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Category: Google | Feb 10, 2014
Last week, Solve for X gathered 60 entrepreneurs and scientists from around the world to discuss 18 moonshot proposals—world-changing projects that work to address a huge problem, suggest a radical solution and use some form of breakthrough technology to make it work.
Ira Glass opened the summit with a talk on climate change entitled “Ira Glass tries to boss you into a moonshot.” Ira mixed data, devastating personal experiences, potential technical solutions and insightful ways to think about the issue and made an excellent case that generalists should consider shifting focus to climate change.
Following Ira’s talk, we heard proposals on a wide variety of topics, including: Leslie Dewan’s proposal for generating power from nuclear waste building on technology ideas abandoned in the 1950s; Lonnie Johnson’s JTEC invention, which would allow us to convert heat directly into electricity; Howard Shapiro’s global collaboration that uses some of the newest and oldest technologies in agriculture to end stunting for rural poor; Julia Greer’s exploration of the relationship between a material’s strength and its weight through 3D architected nanomaterials; Yael Hanein’s artificial solar retina, which has the potential to cure blindness; Erez Livneh’s virus decoys, which could slow and eliminate disease; and Asel Sartbeava’s proposal for thermally stable vaccines that remove the need for refrigeration cold chain during transport.
Ido Bachelet explains how certain surgical interventions could be accomplished through nanorobots.
During a “show and tell” session, participants from previous Solve for X events shared updates on their moonshots. Omri Amirav-Drory showed us plants that glow when activated; Dr. Keith Black brought delicious Dr. Black’s Brain Bars; Karen Gleason brought solar cells printed on paper; Andras Forgacs brought the first “steak chips” that Modern Meadow is beta-“tasting.”
In an effort to include more people in the Solve for X experience, this year we ran 10 experiments to bring our exploration session format into other organizations’ events, including TEDx Beacon Street, SXSW and Tribeca Film Festival; we even held an event on Capitol Hill. FabLab, ReWork and AAAS recently became collaborators, joining Singularity University, XPrize, TED and others. We hope we’ll run into you at an event in your area.
To learn more, watch our video “On Taking Moonshots” in which several moonshot pioneers talk about the mindset needed to do this kind of breakthrough work. You can find all 18 of the proposals from the 2014 Summit, as well as 200+ moonshots posted by other pioneers, at SolveforX.com. You can also submit moonshots—your own or others that fit the tech moonshot proposal format. Join our #TechMoonshots conversations on Google+ and Twitter.
Posted by Megan Smith and Astro Teller, co-hosts/creators of Solve for X
Category: Google | Feb 6, 2014
The best meetings are face-to-face—we can brainstorm openly, collaborate closely and make faster decisions. But these days, we often connect with each other from far-flung locations, coordinating time zones and dialing into conference calls from our phones. Meetings need to catch up with the way we work—they need to be face-to-face, easier to join, and available from anywhere and any device. Starting today, they can be: Any company can upgrade their meeting rooms with a new Chromebox, built on the Chrome principles of speed, simplicity and security.
Chromebox for meetings brings together Google+ Hangouts and Google Apps in an easy-to-manage Chromebox, making it simpler for any company to have high-definition video meetings. Here are a few highlights:
- Instant meeting room. Chromebox for meetings comes with a blazing-fast Intel Core i7-based Chromebox, a high-definition camera, a combined microphone and speaker unit and a remote control. Set up your entire room in minutes and easily manage all meeting rooms from a web-based management console. All you need is the display in your room, and you’re good to go.
- Simpler and faster meetings. Walk into the room, click the remote once and you’re instantly in the meeting. No more complex dial-in codes, passcodes or leader PINs. Share your laptop screen wirelessly, no need for any cords and adaptors. Integration with Google Apps makes it easy to invite others and add rooms to video meetings, directly from Google Calendar.
- Meetings with anyone, anywhere. Up to 15 participants can join the video meeting from other conference rooms, their laptops, tablets or smartphones. Need to meet with a customer who doesn’t use Chromebox for meetings? That’s easy too—all they need is a Gmail account. You can also connect to rooms that have traditional video conferencing systems using a new tool from Vidyo, and participants who prefer phones can join your meeting with a conference call number from UberConference.
Chromebox for meetings is available in the U.S. today starting at $999, which includes the ASUS Chromebox and everything you need to get going. That means for the same price that companies have typically paid for one meeting room, they’ll be able to outfit 10 rooms—or more. CDW and SYNNEX will help bring Chromebox for meetings to customers and resellers, and Chromeboxes from HP and Dell will be available for meetings in the coming months. Later this year, we plan to launch in Australia, Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, Spain and the U.K.
