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Bringing Google Earth to Expeditions with Seurat

Category: Google | Oct 10, 2017

Editor’s Note: In this technical post we explain how Seurat, a developer tool from Google, is able to bring high-end graphics to mobile VR systems.

If students could see almost any place in the world with the high quality graphics of Google Earth VR, it would create new opportunities for exploration and learning. For this to work, it would need to be based on a system that’s accessible and easy to use for schools. Using a new tool called Seurat, we were able to do just that. We recently launched support for Google Earth scenes in Expeditions, which lets millions of students around the world experience some of the most beautiful places on the planet.

Mobile VR is easy to use, but it has less available computing power than PC-based systems. To make Google Earth VR hit the required framerates on mobile VR, we need to use techniques like occlusion culling. Google Earth has one of the largest 3D datasets available today, and we’re constantly updating it with new scans and applying reconstruction algorithms in our data centers. However, the pace of updates makes it challenging to apply recent research advances.

Fortunately, Seurat can help deal with scenes that are heavily occluded. We announced this tool at Google IO, and it’s a solution for high quality graphics on mobile VR:

SStest

Seurat is a scene simplification technology that optimizes the geometry and textures in your scene from a defined viewing volume (cube to the left above). It takes layered depth images (RGBA + Depth) as input and generates a textured mesh, targeting a configurable number of triangles and texture size. Having control of triangle count is beneficial for the Google Earth data, where the quality of the vertex data varies between locations. Hitting consistent framerates is important for VR, and the more reliable the scene geometry rendering time is, the easier it gets to organize per-frame budget for other elements, such as menus and overlays. Below is an example of generating Seurat input from Google Earth data.

SeuratDeux

As seen below, the mesh looks good inside the viewing volume. As soon as we move outside, we can quickly see the effects of the Seurat occlusion optimization. In this example, we used millions of triangles and 1000+ MB of texture data to generate the Seurat input. The output is a 20k triangles mesh (50:1 compression) with 5 MB texture data (200:1 compression).

Seurat3

In current writing, mobile VR only supports 3DoF (rotation only) tracking. 360 degree images, both mono and stereo, have been utilized in this environment with great success.

Seurat is a powerful tool for bringing immersive experiences with high fidelity graphics to mobile VR. Hear what our friends at ILM had to say about it, and if you want to check out these Expeditions with Earth VR imagery for yourself, download the Google Expeditions app on iOS or Android and enjoy them in your Cardboard or Daydream View. Seurat is still in development, but stay tuned for future updates!

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/Z94T29j3rwA/

Flying during the holidays? Read this before you book

Category: Google | Oct 10, 2017

Millions of Americans will fly somewhere for Thanksgiving this year—and for many of them the search for flights will begin this week. Last year we saw a spike in Google Flights searches for Thanksgiving dates starting in mid-October. So whether you’re flying to visit family or heading off on vacation, here are a few tips from Google Flights to help with your holiday travel planning this year.

1. Avoid the busiest travel days. The last thing you need during the holidays is the added headache of long lines at the airport, flight delays or cancellations. Americans are pretty predictable when it comes to Thanksgiving travel plans—flight searches over the last two years indicate that Friday Nov. 17, Wednesday Nov. 22 and Sunday Nov. 26 will be the busiest days to fly, so pick other travel days if possible.

Thanksgiving 2017 busiest days to fly

2. Prepare for busier airports. If you’ll be traveling domestically, be aware that airports in these U.S. cities tend to be the busiest:

2017 Thanksgiving Busiest Airports

If it’s an option to consider alternate airports, Google Flights can help you identify other more affordable options that are close to your destination. Just tap on “airports” in the flight insights bar and move the map icon to see the closest airport to your final destination.

3. Get away instead of going home for turkey. While many people choose to go home for the holidays, it’s also an ideal time to get away from it all. Whether you prefer the warm beaches of Hawaii, or you’re interested in exploring a new European city like Brussels, Destinations on Google has travel guides on most popular destinations to help you figure out what to do. Search on Google for any of the trending destinations below to see travel guides complete with top sights, popular itineraries, weather, videos, and more.

Top Trending Thanksgiving Destinations

4. Book your flights before expected price increases. Flight prices often rise 21, 14 and 7 days in advance of travel dates. For example, if you’re looking at a departure date of November 23, you can expect significant increases in flight prices on Nov. 1, Nov. 8 and again on Nov. 15. So make sure to book your Thanksgiving flights by the end of October to get a better deal.

