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Find the perfect playlist to stream with the Google Home app

Category: Google | Mar 14, 2017

Finding the right song, album or playlist can make anything you do during your day that much more enjoyable. Maybe start your day off with a cup of coffee and some Relaxing Film Scores. Want something more upbeat? Get a pick-me-up with Rave-Up Wake-Up: EDM Morning. Need to make dinner? How about some Classic Bossa Nova or Today’s Biggest Hits? All told there are more than 40 million songs available, on 200+ cast-compatible music and audio apps, to listen to on your favorite speakers.

ListenTab_GoogleHomeApp

That’s a lot of music to choose from, so today we’re making it easier for you to find the perfect playlist, album or artist to listen to with the new Listen tab in the Google Home app, a dedicated space for all your favorite music.

The new Listen tab shows you curated lists of ready-to-stream, personalized albums and playlists from your favorite music apps, like Google Play Music and Spotify. You’ll also find compatible music and audio apps you already have on your phone or tablet, as well as a section to discover new apps to download.

So whether you’re looking for an upbeat playlist to listen to while you cook, or a something to unwind after dinner, the Google Home app is ready to help you find the perfect entertainment to cast to your TV or speakers.

To download the Google Home app, go to the Google Play Store or the App Store, or to learn more about the Listen tab, head to this Chromecast Help Center article.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/PJIuCryt40o/

Find the perfect playlist to stream with the Google Home app

Category: Google | Mar 14, 2017

Finding the right song, album or playlist can make anything you do during your day that much more enjoyable. Maybe start your day off with a cup of coffee and some Relaxing Film Scores. Want something more upbeat? Get a pick-me-up with Rave-Up Wake-Up: EDM Morning. Need to make dinner? How about some Classic Bossa Nova or Today’s Biggest Hits? All told there are more than 40 million songs available, on 200+ cast-compatible music and audio apps, to listen to on your favorite speakers.

ListenTab_GoogleHomeApp

That’s a lot of music to choose from, so today we’re making it easier for you to find the perfect playlist, album or artist to listen to with the new Listen tab in the Google Home app, a dedicated space for all your favorite music.

The new Listen tab shows you curated lists of ready-to-stream, personalized albums and playlists from your favorite music apps, like Google Play Music and Spotify. You’ll also find compatible music and audio apps you already have on your phone or tablet, as well as a section to discover new apps to download.

So whether you’re looking for an upbeat playlist to listen to while you cook, or a something to unwind after dinner, the Google Home app is ready to help you find the perfect entertainment to cast to your TV or speakers.

To download the Google Home app, go to the Google Play Store or the App Store, or to learn more about the Listen tab, head to this Chromecast Help Center article.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/prcPu5kqojo/

The She Word: Nishma Robb, storytelling for change

Category: Google | Mar 14, 2017

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating the powerful, dynamic and creative women of Google. Like generations before them, these women break down barriers and defy expectations at work and in their communities. Over the course of the month, we’ll help you get to know a few of these Google women, and share a bit about who they are and why they inspire us.

In our fourth installment of the “She Word” series, we talked to Nishma Robb. At Google, she is the Head of Ads Marketing for the UK and Ireland. But at home, she’s best known for helping her twins chase unicorns and search for rainbows.

nishma

Why are you proud to be a woman at Google?

I am proud of all the women I work with and encounter at Google—we are a community that embraces every type of woman. I’m inspired by these women who are bursting with ideas and the ability to make things happen. They have the passion and force to change the world and make a difference for women today and for future generations to come.

How do you explain your job at a dinner party?

I tell stories to shape people’s perspectives of how we help businesses and brands grow through our advertising solutions.

If you could ask one woman from history a question … who would it be and what would you ask?

