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Announcing high-quality stitching for Jump

Category: Google | Apr 9, 2018

We announced Jump in 2015 to simplify VR video production from capture to playback. High-quality VR cameras make capture easier, and Jump Assembler makes automated stitching quicker, more accessible and affordable for VR creators. Using sophisticated computer vision algorithms and the computing power of Google’s data centers, Jump Assembler creates clean, realistic image stitching resulting in immersive 3D 360 video.

Stitching, then and now

Today, we’re introducing an option in Jump Assembler to use a new, high-quality stitching algorithm based on multi-view stereo. This algorithm produces the same seamless 3D panoramas as our standard algorithm (which will continue to be available), but it leaves fewer artifacts in scenes with complex layers and repeated patterns. It also produces depth maps with much cleaner object boundaries which is useful for VFX.

Let’s first take a look at how our standard algorithm works. It’s based on the concept of optical flow, which matches pixels in one image to those in another. When matched, you can tell how pixels “moved” or “flowed” from one image to the next. And once every pixel is matched, you can interpolate the in-between views by shifting the pixels part of the way. This means that you can “fill in the gaps” between the cameras on the rig, so that, when stitched together, the result is a seamless, coherent 360° panorama.

Optical-flow based view interpolation.gif

Optical-flow based view interpolation
Left: Image from left camera. Center: Images interpolated between cameras. Right: Image from right camera.

Using depth for better stitches

Our new, high-quality stitching algorithm uses multi-view stereo to render the imagery. The big difference? This approach can find matches in several images at the same time. The standard optical flow algorithm only uses one pair of images at a time, even though other cameras on the rig may also see the same objects.

Instead, the new, multi-view stereo algorithm computes the depthof each pixel (e.g., the distance to the object at that pixel, a 3D point), and any camera on the rig that sees that 3D point can help to establish it’s depth, making the matching process more reliable.

standard vs high-quality stitching.jpg

Standard quality stitching on the left:Note the artifacts around the right pole. High quality stitching on the right: Artifacts removed by the high quality algorithm.

standard vs high-quality stitching b&w.jpg

Standard quality depth map on the left:Note the blurry edges. High quality depth map on the right:More detail and sharper edges.

The new approach also helps resolve a key challenge for any stitching algorithm: occlusion. That is, handling objects that are visible in one image but not in another. Multi-view stereo stitching is better at dealing with occlusion because if an object is hidden in one image, the algorithm can use an image from any of the surrounding cameras on the rig to determine the correct depth of that point. This helps reduce stitching artifacts and produce depth maps with clean object boundaries.

If you’re a VR filmmaker and want to try this new algorithm for yourself, select “high quality” in the stitching quality dropdown in Jump Manager for your next stitch!


Coding for Conservation

Category: Google | Apr 9, 2018

Working on the CS First team, I love finding ways to get more kids involved with computer science at a young age. Though when I was a kid growing up in Miami, I spent most of my time off computers and on the water, admiring the natural beauty of the surrounding beaches and mangrove forests.

I focused my studies and spare time on the environment, and how we could protect and preserve the habitats and creatures that made my home so special. I didn’t quite understand how coding and technology would further my goal of protecting the environment until I got to Google, where I’ve learned that computer science is actually a critical tool for conservation and sustainability.

Sarah Henderson_CS First.png

Sarah has a BA in Environmental Studies from NYU and is pictured here in Belize on a sea turtle tagging and monitoring project with Google.

To help more kids understand the connection between coding and the environment (and to celebrate Earth Day!) we’re teaming up with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to invite students in grades 4-8 to create their own Google logo. Using Scratch, a block-based programming language, students will learn basic coding and stretch their design skills as they express their own ideas for protecting the planet.

To get ready to create their logo, students can watch videos to learn computer science concepts like sequencing and loops, practice analytical thinking and use creative problem solving skills. Those concepts and skills are the building blocks for developing technology that organizations like WWF and Google use in their efforts to protect the planet’s animals and natural environment. In fact, the themes of the logo activity—Sustainability and Wild Animals— were chosen to reflect those efforts.

