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YC-backed startup Binks can ship custom-made clothing to Indian women in just three days – TechCrunch

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Binks is a custom clothing startup created after co-founder and CEO Aamna Khan realized how frustrating it is to find well-fitting women’s workwear in Indian cities. Currently participating in Y Combinator’s accelerator program, Binks solves the problem by using computer vision and machine learning to provide customers with clothing sewn to their measurements, shipped in just three days.

Khan says shopping online is often difficult because a standardized Indian sizing chart hasn’t been developed yet. Clothing companies use a mix of U.S. and European size charts, often resulting in inaccurate sizing (Khan tells TechCrunch that the return rate for apparel ordered online in India can be as high as 30% to 40%, mostly because of fit issues). In big cities like Bangalore, where the company is based, there are a lot of tailors, but getting clothing fitted and sewn is a time-consuming process.

“The tailoring market has not moved with the times, so the experience of getting something tailored is the same as it was 10 years ago. You have to buy fabric, give your measurements to the tailor, then there are usually a couple of fittings, and all of this means physically visiting the shop,” Khan says. “It’s very tedious for Indian women who are leading a busy life but still want well-fitting clothes.”

Many Indian customers buy readymade clothes and have them altered by a tailor or accept that if they order clothing online, a lot of it will need to be returned or exchanged. Companies that figure out a better way to sell clothing to women, however, stand to profit a lot. The women’s apparel market in India is worth $30 billion already and expected to grow quickly, becoming bigger than the men’s apparel market by 2025, according to research by Avendus Capital.

In a statement to TechCrunch, Adora Cheung, Binks’ Y Combinator partner, said “Indian fashion commerce looks very similar to the US today, with its high return rates and dead stock. Thanks to the inexpensive tailoring market in its backyard, India can look really different and we’re excited about that.”

Binks’ website

To order custom clothes, customers pick a style on Binks’ site (the average price of a garment is about USD $30) and fill out a form that includes questions about their height and bra size, what brands of tops and pants fit them best and what sizes from those brands they usually wear. Customers are also prompted to upload a full-length photos of themselves taken from the front and side. Then a Binks consultant calls to discuss customizations before the order is finalized.

Binks uses computer vision to read body measurements, and combines them with the customer’s answers to customize clothing patterns. Orders are currently made by a single tailoring unit in Bangalore, but Binks’ plan is to automate patternmaking, since many tailors still draft patterns by hand, so the company can maintain a standardized process for sizing and quality control as it scales up.

Binks is run by Khan, an experienced product manager, and co-founder Raj Vardhan, a data scientist. The two spent three years working together at online payments company Simpl before leaving to found the startup. After hosting physical pop-up stores in Bangalore, the company started taking online orders in June and since then sales have doubled month over month, with 30% of customers placing a second order within the first month and a return rate of less than 1%, Khan says.

Binks takes a similar approach to RedThread, an American startup that also uses body scanning technology and algorithms to make customizing clothing more efficient. For the Indian market, Khan says Binks faces several specific challenges. For example, even though the National Institute of Fashion Technology is currently conducting a survey to create a standardized clothing chart for India, it won’t be ready for several years, so there isn’t an existing dataset of Indian women’s measurements to train Binks’ algorithms on. Brands use a mix of American and European standard sizing charts and many Indian women prefer looser clothing, making it even more difficult to accurately describe a garment’s fit online.

As more customers place order, that will help make Binks’ technology more accurate, Khan says. The next step is developing technology to streamline the tailoring process.

“We plan to make it super accurate and then at the next level scale it. We want to organize the dressmaking process in a way that has not been done using technology,” says Khan. “We want to automate it so that once a customer has selected a product, a pattern is produced and cutting is automated, so this reduces the turnaround time.”



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Ring Car Cam leaks: This could be Amazon’s Alexa dash-cam

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Details and what appears to be an image of Ring’s upcoming Car Cam have leaked, with the connected dash cam expected to add security both when the vehicle is parked and while it’s on the move. The newest addition to Ring’s line-up was actually announced in September 2020 as part of Amazon’s big device launch, though at the time no pictures of the Car Cam hardware itself were shared.

Still, Ring’s description painted a fairly comprehensive picture of what it was intended to do. As well as tracking bumps and attempted break-ins, and notifying owners via the Ring smartphone app, it can also be used to record journeys and summon emergency services in the case of an accident being detected.

If you’re being pulled over by the police, meanwhile, saying “Alexa, I’m being pulled over” will automatically begin video and audio recording. At the same time as that’s being uploaded to the cloud, the system will send a notification to pre-selected family members to let them know the stop has taken place. Ring said there would be a physical privacy shutter, too, and a choice of WiFi or LTE connectivity. The whole thing would be $199.99, though cellular plans would be on top of that.

Since then, we’ve not heard anything more about the new dash camera. A leak on The Tape Drive, though, has revealed what it could look like, and it’s certainly an unusual design.

The camera assembly looks to be mounted on some sort of bracket, either to be positioned above the dashboard or potentially hung from above the rearview mirror. There’s presumably a fish-eye camera on both sides – only visible from one side in the render – to capture footage both inside and outside of the car.

