News > Google

Just a Reflektor: a virtual projection with Arcade Fire

Category: Google | Sep 9, 2013

Since Chrome launched in 2008, we’ve been experimenting with new ways to tell stories on the web using 3D graphics, immersive sound effects and more. In the last few years, the mobile web has also exploded, so we wanted to explore what kind of new interactions were possible using the latest technologies available on Chrome for Mobile.

Just A Reflektor” is an interactive film directed by Vincent Morisset and featuring a new song from Arcade Fire. The film lets you cast a virtual projection on your computer screen by holding up your mobile device in front of your computer’s webcam. That way, you control all of the visual effects in the experience—not by moving a mouse on a screen, but by moving your phone or tablet through the physical space around you.

The film’s heroine, Axelle, is revealed through a spotlight that moves in time with your mobile device.
In a later scene, a liquid effect is combined with a time delay, creating a video collage.
About four minutes into the film, the “reflektor” is turned toward Axelle herself.

To explore the effects used in the film, see the technology page, where you can adjust a number of visual settings and create your own effects using a robust editor. You can also watch a behind-the-scenes video to learn about how the film was made. The code for the film and tech page is open source, so creative coders can download it and try it for themselves.

The technology page lets you create, edit and share your own visual effects using footage from the film.

We hope this project inspires more filmmakers and visual artists to experiment with the latest features in Chrome. And for everyone else, we hope “Just A Reflektor” offers a new, exciting way to interact with the web.

Posted by Aaron Koblin, Google Creative Lab

(Cross-posted from the Chrome Blog)


What is the State of the European Union? #askbarroso

Category: Google | Sep 9, 2013

Is Europe really emerging from the financial crisis? What’s going to happen to Europe’s 5 million unemployed young people? Does the rise of euro-sceptic politics spell the end of the EU as we know it? Will Europe act on Syria?

Now’s your chance to put these questions and others to the man in charge of the European Commission, President José Manuel Barroso, in a special, live State of the European Union Hangout interview, hosted by the euronews Global Conversation team, but driven by you.

The Hangout on Air takes place on Thursday, September 12 at 20:50 CET / 11:50 PDT, one day after President Barroso’s 2013 State of the European Union address.

euronews is soliciting questions, comments and ideas for the interview until 12:00 CET / 03:00 PDT on Wednesday, September 11. No topic is too big or too small—all you need to do is submit your question (text or video) on Google+, Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #askbarroso. The authors of the best questions—as chosen by euronews editors—will be invited to interview the President in person, live, in the Google+ Hangout.

To tune in, visit the European Commission’s Google+ page Thursday, September 12 at 20:50 CET / 11:50 PDT. And of course, you can keep commenting up to and after the interview using the hashtags #askbarroso and #SOTEU.

Posted by Al Verney, Communications Manager, Google Brussels


Don’t get locked out: set up recovery options for your Google Account

Category: Google | Sep 9, 2013

This summer we’re posting regularly with privacy and security tips. Knowing how to stay safe and secure online is important, which is why we created our Good to Know site with advice and tips for safe and savvy Internet use. -Ed.

Strong passwords help protect your accounts and information on the web. But forgetting your password is like losing your keys—you can end up locked out of your own home. It gets worse if your password gets compromised or stolen. Sometimes the thief will change your password so you can’t get back into your own account—kind of like someone stealing your keys and then changing the lock.

If you’ve lost your Google password, you need a way to get back into your Google Account—and back to all of your stuff in Gmail, Maps, Google+ and YouTube. To help you, Google needs to be able to tell that you’re the rightful account owner even if you don’t have the right password. There are a few easy steps you can take right now to make it easy for you—and no one else—to get into your Google Account if you forget or don’t know the password.

1. Add a recovery email address. By registering an alternate email address with your Google Account settings, you’re giving Google another way to reach you. If you forget your password, Google can send a link to that recovery email address so you can reset your password. Google can also use that email address to let you know if we detect something suspicious happening with your account.