I have long admired WWF’s mission to conserve nature and reduce threats to animals all over the world—they recently launched Wild Classroom, a free resource for educators to teach their students about the natural world. And as a Googler, I’m proud of the work our company has done to protect the environment: we’re committed to renewable energy adoption and energy efficiency, and have built free data tools to enable widespread solutions to issues like deforestation, overfishing and air pollution.

My hope is that this logo activity will show kids that learning to code can also mean protecting the environment. And this activity is for teachers, too. Along with CS First’s full curriculum, it gives teachers the tools they need to introduce computer science to students for the first time, as well as nurture students’ interest in computer science.


Get Coachella-ready with a little help from Google Home

Category: Google | Apr 9, 2018

It’s almost time for Coachella-goers to descend upon the desert. At Google, we’ve been cooking up a few ways to help you get festival-ready, so you won’t miss a beat.

Using your Google Home, Mini, Max or the Google Assistant on your phone, here’s what happens when you say “Hey Google, talk to Coachella.”

  • Discover new artists:You know your must-see artists for the weekend, but this year’s lineup is flush with amazing acts that you may not be familiar with. This new feature allows you to discover new artists playing the festival, and gives you exclusive playlists to get you up to speed with the 2018 lineup.
  • Create your festival schedule: Once the artists’ set times are announced, you’ll be able to ask the Google Assistant what time your favorite artists are playing, then add them straight to the Coachooser app. 
  • Get answers to festival FAQs:You can get performance times, travel info, what’s allowed into the festival  and all that jazz. 
  • Get the backstage experience:Whether you’re tuning in at home or in person at Coachella, you can listen to backstage interviews with some of your favorite artists once the festival begins. 
  • Test your Coachella knowledge: Which artist got a surprise celeb kiss on stage during a 2015 headlining performance? Play trivia to test your knowledge of memorable Coachella moments and performances, and get excited for what may happen this year.  

Once you’ve done all that, it’s time to ride the legendary Coachella ferris wheel. But this year, there’s a Pixel twist. We’re turning a few of the Ferris wheel gondolas into Pixel photo booths— complete with iridescent backdrops for stunning selfies above festival grounds.

You can also tune in to Coachella’s YouTube channel from April 13 – 15. From headliners to some of the biggest artists on the rise, livestream performances  will include Beyoncé, The Weeknd, ODESZA, Post Malone, The War on Drugs, Kygo, Chromeo, Alan Walker, BØRNS, alt-J and many more. If you’re watching from home, the VR180 livestream (also on Coachella’s YouTube channel) will make you feel like you’re there—you can view select performances using Google Cardboard and Daydream View.

So, whether you’re packing your bags for Indio or tuning in from your couch, we’ve got you covered.


Behind the scenes with startup founders at Google Demo Day

Category: Google | Apr 6, 2018

Companies all over the world—not just in Silicon Valley—are thinking up their next big idea. Working on the Google for Entrepreneurs team, we see these passionate founders building innovative companies in their hometowns. Google for Entrepreneurs provides financial support and the best of Google’s resources to dozens of coworking spaces and community programs across 125 countries. We also create Campuses—physical hubs where entrepreneurs can learn, connect, and build companies—and put on events like Google Demo Day.

Demo Day, which just happened in San Francisco on March 28th, brought startups from across the Americas to San Francisco, to pitch and connect with leading investors, to grow and accelerate their businesses. Startups that have pitched at previous Google Demo Days have raised over $259M and ten have been acquired by global companies.

This year’s “Judge’s Favorites,” Increase and Shearshare, each received $250,000 investment from Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund. In addition, Revolution committed $150,000 to each of the other nine participating startups, provided that the startups each raise $1 million in the next six months.

To hear about the Demo Day experience, startup life, and more, we went behind the scenes with a few of this year’s female-led companies based in the U.S.


Courtney Caldwell

COO and Co-founder of ShearShare (McKinney, Texas), the first B2B mobile platform that lets stylists rent daily workspace in cities all over the world.

Q: What was your inspiration for your company?

A: We were tired of hearing about our fellow salon and barbershop owners having to close down because they couldn’t cover the overhead. We want to keep salons and barbershops at full capacity year round and give stylists the opportunity to manage their business on their terms, paying for space when and where they need it.

Q: Tell us about your experience at Demo Day.

