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Modyfi, a startup founded by Snap and Amazon alums, has launched a public beta of its AI-powered graphic design software and announced on Wednesday a $7 million funding round led by NEA.
The newly-released app is browser-based and looks very similar to the dual-columned interface found in other graphic design applications like Adobe’s Creative Cloud software or Affinity’s suite of programs. The significant difference is found in the new AI-powered command field in the top middle of the UI, and the new approach to adaptive and context-aware pattern and placement tools.
The role of AI in the design space has captured the attention of the largest players, with OpenAI’s very first acquisition being Global Illumination Inc, a studio that builds “creative tools, infrastructure, and digital experiences,” as OpenAI wrote in the blog post announcing the acquisition.
In an exclusive interview with VentureBeat, Modyfi cofounder Joseph Burfitt showed off how easy it was to create eye-catching designs, and explained the company’s vision and future plans. “The three key things that we care about the most [are the] graphic design suite, process and collaboration, and then the AI capabilities,” he said.
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Burfitt demonstrated how Modyfi allows designers to quickly conceptualize designs by dragging and dropping images, applying effects and modifiers with natural language commands, and generating variations using its “image-guided generation” model. The tool also enables real-time collaboration so multiple designers can work on a file simultaneously.
Burfitt explained that because familiarity is key, Modyfi was built with the kind of modern interface that design professionals expect to see. The new layer of AI capabilities is intended to reduce some of the ambiguity of the production process. “We also want to bring in elements where it enables the designer to remove more of that process [where] someone says, ‘Hey, can you make this image pop?’ What does [that] actually mean to someone like a graphic designer?
“So rather than going backwards and forwards with the client,” Burfitt said, “the AI within the chat window can just say ‘What do you mean by pop? Increase the vibrancy? Change the saturation?’”
Burfitt explained that Modyfi had been working in stealth mode for about 18 months to build out the application before launching the public beta. The company wanted to make sure the product was solid and reliable before widely promoting it, as losing users’ work was not an option.
“We haven’t [yet] massively gone wide right now, [as] we want to make sure that it’s a very solid work and performant. We have to win the trust of our users. We can never lose any kind of content which they create on the platform,” said Burfitt.
Now that the beta is available, Burfitt said Modyfi will start ramping up awareness and growing its user base. But it plans to do so gradually to maintain quality as more people sign up and start using the design tools.
Despite a growing user count, heavy compute requirements ended up less of a concern than they might have for Modyfi. Burfitt and his team were able to mitigate the application’s need for heavy computation requirements by deploying a distributed service that can leverage GPU resources from multiple cloud providers. This allowed them to scale effectively to meet demand.
“So when people are asleep in Japan, Australia, we can actually ship our processing overseas,” said Burfitt. This avoids capacity constraints in U.S.-based compute or GPU service availability, he explained.
He also mentioned that they are using a new web standard called WebGPU, which provides even better GPU performance within browsers than previous technologies like WebGL. By taking advantage of users’ own GPU acceleration, Modyfi is able to perform tasks like background removal — and soon, depth matching and upscaling — much faster when accessing the local hardware.
Looking ahead, Burfitt pointed to plans to expand Modyfi’s AI capabilities across different design styles, while keeping designers in control. He also emphasized the importance of collaboration and said the browser-based tool could evolve to be more conversational and intuitive over time.
On the business side, Burfitt said the $7 million in funding from NEA will primarily go towards further development and bringing on more engineers to tackle the complex challenges of building a graphic design platform. “Super excited to have them on. It’s incredible to have a caliber of VC like NEA who see our vision as much as we do. So [we’re] very, very excited to have them on and [we’ve] been utilizing that from a developer perspective.”
With early traction among top companies, Modyfi aims to push the boundaries of what’s possible at the intersection of design and AI.
“We’ve got thousands of people using this right now and hundreds of companies like Snapchat, Reddit, Stripe — the Nvidia creative team are even using it. So [we’re] pretty, pretty excited about the distribution so far,” said Burfitt.