And while it may still seem far off, it’s time to start thinking about the end-of-year holidays like Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. In fact, at this time last year end-of-year flight searches were already increasing worldwide. In order to avoid hefty increases in airfare you should book your flights for these holidays before December. If you’re not ready to book yet, keep track of flight prices with Google Flights and receive email updates when prices change.

5. Ring in the new year with a vacation abroad. Make the most of the extra time off over the holidays and take an extended vacation somewhere exotic. Looking for ideas on where to go? From Barcelona (check out our Barcelona travel guide) to Buenos Aires (see our Buenos Aires travel guide), these are the top ten cities rising in popularity for the Christmas and New Years break this year:

Trending destinations for Christmas and NYE

Whether you’re flying home to see family or going on a well deserved vacation, the holidays should be a time to relax and enjoy time with the people you love. Avoid the stress of last minute holiday travel planning—follow these tips from Google Flights, sit back and look forward to the festivities ahead!

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/JnB8pgpQT5M/

The Agoraphobic Traveller shares her Street View portraits

Category: Google | Oct 10, 2017

Editor’s note: Jacqui Kenny is a New Zealander who now lives in London, U.K. On World Mental Health Day, we asked Jacqui to tell her story about a surprising use of Street View.

For over 20 years I have lived with severe anxiety, and eight years ago I was diagnosed with agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder in which you fear and avoid places or situations where you might feel panicked, trapped, helpless or embarrassed. Sometimes walking to my local supermarket can be a challenge, let alone traveling far from home.

Almost two years ago, after closing down a decade-old business I had co-founded, I lost confidence in myself, and my agoraphobia worsened. I wasn’t ready to face the world, but I knew I needed a creative outlet to help keep the negative thoughts away.

I found a surprising and unique refuge in the creative possibilities of Google Street View. As I clicked through Google Maps, I left my London home and navigated the streets of faraway countries like Mongolia, Senegal, and Chile. I encountered remote towns and dusty landscapes, vibrant architectural gems, and anonymous people, all frozen in time. The more I traveled, the more I found scenes that appeared to be plucked from a strange and expansive parallel universe. What began as a hobby quickly became a pursuit of the hidden, magical realms of Street View.

I began to take thousands of screenshots of these dreamlike scenarios; to date I’ve taken 27,000 screenshots. I realized that the billions of photographs that Google captured for functional purposes were ripe for creativity. And when framed and angled with care, they could be as beautiful and emotional as traditional photography. I had found a way to experience places across the world that I had long yearned to explore but would find hard to travel to in real life.

agoraphobic traveler

I started to upload my images to Instagram, where I found a supportive community of both creatives and people that share similar struggles with mental health and anxiety disorders. I receive messages daily from people that want to share their own stories with me.

The community I had built around my photos helped embolden me to go outside my comfort zone. When I was offered the opportunity to have a solo exhibition in Nolita, New York, I got on a plane for the first time in many years years. I was offered the opportunity to have a solo exhibition in New York, NY. The Agoraphobic Traveller exhibition showcases a series of my favorite images, as well as a series of 360 experiences that help explain my process. On opening night, hundreds of people turned up to show their support, many from my Instagram community. It was a night I’ll never forget.

World Mental Health Day, October 10, is a time to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world. By telling my story and sharing my own experiences, I want to help de-stigmatize and normalize the conversation around mental health. I hope my journey will encourage others not only to open up and talk about their mental health struggles but also to look for creative ways to get through the tough moments.

If you want to say hi or see more of my work, you can find me on Instagram.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/RaFC9Z9iCes/

Behind the design: Selfie stickers in Google Allo

Category: Google | Oct 9, 2017

Who do I want to be, and how do I want to portray myself to the world? While these questions might seem existential, we come face to face with them (literally!) every time we take a selfie. So when designing the latest set of selfie stickers in Google Allo, we thought a lot about these questions too.

Selfie stickers use a combination of machine learning and the work of artists to turn your selfie into a custom sticker pack you can use in chat. And today, we’re releasing a new set of selfie stickers for you to try out.

In this video, Jason Cornwell, head of design for Allo, shares more about the design process behind the stickers, and how we’re working to help you say exactly what you mean when words just might not be enough.

