by Elliot Chan on Nov 20, 2014

Originally published in Techvibes Media.

 

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From high-intensity training to grocery shopping, Strongbody Apparel is ready to face any challenge.

The Vancouver-based athletic wear manufacturer is changing the way people think and wear their gym clothes. Gone are the days of jogging in a worn out hoodie á la Rocky Balboa: casual and professional athletes alike are seeking the next garment innovation that can endure the strain and sweat of training, as well as the functionality needed in order to reach their athletic pursuits.

“We never found anything that resonated with us,” explains Meghan Conyers, CEO and cofounder of Strongbody Apparel. “It was either not stylish or not functional. A lot of brands tout inspirational messages but don’t really live up to them. That is what we want to change.”

Strongbody Apparel spent almost three years researching and developing fabrics that can satisfy the fitness-driven public of tomorrow. The result is a product that combines enhanced functionality of active wear with sophistication of high-end fashion. Their unmatched innovative fabrics is suited with antibacterial nanotechnology—Chitosan, harnessed from crab and shrimp shells—that enables the garment to stay fresh over time, workout after workout, wash after wash, gym bag after gym bag.

“In Vancouver we wear our gear everywhere,” said Conyers. “We are always walking our dog. We are in coffee shops. We want it to be able to transition easily and be comfy wherever we are.”

There was a time when athletic wear in public was looked upon with the same distaste as those walking down the street in their pajamas. Now with a more active attitude towards fashion, wearing sporty apparel to run errands is the comfortable norm. Strongbody Apparel is reaching out to the market that grew up with athletic clothing and delivering a sense of practicality.

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“It’s like jeans,” says Conyers. “There used to be just Levi’s and now there are tons of higher end, smaller brands that are catering to a more educated consumer.”

Strongbody Apparel wants to be seen in a different light from those over-branded, neon coloured activewear seen on the racks of department stores. It doesn’t want to be another “knock-off” product. While big name brands have worked to build a slogan-spewing culture, Strongbody Apparel focused on innovation: breathable and moisture wicking, wrinkle and pill free fabrics, and zoned ventilation construction to name a few, earning the people’s trust in activewear back.

“We are the crossover of active wear into streetwear,” said Quincy Samycia, co-founder of Strongbody. “It’s one of those things that is happening that people don’t even realize it’s happening. We are on the front end of that and we are driving it home to people.”

Strongbody Apparel’s Kickstarter ends on December 4 and it has earned approximately $20,000, after achieving its goal with 24 days left.

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Tired of the Bar Scene? Go to a 24-Hour Bookstore

I’ve never been much of a late night barhopping kind of guy; give me a nice book any day of the week—even weekends. And in Taipei, Taiwan, that is exactly how many people feel as well.

The Eslite Xinyi Store, a 24-hour five-story bookstore, is a haven for bookworms and night owls. People of all demographics are welcomed to sit around reading tables and simply enjoy their books in peace. No loud conversations, no heavy bass “unch-unch-unch” music, just the tranquil ambient sound of turning pages and soft classical background music.

Eslite Store. Taipei, Taiwan

In North America, books retailers such as Indigo and Barnes & Noble are still limping as they struggle to find relevancy in brick and mortar establishments. Starbucks, home décor, and other fashionable and eccentric items can now be found in bookstores as a means to sustain themselves financially.

But perhaps North American retailers can learn a lesson from their Asian counterparts. Eslite has turned their store into more than just a place for business; like a café, it’s a stylish place to hang out and chill. The all-day bookstore reported an approximate $425 million revenue in 2013, with 40% coming from book sales. In 2014, revenue is projected to increase by an estimated 8%.

Eslite has created a community where cool and intellectual people can gather, read, share ideas, and even flirt. Those in Taipei proudly compared the bookstore to New York’s SoHo.

While critics say that Eslite is in fact harming the publication industry by allowing hundreds of hours of free readings, a spokesperson for the store, Timothy Wang, claims it is the hospitable attitude of the company that enables success.

