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Look up to your role models in VR with “The Female Planet”

Category: Google | Oct 11, 2017

I grew up surrounded by strong female role models. My mom worked on Wall Street in the 1960s as an IBM Systems Engineer, one of the only women in her field. From day one, her stories about preparation, mental toughness, and teamwork helped me determine aspirations for my own career. When I was a bit older I had a summer internship and shadowed a female broadcast journalist at the top of her career, sparking my interest in media. Now in my role at Google, I want to use VR technology to make it easier for young women to shadow and learn from global female leaders.

We just released “The Female Planet,” a new VR video series from Google and Surround Vision, that captures the daily lives of amazing female role models around the world. “The Female Planet” delves into the personal and professional experiences of five extraordinary women with careers spanning technology, science, sports, and the arts. Follow in their footsteps as they take you through their day-to-day routines. You’ll see inside their workplaces, hear firsthand why they chose the paths they’re on now, and get to know what pushed them to keep moving forward.  

Each episode features a different female leader, such as Tiera Fletcher, a Boeing aerospace engineer designing a rocket for the NASA mission to Mars, or Inna Braverman, an entrepreneur turning wave power into green energy. In the first episode, Golden Globe winner Gina Rodriguez of TV’s “Jane the Virgin” talks about how her father’s boxing lessons and her mom’s strength gave her the courage to only accept roles that empower women. She also takes you on the set of Season 4 of “Jane the Virgin” as she explains how Jane is helping to bust stereotypes.

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To make you feel as if you’re really walking alongside Gina, Tiera, and Inna, the series was shot in 3D 360 with the new YI HALO camera and Google’s Jump technology. The YI HALO features 17 cameras in a 360 array and is paired with Jump to stitch together the images, resulting in high resolution 3D video where near things look near, and far things look far, so you’re truly immersed in the stories.

Tune in on YouTube to find your role model via virtual reality. Use Daydream View or Cardboard to check out the first episode on Google’s YouTube channel, with more episodes coming soon. And stay tuned for more Daydream and Jump productions later this fall.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/FEvhdt7bgzA/

Now on iOS: Get paid to share your opinion

Category: Google | Oct 11, 2017

There’s an old saying—the customer is always right. And certainly, the world’s best companies are always eager to hear directly from customers. That’s one reason we created Google Opinion Rewards, an app that pays people to give their opinions and answer questions from companies, big and small. Today we’re bringing Google Opinion Rewards to iOS.

If you’re an iOS user, you can get the app right now and start answering questions from companies, including Google, who want to ask for your opinion.

Google Opinion Rewards surveys are quick: always 10 questions or less, and sometimes even just a single question. Nearly all surveys take less than 30 seconds to complete. They cover all kinds of topics, from TV shows you like to apps you may have used.

Opinion Rewards

When there’s a survey ready for you, we’ll send a notification. Answer when it’s convenient for you—maybe while you’re waiting for the train or in line at the post office.  You’ll earn up to $1 for each completed survey, which you’ll receive via your linked PayPal account. Not interested in answering a particular survey? No problem. You can skip any surveys you don’t want to answer.

More than 10 million Android users have already downloaded the Google Opinion Rewards app, and we send out more than 3 million surveys every week.

Get the new iOS version of Google Opinion Rewards in the App Store now (U.S. only). Once you have the app, you’ll get a notification whenever we’ve got a survey ready for you. It’s that easy!

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/yM-4jIEfBVg/

Be inspired by the 2017 Google Business Group storytelling contest winners

Category: Google | Oct 11, 2017

What do Indonesia, Nepal, and the Philippines have in common? They’re home to the four winners of Google Business Group’s 2017 “Story Search” contest. Every year, as a part of our effort to spotlight entrepreneurs who’ve taken their businesses online, we invite thousands of our global Google Business Groups (GBG) members to participate in a storytelling competition and share how the Internet and technology empower them to do extraordinary things.