You can share these stickers in Allo and Gboard starting today.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/GwJzzttEIgo/

Bringing our support to Europe Code Week

Category: Google | Oct 7, 2017

Computer science fosters innovation, critical thinking and empowers students with the skills to create powerful tools to solve major challenges. Yet, there are not enough students who have access to opportunities to develop their technical skills.

At Google, we aim to equip students of all backgrounds with the skills to be creators, and not just consumers, of technology. As part of our efforts to encourage more students to learn about computing, we are participating in the European Commission’s Europe Code Week 2017. This is a grassroots movement that encourages programming by showing how to bring ideas to life with code, demystifying these skills and bringing motivated people together to learn. Google has been involved in this campaign since 2014, providing sponsorships to organizations running initiatives to introduce students to computer science.

This year, we received almost 500 applications and it was an incredibly tough selection process. We’re funding 60 initiatives in 33 countries, with a goal to reach over 30,000 students. Some of the initiatives we are supporting include “Code me for the future” in Bosnia-Herzegovina which will introduce 500 rural students to their first steps in programming and “Coding pirates Skoedstrup” in Denmark through which 1400 students will work together to solve world problems through computing, problem solving, programming and tech-hacks. You can read more about the sponsorship recipients here.

Google is delighted to support these great efforts. See Code Week’s events page to find all the different activities planned, and see our getting started guides in computer science for France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK now. For all other countries please visit edu.google.com/cs

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/97jR0bKPGjY/

Cheers to a year of #teampixel

Category: Google | Oct 6, 2017

We’ve come a long way, #teampixel! From being featured in an immersive digital installation to getting on the big stage, Pixel photographers have been crushing it with amazing photography that let us into their everyday lives. This week, we’re celebrating #teampixel’s one-year milestone—without this community, the world would be a less colorful, creative place.

So on behalf of all of us at Pixel, thank you for your contributions. We have some surprises planned for the community in the upcoming months, so stay tuned. And if you haven’t shared anything yet, now’s the time—there’s always room for more to join #teampixel.

In the meantime, check out just a few of our favorite #teampixel photos from the past year from a range of subjects including nature, travel and animals, including the above image from @ritchiehoang. Here’s looking at you, #teampixel…

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/EPNsF5AlzaY/

The High Five: what people are searching this week

Category: Google | Oct 6, 2017

Every week, we share a glimpse of what people are searching for on Google, with data from the Google News Lab. Here are a few of this week’s top trends:  

Las Vegas

Many are still coming to terms with the tragic Las Vegas shooting that claimed the lives of 59 people and injured hundreds more. A few of the most-searched questions about the shooting were “What gun was used in the Las Vegas shooting?” “How long did the Las Vegas shooting last?” and “How many people died in the Las Vegas shooting?” After the shooting occurred, search interest in “gun control” went up more than 3000 percent, compared to the previous week.

Saying goodbye to a legend

Iconic guitarist Tom Petty passed away this week. When the news broke, people searched “Is Tom Petty really dead?” “How old was Tom Petty?” and “Why did Tom Petty die?” Meanwhile, search interest in “Tom Petty songs” reached an all-time high. On the day of his death, the artist’s most searched songs were “Free Fallin,’” “Wildflowers,” “American Girl,” “I Won’t Back Down,” and “Home.”

Give the people what they want

McDonald’s is bringing back its famed szechuan sauce—originally introduced for a limited time in 1998—after it was the subject of a “Rick and Morty” episode back in April. Fans of the show and the sauce are searching “Which McDonald’s have szechuan sauce?” “When does szechuan sauce come back?” and “Is szechuan sauce good?” Search interest in Rick and Morty’s “‘Szechuan sauce episode” dipped 780 percent lower than “Szechuan sauce locations.” Other top searched dipping sauces from McDonald’s include honey mustard, Sriracha Mac Sauce and spicy buffalo.

Not loving this one

“Love is not an ingredient.” This was a top search this week, and apparently the FDA agrees. They told a bakery in Massachusetts to remove “love” from its list of ingredients in a popular brand of bread for fear of “deceptive labeling.” Love may not be allowed on the ingredient label,  but other top trending ingredients this week were szechuan sauce (thanks, McDonald’s), mooncake ingredients, shepherd’s pie ingredients, and Hollandaise ingredients.

