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Category: Google | Jan 16, 2014
You’ve probably heard that diabetes is a huge and growing problem—affecting one in every 19 people on the planet. But you may not be familiar with the daily struggle that many people with diabetes face as they try to keep their blood sugar levels under control. Uncontrolled blood sugar puts people at risk for a range of dangerous complications, some short-term and others longer term, including damage to the eyes, kidneys and heart. A friend of ours told us she worries about her mom, who once passed out from low blood sugar and drove her car off the road.
Many people I’ve talked to say managing their diabetes is like having a part-time job. Glucose levels change frequently with normal activity like exercising or eating or even sweating. Sudden spikes or precipitous drops are dangerous and not uncommon, requiring round-the-clock monitoring. Although some people wear glucose monitors with a glucose sensor embedded under their skin, all people with diabetes must still prick their finger and test drops of blood throughout the day. It’s disruptive, and it’s painful. And, as a result, many people with diabetes check their blood glucose less often than they should.
Over the years, many scientists have investigated various body fluids—such as tears—in the hopes of finding an easier way for people to track their glucose levels. But as you can imagine, tears are hard to collect and study. At Google[x], we wondered if miniaturized electronics—think: chips and sensors so small they look like bits of glitter, and an antenna thinner than a human hair—might be a way to crack the mystery of tear glucose and measure it with greater accuracy.
We’re now testing a smart contact lens that’s built to measure glucose levels in tears using a tiny wireless chip and miniaturized glucose sensor that are embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material. We’re testing prototypes that can generate a reading once per second. We’re also investigating the potential for this to serve as an early warning for the wearer, so we’re exploring integrating tiny LED lights that could light up to indicate that glucose levels have crossed above or below certain thresholds. It’s still early days for this technology, but we’ve completed multiple clinical research studies which are helping to refine our prototype. We hope this could someday lead to a new way for people with diabetes to manage their disease.
We’re in discussions with the FDA, but there’s still a lot more work to do to turn this technology into a system that people can use. We’re not going to do this alone: we plan to look for partners who are experts in bringing products like this to market. These partners will use our technology for a smart contact lens and develop apps that would make the measurements available to the wearer and their doctor. We’ve always said that we’d seek out projects that seem a bit speculative or strange, and at a time when the International Diabetes Federation (PDF) is declaring that the world is “losing the battle” against diabetes, we thought this project was worth a shot.
Posted by Brian Otis and Babak Parviz, project co-founders
Category: Google | Jan 14, 2014
It sure is windy in Texas. So windy, in fact, that we’ve made another wind energy investment there. In late December we finalized an agreement to invest $75 million in the Panhandle 2 wind farm in Carson County, outside of Amarillo. The 182MW facility, developed by leading wind developer Pattern Energy Group LP, has the capacity to generate enough renewable energy to power 56,000 U.S. homes. We expect the facility to be operational by the end of 2014.
The future site of Pattern’s Panhandle 2 wind farm
Panhandle 2 is our 15th renewable energy investment overall, and our second in Texas—last year around this time we announced an approximately $200 million investment in the Spinning Spur wind farm. In addition to these two projects, we’re also buying Texas wind from the Happy Hereford wind farm as part of our goal of operating on 100 percent renewable energy. These efforts reflect our long-standing commitment to renewable energy as both an investor and a consumer.
Sunset at another Pattern facility, Gulf Wind
Let that Texas wind blow!
Posted by Nick Coons, Principal, Renewable Energy
Category: Google | Dec 24, 2013
The countdown is over. Santa and his elves have been preparing around the clock for the big day, opening up new pieces of Santa’s Village throughout the month. Santa’s been skydiving, the elves catapulted presents, and Santa even sent custom voice messages to friends and family.
The elves are now reporting that the sleigh is ready for takeoff!
Join Santa as he delivers presents around the globe. Whether you’re in Sydney or South Dakota, hop in the driver’s seat by checking out Santa’s Dash(er) Board. See where Santa’s been, where he’s going, and his real-time jolly status (“mmm, those cookies were delicious!”). Don’t forget to check out the photos and local info for places he visits on the route.
For the next 24 hours, tune in on your desktop, tablet, or phone to the Santa Tracker website. Still worried you’ll miss a minute of Santa’s big day? The developer elves have been hard at work so you can:
And follow Google Maps on Google+, Facebook and Twitter to get up-to-the-minute details on Santa’s journey around the world.
