Swedish Polar Rose bought by Apple
Apple has bought up Swedish company Polar Rose, which specializes in face recognition software. Polar Rose, a 15-person company, began as a specialized image search engine for Facebook and Flickr. At first the Polar Rose search engine was a browser plug-in that could be used to tag Facebook friends in Flickr photos. Over time the plug-in graduated to become a tightly integrated tool in Facebook that could be used for photo tagging. The technology has also been used in face-recognition apps, such as the Android augmented reality app Recognizr. Recognizr uses Polar Rose technology to scan someone's face and bring up their related social network's contact information, all of which are displayed conveniently on the Android phone screen. Polar Rose was previously majority-owned by Nordic Venture Partners, a Danish company. Apple took over the company by buying a majority stake of its stock for $29 million, according to TechCrunch. It's unclear as to what Apple plans to do with its newly acquired technology. Apple has already dabbled in face-recognition technology with its iPhoto "Faces"-a feature, which automatically detects and recognizes faces in a user's photos. iPhoto can recognize faces that look like the same person so that users can easily add names to their photos. Perhaps Apple will introduce more in-depth face recognition for its Mac OS X (think webcam face recognition passwords), or maybe it's looking to integrate face-recognition into the iPhone. The company announced, a couple of weeks ago, that it was shutting down its face-tagging service, because "larger companies" were interested in licensing its technology.

Sweden teaches the world to drive
More than a million people die in traffic every year. Among young people traffic-related deaths is the most common cause of death. The United Nations now want to reverse the trend and hope to get help from Sweden, the country that is considered as best in the class when it comes to traffic. “Sweden is the leader in traffic safety and the great role model. Swedish roads are safe and the Swedes have much to teach other countries,” says Saul Billingsley, deputy director general at Fia Foundation, a traffic safety organization in England. He’s one of the speakers at the traffic safety conference that just opened in Tylösand last Monday. His message is that Sweden is a unique country with its vision of “zero deaths in traffic”, and he points out that it is important Sweden doesn’t slack off but continues to share this goal. “There have been signs that Sweden is decreasing its international support but we hope Sweden keeps being an active member when it comes to reaching the UN’s goals in breaking the up-going curve in deadly traffic victims,” he says. The goal is to save five million lives in the next decade and avoid some 50 million from being harmed. Today 1.3 million people die in traffic and 50 million are harmed. Worst off are the poor countries where 90% of all traffic-related deaths take place. Many African nations and the Middle East have sky-high death numbers, and most of the victims are either pedestrians or bicyclists. According to Billinsey there are many problems when it comes to traffic rules, for instance 12% of all countries today do not have a law regarding safety belts. Mostly in Africa, but also in parts of Asia and South America. “Three factors in particular are important to reduce the number of deaths,” says Billingsley, “and those are: usage of the safety belts, sobriety and speed.” Factors Sweden evidently has under control.

Frida sings again
After 6 years of silence, ABBA-Frida has again stepped into a recording studio, singing on guitarist Jojje Wadenius new album. It was 29 years ago, since ABBA gave out a studio-made album, and 14 years ago since Frida’s solo album “Djupa andetag” came out and 6 years since her voice was captured in a studio at all. But according to Dagens Nyheters reviewer, her voice is flawless and shiny. Said Björn Ulvaeus when asked to describe Frida’s vocal resources: “She has a pure, clear and very special voice with sharp edges, with a great range. She sang a lot in unison with Agnetha and had to really strain to reach her heights. That’s when the metallic element became noticeable, which was much of what constituted the special ABBA sound.” The reason Frida gives for singing on this particular album is, that Wadenius wife Brit is one of her dearest friends. One of the songs Frida sings on the album is Cat Stevens’ “Morning has broken” of which she says: “That song was the song we requested at the church at our wedding. So it’s a special memory for me.” When asked if there’s any other singer whose qualitites she’d want for herself, she immediately mentions Agnetha Fältskog. “Since I’m a mezzo soprano, I’d never be able to sing like she did. My voice is much lower and we balanced each other well. Our vocal combination was very successful, and it’s hard to find that elsewhere.” About ABBA’s continuous popularity she says: “When everything comes together like that, like it did in our music, even though we weren’t aware of it at the time, an energy and a power is released and that lives on in many ways. It’s a quality that’s difficult to define, but hard to imitate. Sometimes the music rests for a while, but then something happens, like the ABBA musical and the film, which I adore, and then the music gets going again and newer generations discover it. Music is a heritage. I have a strong feeling it will always be like that with ABBA’s music.” Frida (or Anni-Frid Lyngstad) was born in Ballangen outside Narvik in Norway in 1945. Today she lives in Switzerland and her proper title, after her marriage to the late Prince Heinrich Ruzzo Reuss of Plauen, is Anni-Frid Prinzessin Reuss Gräfin von Plauen. She says she likes to take walks in the mountains and play golf and that she listens to Bee Gees and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The title of Jojje Wadenius’ album is “Reconnection”.

Cross-dressers stroll the catwalk
Swedish upcoming design studio ACNE releases articles for transvestites. The first ground breaking gender blending moment when a major fashion designer has catered to the demands of consumers who are cross-dressing males came in September when the well known and upcoming luxury denim star Swedish fashion label, Acne Studios (which stands for "Ambition to Create Novel Expressions"), released a modest three shirts. An event brought about in collaboration with Candy Magazine - a publication that is completely dedicated to transvestism, transexuality, cross dressing and androgynous manifestations - the premiere included a shirt with the dramatic bow at the neck that's called "Alexis," another with big sleeves called "Krystle," and a third with ruffles at the neck and wrists called "Sammy Jo"...all in honor of characters in the classic "Dynasty" television series. Luis Venegas, the Madrid based editor of the magazine, contributed the designs, which play with details of proportions to blend the masculine vs. feminine in fashions. He said that their goal was to create pieces that make wearers feel like the pieces were appropriate for men or for women, instead of the unisex statement that presents fashions for men and women alike. In silk crepe and Italian denim, the shirts are based on the classic western shirt, and the collection will be available at selected retailers and Acne stores in October.