A: Google made each of my fellow founders feel like rockstars! My favorite parts were the mindfulness and mentoring sessions with Ginny Bown, our pitch coach. Co-winning Google Demo Day 2018, alongside our Argentinian friends at Increase, will forever change ShearShare’s trajectory. We are now funded by some of the most genuine, most intelligent, and swagalicious VCs in the Valley, so it’s time to get to work!  


Neha Singh

Founder and CEO of Obsess, (New York, New York) an AR and VR platform for mobile commerce.
Q: What was your inspiration for your company?

A: I’m a geek who loves fashion. I believe that fashion is one of the fundamental forms of self-expression and the most practical form of art. At Obsess, we’re building the platform to enable any brand—big or small—to take advantage of this new technology, and to showcase their products in a way that wasn’t possible to do online before.

Q: Tell us about your experience at Demo Day.

A: My favorite part was meeting the other incredible 10 startups and their founders. I was so inspired and so humbled by this genius group of people taking on big challenges.


Heather Holmes

CEO of Genivity (Chicago, Illinois), an AI platform that personalizes future health and elder care costs to help financial professionals better serve their clients.

Q: What was your inspiration for your company?

Health and elder care expenses are the number one threat to retirement savings and one of the most important, yet often ignored, parts of a financial plan. When a close relative was hospitalized in 2010 and nearly died, I realized that if my family had known about his specific health threats, they might have been able to prevent his health crisis. It sparked my belief that creating relationships with the key people in my parent’s financial lives was critical so my family would have a place to turn to for help.

Q: Tell us about your experience at Demo Day.

The caliber of companies and founders was incredibly inspiring and impressive! I’ve walked away from Google Demo Day with new friends, new ideas, and two new potential partnerships.  It’s amazing what Google helped make happen in a few short days!

Supporting entrepreneurs

Google Demo Day is just one example of how we support entrepreneurs. We make a collection of resources available at—everything from best practices for getting your business up and running, to how to raise funds and hire the right team. Startup with Google is a resource from our Grow with Google initiative, which is aimed at helping people and entrepreneurs across the United States grow their skills, careers, and businesses by offering free tools, training, and events.

Our hats go off to these inspiring founders. We hope to catalyze similar opportunities for this event’s featured founders—and many more female entrepreneurs to come.


“A Good Night” with John Legend and Pixel 2

Category: Google | Apr 6, 2018

John Legend just premiered the music video for his new single “A Good Night”—and it was filmed entirely on Pixel 2. We spoke to John about the inspiration behind the video and what it’s like living and communicating in the digital age.

Keyword: Tell us about the inspiration behind the music video for “A Good Night.”

John: The song and the video are about a magical night where you meet someone you immediately connect with and can envision a future together. You’re single, dating, probably using all the apps people use now (I haven’t dated since the advent of Tinder, etc., but it’s a fascinating era in romance), and not finding someone special. But one night—maybe caught up in the music or the drinks or whatever—you meet someone that changes everything. That’s a good night! 

The video is set in a club and visually represents the swiping left of the apps by literally swiping dating candidates away. But eventually our couple finds each other. And then, during the bridge, we see things transform into a fantasy future where our couple sees themselves getting married. It turns into a beautiful celebration of love and connection. All DJ’ed and hosted by yours truly!

"A Good Night" music video

Why did you decide to shoot it on Pixel?

We thought it would be cool to shoot it on Pixel because the camera is amazing and we were fascinated by the idea of using a smartphone to film a big budget music video, a video that brings the smartphone dating experience to life.

What’s your favorite moment from the video?

I love the transformation scene in the bridge where you see everything freeze and become surreal before we fast forward to a fantasy wedding.

What surprised you about filming the video with smartphones?

It was really seamless. We’re so used to doing everything with expensive cameras when we do these major shoots. But the experience of filming with smartphones felt really natural  and the quality from Pixel was amazing.

A Good Night - Pixel 2

How do you think technology like smartphones can help aspiring artists and creators get noticed?

The technology people can use to create has become more accessible and democratized. And there are so many new ways to inexpensively publish your work. This is true in music, filmmaking and other fields. I love it. It’s a boon for creativity and gives so many more people the ability to tell their story and express their vision.  

Who are your favorite new filmmakers?

