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Goethe-Institut opens gaming space in Joburg

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The Goethe-Institut’s Library – Gamebox – Hub is now open to the public and offers eight fully equipped workplaces to creative entrepreneurs who are working on tech-driven creative start-ups.

Including a state-of-the-art gaming facility and a creative hub with eight working spaces, the Goethe-Institut’s new Library – Gamebox – Hub is now open to the public

The Gamebox allows visitors to try out the latest from the world of video games. Currently available are seven computer games that won a gaming prize in Germany, as well as a variety of gaming consoles, an ultra-high definition screen and Virtual Reality equipment. The selection is set to be expanded and include regular curated showcases of South African, Sub-Saharan African and German digital games. Independent game developers and gaming startups can apply to make use of the Gamebox to present their ideas and products. Special events for Johannesburg’s gaming community, such as workshops and competitions, are also set to take place in the new space, for example through collaborations with the Digital Arts Department of WITS University and Fak’ugesi Festival. In partnership with the Johannesburg AMAZE Festival, a gaming breakfast with international guests will take place in September.

Situated on the gallery level of the Goethe-Institut’s new space is the hub. It offers eight fully equipped workplaces to creative entrepreneurs who are working on tech-driven creative start-ups. Interested individuals and collectives can apply to move into the hub for a defined period of six months. Additional benefits for successful applicants are organized networking events, tailored mentoring to help with their business, as well as opportunities to present their projects to the public. Projects in the field of digital games are preferred, as the Library – Gamebox – Hub focuses on this area. Joint events with existing hubs in Johannesburg are set to take place throughout the year.

The fully refurbished library space comes with an extended offer of books, magazines, films, music and children’s literature in different languages, as well as a brand new interior with lots of space for study or research. It will also continue to host the popular #LiteraryCrossroads, a series of talks where South African writers meet colleagues from all over the continent and from the African diaspora, curated by Indra Wussow and Sine Buthelezi. #LiteraryCrossroads guests in September will be Rehana Rossouw (SA) and Fiston Mujila (DRC). For the December edition of #LiteraryCrossroads, the collaboration with Abantu Book Festival will be continued.

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ConceptD: Creatives get a tech brand of their own

The unveiling of a new brand by Acer recognises the massive computing power needed in creative professions, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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It’s a crisp Spring morning in Brooklyn. The regular water taxi from Manhattan pulls up at Duggal Greenhouse on the edge of the East River. It’s a building that symbolises the rejuvenation of Brooklyn as a hub of artistic and creative expression.

Inside the vast structure, global computer brand Acer is about to unveil its own tribute to creativity. Company CEO Jason Chen takes to the stage in faded blue jeans and brown t-shirt, underlining the connection of the event to the informality of the area.

“Brooklyn is become more and more diverse,” he tells a gathering of press from around the world, attending the Next@Acer media event. “It’s an area that is up and coming. It represents new lifestyles. And our theme today is turning a new chapter for creativity.”

Every year, Next@Acer is a parade of the cutting edge in gaming and educational laptops and computers. New devices from sub-brands like Predator, Helios and Nitro have gamers salivating. This year is no different, but there is a surprise in store, hinted in Chen’s introduction.

As a grand finale, he calls on stage Angelica Davila, whose day job is senior marketing manager for Acer Latin America. But she also happens to have a Masters degree in computer and electric engineering. A stint at Intel, where she joined a sales and marketing programme for engineers, set her on a new path.

Angelica Davila, marketing manager for Acer Latin America

For the last few months, she has been helping write Acer’s next chapter. She has shepherded into being nothing less than a new brand: ConceptD.

Click here to read more about ConceptD.

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Which voice assistant wins battle of translators?

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Take the most famous phrase from the Godfather – “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse” – or “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” from the inaugural address of US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and see just how the virtual assistants do in translating them using their newly introduced Neural Machine Translation (NMT) capabilities. One Hour Translation (OHT), the world’s largest online translation service, conducted a study to find out just how accurate these new services are.

OHT used 60 sentences from movies and famous people ranging from the Godfather and Wizard of Oz to Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, US presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Fitzgerald Kennedy and historical figures like Leonardo da Vinci and Aesop. The sentences were translated by Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri from English to French, Spanish, Chinese and German and then given to five professional translators for their assessment on a scale of 1-6. 

Google Assistant scored highest in three of the four languages surveyed – English to French, English to German and English to Spanish and second in English to Chinese.  Amazon’s Alexa, whose translation engine is powered by Microsoft Translator, was tops in the English to Chinese category. Apple’s Siri was second place in English to French and English to Spanish and third place in English to German and English to Chinese.  (See chart). All three virtual assistants are compatible with mobile phones.

“The automated assistants’ translation quality was relatively high, which means that assistants are useful for handling simple translations automatically,” says Yaron Kaufman, chief marketing officer and co-founder of OHT. He predicts that “there is no doubt that the use of assistants is growing rapidly, is becoming a part of our lives and will make a huge contribution to the business world.” 

A lot will depend on further improvements in NMT technology, which has revolutionized the field of translation over the past two years.  All the companies active in the field are investing large sums as part of this effort. “OHT is working with several of the leading NMT providers to improve their engines through the use of its hybrid online translation service that combines NMT and human post-editing,” notes Kaufman. He adds that this will no doubt have a huge impact on the use of assistants for translation purposes.

OHT has made a name for itself in assessing the level of translations by NMT engines.  Its ONEs Evaluation Score is a unique human-based assessment of the leading NMT engines conducted on a quarterly basis and used as an industry standard. 

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