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CHICAGO, August 23, 2023--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Bounteous, the digital innovation partner of the world's most ambitious brands, today announces that its Bounteous Accelerator, Activate for Adobe Experience Manager, has been officially recognized as an Adobe Accredited Solution. This accreditation signifies Bounteous’ expertise in delivering exceptional solutions, having met the criteria set by Adobe, including verification by Adobe technical experts, successful previous deployments, and an approved go-to-market plan.
Bounteous now joins an esteemed group of Adobe Partners with accredited solutions for Adobe Experience Manager. Bounteous’ Activate solutions are accelerators designed to maximize speed to value, scalability, and long-term efficiencies. By leveraging these solutions, clients can establish the foundation necessary to create transformative digital customer experiences across all touchpoints, unencumbered by the limitations of traditional accelerators.
"We are honored to receive the Adobe Accredited Solution badge," said Brett Birschbach, Senior Vice President of Bounteous' Adobe Practice. "Activate for Adobe Experience Manager has helped our customers leverage Adobe Experience Manager to support complex enterprise needs. Adobe Experience Manager is a foundational solution for many of our customers, and Activate gives our customers an implementation built on best practices."
Activate for Adobe Experience Manager facilitates swift and incremental migration to Adobe Experience Manager as a Cloud Service by establishing Adobe's best practices and patterns while ensuring long-term flexibility. With unique features exclusively available through Bounteous' Activate, clients can maximize the value derived from Adobe Experience Manager, Adobe Analytics, and Adobe Target by streamlining implementation, reducing reliance on custom development, and minimizing ongoing maintenance costs. Activate guarantees that Adobe Experience Manager platforms are not only optimized for MVP but also capable of supporting an enterprise's intricate requirements and scaling without the need for reworking or changing patterns.
"Adobe Experience Manager is relied on by brands and businesses worldwide for the delivery of high-impact personalized content experiences," said Tony Sanders, Senior Director, Americas Partner Sales at Adobe. "Bounteous’ strategic approach to Adobe Experience Manager streamlines implementation and allows companies to scale and compete at pace, in an era where customer-facing content is defining business impact."
Bounteous remains committed to delivering innovative solutions and enabling clients to realize their digital transformation goals. The recognition as an Adobe Accredited Solution reaffirms Bounteous' position as a trusted partner for brands seeking to unlock the full potential of Adobe Experience Manager.
Founded in 2003 in Chicago, Bounteous is a leading digital experience consultancy that co-innovates with the world's most ambitious brands to create transformative digital experiences. With services in Strategy, Experience Design, Technology, Analytics and Insight, and Marketing, Bounteous elevates brand experiences and drives superior client outcomes. For more information, please visit www.bounteous.com.
For more information about Co-Innovation, obtain the Co-Innovation Manifesto at co-innovation.com.
For the most up-to-date news, follow Bounteous on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.
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SALT LAKE CITY — Adobe co-founder and Utah native John Warnock died on Saturday aged 82, Adobe said in a statement Sunday.
The cause of his death was not disclosed.
"It is a sad day for the Adobe community and the industry for which he has been an inspiration for decades," Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen said in an email sent to employees.
"John's brilliance and technology innovations changed the world," Narayen said in the statement.
Warnock graduated from the University of Utah with a bachelor's degree in mathematics and philosophy. He would continue his studies at the University of Utah over the next few years, receiving a master's degree in mathematics, and a doctorate in electrical engineering/computer science.
Richard B. Brown, the dean of the College of Engineering, said Sunday the University of Utah was among the first in the nation to offer registration by computer. It was an effort that Warnock worked on as a Ph.D. student, "sleeping in the engineering building for just a few hours, then going back to writing this program." It was a grueling effort that needed to be finished in time for students to start registering for classes.
After his graduation from the U., Warnock went forward in the computer fields while working for Evans & Sutherland Computer Corporation and IBM. While working for Xerox, he was involved with the development of a system for interactive graphics. He was also involved in a program to advance printer technology. Xerox was not interested in developing the concept further, so Warnock and colleague Charles Geschke struck out on their own to continue their work on it.
This effort lead to Warnock and Geschke co-founding Adobe in 1982. This revolutionized desktop publishing. Adobe's Acrobat and Photoshop are among the software programs that were pioneers in the industry.
"Basically, John's development of PDF is what made desktop publishing practical," Brown said. "It has had a huge impact on the world."