Companies like Eventbrite, Gilt, oDesk and Woolworths have been testing Chromebox for meetings, and have told us that they love the simple setup, the ease of use, and being able to see their colleagues in other offices. More importantly, the low price will enable them to extend these benefits to even more employees, rooms and offices. Find out how Chromebox for meetings can help you and your coworkers see eye-to-eye. Happy meetings, everyone!
Posted by Caesar Sengupta, VP, Product Management
Category: Google | Feb 5, 2014
In between creating masterpieces like the Sistine Chapel and “Madonna and Child,” Michelangelo dissected cadavers in the hopes of understanding how the human body worked so he could paint it accurately. He’s not the only one: there has long been a connection between science and art. And it’s true today more than ever, as modern artists use technology for inspiration, inventing ways to give life to code, letting it spill from the screen and onto the canvas. We call this “DevArt,” and this summer, we’re teaming up with the Barbican in London and their Digital Revolution exhibition to celebrate DevArt in an interactive gallery. And we want you to be a part of it.
As part of this exhibition, we’re looking for the next up-and-coming developer artist. This is your opportunity to express your creativity, and to have your work featured in the Barbican and seen by millions of people around the world. To throw your hat in the ring, build a project on the DevArt site and show us what you would create. From there, we’ll pick one creator whose work will sit alongside three of the world’s finest interactive artists who are also creating installations for DevArt: Karsten Schmidt, Zach Lieberman, and the duo Varvara Guljajeva and Mar Canet.
The exhibition will open at the Barbican this summer. Until then, visit g.co/devart, where you can submit your own project. If you’re not the creative coding type, visit the site to see some incredible art and follow the artists’ creative process—from concept and early sketches to the finished piece—on their respective Project Pages. You’ll get a rare look into artists’ ways of working with modern technologies (including some Google products), and maybe even get inspired to create something yourself.
If you had the chance to make your mark in today’s art world with technology as your canvas, what would you create? We’d like you to show us.
Posted by Steve Vranakis, Executive Creative Director, Google Creative Lab
Category: Google | Feb 4, 2014
Before there was an airplane, there were doodles of flying machines, and before there was a submarine, there were doodles of underwater sea explorers. Ideas big and small, practical and playful, thought-provoking and smile-inducing, have started out as doodles. And we’re ready for more!
Doodle 4 Google is the chance for young artists to think and dream big. Our theme this year, “If I could invent one thing to make the world a better place…” is all about curiosity, possibility and imagination.
Creating the best doodle comes with major perks: this year—for the first time ever—the winner of the competition will become an honorary Google Doodler for a day and animate his or her Doodle for the homepage with the Doodle team. The winning Doodle will then be featured on the Google homepage for a day for millions to see. If that’s not cool enough, the winner will also receive a $30,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 Google for Education technology grant for his or her school.
If you feel like your young artist may need a little nudge to get their creative juices flowing, we’re partnering with Discovery Education to offer videos and activities for teachers and parents as well as a virtual field trip to Google’s headquarters. We’re also offering interactive “Meet the Doodler” Connected Classrooms sessions where kids can meet Google Doodlers, learn about their process from idea to a Doodle, and ask questions along the way.
Mark your calendar to send in your kids’ submissions by March 20. Judging starts with Googlers and a panel of guest judges, including astronaut Ron Garan, author of the Percy Jackson Series Rick Riordan, Google[x] Captain of Moonshoot Astro Teller, directors of The LEGO Movie Chris and Phil, President of RISD school Rosanne Somerson, robotics designer Lee Magpili, and authors Lemony Snicket and Mary Pope Osborne.
On April 29, we’ll announce the 50 state finalists and open up a public vote to select the national winner. These 50 kids will all get to visit Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. on May 21 for a day full of creative workshops and other fun activities—and the winning (animated!) doodle will be revealed on google.com in June.
Participating is easier than ever. Teachers and parents can download entry forms on our Doodle 4 Google site. Doodles can be uploaded digitally to our site or mailed in. We encourage full classrooms to participate too! There’s no limit to the number of doodles from any one school or family… Just remember, only one doodle per student.
That’s all I’ve got. Now get to doodling!
Posted by Ryan Germick, Doodle Team Lead
Category: Google | Feb 3, 2014
“We need more kids falling in love with science and math.” That’s what Larry Page said at last year’s I/O, and it’s a feeling shared by all of us. We want to inspire young people around the world not just to use technology, but to create it. Unfortunately, many kids don’t have access to either the education or encouragement they need to pursue computer science. So five years ago we created the Google RISE (Roots in Science and Engineering) Awards, which provide funding to organizations around the world that engage girls and underrepresented students in extracurricular computer science programs.