This year’s winners were selected from nine global finalists. We’re especially thrilled to see a common theme uniting each of these businesses: a socially-conscious mission. The winners inspire us all with how they run their businesses for the benefit of others.

These four businesses stood out among submissions we received from GBG members and independent entrepreneurs across 17 countries.  All four will have the opportunity to  travel to our headquarters in Mountain View, California for Google I/O in 2018 where they’ll get to meet tech thinkers, innovators, and business leaders. They’ll also be spotlighted in videos that document their stories, so stay tuned for those in an upcoming blog post.

Fadli Wilihandarwo

Fadli Wilihandarwo giving a lightning talk at the GBG Summit in Singapore

Previous winners have gone on to become impactful leaders. Fadli Wilihandarwo is the founder of Pasienia and was one of last year’s finalists. Today he is a GBG Manager for Jogjakarta, Indonesia and did a lightning talk about his chapter at the first-ever GBG Global Summit in Singapore this past September.

Glorypearl Dy

Glorypearl shared insights about her journey as an entrepreneur with fellow GBGers, like Věrka Koukalová, GBG manager in Prague.

Glorypearl Dy was a finalist in 2014 and the founder of Switotwins. She’s now a GBG Manager in Davao, Philippines. I’m proud they are both sharing their knowledge with others and empowering the next generation of business owners. We hope you feel as inspired as we are by this year’s winners and all of the GBG leaders globally.

GBG at Marina Bay

We recently hosted our first-ever worldwide GBG summit in Singapore. The summit included over 95 GBG members, representing 65 chapters from 27 countries around the world. Here, GBGers are taking a break from the conference to explore Singapore’s iconic sites.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/bjBk8rUsbH8/

Why building on an environmentally responsible cloud matters

Category: Google | Oct 10, 2017

Operating Google in an environmentally sustainable way has been a core value from day one. Each year we release our environmental report to share updates on our progress towards a more sustainable future. This year’s report marks our 10th year of carbon neutrality, and we’re excited to share that, in 2017, we’ll reach our goal of 100 percent renewable energy for all of our operations. This includes our data centers, which support our millions of customers on Google Cloud.

As more and more companies transform their businesses digitally, or build new ones, renewable energy is increasingly critical. As businesses, we affect the environment in ways often not clearly visible. Continued and accelerated digital transformation will generate a large digital exhaust. Some projections have data centers consuming as much as 13 percent of the world’s electricity by 2030. If that electricity is not sourced responsibly, it has the potential to significantly and negatively impact the environment.

sustainability-on-gcp-4

We believe that environmental impact should be an important consideration—alongside factors such as price, security, openness and reliability—when it comes to data storage, processing and development. Fortunately, more and more companies are making commitments toward sustainability.

Here are a few ways businesses can create real impact:

  • By moving from a self-managed data center or colocation facility to Google Cloud Platform (GCP), the emissions directly associated with your company’s compute and data storage will be reduced to zero.

  • Businesses that switch to cloud-based productivity tools like G Suite have reported reductions in IT energy use and carbon emissions by 65 percent to 85 percent.

  • Machine learning workloads can require complex computations that are energy intensive. Google Cloud TPUs are designed with energy efficiency in mind, specifically to accelerate deep learning workloads at higher teraflops per watt compared to general purpose processors.

  • Energy efficient cold storage options can help you retain data long term without sacrificing speed to access.

Google takes our commitment to sustainability very seriously. Many data centers use almost as much non-computing or “overhead” energy (like cooling and power conversion) as they do to power their servers. At Google, we’ve reduced this overhead to only 12 percent (a.k.a. a PUE of 1.12). We also use our own machine learning in our data centers, which enables the analysis of massive amounts of operational data center data to create actionable recommendations, automated controls and 15 percent further reduction in energy overhead.