So what do you think? Would you like a bookstore open 24-hours around your neighbourhood? Will you be there at 3 a.m. reading the latest issue of Ricepaper Magazine?

So this is Christmas and what have you done?

Opinions_experiance not trash

Give a reason to remember this holiday season

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. December 2, 2014

It’s been said over and over again, yet every year I still see aisle upon aisle of useless garbage in department stores and super markets. The annual exchange of knick-knacks and thingamajigs is the primary reason I get rather turned off by people’s behaviour this holiday season. I see them stressing out, spending money, and swapping items that serve no real function or trigger little lasting memory. It’s been said over and over again, but let’s try it again this year: give an experience, not trash.

The orgasmic thrill of unwrapping presents is a trait so human it might as well be related to the joys of eating; however, gifts do not need to be wrapped. We love unwrapping stuff, but more often than not, after you have left, the recipient of your gift will just have to “deal with it.” Room is limited, and presents quickly become garbage. Unless you are feeding your friends and families’ sick hoarding problems, you are giving them something they don’t need. And if they do need it, they’ll probably buy it themselves.

When I say, “give an experience” or “make a memory,” I don’t necessarily mean buying your friends, families, co-workers, or next-door neighbour a plane ticket to a tropical island; I mean you can take your friend out to lunch, take your parents to the movies, make dinner for your neighbours, or buy a case of beer and share it with your peeps.

It’s not about being frugal—it’s about being smart. I hate spending money knowing that it’s ultimately going to end up in the dump. I know when I’m giving a thoughtless gift just to keep face during the holiday season, and I know that other people do it too. I have nothing against those who claim that buying body lotions, coffee mugs, decorative soaps, holiday gift packs, satirical sweaters, or seasonal plush toys is an act of generosity, but please transfer those generous acts into something memorable or at least purposeful.

We always pretend as though Christmas is a one-day event, but it’s in fact a whole season. Few of us wake up on December 25 and unwrap gifts as if it’s a big spectacle. We have many days to celebrate, we have many days to share some experiences. All we need to do is trade in those hours we allot each year for shopping into hours we can share with the people we care about.

Make some food, plan a trip, take the time, and don’t give something that is forgotten by March.

Netra Wants to Save the World from Drowning in Imagery

“The world is drowning in imagery,” says Shashi Kant.

“We’ve generated more information in the last 48 hours than we had in all of human history leading up to 2004,” continues the founder of Netra Systems. “We are generating so much information, and the fact is 90% of that is imagery and most of it lies unexploited and inaccessible. That is a fundamental problem.”

Netra Systems is a visual search and tracking company designed to clean up the way we access our overwhelmingly large quantity of video and image-based content. Not just in our Instagram, Flickr and Facebook, but Netra Systems is hoping to alleviate the strain in numerous other sectors including retail, healthcare and security.

“When you think about it, Google just exploits text,” said Kant, “but imagine if we mine imagery in the same way and make it accessible and searchable.”

Netra Systems apply both machine-vision technology and a search engine style indexing. The algorithm breaks down a video by frames and tracks the blobs, which are the distinct objects within the frames. From there, Netra Systems identify the visual attributes of the blobs—should it be a vehicle, a cat, a human, etc.—it’ll note the colour, contour, texture, shape, etc.

Once the program recognizes the appearance characteristics of each object, it’ll give it a label in accordance to the most similar appearance. The “deep learning” will, for example, identify that within the image there is a blob that appears to be a cat, thus marking it as such. Then like Google, should a user search “cat” in the database, a list of plausible images will be presented in a search engine style result.

The capability of identifying imagery through an artificial neural network has a lot of potential for organization that focuses on little details. In recent scenarios as examples, Kant brought us back to the tragic events of the 2014 shooting at Parliament Hill, as well as the horrific incident involving the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing.