This year, the RISE Awards are providing $1.5 million to 42 organizations in 19 countries that provide students with the resources they need to succeed in the field. For example, Generating Genius in the U.K. provides after-school computer science programs and mentoring to prepare high-achieving students from disadvantaged communities for admission into top universities. Another awardee, North Carolina-based STARS Computer Corps, helps schools in low-income communities gain access to computing resources for their students to use. Visit our site for a full list of our RISE Award recipients.
Created in 2007, the Children’s University Foundation has been carrying out educational programs for more than 20,000 children aged 6-13. Click on the photo to learn more about this and other RISE Awardees.
This year we’re also expanding the program with the RISE Partnership Awards. These awards aim to encourage collaboration across organizations in pursuit of a shared goal of increasing global participation in computer science. For example, more than 5,000 girls in sub-Saharan Africa will learn computer science as a result of a partnership between the Harlem based program ELITE and the WAAW Foundation in Nigeria.
We’re proud to help these organizations inspire the next generation of computer scientists.
Posted by Hai Hong, RISE Program Manager
Category: Google | Feb 3, 2014
We believe the public deserves to know the full extent to which governments request user information from Google. That’s why for the past four years we’ve shared and continuously expanded and updated information about government requests for user information in our Transparency Report.
Until now, the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) opposed our efforts to publish statistics specifically about Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests. Under FISA, the government may apply for orders from a special FISA Court to require U.S. companies to hand over users’ personal information and the content of their communications. Although FISA was passed by elected representatives and is available for anyone to read, the way the law is used is typically kept secret. Last summer’s revelations about government surveillance remind us of the challenges that secrecy can present to a democracy that relies on public debate.
Last year we filed a lawsuit asking the FISA Court to let us disclose the number of FISA requests we may receive and how many users/accounts they include. We’d previously secured permission to publish information about National Security Letters, and FISA requests were the only remaining type of demands excluded from our report.
Today, for the first time, our report on government requests for user information encompasses all of the requests we receive, subject only to delays imposed by the DoJ regarding how quickly we can include certain requests in our statistics.
Publishing these numbers is a step in the right direction, and speaks to the principles for reform that we announced with other companies last December. But we still believe more transparency is needed so everyone can better understand how surveillance laws work and decide whether or not they serve the public interest. Specifically, we want to disclose the precise numbers and types of requests we receive, as well as the number of users they affect in a timely way. That’s why we need Congress to go another step further and pass legislation (PDF) that will enable us to say more.
You have the right to know how laws affect the security of your information online. We’ll keep fighting for your ability to exercise that right by pushing for greater transparency around the world.
Posted by Richard Salgado, Legal Director, Law Enforcement and Information Security
Category: Google | Jan 29, 2014
We’ve just signed an agreement to sell Motorola to Lenovo for $2.91 billion. As this is an important move for Android users everywhere, I wanted to explain why in detail.
We acquired Motorola in 2012 to help supercharge the Android ecosystem by creating a stronger patent portfolio for Google and great smartphones for users. Over the past 19 months, Dennis Woodside and the Motorola team have done a tremendous job reinventing the company. They’ve focused on building a smaller number of great (and great value) smartphones that consumers love. Both the Moto G and the Moto X are doing really well, and I’m very excited about the smartphone lineup for 2014. And on the intellectual property side, Motorola’s patents have helped create a level playing field, which is good news for all Android’s users and partners.
But the smartphone market is super competitive, and to thrive it helps to be all-in when it comes to making mobile devices. It’s why we believe that Motorola will be better served by Lenovo—which has a rapidly growing smartphone business and is the largest (and fastest-growing) PC manufacturer in the world. This move will enable Google to devote our energy to driving innovation across the Android ecosystem, for the benefit of smartphone users everywhere. As a side note, this does not signal a larger shift for our other hardware efforts. The dynamics and maturity of the wearable and home markets, for example, are very different from that of the mobile industry. We’re excited by the opportunities to build amazing new products for users within these emerging ecosystems.
Lenovo has the expertise and track record to scale Motorola into a major player within the Android ecosystem. They have a lot of experience in hardware, and they have global reach. In addition, Lenovo intends to keep Motorola’s distinct brand identity—just as they did when they acquired ThinkPad from IBM in 2005. Google will retain the vast majority of Motorola’s patents, which we will continue to use to defend the entire Android ecosystem.