Sky aglow

This Thursday marked the first October Harvest Moon since 2009, and the next one is predicted to reappear in 2020. People searched to find out when the October Harvest Moon was happening, how to see it and “what planets are surrounding the October Harvest Moon?” The top regions searching for October Harvest Moon were Maine, Rhode Island and Oregon.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/8lKGzXX9wcw/

Bavarian State Library and Google celebrate 10 years of partnership

Category: Google | Oct 6, 2017

Ten years ago the venerable Bavarian State Library from Munich (BSB) and the comparatively young Google started their joint adventure: the digitization of hundreds of thousands of historical writings from the archives of the BSB and its Bavarian regional libraries. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of our collaboration, we’ve published a digital exhibition on Google Arts & Culture.

The BSB looks back on almost 500 years of history. In 1558 it was founded by Duke Albrecht V. With more than 10 million volumes, 61,000 current journals and 130,000 manuscripts, the library is one of the most important knowledge centers in the world.

To preserve that heritage, BSB has been working with Google since 2007 to digitize over 1.9 million copyright-free titles—such as books, maps and magazines—from the 17th to the end of the 19th century. Thanks to this partnership, BSB is now the largest digital database of all German libraries. The project has long been expanded and now covers the holdings of the ten regional state libraries such as Regensburg, Passau or Augsburg.

Not only for us at Google this clearly is a milestone in digitization and the prototype of a public-private partnership. Klaus Ceynowa, Managing Director of BSB, adds: “Content in context is our mantra. Google has played a major role in helping us achieve it!”

BSB 5

Tausend und eine Nacht : arabische Erzählungen, One Thousand and One Nights: Arabic stories” (1872), Weil, Gustav

BSB 4

“Atlas Minor: Ein kurtze jedoch gründtliche Beschreibung der gantzen Welt und aller ihrer Theyl” (1631), Gerard Mercator

BSB 6

“The lion” – Illustration from “The small menagerie – drawings of the most extraordinary wild animals” (1854)

BSB 1

“The Zeitgeist and the people, a mirror of the sins of the world: An Octoberfest-Sermon” (1835)

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/Azwkk2gpnt8/

Exploring Contemporary Art with Google Arts & Culture

Category: Google | Oct 5, 2017

Working with more than 180 partners all over the world, Google Arts & Culture is shining a light on contemporary art, with a new collection of online stories and rich digital content at g.co/ContemporaryArt.

Contemporary Art_GAC.png

GAC_Contemporary Art

Through an immersive digital journey, we bring you straight to the institutions housing the world’s seminal contemporary art collections with the help of high quality visuals, gigapixel resolution images—which allow you to zoom into the tiny details of a piece of art, and panoramic Museum View imagery. You can hear amazing stories about art from curators, artists, and experts from institutions all over the world.

With a repository of online exhibits and editorial features, we answer common questions about the contemporary art world, introduce you to the world’s leading contemporary artists and icons, and perhaps most importantly, the issues that are shaping art today.

Contemporary Art_Big Questions.png

Here are some of our favorites:

iconicartistvideogif copy.gif

Explore more stories and immersive digital content on contemporary art from over 180 partners around the world with the Google Arts and Culture app on Android and iOS.

Screenshot 2017-10-04 at 22.42.53.png

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/cW0mOnOHbxY/

Exploring contemporary art with Google Arts & Culture

Category: Google | Oct 5, 2017

Working with more than 180 partners all over the world, Google Arts & Culture is shining a light on contemporary art, with a new collection of online stories and rich digital content at g.co/ContemporaryArt.

Contemporary Art_GAC.png

GAC_Contemporary Art

Through an immersive digital journey, we bring you straight to the institutions housing the world’s seminal contemporary art collections with the help of high quality visuals, gigapixel resolution images—which allow you to zoom into the tiny details of a piece of art, and panoramic Museum View imagery. You can hear amazing stories about art from curators, artists, and experts from institutions all over the world.

With a repository of online exhibits and editorial features, we answer common questions about the contemporary art world, introduce you to the world’s leading contemporary artists and icons, and perhaps most importantly, the issues that are shaping art today.

Contemporary Art_Big Questions.png

Here are some of our favorites:

iconicartistvideogif copy.gif

Explore more stories and immersive digital content on contemporary art from over 180 partners around the world with the Google Arts and Culture app on Android and iOS.

Screenshot 2017-10-04 at 22.42.53.png

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/cW0mOnOHbxY/