I loved “Jane Eyre” when I was a little girl. And my twins are reading about the Brontë sisters in Bedtime Stories for Rebel Girls—they pour over the book every night, learning about the wonderful stories of incredible women (and I recently invested in a Kickstarter campaign to bring the book to print!). At one point in her career, the wonderful Charlotte Brontë (the eldest of the sisters) sent her poetry to a famous poet and his response was “I do not like your poems at all: literature is a man’s business.” If I could go back in time, I’d ask Charlotte how she picked herself up at that moment and persevered.

What’s the last book you read or show/movie you binged?

I recently saw “Hidden Figures.” I love this movie for so many reasons. It’s empowering, uplifting and joyful. Please go and see it! The last book I read is “Mad Girl” by Bryony Gordon—it’s an honest, insightful autobiography about her experiences with OCD, depression, bulimia, alopecia and drug dependency. I hope it helps to remove the stigma of talking about mental health, and gets the message out that there is no such thing as “normal.”

What advice would you give to women starting out in
their careers?

Take your time. Pacing your journey is so important. Sometimes in our constant rush to progress and achieve, we do not savor opportunities or take advantage of exploring new challenges to discover our strengths. It is okay to make mistakes—it’s good to take risks and make mistakes, so long as you learn and build from them.  

What do you hope to accomplish on behalf of women everywhere?

I want to radically change the way women are represented in our world—in film, media and advertising—so that little girls (and boys) realize there is no such thing as “girls’ jobs” or “boys’ jobs.”  

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/lXG_SoYc828/

The She Word: Nishma Robb, storytelling for change

Category: Google | Mar 14, 2017

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating the powerful, dynamic and creative women of Google. Like generations before them, these women break down barriers and defy expectations at work and in their communities. Over the course of the month, we’ll help you get to know a few of these Google women, and share a bit about who they are and why they inspire us.

In our fourth installment of the “She Word” series, we talked to Nishma Robb. At Google, she is the Head of Ads Marketing for the UK and Ireland. But at home, she’s best known for helping her twins chase unicorns and search for rainbows.

nishma

Why are you proud to be a woman at Google?

I am proud of all the women I work with and encounter at Google—we are a community that embraces every type of woman. I’m inspired by these women who are bursting with ideas and the ability to make things happen. They have the passion and force to change the world and make a difference for women today and for future generations to come.

How do you explain your job at a dinner party?

I tell stories to shape people’s perspectives of how we help businesses and brands grow through our advertising solutions.

If you could ask one woman from history a question … who would it be and what would you ask?

I loved “Jane Eyre” when I was a little girl. And my twins are reading about the Brontë sisters in Bedtime Stories for Rebel Girls—they pour over the book every night, learning about the wonderful stories of incredible women (and I recently invested in a Kickstarter campaign to bring the book to print!). At one point in her career, the wonderful Charlotte Brontë (the eldest of the sisters) sent her poetry to a famous poet and his response was “I do not like your poems at all: literature is a man’s business.” If I could go back in time, I’d ask Charlotte how she picked herself up at that moment and persevered.

What’s the last book you read or show/movie you binged?

I recently saw “Hidden Figures.” I love this movie for so many reasons. It’s empowering, uplifting and joyful. Please go and see it! The last book I read is “Mad Girl” by Bryony Gordon—it’s an honest, insightful autobiography about her experiences with OCD, depression, bulimia, alopecia and drug dependency. I hope it helps to remove the stigma of talking about mental health, and gets the message out that there is no such thing as “normal.”

What advice would you give to women starting out in
their careers?

Take your time. Pacing your journey is so important. Sometimes in our constant rush to progress and achieve, we do not savor opportunities or take advantage of exploring new challenges to discover our strengths. It is okay to make mistakes—it’s good to take risks and make mistakes, so long as you learn and build from them.  

What do you hope to accomplish on behalf of women everywhere?

I want to radically change the way women are represented in our world—in film, media and advertising—so that little girls (and boys) realize there is no such thing as “girls’ jobs” or “boys’ jobs.”  