I’m not sure how you define new. My production company just did a fantastic film called “Monster” with first-time feature filmmaker Anthony Mandler. We’ve worked together before in music videos and commercials, and I think his debut feature film is excellent.

A Good Night gif

The video plays with the idea of apps and social media and how they affect dating. How does the “age of instalove” change the way you talk to your fans?

I talk a lot about what’s timeless about love and human connection. The ways we meet have changed a lot, but I think our emotional needs and desires probably aren’t all that different.

We can’t pass up the opportunity to ask about the women in your life. How does Pixel help you stay in touch with Chrissy and Luna and record your moments with them?

I love using Pixel to talk to Chrissy and Luna when I’m on the road. We love Duo for video calling. The Pixel camera takes amazing photos and videos too.  

I’m a big Google fan so it’s also nice to have a phone that integrates all Google apps so seamlessly. I use Google Docs, Maps, Drive, Calendar and others all the time. It’s great to have a phone made for those apps.

Last question. What are you listening to at the moment?

Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean, Miguel, SZA—and LOTS of the “Jesus Christ Superstar” soundtrack in preparation for my big role last Easter Sunday!


Meeting our match: Buying 100 percent renewable energy

Category: Google | Apr 4, 2018

A little over a year ago, we announced that we were on track to purchase enough renewable energy to match all the electricity we consumed over the next year. We just completed the accounting for Google’s 2017 energy use and it’s official—we met our goal. Google’s total purchase of energy from sources like wind and solar exceeded the amount of electricity used by our operations around the world, including offices and data centers.

What do we mean by “matching” renewable energy? Over the course of 2017, across the globe, for every kilowatt hour of electricity we consumed, we purchased a kilowatt hour of renewable energy from a wind or solar farm that was built specifically for Google. This makes us the first public Cloud, and company of our size, to have achieved this feat.

Today, we have contracts to purchase three gigawatts (3GW) of output from renewable energy projects; no corporate purchaser buys more renewable energy than we do. To date, our renewable energy contracts have led to over $3 billion in new capital investment around the world.

  • Corporate RE Purchasing League Table (2018)
    Google is the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the world.
  • Renewable Energy PPA (2018)
    Google’s 26 renewable energy generation projects across the globe have a capacity of 3GW of total annual output.
  • Google Global Data Centers (2018)
    The energy consumed by our 15 data center sites, which run Google products 24/7, is matched 100% with renewable energy.

The road to 100 percent

We’ve been working toward this goal for a long time. At the outset of last year, we felt confident that 2017 was the year we’d meet it. Every year, we sign contracts for new renewable energy generation projects in markets where we have operations. From the time we sign a contract, it takes one to two years to build the wind farm or solar field before it begins producing energy. In 2016, our operational projects produced enough renewables to cover 57 percent of the energy we used from global utilities. That same year, we signed a record number of new contracts for wind and solar developments that were still under construction. Those projects began operating in 2017—and that additional output of renewable energy was enough to cover more than 100 percent of what we used during the whole year.

We say that we “matched” our energy usage because it’s not yet possible to “power” a company of our scale by 100 percent renewable energy. It’s true that for every kilowatt-hour of energy we consume, we add a matching kilowatt-hour of renewable energy to a power grid somewhere. But that renewable energy may be produced in a different place, or at a different time, from where we’re running our data centers and offices. What’s important to us is that we are adding new clean energy sources to the electrical system, and that we’re buying that renewable energy in the same amount as what we’re consuming, globally and on an annual basis.

Google's data center in Eemshaven, The Netherlands.
Google’s data center in Eemshaven, The Netherlands.

Looking ahead

We’re building new data centers and offices, and as demand for Google products grows, so does our electricity load. We need to be constantly adding renewables to our portfolio to keep up. So we’ll keep signing contracts to buy more renewable energy. And in those regions where we can’t yet buy renewables, we’ll keep working on ways to help open the market. We also think every energy buyer—individuals and businesses alike—should be able to choose clean energy. We’re working with groups like the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance and Re-Source Platform to facilitate greater access to renewably-sourced energy.

This program has always been a first step for us, but it is an important milestone in our race to a carbon-free future. We do want to get to a point where renewables and other carbon-free energy sources actually power our operations every hour of every day. It will take a combination of technology, policy and new deal structures to get there, but we’re excited for the challenge. We can’t wait to get back to work.