With more than 300,000 kilometers to go, Santa’s got a lot of the map to cover. So set out those cookies and a glass of milk and get ready to #tracksanta!
Posted by Brian McClendon, Vice President, Google Maps
Category: Google | Dec 19, 2013
We launched the Transparency Report in 2010 to provide hard evidence of how laws and policies affect access to information online. Today, for the eighth time, we’re releasing new numbers showing requests from governments to remove content from our services. From January to June 2013, we received 3,846 government requests to remove 24,737 pieces of content—a 68 percent increase over the second half of 2012.
Over the past four years, one worrying trend has remained consistent: governments continue to ask us to remove political content. Judges have asked us to remove information that’s critical of them, police departments want us to take down videos or blogs that shine a light on their conduct, and local institutions like town councils don’t want people to be able to find information about their decision-making processes. These officials often cite defamation, privacy and even copyright laws in attempts to remove political speech from our services. In this particular reporting period, we received 93 requests to take down government criticism and removed content in response to less than one third of them. Four of the requests were submitted as copyright claims.
You can read more about these requests in the Notes section of the Transparency Report. In addition, we saw a significant increase in the number of requests we received from two countries in the first half of 2013:
- There was a sharp increase in requests from Turkey. We received 1,673 requests from Turkish authorities to remove content from our platforms, nearly a tenfold increase over the second half of last year. About two-thirds of the total requests—1,126 to be exact—called for the removal of 1,345 pieces of content related to alleged violations of law 5651.
- Another place where we saw an increase was Russia, where there has been an uptick in requests since a blacklist law took effect last fall. We received 257 removal requests during this reporting period, which is more than double the number of requests we received throughout 2012.
While the information we present in our Transparency Report is certainly not a comprehensive view of censorship online, it does demonstrate a worrying upward trend in the number of government requests, and underscores the importance of transparency around the processes governing such requests. As we continue to add data, we hope it will become increasingly useful and informative in policy debates and decisions around the world.
Posted by Susan Infantino, Legal Director
Category: Google | Dec 17, 2013
Every day, around the world, we search. We want to find out more about our heroes, explore far-away destinations, or settle a dinner table dispute between friends. And sometimes we just search to find out how many calories are in an avocado.
In our annual Year-End Zeitgeist (“spirit of the times”), we reflect on the people, places, and moments that captured the world’s attention throughout the year. This year marks our most global Zeitgeist to date—with 1,000+ top 10 lists across categories like Trending People, Most-Searched Events and Top Trending Searches from 72 countries.
As we get ready to turn the page to 2014, we invite you to take a global journey through the biggest moments from the past 12 months in our Year in Review video:
It’s perhaps unsurprising that the #1 trending search of 2013 was an international symbol of strength and peace: Nelson Mandela. Global search interest in the former President of South Africa was already high this year, and after his passing, people from around the world turned to Google to learn more about Madiba and his legacy.
Tragedies like the Boston Marathon, the 6th trending term globally, and Typhoon Haiyan, #2 on our global events list, also captured the world’s attention. And our human desire to help came through, with [donate to the Philippines] ranking highly around the world.
2013 also had moments that made us move. People uploaded more than 1.7 million video versions of the Harlem Shake to YouTube, propelling it to the #5 spot on our global list; it was also the second most trending video on YouTube. And unashamedly, we all wanted to learn about twerking, which topped this year’s “what is…” list of search terms (although I’m still not sure I understand that one!).
Here’s a full look at our top 10 global trending searches of 2013:
- Nelson Mandela
- Paul Walker
- iPhone 5s
- Cory Monteith
- Harlem Shake
- Boston Marathon
- Royal Baby
- Samsung Galaxy s4
- PlayStation 4
- North Korea
You can also explore more global trends this year—directly from our Zeitgeist homepage. Check out the top 100 trending searches of 2013, and simply click one to dig deeper on Google Trends. Or if you’d rather be nostalgic, you can take a look back at each year’s Zeitgeist from 2001 on.
Finally, we’ve made an interactive 3D global map showcasing the top search trends of 2013 by day in cities around the world. You can easily spin the globe, select a city and explore the topics that brought people to search on any day of the year—from local sports games to international news stories.
As I reflect on the year behind us, I’m excited about what’s to come in the year ahead. What will you be searching for?