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/Z6uDcbDvHfE/

Bringing pixels front and center in VR video

Category: Google | Mar 14, 2017

Editor’s Note: This is the first post in a new series where we take a more in-depth and technical look at ways to improve the virtual reality experience. Today, we’re deep diving into Equi-Angular Cubemaps, which is a new technique to stream higher quality VR video.

Since ancient times, cartographers have strived to make maps that accurately reflect the world. A central challenge of the art is projecting the Earth, which is curved, onto flat paper and screens. Many methods of projection have been proposed over the centuries, but to date no universally good answer has been found: every choice is always a tradeoff tuned for its intended use. Because new services like Google Maps and applications like VR video seek to provide accurate and meaningful information about our curved, 3D world on a 2D screen, this challenge persists even today.

While traditional cartography techniques must address the basic challenge of how to represent the world in 2D, video streaming also faces a new constraint that early mapmakers didn’t have: making efficient use of bandwidth. Streaming high quality video pushes the limits of network bandwidth, particularly for mobile networks. And when considering VR video, the bandwidth demands are vastly increased since it must represent imagery from a full sphere rather than just a small window onto the world. Stereo video roughly doubles the data yet again. Therefore making the most of available bandwidth is a top concern.

Now, in a joint effort between YouTube and Daydream, we’re adding new ways to make 360 and VR videos look even more realistic in a bandwidth-constrained world. This post delves into how these techniques work thanks to Equi-Angular Cubemaps (EACs). To benefit from them, consider putting your content on YouTube. EACs are likely to be useful in many other contexts as well, so we look forward to seeing what can be done with them.

Equirectangular Projection

The most familiar representation is one where latitudes and longitudes are used to form a square grid. This is known as the Equirectangular Projection.

EquirectGlobe

Equirectangular projection of the Tissot Indicatrix

The equirectangular projection has the advantages of being both rectangular and straightforward to visualize. It’s also relatively easy to manipulate using existing video editing tools. However, when used for video transmission, it has serious problems. First, the poles get a lot of pixels, and the equator gets relatively few. This is challenging, because spherical videos usually have their important content distributed around the equatorial regions (the middle), which is the viewer’s horizon. It also has high distortion, which makes existing video compression technology work harder.

Taken together, these shortcomings highlight the fundamental challenge of spherical video projection: evenly allocating video pixels over the surface of the display sphere.

Traditional Cube Maps

An improvement on equirectangular projections frequently used in the gaming industry is the cube map. This is conceptually simple: deform a sphere into a cube, then unfold the cube’s six faces and lay them flat.

StandardCubemapGlobe

The most straightforward way to do this is with a simple radial projection: you embed the sphere in a cube and project the image on the sphere outwards onto the surface of the cube.

This is an improvement over equirectangular projections, but it still causes substantial variation in pixel density. The problem is that the centers of the cube faces are close to the sphere, while the corners are further away.

StandardCubemap2DViz

In the figure above, the rays have all been equally spaced over the circle, but the points where the rays intersect the square are not equally spaced. As a result, the corners get more video pixels than the centers, because the longer blue line spans more pixels on the square edge than the red line, which again shortchanges the equator. In the full three dimensional case, the effect is even more pronounced.

The Equi-Angular Cubemap (EAC)

You can correct for this variation by changing where you take the video’s pixel samples.

EAC2DViz

The rays emanating from the center represent a viewer’s line of sight, equally spaced by angular change. On the left is the traditional cubemap, where the mapping from face location to pixel location is linear. On the right is the more efficient EAC mapping.

The traditional cubemap has samples of varying length depending on the sample’s location on the cube face. EAC is specifically constructed to keep these lengths equal, creating uniformly allocated pixels. For all the reasons that cartography is hard, this 2D picture does not extend perfectly into 3D: if you choose to preserve one important feature of the mapping you invariably give up something else. Check out Conformal Mapping and Equal Area Projections for more information on preserving some characteristics at the cost of others. The EAC formula is mathematically precise in 2D, but only an approximation of an equal angle pixel distribution in 3D, albeit a pretty good approximation with manageable distortion.

