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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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Google TV app to include deprecated Android TV Remote app

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Just like with its messaging platforms, Google hasn’t exactly been consistent about its digital media ecosystems. Google News was once Google Play Newsstand which was once Google Play Magazines and Google Currents combined. Google Play Music was supplanted by YouTube Music and now the Google Play Movies & TV app has been renamed Google TV, which is different from the Google TV “skin” based on Android TV. To be fair, Google does try to consolidate things, like retiring an obsolete Android TV remote control app and shoving it into the new Google TV app.

It probably won’t be long before Google consolidates its video-on-demand platforms and branding into a single “Google TV”. Whether that will replace Android TV, just as Wear OS replaced Android Wear, is still an open question but, at least for now, Google TV seems to be focused on the user interface, viewing experience, and, of course, its digital content store.

The old Google Play Movies & TV Android app that Google TV replaced mostly focused on those as well but it seems it’s being primed to do more soon. 9to5Google found traces of functionality that refers to a directional pad as well as enter and back buttons. There’s also mention of pairing the phone to an Android TV.

These operations are already found on the standalone Android TV Remote Control. Although the app still exists on the Google Play Store, it hasn’t seen an update since 2017. Considering Google may be moving to put all its Android TV and videos in one basket, it makes sense to retire such a standalone app and just incorporate its pretty basic features into a single Google TV app.

At the moment, these new features don’t work at all but it does hint at the direction Google might be heading for Google TV. While it might be nice to have everything under a single Google TV banner, there is also the overlap with YouTube and YouTube TV that could make some wary of another Google Play Music scenario in the near future.

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ASUS ROG Phone 5 might have more RAM you’ll ever need for now

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How much RAM do you need for a smartphone? Disregarded the old joke about 640KB of RAM for PCs in the late 80s, smartphone memory seems to have stalled at 12GB in the past year or so with very few exceptions. That said, it seems that high-end smartphones are ready to push the envelope again with the ROG PHone 5 going beyond the 16GB that you’d find on the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G this year.

Just for a quick refresher, RAM is that volatile (meaning it loses data when power goes out) memory space that’s used not for holding data you want to keep but for programs to stay while running. To keep it overly simple, the more RAM you have, the more programs you can have running at the same time before the operating system starts killing unused programs to make room for more. This is why phones with less RAM often have problems multi-tasking, forcing apps to be restarted when you switch back to them because they were killed in the background.

That is true for normal apps but is even more true for games that have large pieces of code and data that need to be kept in memory to run fast and smoothly. It’s really no surprise, then, that the first smartphones that boasted 16GB of RAM were gaming phones like the Lenovo Legion Duel (or Pro) and the ASUS ROG Phone 3. According to a Geekbench sighting, the ASUS ROG Phone 5 will be taking that to the next level even.

The benchmark notes a RAM size of 16.97GB which, given how these numbers work, suggests that the phone could actually have 18GB of RAM. That is quite a large amount of RAM that, even with today’s demanding mobile games, might sound almost too much. Then again, ASUS offers various configurations for its ROG Phones so this could simply be the top-end variant.

The entry doesn’t have other details to offer but we can already piece some of those together. The phone will undoubtedly take advantage of all the power that the Snapdragon 888 has to offer, for example, and DxOMark’s recent audio benchmark revealed not just the return of the 3.5mm headphone jack but also what seems to be a display on its back purely for branding purposes. The ASUS ROG Phone 5 is slated to debut on March 10 so Android gamers won’t have too long to wait for confirmation.

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NVIDIA SHIELD TV SmartThings Link will become unusable in July

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A smart home hub is only as useful as the number of languages it can speak. Given the number of disparate smart home platforms available today, it pays to either understand all those or at least have the ability to learn to communicate with other smart home products. That was practically what the SmartThings Link USB dongle did for the NVIDIA SHIELD TV but that dongle itself will lose its ability to speak the SmartThings language when Samsung upgrades its ecosystem in June.

The SmartThings Link dongle goes way back in 2017 when Google, NVIDIA, and Samsung seemingly sang in unison to bring their smart home ecosystems to a single device. The NVIDIA SHIELD TV, which ran Android TV, not only got support for Google Assistant but also Samsung SmartThings via that USB stick. It may not have exploded as the companies would have hoped but this recent news shows that there will be quite a number of disenfranchised users who banked on that setup.

Janko Roettgers on Twitter shared an email from Samsung detailing the end of times for the SmartThings Link. Starting June 30, 2021, the device will be rendered useless and the NVIDIA SHIELD TV and SmartThings devices will no longer be able to communicate with each other. Additionally, NVIDIA’s Android TV console will also lose control of any other Zigbee or Z-Wave product previously connected via the SmartThings app.

Although disappointing, the writing has been on the wall since June last year when Samsung announced that it would be moving to a new SmartThings platform. A lot of devices won’t be able to make the transition, not just the SmartThings Link, as the change will require completely new hardware more than just a software update. Samsung is taking a very big risk in promising a more flexible ecosystem while potentially hanging hundreds out to dry.

Samsung seems to be offering refunds for some or discounts for its new SmartThings Hub but this still means that SHIELD TV owners won’t be able to use their device as a central smart home hub anymore. Whether Samsung takes steps to bridge the gap again is still unknown but it seems to be cozying up to Google lately so that might still happen, one way or another.

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