Posted by +Amit Singhal, Senior Vice President and Google Fellow
Category: Google | Dec 12, 2013
Nelson Mandela devoted his life to promoting democracy and equality, and he leaves behind a legacy of peaceful change. In advance of Mandela’s funeral service on Sunday in Qunu, South Africa, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Reverend Mpho Tutu, the first female Irish president, Mary Robinson, and Sir Richard Branson will come together for a digital eulogy using Google+ Hangouts.
Join them tomorrow morning at 7:30 a.m. EST. The conversation will be hosted by PeaceJam and The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, and moderated by CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
Share your questions for the participants with #MandelaTribute. Tune in to celebrate the life of an individual who changed the world.
Posted by the Google Blog Team
Category: Google | Dec 12, 2013
The holidays are here, and that means eggnog lattes, festive lights and spending time with the people you love. It’s also the season to give back and help make the world brighter for those in need. Today we’re unveiling six new Global Impact Awards—totaling $11.5 million in grants—to innovators using technology to tackle the world’s toughest challenges.
This year, we’re inviting you to get in the giving groove with 12 Days of Giving—an interactive holiday calendar where you can explore a Google-backed cause, donate to what inspires you and unwrap a surprise each day—such as meeting Pamela the polar bear or experiencing how far people walk to reach clean water. To spread cheer throughout the year, download OneToday for a daily reminder to give back.
The 12 Days of Giving include our six newest Global Impact Awardees. Join me in celebrating these tech-fueled initiatives:
- Zooniverse: Advanced crowdsourced research hub that allows anyone, anywhere to help create scientific breakthroughs as a citizen scientist.
- Kiva: Finance lab that enables anyone to provide affordable loans to entrepreneurs, students and farmers in poor countries, to support people left out of traditional finance.
- Landesa and FrontlineSMS: Mobile system that transforms the inefficient and confusing process to establish land rights into an accessible, efficient way for poor farmers to get title to their land.
- Get Schooled: Online platform that provides free college prep for underserved students by aggregating resources on scholarships, tests and applications, and setting personal reminders for staying on track.
- Samasource: Open-sourced platform to train data workers in developing countries and provide jobs.
- DoSomething.org: Comprehensive data initiative to empower more young people to lead and share powerful and effective social impact campaigns.
In 2013, we donated more than $100 million in grants, $1 billion in free ads and apps and 60,000 volunteer hours to nonprofits around the globe.
Posted by Jacquelline Fuller, Director of Google.org
Category: Google | Dec 12, 2013
In “The Hobbit,” a company of Dwarves tries to reclaim the lost kingdom of Erebor from Smaug the Terrible, a fire-breathing Dragon. While the Dwarves’ quest is fraught with danger, your journey to Erebor is just a click away in “A Journey Through Middle-earth,” the Chrome Experiment released a few weeks ago from Warner Bros. Pictures, New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM).
You can now follow the Dwarves’ journey to Erebor and try to outsmart Smaug on your desktop, mobile phone or tablet. But it might be wise to first pay a little visit to the folks who live in nearby Thranduil’s Hall and Lake-town—locations that recently became accessible in this Chrome Experiment—just in case you need their help against the mighty Dragon.
To best equip you on your journey, you may want to stop by Google Play. There you’ll find all sorts of Hobbit-related apps, games, books, music and films*. Together with the recent recording of a Google+ Hangout with director Peter Jackson and actors Evangeline Lilly and Richard Armitage, these can also help you get up to speed for the upcoming release in theaters of “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”
And for those of you more interested in web development than Dragon-slaying, check out the second technical case study on “A Journey Through Middle-earth” (the first one is already available on HTML5 Rocks). You can also watch a Hangout with North Kingdom, the team of designers and hackers who built it, on December 18. We’ll be posting more updates for the developer community on +Google Chrome Developers.
Posted by Adrian Soghoian, Product Marketing Manager & a Fool of a Took
*Available content and promotions vary by country.
Category: Google | Dec 11, 2013
Whether you’re crunching big data or tracking your family budget, you don’t want to waste time waiting for files to load or re-doing edits that were lost because your Internet connection dropped. You can now get more done by switching to the new version of Google Sheets. It’s faster, supports larger spreadsheets, has a number of new features, and works offline.
Bigger, faster spreadsheets
The new Sheets supports millions of cells and kicks many of the old size and complexity limits to the curb. Scrolling, loading and calculation are all snappier, even in more complex spreadsheets.
