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South African rugby powers into the Marvel universe

South African rugby is entering a whole new universe in 2019 as SA Rugby, SuperSport, Vodacom and Marvel team up to bring Super Heroes to life and create an all-conquering, planet-shifting, villain-busting “Superpowered” Vodacom Super Rugby competition.

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Some of Marvel’s most iconic Super Heroes will join forces with South Africa’s most powerful rugby stars to turn every one of the South African derbies in the 2019 Vodacom Super Rugby season into an action-packed adventure in and outside the stadiums. 

In a ground-breaking collaboration between SA Rugby, SuperSport, Vodacom and Marvel, each of the South African Vodacom Super Rugby teams will be assigned a Marvel Super Hero as their look for the home derbies next season.

The Vodacom Bulls kit will be emblazoned with the colours of Captain America, the Emirates Lions will channel their inner-Spider-Man, the Cell C Sharks’ kit will be inspired by Black Panther and the DHL Stormers will be wearing Thor’s colours. The kit designs will be revealed at a later stage.

“Marvel Super Heroes are among the most loved and recognisable characters in the world, very much like local Vodacom Super Rugby players and clubs,” said Luke Roberts, Retail Director for The Walt Disney Company Africa.

“Whether it’s Spider-Man’s genius and agility, Thor’s strength and endurance, Captain America’s honour and strategy or Black Panther’s speed and stamina, we are thrilled to collaborate with clubs in this year’s South African Conference in Vodacom Super Rugby, aligning these character attributes with our own iconic teams.”

Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby, said this is one of the most exciting developments to the local Vodacom Super Rugby scene in many years.

“Vodacom Super Rugby has always been about entertainment and providing supporters with something new, and in 2019 we will definitely achieve that with this exciting endeavour with Marvel,” said Roux.

“The global rugby landscape is changing and teams across all continents are trying new things to further raise the interest of fans. We envisage reaching new audiences and gaining new supporters for our franchises and the game as a whole in South Africa.”

Gideon Khobane, SuperSport CEO, said: “These are great times in sport with innovation pivotal to success, which is why SuperSport is thrilled to support the Super Heroes initiative.”

The true impact of next season will be felt when the real-life super heroes take over the story off the pitch.

With great power comes great responsibility, and the heroes of South African rugby are ready to unleash this as they use their power for good and tackle cancer in a partnership with the CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation.

Michelle van Eyden, Vodacom’s Executive Head of Sponsorship, echoed the excitement for the forthcoming Vodacom Super Rugby season and highlighted the importance of giving back.

“Besides the innovation and excitement we will be seeing during Vodacom Super Rugby in 2019, Vodacom is also extremely proud to be associating itself with CHOC,” said Van Eyden.

“Every Super Rugby season, Vodacom partners with an organisation that is in need of support, and with the Marvel partnership, we feel there is a perfect fit between between the rugby super heroes we’ll see doing battle every weekend on the field and the little super heroes of CHOC who fight a far larger battle every day.”

For every tackle made by a South African player during the 2019 Vodacom Super Rugby competition, Vodacom and SuperSport will each donate R50 to CHOC through the #TacklingCancer campaign, with the goal of raising R1 million by the end of the season.

And if heroes give us hope, this will be a season in which every fan can also be a hero as they join forces to keep the hope alive for those who need it most.

Vodacom Super Rugby fans can also expect in-stadium entertainment and activations that are going to inject rugby into a new “superpowered” era.

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CES: Most useless gadgets

The worst gadgets of CES also deserve their moment of infamy, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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It’s fairly easy to choose the best new gadgets launched at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week. Most lists – and there are many – highlight the LG roll-up TV, the Samsung modular TV, the Royole foldable phone, the impossible burger, and the walking car.

But what about the voice assisted bed, the smart baby dining table, the self-driving suitcase and the robot that does nothing? In their current renditions, they sum up what is not only bad about technology, but how technology for its own sake quickly leads us down the rabbit hole of waste and futility.

The following pick of the worst of CES may well be a thinly veneered attempt at mockery, but it is also intended as a caution against getting caught up in hype and justification of pointless technology.

1. DUX voice-assisted bed

The single most useless product launched at CES this year must surely be a bed with Alexa voice control built in. No, not to control the bed itself, but to manage the smart home features with which Alexa and other smart speakers are associated. Or that any smartphone with Siri or Google Assistant could handle. Swedish luxury bedmaker DUX thinks it’s a good idea to manage smart lights, TV, security and air conditioning through the bed itself. Just don’t say Alexa’s “wake word” in your sleep.

2. Smart Baby Dining Table 

Ironically, the runner-up comes from a brand that also makes smart beds: China’s 37 Degree Smart Home. Self-described as “the world’s first smart furniture brand that is transforming technology into furniture”, it outdid itself with a Smart Baby Dining Table. This isa baby feeding table with a removable dining chair that contains a weight detector and adjustable camera, to make children’s weight and temperature visible to parents via the brand’s app. Score one for hands-off parenting.

Click here to read about smart diapers, self-driving suitcases, laundry folders, and bad robot companions.

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CES: Language tech means no more “lost in translation”

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Talking to strangers in foreign countries just got a lot easier with recent advancements in translation technology. Last week, major companies and small startups alike showed the CES technology expo in Las Vegas how well their translation worked at live translation.

Most existing translation apps, like Bixby and Siri Translate, are still in their infancy with live speech translation, which brings about the need for dedicated solutions like these technologies:

Babel’s AIcorrect pocket translator

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The AIcorrect Translator, developed by Beijing-based Babel Technology, attracted attention as the linguistic king of the show. As an advanced application of AI technology in consumer technology, the pocket translator deals with problems in cross-linguistic communication. 

It supports real-time mutual translation in multiple situations between Chinese/English and 30 other languages, including Japanese, Korean, Thai, French, Russian and Spanish. A significant differentiator is that major languages like English being further divided into accents. The translation quality reaches as high as 96%.

It has a touch screen, where transcription and audio translation are shown at the same time. Lei Guan, CEO of Babel Technology, said: “As a Chinese pathfinder in the field of AI, we designed the device in hoping that hundreds of millions of people can have access to it and carry out cross-linguistic communication all barrier-free.” 

Click here to read about the Pilot, Travis, Pocketalk, Google and Zoi translators.

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