The origins of computer graphics are tied closely to Warnock's work at the university in 1968.
"He developed the Warnock hidden line algorithm which was one of the early, fundamental algorithms that made computer graphics possible," Brown said.
Adobe is a major presence in Utah with its campus on Silicon Slopes in Lehi. Adobe's foothold in Utah was first established in 2009 and further grew with its Lehi campus that opened in 2012.
Warnock retired as CEO of Adobe in 2000 and was chairman of the board, a position he shared with Geschke, until 2017, according to Reuters.
A Utah native, Warnock was raised in Holladay and attended Olympus High School.
Warnock described how his high school math teacher George Barton played a pivotal role in his life. This teacher taught his students how to learn, focus, work and solve problems, Warnock said.
"His approach was really quite simple. He instructed us to pick up a college-level textbook for algebra, solve every problem in the book, then move on to the next subject, trigonometry, and do the same. And after that, go on to analytic geometry. By following his advice and solving a lot of problems, my grades in math and all other classes improved, and I went from C's to A's and B's," Warnock said.
Warnock has received numerous awards and accolades, including the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, bestowed upon him by President Barack Obama in 2008. He was also a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery.
Warnock turned much of his philanthropy back to the University of Utah. He and his wife Marva Warnock donated millions to the university. An engineering building is named for him and his wife, Marva.
"And I remember him saying that when he was a young man he really needed the College of Engineering. And when he learned the College of Engineering needed him, he couldn't say no," Brown said.
Speaking in a virtual commencement ceremony to University graduates in 2020, Warnock told the graduates to move up and move forward.
"The rest of your life is not a spectator sport. Your job in life is to be an active player, to make the world a better place," he said.
Warnock is survived by his wife and three children.
A product design journey presents unique complexities, demanding effective communication between designers and stakeholders while seeking feedback early in the design phase. This approach ensures the overall user experience and design layout are well thought out before investing significant time and resources into its development. Across the design spectrum, this process is called wireframing.
The essence of wireframing lies in its ability to transform complex design concepts into simple visual representations. It serves as the foundational outline for digital products, helping designers, developers, and stakeholders to navigate the design and development process.
Since its introduction in the late 20th century, digital wireframe tools have evolved with time. These tools now feature different innovative capabilities that help designers to create visual representations of a product's layout, structure, and functionality. Today, we delve into the evolution of wireframe tools and highlight the best options in 2023.
In the pre-computer era, designers and developers relied on paper, pencil, and markers to create hand-drawn sketches and wireframes. However, technological advancements have transformed the wireframing process. Starting from early digital tools like Adobe Illustrator, progressing to dedicated wireframing software like Azure RP, followed by the advent of web-based tools like Balsamiq, and culminating in more modern options, wireframing tools have evolved greatly, improving user experiences, interactivity, and responsive designs.
Modern wireframing tools feature advancements in prototyping and interaction, as well as integration with design and development workflows, helping to streamline the entire design process. Here are some innovative features of the best modern wireframe tools.
Modern wireframe tools provide intuitive user interfaces that allow designers to develop wireframes and prototypes without significant training. These tools also offer libraries of pre-designed user interface icons, elements, and widgets that can be used on the canvas to create layouts.
Many wireframe tools allow designers to create responsive layouts that adapt to different screen sizes and orientations. This feature helps to ensure a consistent user experience across devices.
Typically, the term wireframe refers to a low-fidelity layout. For this reason, most modern tools combine wireframing with prototyping, empowering designers to create more interactive and realistic mockups. These interactive elements include clickable buttons, links, and basic animations, allowing stakeholders and users to experience the design's flow and functionality.
Some wireframe tools also offer version control capabilities, allowing designers to track changes, revert to previous versions, and collaborate more efficiently in a team setting. Designers can also add comments and annotations directly onto the wireframes to provide context, instructions, or explanations for other team members.
The integration of wireframe tools with popular design software has been so seamless most of these design software are also regarded as wireframe tools. Through this integration, designers can transition from wireframes to detailed designs smoothly.
With advanced wireframe tools, designers can test prototype usability, gather user feedback, and make informed decisions on the design. They also offer features to simulate device-specific interactions, like touch gestures and screen swipes.