New features based on your feedback and requests
Filter views is a new feature unique to Google Sheets that lets you quickly name, save and share different views of your data. This comes in handy when you’re collaborating so you can sort a spreadsheet without affecting how others see it.
Whether you’re new to formulas or a whiz at running complex functions, it’s now easier to set up and perform calculations. New function help and examples guide you as you type, and error highlighting and coloring make it easy to spot and fix mistakes.
As another time-saving improvement, text now automatically flows into empty adjacent cells—no manual merge needed.
With the improved conditional formatting, you can add rules to change the colors and styles of cells in your spreadsheet based on custom formulas.
No Internet connection? Work offline with Chrome
You shouldn’t have to think about whether you have a WiFi connection when you want to work. So just like Google Docs and Slides, you can now make edits to Sheets offline. When you reconnect to the Internet, your edits will automatically sync. If you’ve edited Docs or Slides offline in the past, then you’re already set up to edit Sheets offline. If not, follow these one-time instructions for setting up offline in Chrome.
Ready to try it out?
Turn on the new Sheets by checking the “Try the new Google Sheets” box in Google Drive settings. From then on, all new spreadsheets you create will work offline and include these new features. We’ll be adding a small list of missing features in the coming months, so if you rely on any of them, you may want to wait a little longer before opting in.
We hope you enjoy these and the many other updates that come along with the new Google Sheets, including colored sheet tabs, custom number formatting, paste transpose and more. Let us know what you think on our Google+ page!
Posted by Zach Lloyd, Software Engineer
Category: Google | Dec 11, 2013
A Norwegian Army Dance Troupe. An Epic Split. The Fox. And a Rap Battle with an 18th century Austrian composer.
As 2013 comes to a close, these are some of the videos, channels and moments that shaped our year. While each annual list is unpredictable (what’s up, Mr. Miley Cyrus impersonator), trending videos just get bigger each year. And with 80 percent of all views on YouTube coming from outside the U.S., the global community is driving pop culture unlike ever before.
You watched The Fox more than 275 million times, making it the top trending video of 2013. You also made it a top searched Halloween costume, and you’ll maybe even read it as a children’s book. You turned out in record-setting numbers to see PSY’s post-“Gangnam Style” performance. You even made more “Harlem Shake” videos than there are people in Manhattan (1.7 million videos if you’re counting).
To celebrate all these moments, more than 60 top creators on YouTube got together and made a little video for everyone:
Here are the top trending and music videos for 2013:
Top Trending Videos for 2013
1. Ylvis – “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)” by tvnorge
2. “Harlem Shake (original army edition)” by kennethaakonsen
3. “How Animals Eat Their Food” | MisterEpicMann by MisterEpicMann
4. “Miley Cyrus – Wrecking Ball (Chatroulette Version)” by SteveKardynal
5. “baby&me / the new evian film” by EvianBabies
6. Volvo Trucks – “The Epic Split feat. Van Damme” by VolvoTrucks
7. “YOLO (feat. Adam Levine & Kendrick Lamar)” by thelonelyisland
8. “Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise” by CarrieNYC
9. “THE NFL : A Bad Lip Reading” by BadLipReading
10. “Mozart vs Skrillex. Epic Rap Battles of History Season 2″ by ERB
Top Music Videos for 2013
1. PSY – “GENTLEMAN M/V” by officialpsy
2. Miley Cyrus – “Wrecking Ball” by MileyCyrusVEVO
3. Miley Cyrus – “We Can’t Stop” by MileyCyrusVEVO
4. Katy Perry – “Roar (Official)” by KatyPerryVEVO
5. P!nk – “Just Give Me A Reason ft. Nate Ruess” by PinkVEVO
6. Robin Thicke – “Blurred Lines ft. T.I., Pharrell” by RobinThickeVEVO
7. Rihanna – “Stay ft. Mikky Ekko” by RihannaVEVO
8. Naughty Boy – “La La La ft. Sam Smith” by NaughtyBoyVEVO
9. Selena Gomez – “Come & Get It” by SelenaGomezVEVO
10. Avicii – “Wake Me Up (Official Video)” by AviciiOfficialVEVO
… see even more top music videos.
Check out the YouTube Rewind 2013 channel for even more top lists of the year from around the world, and stay tuned at Google.com/zeitgeist next week for Google’s annual look at the people, places and events that captured the world’s attention this year.
Posted by Kevin Allocca, Head of Culture and Trends