“One of our technology is what we call a multi-camera or cross-camera search,” said Kant. “In a retail store or in a surveillance camera, you typically only capture a small portion with a single view and there is no single camera that can cover the entire building. You need multiple cameras to follow the person and track from camera to camera. And that is the part where we really shine. And that is actually how we go and find the person.”

Organizations of all sizes invest a lot in cameras and machine vision, not only for security but also for visual data such as understanding high traffic areas within a store. By having a keen eye on a promotional item, retailers and suppliers can analyze customer’s engagement and propensity. The knowledge acquired will help merchants, managers and executives work together to make the best out of their retail space and the merchandise within.

When the topic of privacy implications arose, Kant responded with a question of his own: “Do you carry a cellphone? Between your cellphone and your credit card, if someone were to analyze that information they will know far more about you than looking at a camera and analyzing it.”

No doubt the visceral reaction to visual data is unlikely to change soon, however, we can clearly say that new technology and governance are being applied to keep us blobs safe when we are on the screen. Netra Systems offer a unique privacy protection that obfuscates images identified as humans in real-time. The original video will be recorded, saved, and retrieved only by those authorized, i.e. law officials.

Seeing the potential, investor, Mark Cuban signed on with Netra Systems in late 2013 after only 48 hours of email negotiation—no phone calls, no in-person meeting. “Machine vision is an area I have a lot of interest in,” Cuban wrote. “Its a big part of Motionloft.com and what we are doing there.”

When inquired about what excited him the most about Netra Systems, Cuban stated: “The ability to identify images with in a video from a connected database and their ability to apply artificial intelligence to video.”

“Plus the fact they are just damn smart,” he added.

Netra Systems is currently piloted and used by a number of major retailers and media and advertising agencies.

Scent of a woman

Sweet Peach Probiotics

Startup ‘Sweet Peach’ offers supplements to eliminate stinky vagina

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. December 2, 2014

Up-and-coming startup, Sweet Peach Probiotics recently went under scrutiny for creating a product aimed to “freshen up” women’s smelly vaginas.

Before we go and slam Sweet Peach Probiotics as some sort of sexist organization telling women that they—mostly their vaginas—stink, let’s try to understand the biological elements of smell. Things that smell bad to us humans are repulsive because they also do us harm: rotting food, faeces, and even body odour. We are taught to throw away food before it spoils, we are taught to flush the toilet after we use it, and we are taught to take daily showers and brush our teeth.

True, it’s always a sensitive matter when confronting people about their stench. Most likely, they won’t even know that they smell bad. Inherently, we learn to appreciate our own aroma, the same way we appreciate our own uniqueness. We are constructed of a billion tiny bacterial organisms that generate our distinct odour. Bacteria, as you know, is not exactly Chanel No. 5.

As a man, I would never dare order a woman to take supplements to eliminate her natural body odour—not because I’m oblivious, but because I want to continue living. Natural fragrance is a sensitive matter, and although people should be proud of how they smell, it is also important to know when “things” don’t smell right.

A vagina (like a penis and anus) resides in a region of the human body that bacteria loves. The warm, dark, and sometimes wet area, if neglected, can become a marinating pool of microorganisms that can cause infection and discomfort.

I don’t believe Sweet Peach Probiotics is a glamourous product or a female-shaming initiative. Twenty-year-old student and CEO of Sweet Peach, Audrey Hutchinson tells us that it is a product aimed to solve a complicated health issue. It’s not about rejuvenated fragrance—or making vaginas smell like peaches—it’s about restoring a woman’s body into a healthy condition. “A vagina should smell like a vagina,” Hutchinson proudly declares in an interview with Huffington Post, “and anyone who doesn’t think that doesn’t deserve to be near one.”

Men and women alike have distinctive medical problems that can be embarrassing within our society. Instead of opening up and receiving assistance, we often choose to internalize it and hope it fixes itself, while avoiding the risk of being treated like a pariah.