This feature is one of the most innovative capabilities of wireframe tools. Those with this capability can generate HTML/CSS or other code snippets to help developers convert the design to a functional product.
The underlying goal of modern wireframe tools is to streamline the design process, promote collaboration among designers and stakeholders, and enhance the ability to deliver interactive, user-focused prototypes that align with the requirements and functionalities of the final product.
As we go further into 2023, several exceptional wireframe tools have emerged, each equipped with unique features to streamline different elements of the design process. This section aids your selection process by highlighting some of the finest wireframe tools of 2023. The entries in this list are selected based on their unique capabilities and contributions to modern design workflows.
Miro is an innovative and dynamic online collaborative whiteboard platform that skillfully empowers distributed teams to collaborate seamlessly and achieve remarkable results. Its versatile toolkit facilitates a broad spectrum of joint activities, including planning and managing agile workflows.
With over 50 million users incorporating product managers and owners, UI/ UX designers, agile coaches, and other professionals, Miro empowers teams to transcend geographical boundaries and develop quality products. Aside from real-time collaboration for remote teams, the Miro platform is also easy to use and integrates as an online whiteboard into existing workflows.
With Miro, teams can collect all members' ideas on product designs and creative concepts, making it an essential tool for organizing creative workflow. Furthermore, users can work on the platform with almost all required tools, including texts, docs, images, videos, wireframes, etc.
The StoryboardThat platform is not necessarily a wireframe tool; however, it deserves mention for its ability to facilitate the creation of digital storytelling "books" without extensive technical expertise.
StoryboardThat's book maker excels in visual storytelling, enhancing learning efficiency and enjoyment. The tool implements a vast character, background, and prop library that empowers users to create engaging storyboards, comics, and timelines. Aside from educational purposes, the platform offers a simple interface and an extensive library of customizable scenes and characters, making it an ideal alternative to traditional wireframe tools. Designers can leverage this tool to create user journey maps and visual narratives, elevating the comprehension of design processes.
Another innovative feature of the StoryboardThat platform is its drag-and-drop capability, enabling effortless creation of captivating visuals without extensive design skills. With this feature, educators can design lessons and interactive content swiftly, while professionals in other industries can easily create presentations and reports. The simplicity of this platform ensures a seamless user experience that caters to beginners and tech experts.
StroyboardThat's adaptability makes it a versatile tool for everyone, from personal use to educational purposes and professional team use. Interested users can explore the platform's 100% free trial period and survey the platform's features and benefits. The pricing plans are also reasonable and suit different needs and budgets.
Ultimately, StoryboardThat is an excellent platform that makes interaction fun and engaging. It is also ideal for taking your wireframing to another creativity level and implementing a storyline to digital design products.
Figma is a web-based collaborative wireframing and interface design platform that helps teams to build products together. One of the critical benefits of Figma is its ease of use and intuitive interface, making it accessible to designers of all skill levels. The platform's real-time collaboration feature is highly valued across different industries, allowing teams to work on a design simultaneously and share feedback in real time.
Figma also empowers designers to generate and share design prototypes, facilitating rapid stakeholder feedback and design iteration. Its integration capabilities with tools like GitHub, Jira, and Slack streamline workflows and team collaboration. The real wireframing process with Figma is also easy, with designers creating personalized UI components or adding them from a separate, pre-designed kit.
The Figma platform also features a new Dev Mode capability that allows developers to hover over objects to see specifications and copy relevant codes without changing the design file. Ultimately, the functionalities of Figma makes it one of the best free wireframe tools.
Lucidchart is an online diagramming application that streamlines the creation and sharing of professional diagrams, extending its capabilities to wireframing. With Lucidchart, designers and teams can create detailed wireframes, mockups, and prototypes for web and mobile applications.
This platform offers a diverse library incorporating shapes, icons, and templates, enabling users to craft intuitive user interfaces and interactive experiences. Lucidchart also streamlines the wireframing process with its intuitive drag-and-drop interface and compelling collaborative features, ensuring teams can design, share, and gather feedback on designs in real-time.
Lucidchart is a robust wireframe tool that provides designers with comprehensive features for designing, collaborating, and transforming user interfaces, making it a valuable asset for designers and teams.