The deal has yet to be approved in the U.S. or China, and this usually takes time. So until then, it’s business as usual. I’m phenomenally impressed with everything the Motorola team has achieved and confident that with Lenovo as a partner, Motorola will build more and more great products for people everywhere.
Posted by Larry Page, CEO
Category: Google | Jan 28, 2014
Think back: you’ve just dumped a bin of LEGOR bricks onto the floor with a satisfying crash, and you have the whole day ahead of you to build whatever you want. There’s something pretty amazing about being able to piece together your ideas with just a collection of colorful bricks.
Well, we think the creative freedom of LEGO bricks shouldn’t be limited to plastic bins—which is the idea behind Build with Chrome, a collaboration between Chrome and the LEGO Group that brought these colorful bricks to the web using WebGL, a 3D graphics technology. It was originally built by a team in Australia as an experiment, and now we’re opening it up to everybody. So now you can publish your wacky creations to any plot of land in the world.
We’ve added a few new features to make it easier to build and explore this digital world of LEGO creations. To start, you can now sign in with a Google+ account to help find stuff that people in your circles have created. A new categorization system for completed Builds will help you sort and filter for specific types of structures.
To hone your engineering skills and prepare for the upcoming “THE LEGOR MOVIETM,” you can explore the Build Academy, a series of short tutorials and challenges featuring characters and structures from the film.
If it feels more natural to use your hands—rather than a mouse—you can build your creations using a touchscreen on your phone or tablet with Chrome for Android support for WebGL on devices with high-end graphics capabilities.
As big fans of LEGO, we’re excited to see what you come up with to fill this new world. Share your creations on Google+ and we’ll reshare the most inventive ones.
Posted by Adrian Soghoian, Product Marketing Manager and Beginning Builder
Category: Google | Jan 24, 2014
Earlier today, most Google users who use logged-in services like Gmail, Google+, Calendar and Documents found they were unable to access those services for approximately 25 minutes. For about 10 percent of users, the problem persisted for as much as 30 minutes longer. Whether the effect was brief or lasted the better part of an hour, please accept our apologies—we strive to make all of Google’s services available and fast for you, all the time, and we missed the mark today.
The issue has been resolved, and we’re now focused on correcting the bug that caused the outage, as well as putting more checks and monitors in place to ensure that this kind of problem doesn’t happen again. If you’re interested in the technical explanation for what occurred and how it was fixed, read on.
At 10:55 a.m. PST this morning, an internal system that generates configurations—essentially, information that tells other systems how to behave—encountered a software bug and generated an incorrect configuration. The incorrect configuration was sent to live services over the next 15 minutes, caused users’ requests for their data to be ignored, and those services, in turn, generated errors. Users began seeing these errors on affected services at 11:02 a.m., and at that time our internal monitoring alerted Google’s Site Reliability Team. Engineers were still debugging 12 minutes later when the same system, having automatically cleared the original error, generated a new correct configuration at 11:14 a.m. and began sending it; errors subsided rapidly starting at this time. By 11:30 a.m. the correct configuration was live everywhere and almost all users’ service was restored.
With services once again working normally, our work is now focused on (a) removing the source of failure that caused today’s outage, and (b) speeding up recovery when a problem does occur. We’ll be taking the following steps in the next few days:
1. Correcting the bug in the configuration generator to prevent recurrence, and auditing all other critical configuration generation systems to ensure they do not contain a similar bug.
2. Adding additional input validation checks for configurations, so that a bad configuration generated in the future will not result in service disruption.
3. Adding additional targeted monitoring to more quickly detect and diagnose the cause of service failure.
Posted by Ben Treynor, VP Engineering
Category: Google | Jan 23, 2014
Next Tuesday, at 9pm EST, President Obama will deliver his annual State of the Union address to Congress. Later that week, you’ll have the chance to connect with the President and speak about his administration’s plan in the first-ever Presidential Hangout Road Trip.
On Friday, January 31, President Obama will “travel” the country in a virtual whistlestop tour. He’ll hop into Google+ Hangouts with people from across the United States to answer their questions and hear their thoughts about the topics he addressed in his speech.
If you have a question for the President and would like the opportunity to participate in the Hangout Road Trip, just record a 60-second video with your name, location, a bit about yourself and the question you’d like to ask. Then post it on YouTube or Google+ and share it publicly with the hashtag #AskObama2014.
Next Tuesday, tune in to watch the State of the Union address, as well as the Republican response, live on YouTube. Then join us and President Obama on Friday for a one-of-a-kind road trip.
Posted by Ramya Raghavan, Head of Google+ Politics and Causes