As for functionality, ZatzNotFunny spotted a seemingly prematurely-published Ring Car Cam information document on the company’s support site. It reconfirms some of the details which Ring told us late last year, but also adds a few extra tidbits.

For example, the camera will connect via the vehicle’s data port, not just hook up to a USB or 12V outlet for power. “Ring Car Cam easily installs directly to the OBD-II port in your vehicle, located behind your steering wheel in most cars,” Ring explains. “It securely attaches to the windshield and dashboard of the car, and the cable can be neatly tucked away and out of sight.”

It’s unclear what extra data Ring might be gathering by using that approach. The OBD-II port typically grants access to various driving metrics, and though originally intended as a way for vehicle technicians to diagnose faults and issues in increasingly computerized models, has also gained traction as a way for third-party devices to tap that same stream of information. Amazon had also announced Ring Car Alarm, a cellularly-connected dongle that plugs into the ODB-II port.

The Ring Car Cam itself won’t require a subscription, though you won’t get all of the features in that case. “You can access video stored locally on the device via the Ring app when the car is within range of wifi,” the company explains. “With an optional Ring connectivity plan, you can access video from anywhere via LTE as well as advanced features like Emergency Crash Assist.”

The connectivity plan for Ring Car Cam will also unlock features like real-time tracking, to help locate a stolen vehicle.

What remains to be seen is how Ring Car Cam will fit into Ring’s existing sharing policies with police departments. The Amazon-owned company has found itself mired in controversy in recent years, after inking deals with law enforcement that saw many requests for footage from connected security cameras and video doorbells. Ring had been accused of fueling privacy infringement and supporting racial profiling.

Earlier this month, the company announced a new policy around sharing with public safety and law enforcement agencies. Moving forward, such agencies will ahem to request information or video from communities through a publicly-viewable category on Ring’s Neighbors app. This new section, “Request for Assistance,” will allow communities to see just what sort of data is being shared, Ring says.

“All Request for Assistance posts will be publicly viewable in the Neighbors feed, and logged on the agency’s public profile,” Ring explains. “This way, anyone interested in knowing more about how their police agency is using Request for Assistance posts can simply visit the agency’s profile and see the post history.”

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YouTube on iOS PiP makes it much easier to watch videos while multitasking

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YouTube is now rolling out the ability for all users to watch videos with picture-in-picture mode, which reduces the video players to a small floating screen on one’s phone or tablet. This feature won’t be limited to only premium customers as some had previously speculated, though those premium customers will get access to the PiP support first.

Android users have had access to YouTube’s picture-in-picture mode for a while; it has become increasingly useful as devices get larger, higher-resolution displays, leaving ample room for using more than one app at a time. With PiP, someone can watch a video in a small corner of their device’s display while doing something else, such as browsing social media, messaging, or playing games.

There have been concerns over recent months that YouTube wouldn’t only make its picture-in-picture mode available to paying Premium subscribers on iOS, but that’s not the case, according to confirmation given to MacRumors.

The feature is now rolling out to all iOS users in the United States, with Premium customers getting it first followed by free users ‘soon.’ Some iOS users have already had access to the YouTube picture-in-picture feature, though its availability has been touch and go with it working only sometimes.

The official support will eliminate the need to deal with difficult workarounds and buggy Safari streaming, though you may need to remain patient if you’re not a Premium user. The feature will be most useful on larger iPhone models where there’s enough screen space to watch a video in the mini player and engage in a second activity.

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Researchers say they’ve found the ideal strategy to pay off student loans

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When many people near college graduation, they begin to contemplate how they’ll deal with the student loans they’ve racked up over the past few years. The burden — which grows more substantial with every generation — can result in stress and, if not managed properly, may throw one’s life plans off track for several years. Mathematicians with the University of Colorado at Boulder may have a solution, explaining that they developed a mathematical model to explore the ideal repayment strategy.

Generally speaking, college graduates get a brief grace period after graduation during which time they aren’t required to make payments on their loans. Two different options are available once payments start: an income-based repayment strategy that involves paying a certain amount monthly based on one’s salary or simply throwing as much money at the loan as possible to pay it off in a shorter period of time.

In many cases, graduates are often advised to pay the loans off as quickly as possible if the funding amount is on the smaller side. On the flip side, graduates are typically told to take the income-based repayment option if they’ve taken out a substantial amount of funds in the form of student loans. The new study suggests a hybrid approach may be more ideal.

The mathematical model takes into account things like compounding interest rates, the income tax that may need to be paid, and more. The findings indicate that some graduates may benefit from a hybrid-style repayment approach that involves paying off as much as possible for the first several years, then switching over to an income-based repayment plan for the remainder of the balance.

The team of researchers hasn’t made their work available as a calculator for the public, but they do plan to improve it and potentially make it available to existing repayment calculators that may integrate the model. The ideal repayment method will ultimately depend on personal factors that must be accounted for, including things like anticipated salary and more.

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