Uniformity Comparisons

A useful method to visually compare different projection types is to use saturation maps. A saturation map shows a color-coded ratio of video pixel to display pixel density. The color coding goes from red to orange, yellow, green and finally blue. Green indicates an optimal pixel density ratio that’s near 1:1. Red, orange and yellow indicate insufficient density (too few video pixels for the available display pixels), and blue indicates wasted resources (too many video pixels for the available display pixels). You can change the overall colors on a saturation map by increasing the resolution of the video. But for a saturation map with lots of variation, as you bring the least saturated areas to green, you also increase the area of the video where resources are being wasted. Therefore, the ideal projection has a saturation map that is uniform in color – because it can be uniformly green with sufficient resolution.

Saturation is highly dependent on the size of the image as well as the resolution of the output device. Different choices of resolutions will alter the overall greenness or orangeness. The saturation maps below were generated from a specific case study, chosen to maximize the visibility of variation in saturation.

SaturationComp

Equirectangular Projection (left), Standard Cubemap (middle), Equi-Angular Cubemap (right)

Unsurprisingly, in the Equirectangular projection the poles are blue (wasteful, too many video pixels) and the equator orange (poor quality, too few video pixels).

In comparison, the Standard Cubemap moves the optimal green regions from near the poles towards the equator. The wasteful blue regions at the poles are gone altogether. On the other hand, the cubemap is better at the corners of the cube as compared to the center of its faces. Moreover, the equatorial region has the most variation in saturation, and the centers of the cube faces are actually lower quality than the worst regions of the equirectangular projection.

Finally, the EAC projection’s saturation is significantly more uniform than either of the previous two, while further improving quality around the equator. This uniformity allows maximal use of available bandwidth, thereby permitting a choice of whichever resolution delivers optimal pixel density in a given circumstance.

The Proof is in the Pudding

The end result of all this work is an easily visible improvement in viewer video quality. The image shows screen captures of the left eye for 360 stereo video at 720p displayed in a 1080p Google Cardboard viewer. The bigger image is for context of the scene, while the smaller callouts are zoomed in regions to make the differences more apparent. The callouts compare what this scene looks like with an equirectangular projection as opposed to the new Equi-Angular Cubemap. As you can see, the image is clearer with an EAC projection.

FrameCompare

The Devil is in the Details…

That covers how the EAC projection works in principle. But it’s worth addressing the layout of the cube faces in the video’s rectangular bounds and the actual math. The equations mapping a point on a cube face to a video pixel sample are straightforward.

MathPic3EAC

An analogous operation is done for each face.

Now all six sets of [0, 1] texture coordinates need to be packed into a single video texture. If video shape and size are constrained by hardware or streaming limitations, these layouts can be nontrivial, and they may require analysis in their own right.  There are many different ways to layout the six faces of the cube into a video rectangle.  In addition, there might be discontinuities where faces meet each other, which can cause problems with video encoding and pixel interpolation when rendering. Texture atlases used in games have similar issues, and they are usually addressed by adding padding at the discontinuities. These details offer an opportunity for making choices and tradeoffs for the way the abstract EAC concept is deployed.

For those of you who are familiar with OpenGL, you may have noticed that this can all be done with a cubemap texture and a fragment shader which alters the texture lookups. You’re correct! The actual math is left as an exercise for the reader.

Image quality matters a lot for VR, and it’s important to balance accurate projections with the realities of bandwidth constraints. Having reviewed some of the challenges with equirectangular projections and traditional cubemaps, it’s clear that Equi-Angular Cubemaps offer better results and more efficient use of resources. We believe it’s worth understanding EAC projections, since this is how we’re achieving higher quality streaming at lower bandwidth on YouTube. We’re excited to see how you use them in other contexts as well.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/YZW2rvS_o4s/

Send and request money in your Gmail app on Android

Category: Google | Mar 14, 2017

You can already reliably and safely share photos and files on the go with Gmail. Starting today, you can share money, too. Whether you’re splitting a dinner bill or planning a group trip, you now have a fee-free way to work out the details and settle up without ever leaving the Gmail app on Android, just like you can already do on the web. Plus, you can exchange money with anyone—not just people with Gmail addresses.