For each unit of electricity we use as a company, we’ve committed to purchasing an equivalent amount (or more) of renewable energy. This includes the energy we use to power all our Google Cloud users. We also have a high bar for the energy we purchase: We strive to buy renewable energy from projects that are new to the grid, enabling those developers to finance and add even more green power.  In fact, Google is the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the world.

sustainability-on-gcp-3

We’re very proud that Greenpeace gave us an A rating in the 2016 Clicking Clean report, its annual benchmark of the IT sector’s energy performance. But we know there’s still more work to be done. We believe that building on a sustainable cloud is not just good for the environment, it’s good for business, too. We built Google on that belief—and we invite you to build your business on it as well.  

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/GTzOz1OWmd8/

Who works in America’s newsrooms?

Category: Google | Oct 10, 2017

Over the course of two decades, the American Society of News Editors (ASNE) has compiled a national view of gender and race breakdowns of U.S. journalists. The newly released 2017 data helps us understand who is working in America’s newsrooms, and provides a unique insight into how the industry reflects—or struggles to reflect—the population it serves.

The Google News Lab supports inclusive reporting, and for the first time, has partnered with ASNE on their annual Newsroom Employment Diversity Survey. Working with design studio Polygraph, we helped ASNE create a data visualization to show how hundreds of newsrooms across the U.S. have changed since 2001.

Here’s a glimpse at how it works:

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    Here’s an overview of the tool, with data from hundreds of newsrooms across the U.S.
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    By comparing newsroom diversity counts to census data, this visual shows how each newsroom compares to its local area in terms of race and gender—or for national publications, the country as a whole.
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    It also illustrates the relationship between diversity in a newsrooms’ leadership and diversity in its staff.
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    And shows how newsrooms have changed in the last 16 years.

Check out our graphics, or download the data from our GitHub page to explore for yourself. We want to see what you can do with the data—by visualizing it yourself or adding further context to the numbers—so contact us at newslabtrends@google.com.

We hope this year’s reimagined data will advance the conversation on newsroom diversity and tell a story that’s broader than just the numbers.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/pdirwR-xQNI/

Our 2017 environmental report

Category: Google | Oct 10, 2017

Today, we published our updated Environmental Report, which provides data on Google’s environmental sustainability programs. This report closes out 2016, a landmark year ushering in three major milestones: 10 years of carbon neutrality, 10 years for the Earth Outreach program, and reaching 100 percent renewable energy for our operations.

Last year, we marked 10 years of operating as a carbon neutral company. In 2007, we committed to aggressively pursuing energy efficiency, renewable energy, and high-quality carbon offsets. Since then, our carbon footprint has grown more slowly than our business. We’ve learned and advanced across these areas in ways we couldn’t have imagined a decade ago—and the work has proven that we can serve a growing number of users while using fewer natural resources.

Most notably, in 2017 Google will reach 100 percent renewable energy for our global operations—including both our data centers and offices. That means that we will directly purchase enough wind and solar electricity annually to account for every unit of electricity we consume, globally. This shift in our energy strategy didn’t just significantly reduce our environmental impact. By pioneering new energy purchasing models that others can follow, we’ve helped drive widescale global adoption of clean energy.

Also marking 10 years is the Earth Outreach program, which gives nonprofit groups resources, tools, and inspiration to leverage the power of Google Earth and other mapping tools for their causes. Earth Outreach is now combining machine learning and cloud computing to build a living, breathing dashboard of the planet. By turning the mountains of geo-data we have into insights and knowledge, we can help guide better decision-making in local communities and at global scale.

earth online

A major consequence of society’s “take-make-waste” economic model is climate change, one of the most significant challenges of our time. We believe Google can build tools to improve people’s lives while reducing our dependence on natural resources and fossil fuels. And we’re committed to working with others to empower everyone—businesses, governments, nonprofit organizations, communities, and individuals—to create a more sustainable world.

We’ve shared some new stories on our environment website about renewable energy in Europe and our healthy building materials tool. We also describe how these efforts can positively impact the millions of customers using Google Cloud.

Google is moving in the right direction when it comes to environmental stewardship—but there’s a lot more work to do. We’re looking ahead at the next 10 years of decreasing our impact on the earth while building technology that helps as many people as possible.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/hM4jSoi7IAs/

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/