Tag Archives: Google+

Apple’s AR is closer to reality than Google’s

Apple has often been accused of acting like it invented things that others have been doing for years. That complaint is not without merit, however Apple can lay claim to transforming existing things into mainstream successes, which takes no small amount of invention in its own right. Fingerprint authentication and contactless payments are just two recent examples, having both existed in Japan and on niche devices for over a decade before Apple raised them to global prominence with the iPhone.

 

Next up on Apple’s agenda is augmented reality, the act of superimposing digital data and visuals atop a live video feed of your surroundings — something that Google, Microsoft, and many others have been experimenting with for a long time. Apple is far from being able to claim it invented AR, but its new ARKit in iOS 11 is already showing signs to suggest that Apple will help bring AR into the mainstream faster and better than anyone else.

The chronic problem with augmented reality has always been one of practicality. You could have the most basic forms of AR on your regular phone, as provided by apps like Layar, which has been around since 2009, but those have never been particularly compelling. Or you could have more sophisticated and appealing augmentations, as presented by Google’s Tango project, but you’d need a big fat phablet to lug around to make them happen. Apple’s difference is to combine the convenience of your daily phone with the appeal of advanced AR.

Looking at this distance-measuring app, it seems so simple and obvious. Of course your super-powered, multi-core phone should be smart enough to measure out basic distances, and there have indeed been many wonky apps trying to do that in the past. But measuring with AR, as already shown off by Google Tango phones, allows you a much more intuitive method for doing it. Having the phone actually aware of the three-dimensional space in its view allows for precise measurements, which can be represented with a neat hologram of a measuring tape. Apple’s advantage in the contest for doing this best is simple: while Google Tango demands special hardware, ARKit requires only that you have a recent iOS device. At WWDC earlier this month, Craig Federighi described ARKit as “the largest AR platform in the world,” and he was right.

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Apple’s AR will immediately reach millions of people who already have the requisite hardware. And while it looks to be functionally as flexible and capable as Google’s Tango (check out some early examples of fanciful experiments with ARKit), its broader audience makes it much more enticing for serious developers to invest their time and money into. Google’s Tango is about the future whereas Apple’s ARKit is about the present.

Considering how little time it took to develop two convincingly accurate AR measuring apps with the iOS 11 beta, and reading the comments from their makers, Apple also appears to have an advantage in the ease of development with ARKit. It’s exciting to think that there are still three months before the release of the next iPhone and the accompanying finalization of iOS 11, by which time Apple’s big-budget app developer partners are likely to have a deluge of AR-enabled apps for people to play with. That’s how stuff goes mainstream: as a big wave of change that touches everyone from casual Pokémon Go players to serious home DIY geeks figuring out how to arrange their living room furniture.

For the people who don’t care about incremental changes in phone specs or design, the differentiator between devices has always been in the unique things that each one can do — or, failing that, the convenience and ease of use of common features. Apple’s iPhone is more convenient than Google’s Project Tango devices and with iOS 11 it’ll have much better AR capabilities than its nearest premium Android rivals. So if we’re looking for the AR innovator that will take the technology into the mainstream, Apple once again looks like the likeliest suspect.

Source:

https://www.theverge.com/2017/6/26/15872332/apple-arkit-ios-11-augmented-reality-developer-excitement

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Alibaba Would Accept Bitcoin Before Amazon, Google

Alibaba should be the next global giant to accept Bitcoin according to 4,500 participants in a survey this week.

52 percent of respondents to the survey by Digital Currency Group creator Barry Silbert believe the Chinese marketplace is next in line to embrace the virtual currency.

Other options included Amazon (31 percent) and Google (12 percent), while only five percent of those answering on Twitter believed Facebook would be the first of the group to get serious about Bitcoin.

A total of 4,571 votes were cast, with Silbert confirming the results on Thursday. 

Recent noises from the Alibaba ecosystem may well have informed the outcome, with a Japanese move set to make Bitcoin payments an indirect option for the site in the future.

Amazon, for its part, has also been increasingly active in the Blockchain space, working with Silbert’s Digital Currency Group on a startup initiative.