Sending money in Gmail is as easy as sending any other attachment. Just tap on the attachment icon and choose whether you want to send or request money.

send money_medium

Recipients are able to receive or request money right from the email itself—without having to install another payment app. They can even arrange for money they receive to go directly into their bank account. Either way, it’s completely free for both of you.

transfer money_medium

This feature is currently available in the U.S. only on Gmail on the web or Android.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/dTtt3MxHSUo/

Bringing pixels front and center in VR video

Category: Google | Mar 14, 2017

Editor’s Note: This is the first post in a new series where we take a more in-depth and technical look at ways to improve the virtual reality experience. Today, we’re deep diving into Equi-Angular Cubemaps, which is a new technique to stream higher quality VR video.

Since ancient times, cartographers have strived to make maps that accurately reflect the world. A central challenge of the art is projecting the Earth, which is curved, onto flat paper and screens. Many methods of projection have been proposed over the centuries, but to date no universally good answer has been found: every choice is always a tradeoff tuned for its intended use. Because new services like Google Maps and applications like VR video seek to provide accurate and meaningful information about our curved, 3D world on a 2D screen, this challenge persists even today.

While traditional cartography techniques must address the basic challenge of how to represent the world in 2D, video streaming also faces a new constraint that early mapmakers didn’t have: making efficient use of bandwidth. Streaming high quality video pushes the limits of network bandwidth, particularly for mobile networks. And when considering VR video, the bandwidth demands are vastly increased since it must represent imagery from a full sphere rather than just a small window onto the world. Stereo video roughly doubles the data yet again. Therefore making the most of available bandwidth is a top concern.

Now, in a joint effort between YouTube and Daydream, we’re adding new ways to make 360 and VR videos look even more realistic in a bandwidth-constrained world. This post delves into how these techniques work thanks to Equi-Angular Cubemaps (EACs). To benefit from them, consider putting your content on YouTube. EACs are likely to be useful in many other contexts as well, so we look forward to seeing what can be done with them.

Equirectangular Projection

The most familiar representation is one where latitudes and longitudes are used to form a square grid. This is known as the Equirectangular Projection.

EquirectGlobe

Equirectangular projection of the Tissot Indicatrix

The equirectangular projection has the advantages of being both rectangular and straightforward to visualize. It’s also relatively easy to manipulate using existing video editing tools. However, when used for video transmission, it has serious problems. First, the poles get a lot of pixels, and the equator gets relatively few. This is challenging, because spherical videos usually have their important content distributed around the equatorial regions (the middle), which is the viewer’s horizon. It also has high distortion, which makes existing video compression technology work harder.

Taken together, these shortcomings highlight the fundamental challenge of spherical video projection: evenly allocating video pixels over the surface of the display sphere.

Traditional Cube Maps

An improvement on equirectangular projections frequently used in the gaming industry is the cube map. This is conceptually simple: deform a sphere into a cube, then unfold the cube’s six faces and lay them flat.

StandardCubemapGlobe

The most straightforward way to do this is with a simple radial projection: you embed the sphere in a cube and project the image on the sphere outwards onto the surface of the cube.

This is an improvement over equirectangular projections, but it still causes substantial variation in pixel density. The problem is that the centers of the cube faces are close to the sphere, while the corners are further away.

StandardCubemap2DViz

In the figure above, the rays have all been equally spaced over the circle, but the points where the rays intersect the square are not equally spaced. As a result, the corners get more video pixels than the centers, because the longer blue line spans more pixels on the square edge than the red line, which again shortchanges the equator. In the full three dimensional case, the effect is even more pronounced.