Setting up your recovery options can help you get back in
if you get locked out of your Google Account

2. Add a phone number to your Google Account. Your mobile phone is the best way to regain access to your account if you forget your password. It’s like the “fast lane” for account recovery: we text a code to the phone number you’ve registered with us, and you’re back in business in no time. Your phone is more secure and reliable than other means of recovering your account. Methods like “secret” questions (asking your mother’s maiden name or city where you were born) may have answers that are easy to remember, but they are also possible for bad guys to uncover. And we’ve consistently seen that people who register a recovery phone are faster and more successful at getting their accounts back than those recovering their accounts via email.

You can also get a text message if Google detects that something suspicious is going on with your account. Giving a recovery phone number to Google won’t result in you being signed up for marketing lists or getting more calls from telemarketers.

3. Keep your recovery options up to date. It’s a good idea to check your recovery options every so often. For example, if you change your phone number after setting up your recovery options, take just a minute to update your recovery settings to match. We’ll remind you of your current settings every so often to make it easier for you to keep them up to date.

That’s it! You can either update your recovery options next time you’re prompted, or you can take two minutes to do it right now on our Account recovery options page. For more advice on how to protect yourself and your family online, visit our Good to Know site, or check out some of the other posts in our series on staying safe and secure.

Posted by Diana Smetters, Software Engineer


A petition for greater transparency

Category: Google | Sep 9, 2013

Today we filed an amended petition (PDF) in the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. This petition mirrors the requests made to Congress and the President by our industry and civil liberties groups in a letter (PDF) earlier this year. Namely, that Google be allowed to publish detailed statistics about the types (if any) of national security requests we receive under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, including Section 702. Given the important public policy issues at stake, we have also asked the court to hold its hearing in open rather than behind closed doors. It’s time for more transparency.

In addition, along with a number of other companies and trade associations, we are meeting the President’s Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies today. We’ll reiterate the same message there: that the levels of secrecy that have built up around national security requests undermine the basic freedoms that are at the heart of a democratic society.

Posted by Richard Salgado, Director, Law Enforcement & Information Security and Pablo Chavez, Director, Public Policy and Government Affairs

(Cross-posted on the Public Policy Blog)


An intern’s summer experience: Support from employee resource groups

Category: Google | Sep 3, 2013

With The Internship premiering just days before I started my intern orientation at Google, my friends were more excited about my summer job than one might normally expect. But my internship was special for reasons beyond the Hollywood notoriety that accompanied my arrival to Mountain View. One of those reasons was the active presence of Google’s Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and how welcoming they’ve been to interns.

Open to Googlers everywhere, ERGs are grassroots networks with shared values of supporting diversity and inclusion throughout our company and our communities. Surprised to discover that 20+ unique ERGs existed to begin with, I was relieved when I found out that interns, who are treated like full-time Googlers, could participate in them as well.

From ice cream socials to BBQs and salsa dancing, ERGs gave us opportunities to get to know Googlers from different seniority levels and functions—while having fun! The events I attended brought interns together with entry-level Googlers, managers, directors and senior VPs; Googlers in sales, marketing, people operations, global business, small business (SMB) services and engineering.

While many ERG events are social, Googlers in these groups also have a deep impact on social issues and the company at large. In light of the DOMA decision in June, Gayglers rallied the entire office for San Francisco’s Pride parade. Some of my fellow interns described the parade as a highlight. Shawn Saunders, a senior at Brown University and SMB services intern, told me “through the Gayglers, I was able to find a community of queer and allied Googlers who really helped color my experiences at Google.”

The Special Needs Network engaged interns in this summer’s Disability Pride Parade. Aubrie Lee, a senior at Stanford University and people operations intern, told me the Googlers in the Special Needs Network “with or without disabilities—understand that diversity is not just about color or orientation. They are my allies in fighting stigma, both in the world and at work.”

In response to the Trayvon Martin verdict, the Black Googler’s Network (BGN) organized a hoodie march on campus to raise awareness around unconscious bias and racial profiling. The march had a profound impact on me in showing the value of community and support among black Googlers. As Tanisha Hospedale, a senior at the University of Pennsylvania and People Operations intern, said, “I am very grateful for BGN and the family I have made from being a part of this group.”

One major takeaway from my internship is that Google continues to be a place where Googlers can bring their total selves to work while also having strong, supportive communities to fall back on. “I can tell that Google doesn’t just talk about a commitment to diversity and inclusion, but actually demonstrates this through supporting ERGs,” said Jasmine McElroy, a senior at Howard University and People Operations intern. “These groups have made me feel like I belong here.”