So far, however, it has stopped short of announcing any direct relationship with Bitcoin.

Meanwhile, a couple of months after announcing it would accept Bitcoin across its international platform, Czech retail giant Alza revealed this week customers could even use the virtual currency to buy a Tesla electric car.

Source:

https://cointelegraph.com/news/alibaba-would-accept-bitcoin-before-amazon-google-silberts-survey

Google begins removing personal medical records from search results

Google has removed private medical records from its search results, Bloomberg reports, after quietly changing its policy on content removal. On Thursday, the company’s search policy was amended to include “confidential, personal medical records of private people” under a list of content it may remove from search results.

 

Although Google has historically been reluctant to intervene with its search algorithms, it has banned some confidential material from appearing in results, such as credit card numbers, bank account information, and social security numbers. In 2015, the company began removing revenge porn from search results, as well.

The decision to remove medical records follows several high-profile data breaches around the world. Information on tens of millions of people was stolen following a 2015 hack targeting Anthem, the second-largest insurer in the US. Between 2010 and 2013, approximately 29 million medical records in the US were affected by data breaches, according to a study released in 2015.

Source:

https://www.theverge.com/2017/6/23/15860740/google-medical-records-removed-search

The Fidget Spinner Is Google’s Latest Easter Egg Distraction

I wasn’t above squeezing an occasional round of Doom in between study sessions in college, and am certainly not shy about catching some Pokémon if any are lurking in my office (that’s a no).

But if I have a particularly busy workday and want to kill 30 seconds before entering a meeting, or want to keep my attention focused during a meeting, Google’s got my back with some sweet search engine Easter eggs. They just added a new one. It rhymes with “digit sinner.”

Fidget Spinner

The latest edition to Google’s list of Easter eggs is the iconic fidget spinner, now digitized for your perpetually spinning pleasure. Searching for “spinner” and clicking the toy makes it spin in your browser window; you can spin it with your finger on your smartphone, too. There’s also the option to change the fidget spinner to a numerical spinning wheel if you need a random number from one to twenty. You can’t modify any colors, but then again if it were any more interactive you’d probably waste even more time.

Tic-Tac-Toe

Enter “tic tac toe” for Google’s take on the two-person board game. You can futz with the three difficulty settings and, if you’re sitting next to an equally unproductive coworker, compete against them on the same machine in two-player mode.

Pac-man

Appearing as a Google doodle in 2010, searching for “Pac-man” will bring up a playable version of the game in your browser. Instead of the traditional layout of pac-man games past, the field of play spells out, of course, Google.

Solitaire

I’m not exactly sure how Microsoft doesn’t have a patent on every implementation of the classic card game solitaire, but Google’s version (search for “solitaire,” of course) offers two difficulty settings as well as a timer, score, and number of moves made.

Source:

http://lifehacker.com/the-fidget-spinner-is-googles-latest-easter-egg-distrac-1796298110

Google’s new job search pulls in listings from all the top sites

Earlier this year at Google I/O, the search giant announced a new initiative named Google for Jobs. The goal is simple: leverage Google’s skills at organizing information to make finding jobs easier. Today, one of the first steps in this project goes live, with the launch of an improved job search feature rolling out on mobile and desktop.

 

The feature is pretty simple. For searches with “clear intent” (e.g. “head of catering jobs in nyc” or “entry level jobs in DC”) Google shows a preview of job listings scraped from various sources. These include job sites like LinkedIn, Monster, and Glassdoor, but also information hosted on company’s own websites — if they’ve updated their sitemap, that is. Users can then click on results to get more information, and filter listings by criteria like location, employer, and the date of the listing.

At I/O, Google said it would be using machine learning to help organize and sort this data, automatically clustering similar jobs for example. However, it’s not clear exactly how these tools are being deployed at this point in time. (Or if they’ll substantially improve the experience.) The main advantage seems to be simply that Google is promising to put all relevant job listings in one place, while removing any duplicates.

For more information on this feature you can check out Google’s blog post, while web developers wanting to index their job listings with Google can find a walk-through here.