Drugs and supplements may be a solution, but mitigating the risk is equally as effective. We already know the solution to stinky vaginas and other stinky parts of the human body: keep the area clean, and keep anything entering the area clean.

Canucks quarter mark grade

The Vancouver Canucks have an optimistic start

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. December 2, 2014

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Although I’m hesitant to give the Canucks an “A” grade for the first quarter of the season, I cannot deny that they have exceeded expectations. The Sedins look to have found the spark that made them league leaders in bygone years, and with secondary contributions from the likes of Nick Bonino, Alexandre Burrows, and Chris Higgins, Vancouver supporters are hopeful that the production will continue at the same rate, if not better.

Currently holding onto first in the Pacific Division, right in the crosshairs of the Anaheim Ducks, the new-look Canucks have placed themselves in a formidable spot for the playoffs. The concerning detail is that some contenders who have made the post-season in prior years are currently absent; the San Jose Sharks, Dallas Stars, and Colorado Avalanche all have had a disappointing start to the 2014/15 season. Surprisingly, opponents such as the Calgary Flames, Nashville Predators, and Winnipeg Jets are proving to many that the Canucks aren’t the only ones who can have surprise success.

A season is full of unpredictable events. Last season the Canucks went 22-11-7 before New Years and ended up 36-35-11. They finished in the 12th position and missed the playoffs by a wide margin. One can anticipate the Tortorella-esque antics aren’t going to repeat themselves with Willie Desjardins behind the bench. Desjardins has kept his cool in pressure situations and has shown to make solid decisions that benefit the team, although they may appear to be risky.

Keeping Bo Horvat has been a defining moment in the season, and a key decision for Desjardins and the Canucks as the season progresses. While some coaches will choose to send rookie players back to junior for more conditioning and a chance to participate in the World Junior Championship, Desjardins recognizes the tangible and intangible skills that Horvat has. The 19-year-old first round draft pick’s 81.2 per cent face-off win against a Chicago team with Jonathan Toews makes him an asset the Canucks can ill-afford to lose.

In the crease, Ryan Miller is performing as advertised. Leading the league in the only category that matters—wins—Miller has an opportunity to take the Canucks to a level that the Blues and the Sabres could not reach. His attitude and persona are a fresh taste for fans that had gotten used to the Luongo/Schneider controversy. Vancouver, dubbed the goalie graveyard in the late ‘90s, has been a place where goaltenders’ careers fade into obscurity. Miller, being an aging veteran, understands that he doesn’t have many chances left to make his mark, and Vancouver in the next few years will likely be his resting spot.

The Western Conference is as brutally competitive as ever with eight teams having only six points difference. The standings will likely be shuffled a few more times before the clock runs out on the season. Although the Canucks are doing well in the first few months and fans are optimistic, all it takes is a rough streak to put them off the mark for the playoffs. And it’s also important to mention that the Canucks only have one more game left against the Oilers. So all the easy games are pretty much gone.

We Day Vancouver Empowers Youth To Make Next Technological Leap in Global Activism

Posted by Elliot Chan on Oct 24, 2014
Originally published on Techvibes Media.

Jennifer Lopez, Selena Gomez, Orlando Bloom, Nick Jonas, Macklemore And Ryan Lewis Come Together At We Day Vancouver To Inspire Young People To Change The World
On October 22, Rogers Arena filled up early in the morning like many classrooms across British Columbia would. However, instead of the familiar math, science, and English lectures, the attendees—made up by a majority of elementary, middle and high school students—were empowered to dream bigger, achieve greater and shout loader.

Needless to say, We Day was not an average Wednesday.

This year’s event was built upon the concept of empowerment, framed around four different aspects: economics, technological, social and educational. With speeches and presentations from educators and celebrities within the popular youth periphery, the event made me wonder what impacts it would have had on me if I was 12 years younger, feeling the limitless power of my potential.