Adobe XD integrates design and prototyping capabilities, making it an excellent wireframe tool that combines different design pieces into a cohesive story. Adobe XD streamlines the wireframing process by providing an intuitive interface and an extensive list of design tools.
Like other innovative wireframe tools, designers can easily drag and drop design elements to create detailed wireframes and layouts on Adobe XD. It also seamlessly integrates with other Adobe Creative Cloud applications, like Photoshop and Illustrator, where designers can transition from wireframes to detailed designs.
Furthermore, Adobe XD offers a comprehensive range of plugins that improves its functionalities. These plugins address design needs, including user testing, data integration, design assets, and collaboration tools.
With 2023 presenting a plethora of remarkable wireframe tools, the entries on our list provide innovative features that cater to the evolving needs of designers and teams. From seasoned professionals to newbies, the best wireframe tools of 2023 offer an unparalleled combination of intuitive interfaces, interactive capabilities, and collaborative features. Embracing these tools ensure that your creative visions are translated into impactful products.
When it comes to innovation, Japan takes a back seat to no country, and artificial intelligence (AI) has proven no exception.
After a week full of meetings, interviews, and site visits in Tokyo and its environs, I came away impressed by the dedicated, thoughtful way Japanese companies, lawyers, and academics are approaching what may be the most consequential technological leap in decades.
How and why has Japan thrived in developing AI? Integration, demographics, ethics, and smart regulation headline the list of explanations.
For starters, few countries excel like Japan does at integrating numerous disciplines into a single technology, as Kenichi Yoshida, chief business officer of SoftBank Robotics, explained to me. He should know: SoftBank is the Tokyo-based multinational investment conglomerate, and robotics is “the next big thing,” according—in Yoshida’s recollection—to Masayoshi Son, the legendary founder and head of SoftBank.
Yoshida’s group works to integrate the “brain” of AI in the “body” of robots in various industrial and consumer applications. He explained to me, “You need a human level of understanding” for many of these robotics use cases, and his group has focused—with evident success—on exactly that.
Demographics have also exerted a substantial influence on Japanese technological development. With a below-the-red-line birth rate of 1.26—far below the 2.1 threshold required to maintain a stable population—and a populace in numerical decline over the past 16 years, the country must adapt to new realities.
For instance, Yoshida told me more than 60 percent of Japanese janitorial staff are over 60 years old, and the country, famous for its cleanliness, is poised for an increasingly dirty future if demographic trends continue. Thus, SoftBank Robotics has focused many efforts in the janitorial space, much of which he believes “can and should be robotized.”
Japan has also evinced a balanced approach to ethically developing AI.
In July, Japan’s economy minister told students at the University of Tokyo that the government was doing all it could to transform the island nation into “a global AI hub.” I witnessed evidence of those efforts throughout the country, but especially at the University of Tokyo in Professor Yasuo Kuniyoshi’s Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Research Center.
Kuniyoshi’s research focuses on what he calls “embodiment,” or understanding how interaction with the physical world enables cognitive development. “Sharing a similar body,” he explained to me, “is a very important basis for empathy.” Kuniyoshi detailed how his groundbreaking work aims to understand, and ultimately apply to AI, the process of how we “acquire [a] very early proto-moral sense of humanity.”
Of course, ensuring appropriate ethical guidelines falls into the realm of policy. And according to some reports, the Japanese government will shortly introduce data-disclosure guidelines for AI companies to follow that are designed to protect privacy and intellectual property rights. My interlocutors broadly supported a government-driven approach even as they largely disregarded the doomsday mindset of some Western anti-AI advocates.
“The anti-AI fear of the apocalypse isn’t widespread here,” Shuichi Shitara, the general manager of Taiyo, Nakajima and Kato (a leading Tokyo-based intellectual property law firm) told me. Instead, “smart” (i.e. business-friendly) regulation seems to be the favored approach. Agreeing with Shitara’s sentiment, Yoshida likened it to the automotive industry, in which Japan’s regulators and major corporations work hand in glove; he also suggested creating a non-governmental auditing organization.
In June, during a visit to Tokyo, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman reportedly told Japanese business groups and students that “this is the time for Japan to pour all its efforts into AI.” Somebody seemed to be listening, and the rest of the world should pay close attention.