Source:

https://www.theverge.com/2017/6/20/15836164/google-job-search-feature

Google outlines 4 steps to tackle terrorist-related content on YouTube

Google has outlined four steps it’s taking to fight the spread of extremist material on its YouTube video service.

Kent Walker, general counsel at Google, said Sunday the U.S. technology giant is “committed to being part of the solution” to tackling online extremist content.

“Terrorism is an attack on open societies, and addressing the threat posed by violence and hate is a critical challenge for us all,” Walker wrote in a blog post.

 

“There should be no place for terrorist content on our services.”

The four new steps are:

  • Putting more engineering resource into developing further artificial intelligence software that can be trained to identify and remove extremist content.
  • Expanding the number of independent experts in YouTube’s Trusted Flagger program. Google will add 50 expert non-government organizations to the 63 organizations that are already part of the program, and support them with additional grants. Google said Trusted Flagger reports are accurate over 90 percent of the time.
  • Taking a tougher stance against videos that do not clearly violate YouTube’s rules. For example, a video that has inflammatory religious or supremacist content will appear behind a warning, will not be monetized, recommended or even eligible for users to make comments on. The aim is to make these videos have less engagement so they are harder to find.
  • YouTube is working with Jigsaw – a company behind “The Redirect Method” – which uses ad targeting to send potential ISIS recruits to anti-terrorist videos, which could change their mind about joining extremist organizations. Google said that in previous trials of this system, potential recruits have clicked through on the ads at an “unusually high rate” and watched over half a million minutes of video content that “debunks terrorist recruiting messages.”

The latest measures build upon Google’s previous efforts to fight extremist content on its platform amid a broader criticism of internet companies from politicians.

Source:

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/19/google-youtube-tackles-terrorist-videos.html

Google brings ‘Daydream View’ to India

The VR headset, which competes with the likes of Samsung’s Gear VR and HTC’s premium offering Vive, will allow users experience sports and live events in full 360-degree panoramic view.

Google’s Daydream View headset and controller will go on sale on e-commerce platform, Flipkart. The device was launched in markets such as the US, the UK and Australia in November last year.

“Swim with a pod of dolphins, stand at the edge of a volcano and even visit Pluto with Daydream View. Users can teleport from virtually anywhere to pretty much everywhere. Our aim is to make the VR experience mobile so that customers can easily carry it anywhere with them,” Google Vice-President Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, Clay Bavor said.

He added that Google is working with developers, smartphone companies, and content creators to make VR accessible to all.

Daydream View, however, works with Google’s Pixel, Pixel XL and Moto Z currently and will soon be available for Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+.

Daydream-ready phones are built with high-resolution displays, powerful mobile processors and high-fidelity sensors — all tuned to support great VR experiences, Google said.

Daydream’s controller is packed with sensors that respond precisely to a user’s movement and gestures, letting them interact with the virtual world the same way they would in the real world around them.

Some apps and games on Daydream include NYT VR, Guardian VR, The Turning Forest, Netflix VR, Google Play Movies, Within, Fantastic Beasts, The Arcslinger, Need for Speed No Limits VR and LEGO BrickHeadz Builder VR.

Source:

http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/info-tech/google-brings-daydream-view-to-india-for-rs-6499/article9725244.ece

A Haiti reboot? Country welcomes Google, Facebook, Silicon Valley to tech summit

Social entrepreneurs, influencers and startup innovators kicked off a two-day technology summit in Haiti on Tuesday, hoping to help transform the poverty-stricken nation into a hub of innovation.

The brainchild of Christine Souffrant Ntim, a Dubai-based Haitian-American entrepreneur, the Haiti Tech Summit is expected to bring in about 100 speakers representing Google, Facebook, Uber and Airbnb, and covering topics including launching a startup, the importance of smart cities and branding.

Addressing the 450-plus participants at the sold-out event Tuesday were former Haitian Prime Minister Michèle Pierre-Louis, who spoke about the importance of technology in education, and Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, who welcomed attendees to the Royal Decameron Indigo Beach Resort & Spa on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.