Although I sometimes carry the been-there-done-that attitude during events catered to the younger generation, I cannot help noticing the engagement between the youth and the technology they know and use oh so well. Smartphone cameras lit up the stadium the same way lighters were once held during a soft rock ballad. Live tweets from the audience created a whole other channel to share inspiring messages. And the addition of virtual engagement to earn points for a charitable cause speaks volume to the innovation of philanthropy.

Technology supports activism like a ladder supports a builder. In a global community, we need to reach higher and farther in order to make an effective change; and tech innovations and the leaders behind them are paving the way, allowing us to accomplish more when we do lend a hand. And We Day and their organizers at Free the Children have proven to be exceptional leaders in that regard.

During the event I was fortunate enough to be seated next to Lee Taal, CEO and founder of Chatter High, a gamified application that encourages high school students to participate in activities that educated them in real life decisions including, post-secondary choices, career opportunities, etc. The points earned through Chatter High can then be transferred into prizes or be donated to a charity through Free the Children.

“I think inside of us there is a desire to do good things,” said Taal, as We Day got underway. “[Students] don’t want to waste time and We Day gives them something to believe in. They know this organization.”

According to Locket, the average person checks their phone 110 times a day. Why? The speakers at We Day believe that “we check our phones so much because we are looking for something that inspire us.” There is a demand out there and technology can effectively fill that void.

For every download of the We Day We365 app, Telus will donate $5 to We Day and partnering educational programs. The application offers community challenges, track volunteer hours, acts a social media platform and reward achievements.

The events from We Day Vancouver will be broadcast on November 11 on MTV and on November 22 on CTV.

‘Til death do you part

Charles Manson and friends

Charles Manson granted licence to marry, as he should

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. November 26, 2014

To me Charles Manson had always been the image of insanity, hate, violence, and murder. To me the man is unlovable, or better yet, undeserving of love. But is that how we punish people? Yes, we can abolish freedom and civil rights, but can we ever abolish love, whatever it is?

It’s been reported that the 80-year-old convicted murderer and cultural symbol of cruelty and bloodshed has been granted legal rights to marry his 26-year-old betrothed, Afton Elaine Burton. It’s a match made somewhere, anywhere, but definitely not heaven. However, their story is one that may be adapted into a Nicholas Sparks novel real soon. After corresponding over letters and telephone, Burton, at 19, moved to Corcoran, California to be closer to Corcoran State Prison where Manson is to be confined until the day he dies. Five hours on Saturdays and Sundays is all they get together, and will continue to get even as a married couple. To Burton, that is worth it.

Burton, a troubled young woman, found Manson the killer to complete her, and even though they will not live a normal life, it can be said that they will have a happy ending, especially when their situation is compared to all the other atrocities in the world. We often say: “Good things happen to bad people,” as if that explains all the injustice in the world, but what happens between two people has nothing to do with justice. Let’s just say he’s lucky to be imprisoned in North America. As far as murderers go, he is a lucky one.

But let’s not forget, Manson is being punished; nothing is going to change his sentence. And after he dies, Burton can move on with her life, infamous. If nothing more, his marriage is final attempt to spread his ideals, his deep dark history through public press and media.

Alternatively, I’d like to consider his story to be an inspiring one. After all, mistakes and loneliness are two of the most crippling struggles people have to deal with. Finding that special someone is not a simple task, and with real life obstacles, those who only have unrequited love may feel downtrodden and defeated. Don’t be discouraged, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done in life, there is always a chance for love. Hey, if Manson found it, so can you.

What’s funny to me is that America is a country where one of the world’s most notorious murderers can operate under the institution of marriage, while many same sex couples can’t. Nevertheless, same sex partners shouldn’t feel discouraged, since the movement is causing the general mindset to slowly but surely shifting in their favour.

Manson had a family before and he lost it all. He could have died a sad old man full of regrets, and many people like him do. But who’s to say he’s isn’t full of regrets? Who’s to say that he is happy? Who’s to say that he even understands what love is? Either way, marriage is not something that should be denied when there is mutual consent.