Monet was here: Masterpieces and inspirations come to Google Arts & Culture

Category: Google | Apr 4, 2018

Art lovers and historians know that sometimes to comprehend the magnitude of an artwork, you need to see the world through the eyes of the artist and understand what inspired them. This is especially true of an artist as talented and beloved as Claude Monet, whose work many of us know but may not have considered in depth. To reveal these insights, the National Gallery London is opening a new exhibition entitled The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Monet and Architecture. This new show will open up a new window into Claude Monet’s world through the cities and buildings that brought his masterpieces to life.

And to mark the opening of the physical exhibition in London, you can now explore a selection of these works from the National Gallery, and see a stirring retrospective of Monet’s paintings from 17 more museums around the world, online on Google Arts & Culture.

Written by curators from the National Gallery, the online exhibition will feature new original stories about Monet, with little-known details of his travels through London, Paris, Rouen and Venice. For example, records show that Monet loved beautiful cities, appreciated architecture, and had a surprisingly great affinity for fog. This can be seen in much of his work, such as where he depicted the view of the Charing Cross Bridge from his suite in the Savoy Hotel in London.


You can also immerse yourself in new, ultra high-resolution imagery of many of Monet’s masterpieces, such as The Water Lily Pondand The Thames Below Westminster. This perspective lets you zoom up close to the works and view every subtle brushstroke, then step back in the digital space to see how these bursts of color create a complete view of the cityscapes that inspired him.

Dive into Monet's artworks in high resolution with Google Arts & Culture

And with Google Earth’s Voyager, both in-person patrons of the National Gallery and virtual visitors to the site can journey across Europe, following in Monet’s footsteps via his paintings. You can also see where his works are at present day—possible destinations for your next in-person or online art journey.


Start your travels with Monet and check out more The National Gallery collections online with Google Arts & Culture and on our iOS and Android apps.


Her voice helped others find theirs: a Doodle to honor Maya Angelou

Category: Google | Apr 4, 2018

Dr. Maya Angelou used her voice to touch the lives of millions around the globe. As an author, poet, memoirist and activist, her teachings, writings and actions encouraged others to discover their own voices and inspire change.

Today’s Doodle celebrates Dr. Angelou on what would have been her 90th birthday, and commemorates one of her most influential tools—her words. Set to her poem “Still I Rise,” the Doodle includes archived audio from Maya Angelou herself, and narration from other individuals she’s inspired—Oprah Winfrey, Alicia Keys, America Ferrera, Laverne Cox, Martina McBride, as well as her only son, Guy Johnson.

Dr. Angelou’s incredible personal journey started with tragedy in her early life: a sexual assault at age seven that rendered her mute for five years. During those years, books and poetry became her solace and constant companions, eventually helping her find her voice and embark upon an intellectual and creative journey.

In 1969, the success of her first book, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” brought her mainstream attention as an author. Six other autobiographical works followed, in addition to poetry, children’s literature, and non-fiction. Through her works, Dr. Angelou gave a voice to millions. She championed women’s rights and gender equality. She redefined black beauty and celebrated African-American oral traditions. She advocated against war and campaigned for universal peace.

Though we honor Dr. Maya Angelou’s courage and compassion today, her words will continue to awaken hope around the world for years to come.


How the Dynamic Learning Project is building teacher confidence

Category: Google | Apr 3, 2018

Editor’s note: Last summer, we announced Google’s support of the Dynamic Learning Project—a pilot program from Digital Promise that places technology coaches in 50 high-need schools across the country. Educator coaching has been shown to be effective in subjects like reading and math, but the Dynamic Learning Project is one of the first nationwide programs to apply this approach to the impactful use of technology across subjects. We checked in with one of the 50 schools participating in the program to see how things are going.

When Hillsdale Middle School principal Jacob Launder learned about the Dynamic Learning Project, he jumped at the opportunity to transform how his teachers use technology in the classroom.

Principal Launder had already invested in Hillsdale’s classroom tech and had a community of educators who wanted to build their skills, but many of his teachers lacked the confidence to really make a change in their classrooms. Luckily, he had the perfect person in mind to become a coach and lead this transformation: Ann Mason, a 30-year veteran history teacher in the Cajon Valley School District.