Silicon Valley venture capitalist Ben Horowitz gave the opening talk, citing advice from Haitian Revolutionary leader Toussaint L’Ouverture: To change a country, you have to start by changing the culture.

“Culture is deep in our DNA,” Horowitz said. “Changing culture is how we change Haiti.”

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Ntim, who is the founder of a mobile network connecting global travelers to street vendors in developing countries, said the goal behind the summit is to “transform the narrative around Haiti’s brand as a nation.”

During the next 13 years, Ntim said, she wants to “catapult Haiti forward through innovation, tech and entrepreneurship.”

“We know Haiti can actually transform itself, be a new global case study for what happens when you actually get the right influences in the room to transform a nation,” she told the gathering.

That poses particular challenges in Haiti.

Despite Haitians’ embrace of the widely popular messaging app WhatsAPP, for example, a recent Hootsuite study of social media and digital trends around the world shows the country of 11 million people lagging behind many of its Caribbean counterparts. For example, Haiti’s internet penetration rate is only 15 percent compared to Cuba, which has a 32 percent internet penetration rate. Until recently, Cuba, which has a population size similar to Haiti, severely limited access to the internet for its population. In recent years, it has been adding public Wi-Fi hotspots around the island.

Over the years, efforts to introduce technology into Haiti’s pen-and-paper culture have failed. An effort to encourage mobile phone-based money transfers, which is popular in Kenya, failed to catch on. Haitian lawmakers have blocked efforts to adopt an electronic signature law despite robust lobbying by U.S. and other foreign officials seeking to boost Haiti’s ease-of-doing-business ranking.

But rather than see such skepticism and resistance as obstacles, Mildred Louis, a technology consultant who formerly worked for Haiti telecom giant Digicel and serves as communications director for the summit, sees opportunities.

“Sometimes what it takes is the disrupters in the market to force a movement,” Louis said. “In a market like Haiti, we need to force a movement. A lot of people didn’t think this summit was real, and today we have business leaders, members of the wealthy families asking, ‘how can we be involved?’

“There is a pool of potential here to build an incubation system, alliances, foster coding and a tech industry,” she said.

Google’s AI Vision May No Longer Include Giant Robots

Good news for the deeply paranoid among us: If the apocalypse arrives via giant anthropomorphic robots, they probably won’t be bankrolled by Google. On Thursday, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, announced that it was selling Boston Dynamics, its premier robotics division, to the Japanese telco giant SoftBank for an undisclosed sum. The deal also includes a smaller robotics company called Schaft.

Boston Dynamics was less a moonshot than a sci-fi horror brought to life. Even before being acquired by Google in 2013, the 25-year-old company had already developed a Beast Wars–style squadron of robot predators with names like BigDog and WildCat, as well as a humanoid model called Atlas. The machines were often developed for the Pentagon under contracts with agencies such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Google and the government both said the robots were being tested for disaster-relief scenarios, but that never stopped the stream of headlines describing them as “scary,” “nightmare-inducing,” or “evil.”

Whether Google’s ultimate plans were benign or nefarious, they never properly got off the ground. Both Boston Dynamics and Schaft were part of a months-long spending spree Google bankrolled to appease Andy Rubin, the creator of Android, who was looking to robots as his next frontier for innovation. But Rubin left Google in 2014, creating a leadership vacuum as the company struggled to get its various robotics acquisitions headquartered around the world to work in tandem. Under Rubin, Google reportedly had plans to launch a consumer robotics product by 2020, but that timeline seems in doubt now. (Alphabet still owns several smaller robotics startupsthat specialize in areas such as industrial manufacturing and film production.)

In the years since the Boston Dynamics acquisition, Google has shown that it doesn’t need to build a robot butler (or soldier) to create a future dominated by artificial intelligence. Machine-learning algorithms now guide most of the company’s products, whether recommending YouTube videos, identifying objects in users’ photo libraries, or whisking people around in driverless cars. The company is partnering with appliance manufacturers like General Electric so that people can control their ovens via voice commands to Google Home. And most ambitiously, at this year’s Google I/O, the company unveiled a suite of new products related to its machine-learning framework, TensorFlow. Developers will soon be able to make use of the same AI engines that power Google’s products to improve their own offerings via the company’s cloud-computing platform.