Posted by Shawn Dye, People Operations BOLD intern and senior Stanford University


Joining a moment in history through the modern web

Category: Google | Aug 26, 2013

Nearly 50 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a stirring speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with the words “I have a dream.” Today, we’re sharing a new way to take part in this historic moment through a web experience developed by our friends at Organic and Unit9 for the National Park Foundation.

Called “March on Washington,” the experience invites you to relive that moment in time by listening to an original recording of Dr. King’s words accompanied by immersive photography from the event itself.

One of the most powerful abilities of the web is that it connects people from all over the world in new ways. In “March on Washington,” you can also virtually join this historic event by recording yourself reciting Dr. King’s words. Then, you can play back other participants’ recordings as a crowd-sourced narrative of voices, hearing the timeless message repeated back from people all over the world.

We’re excited to see the modern web enable experiences like “March on Washington” that bring together people and history in new, powerful ways. Head over to on a laptop, phone or tablet to check it out.

Posted by Max Heinritz, Associate Product Manager & Modern Marcher

(Cross-posted from the Chrome blog)


Tenth annual Code Jam competition wraps in London

Category: Google | Aug 23, 2013

Scientists at Google Labs have discovered it’s not easy to be a great rock drummer. Your task is to devise an algorithm to audition drummers based on the imperfections of their rhythms.

This is the type of challenge that was posed to the finalists of our 10th annual Code Jam last week. Twenty-four of the world’s best coders were flown to London to compete for the title of Code Jam Champion 2013 and the accompanying $15,000.

Belarus’s Ivan Miatselski, a.k.a. “mystic,” was crowned Champion, besting more than 45,000 other registrants and making it through four online qualifying rounds before winning the in-person finals. The final round was a four-hour, five-problem tour de code. Throughout Code Jam, contestants are allowed to use any programming language and any development environment they like, ranging from C++ to Taxi. And while the finalists are among the among the most talented, we’ve yet to see anyone earn a perfect score during the final round.

Successfully solving the problems involves more than just writing code: contestants in this year’s finals needed mastery of computational geometry, dynamic programming, numerical algorithms and more. Though the competition is fierce, Code Jam is also a growing community of skilled problem-solvers, engineers and friends from all over the world. Code Jam will be back in 2014—join our community on Google+ and look for more news to come.

Posted by Onufry Wojtaszczyk, Software Engineer, Google Code Jam


HandsOn Tech: Helping nonprofits fight poverty and strengthen communities with technology

Category: Google | Aug 21, 2013

With the right technology in place, nonprofits can do a lot to strengthen their communities and solve the world’s problems. They can help improve family literacy, support veterans as they transition out of homelessness, or help communities make information more accessible. Unfortunately, nonprofits often lack the resources to fully take advantage of technology to further their causes.

Two years ago we partnered with Points of Light to address this problem. With the support of the Corporation for National and Community Service, we created HandsOn Tech, an initiative with a mission to develop the nonprofit sector’s ability to use technology to increase community resources and improve outcomes for low-income communities and families.

Fueled by the passion and skills of AmeriCorps VISTA members, HandsOn Tech pairs U.S. nonprofits with individuals who are passionate about technology and looking to make a difference. Through this program VISTA members and skilled volunteers (including many Googlers) deliver training to poverty-focused nonprofits and work one-on-one with organizations to create individualized, comprehensive tech plans to help them achieve their social missions more efficiently and effectively.

Stephenie Lai, a VISTA with HandsOn Tech Atlanta, looks on as skills-based volunteer Jon Whitaker demonstrates the new mobile version of the Cherokee Family Violence Center’s website to Meg Rogers, Executive Director. Click to see more photos.

In the first two years of the program, VISTA members and skills-based volunteers have trained more than 7,700 nonprofit organizations in communities across the country. For example, VISTAs from a HandsOn Tech program in Pittsburgh worked with Naomi’s Place (an organization that provides transitional housing and supportive services to homeless women) to enhance their website, set up Google Apps, and develop a new Facebook page. The program also helps VISTA members and volunteers learn new skills. Alex Green, who served as a VISTA in Seattle, Wash., told us: “Apart from building awareness and ability in the community in terms of IT needs, I have also had the opportunity to grow myself as a person in all aspects of my life.”