Thanks to her participation in the Dynamic Learning Project, Ann has extensive access to tech-coaching experts, custom resources and tools to guide her support for teachers, and a community of fellow coaches to share best practices.

“The Dynamic Learning Project presented the perfect avenue to support change,” Ann says. “It recognizes that every teacher is innovating at a different level, and the new coaching model allows me to meet that teacher at their level.”

At the beginning of each eight-week coaching cycle, Ann meets with teachers across the school to understand their needs and how she can best support them. As the teachers implement new technology in their lessons, Ann observes their progress and provides regular feedback so they can continue to improve.

Less than a year later, Ann’s in-person, relevant, and consistent technology coaching has helped Hillsdale instructors build confidence in using technology to prepare students. For example, science teacher Carol Strampfer wanted a better way to organize her seventh graders’ written and digital projects so she could track their progress throughout the year. Working closely with Ann, she helped her students use Google Slides to build digital notebooks featuring images of assignments, photos of labs, and more.

“I had wanted to implement this type of system for quite some time, and being part of the Dynamic Learning Project provided the push I needed as well as the support,” Carol says. “Ann helped me work out the minor glitches and supported me in incorporating my own ideas.”

For Ann, the most rewarding moments take place inside the classroom, when she’s helping a teacher introduce a new activity they’ve planned together. “If there’s a tech glitch or a student asks a question that the teacher can’t answer, I jump in to help them move past the bump in the lesson and on to success,” she explains. “I’ve had numerous teachers tell me they might have given up if I wasn’t in the room with them.”

“The Dynamic Learning Project has given me the courage to be more adventurous in my approach to teaching,” says Elizabeth Cordle, who teaches eighth-grade science. “I have the opportunity to explore new technologies in a safe, supportive way.”

Ultimately, the goal of the program is to help students engage with learning, and Principal Launder has seen how the Dynamic Learning Project has been transformative for the Hillsdale community. “The positive impact on teacher creativity and problem-solving can be seen by the dynamic products our students are creating in their classes,” he says. “They’re being provided the opportunity to work collaboratively with their peers on engaging and creative projects.”

These early results affirm that in order to truly unlock the technology’s potential impact in the classroom, teachers must feel supported and confident while learning new tools. As their students turn to them for assistance, answers, and encouragement, Hillsdale teachers now have their own coach to help them thrive.

To stay updated about the Dynamic Learning Project, sign up for updates from Digital Promise.


Expanding our cloud network for a faster, more reliable experience between Australia and Southeast Asia

Category: Google | Apr 3, 2018

Earlier this year, we announced that we are expanding our global infrastructure with new regions and subsea cables, advancing our ability to connect the world and serve our Cloud customers with the world’s largest network.

Today, we’re excited to announce our investment in the Japan-Guam-Australia (JGA) Cable System.  

This new addition to the Google submarine network family, combined with investments in the  Indigo, HK-G and SJC subsea cables,will give GCP users access to scalable, diverse capacity on the lowest latency routes via a constellation of cables forming a ring between the key markets of Hong Kong, Australia and Singapore. Our investment in these cables builds on our other APAC cable systems, namely Unity, Faster and PLCN, interconnecting the United States with Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Taken together, these cable investments provide improved connectivity to GCP’s five cloud regions across Asia and Australia (with more on the way),so that companies using GCP can serve their customers no matter where they are.

The JGA cable system will have two fiber pairs connecting Japan to Guam, and two fiber pairs connecting Guam to Sydney. This provides deeply scalable capacity to both our users and Google Cloud Platform customers. JGA is being co-built by NEC Corporation and Alcatel Submarine Networks. The JGA-South segment is being developed by a consortium of AARnet, Google, and RTI-C, while the JGA-North segment is a private cable being developed by RTI-C. Together, the segments will stretch 9500 km (or nearly 6000 miles).

Whether we’re delivering directions to Maps users, videos to YouTube viewers, or GCP services to businesses, we know a fast and reliable infrastructure makes all the difference. That’s why we continue to invest in strategic routes, many of which require crossing oceans. To learn more about our network, visit our website.