In the company’s ideal future, every human-machine interaction will be powered by Google, even if a specific app or appliance doesn’t have Google’s name on it. Terminator-style robots (OK, hopefully Jetsons-style) may one day be part of that vision, but the company can easily build an AI army with the products that fill our homes and garages today.

Source:

https://theringer.com/google-boston-dynamics-ai-robots-61a6a6c3bfec

Why Is Google Digitising the World’s Fashion Archives?

For years, Google allowed its engineers to spend 20 percent of their time on personal projects they thought would ultimately benefit the company. The tech giant has since scaled back on the policy, replacing it with a more focused approach to innovation, but Google’s famous “20 percent time” gave rise to some of its most successful products, including Gmail and AdSense.

Back in 2010, a Bombay-born engineer named Amit Sood used his “20 percent time” to kickstart the Google Art Project, an effort to digitise the world’s museums, making cultural artefacts accessible in extraordinary detail to millions of internet users. It was a Google-sized ambition that fit the company’s mission to “organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

The project has since grown into the Google Cultural Institute, a non-profit arm of the company, now housed in a grand hôtel particulier in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, that has partnered with over 1,300 museums and foundations to digitise everything from the Dead Sea Scrolls to Marc Chagall’s ceiling at the Opéra Garnier, making them accessible on a platform called Google Arts & Culture.

1491319302388-Material-Worlds-Fashion-Show-61

Now, Google is turning its attention to fashion.

Encouraged by the volume of fashion-related online search queries and the rising popularity of fashion exhibitions, Google’s Cultural Institute has partnered with over 180 cultural institutions — including The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Kyoto Costume Institute — “to bring 3,000 years of fashion to the Google Arts & Culture platform.”

Called “We Wear Culture,” the initiative, which launches today, is based on the premise that fashion is culture, not just clothes. Led by Kate Lauterbach — a Google program manager who began her career at Condé Nast in New York and later worked for J.Crew’s Madewell — it aims to digitise and display thousands of garments from around the world, stage curated online exhibitions, invite non-profit partners like museums and schools to script and share their own fashion stories, and leverage technologies like Google Street View to offer immersive experiences like virtual walkthroughs of museum collections.

For end users, it’s a cultural rabbit hole and research tool. For partners, it’s a way to reach a much wider audience online, furthering both their educational mandates and marketing objectives. But the benefit to Google is more complex.

After a day’s immersion at Google’s Cultural Institute and associated Lab in Paris, BoF caught up with Lauterbach at the company’s London King’s Cross campus to learn more about the thinking behind the initiative and how digitising the world’s fashion archives unlocks value for the tech giant.

black-models-are-still-basically-nonpeople-to-the-worlds-fashion-mags-104-1418663388

 

BoF: Tell me about the genesis of the Culture Institute’s fashion project.

KL: Well, starting from art we expanded into culture. We did something around performance art, we did something around natural history; so very different, but the same idea: you take Google technologies, you apply them to this facet of culture and you produce something, you push the bounds, you do something different.

I worked in fashion pre-MBA and I just felt like it was a really interesting subject matter. We were starting to see fashion cropping up in different partners’ collections; it’s a personal passion of mine; and it’s also relevant and interesting and searched for online. It’s a conversation I thought we could bring some value to. We started thinking about it almost two years ago now and began having conversations with places like the V&A and the Costume Institute at the Met.

BoF: The project is named “We Wear Culture.” What does that mean?

KL: We wanted to show that fashion is much deeper than just what you wear; that there’s a story behind it, there’s people behind it, there’s influences that come from art, that come from music, that come from culture more broadly; and, in turn, what we wear influences culture. We really wanted to put fashion on a par with art and artists. You look at their influences, you look at their inspiration, you look at their process, you look at their materials. And we thought that if you can have this kind of singular resource online where all of this was starting to be discussed — and hear it from the  authority, I think that’s really critical — it would be valuable.

Source:

https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/digital-scorecard/why-is-google-digitising-the-worlds-fashion-archives