HandsOn Tech Silicon Valley recruited skill-based volunteer Elyse Tager from Constant Contact to lead a training on how nonprofits can use social media to communicate their mission. Click to see more photos.

HandsOn Tech begins its third year this fall with programs in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Seattle, Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles, New York City and San Jose. Prior to beginning their service, VISTA members come together for a week of training at our campus in Mountain View, Calif., where they learn about cloud-based tools from a variety of technology companies including the Google for Nonprofits suite that provides nonprofits with access to premium versions of Google Apps, Google Earth and YouTube channels as well as free online advertising.

A few openings still exist for VISTA members to begin serving in November in select cities. If you’re passionate about technology and helping nonprofits fight poverty, you can apply to join our team by August 31.

Posted by Matt Dunne, Head of Community Affairs


Congratulations to America’s eCities

Category: Google | Aug 21, 2013

I love to discover local gems that help make a community unique. Sometimes those gems can be around the corner—like Cafe Borrone, my favorite for Sunday brunch with my family; the food is great and even the dog is welcome on their patio. Sometimes I find those great places when I am on the road—places like Frank in Austin, Texas with their epic sausages or Boulevard Coffee in Ashland, Ore. which has great coffee and friendly people. Some of the best things I discover without even leaving home—like Casa Kids, which designs original children’s furniture from their studio in Brooklyn, N.Y., or Sticks in West Des Moines, Iowa, which sells hand-carved and hand-painted treasures.

The web helps people everywhere discover the best of what’s around the world or around the corner. Ninety-seven percent of Americans who use the Internet—pretty much all of us—look online for local products and services. So it should come as no surprise that the impact on businesses of being online is huge. According to a McKinsey study, small businesses that make use of the web are growing twice as fast as those that aren’t on the web. Just as businesses that embrace the web grow faster, communities whose businesses embrace the web grow faster as well.

Given the importance of the web in growing our local businesses and our local economies, we worked with independent research firm IPSOS to analyze the online strength of local businesses in cities and towns across America. Businesses in these communities are embracing the power of the web to find new customers, connect with existing ones and fuel their local economies. Today we’re introducing the eCity Award winners for 2013—the strongest online business communities in each state.

We hope these “digital capitals” are an inspiration to cities and businesses everywhere of what can be accomplished by embracing the web to grow.

Congratulations to the 2013 eCities of America.

Posted by Scott Levitan, Director of Small Business Engagement


Learn about the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the Google Cultural Institute

Category: Google | Aug 19, 2013

This August marks the 68th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. Working together with the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, we’ve launched seven new online exhibits on the Google Cultural Institute that help tell the story of the two cities and their tragic fate.

Explore four collections from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum that illustrate the bombing from different perspectives: a pocketwatch stopped at the exact time of the detonation, diaries of young women cut off abruptly on August 6, and panoramic photos of the hauntingly barren city center days after. While most of the materials document the harrowing devastation of the bomb and its aftermath, the gallery “Recalling the Lost Neighborhoods” helps archive the old Hiroshima that vanished off the map.

Pocketwatch showing 8:15, the time of the atomic bomb drop (from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum)

The Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum meanwhile curated photos, videos, and drawings in three exhibitions. One collection focuses on the famed Urakami Cathedral—the largest cathedral in East Asia where 15,000 Japanese Catholics once worshipped. The church completely collapsed after the bombing, but thanks to a post-war reconstruction effort, the Urakami Cathedral now stands triumphant as a symbol of the city’s rebirth.

Urakami Cathedral exhibition (from the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum)

Speaking at an unveiling ceremony for the exhibits in Hiroshima today, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui said, “Through the Google Cultural Institute exhibitions, we hope that people around the world would learn about the terrible experiences of the Hibakusha, or A-bomb survivors, and wish for peace.”

The Cultural Institute was created to help preserve the world’s history and heritage. Given the average age of the Hibakusha is now past 78, we’re honored that our digital exhibit can help keep the memories from both cities alive for the future.

Posted by Toru Kawamura, New Business Development Senior Manager, Google Japan