The Equi-Angular Cubemap (EAC)

You can correct for this variation by changing where you take the video’s pixel samples.

EAC2DViz

The rays emanating from the center represent a viewer’s line of sight, equally spaced by angular change. On the left is the traditional cubemap, where the mapping from face location to pixel location is linear. On the right is the more efficient EAC mapping.

The traditional cubemap has samples of varying length depending on the sample’s location on the cube face. EAC is specifically constructed to keep these lengths equal, creating uniformly allocated pixels. For all the reasons that cartography is hard, this 2D picture does not extend perfectly into 3D: if you choose to preserve one important feature of the mapping you invariably give up something else. Check out Conformal Mapping and Equal Area Projections for more information on preserving some characteristics at the cost of others. The EAC formula is mathematically precise in 2D, but only an approximation of an equal angle pixel distribution in 3D, albeit a pretty good approximation with manageable distortion.

Uniformity Comparisons

A useful method to visually compare different projection types is to use saturation maps. A saturation map shows a color-coded ratio of video pixel to display pixel density. The color coding goes from red to orange, yellow, green and finally blue. Green indicates an optimal pixel density ratio that’s near 1:1. Red, orange and yellow indicate insufficient density (too few video pixels for the available display pixels), and blue indicates wasted resources (too many video pixels for the available display pixels). You can change the overall colors on a saturation map by increasing the resolution of the video. But for a saturation map with lots of variation, as you bring the least saturated areas to green, you also increase the area of the video where resources are being wasted. Therefore, the ideal projection has a saturation map that is uniform in color – because it can be uniformly green with sufficient resolution.

Saturation is highly dependent on the size of the image as well as the resolution of the output device. Different choices of resolutions will alter the overall greenness or orangeness. The saturation maps below were generated from a specific case study, chosen to maximize the visibility of variation in saturation.

SaturationComp

Equirectangular Projection (left), Standard Cubemap (middle), Equi-Angular Cubemap (right)

Unsurprisingly, in the Equirectangular projection the poles are blue (wasteful, too many video pixels) and the equator orange (poor quality, too few video pixels).

In comparison, the Standard Cubemap moves the optimal green regions from near the poles towards the equator. The wasteful blue regions at the poles are gone altogether. On the other hand, the cubemap is better at the corners of the cube as compared to the center of its faces. Moreover, the equatorial region has the most variation in saturation, and the centers of the cube faces are actually lower quality than the worst regions of the equirectangular projection.

Finally, the EAC projection’s saturation is significantly more uniform than either of the previous two, while further improving quality around the equator. This uniformity allows maximal use of available bandwidth, thereby permitting a choice of whichever resolution delivers optimal pixel density in a given circumstance.

The Proof is in the Pudding

The end result of all this work is an easily visible improvement in viewer video quality. The image shows screen captures of the left eye for 360 stereo video at 720p displayed in a 1080p Google Cardboard viewer. The bigger image is for context of the scene, while the smaller callouts are zoomed in regions to make the differences more apparent. The callouts compare what this scene looks like with an equirectangular projection as opposed to the new Equi-Angular Cubemap. As you can see, the image is clearer with an EAC projection.

FrameCompare

The Devil is in the Details…

That covers how the EAC projection works in principle. But it’s worth addressing the layout of the cube faces in the video’s rectangular bounds and the actual math. The equations mapping a point on a cube face to a video pixel sample are straightforward.

MathPic3EAC

An analogous operation is done for each face.

Now all six sets of [0, 1] texture coordinates need to be packed into a single video texture. If video shape and size are constrained by hardware or streaming limitations, these layouts can be nontrivial, and they may require analysis in their own right.  There are many different ways to layout the six faces of the cube into a video rectangle.  In addition, there might be discontinuities where faces meet each other, which can cause problems with video encoding and pixel interpolation when rendering. Texture atlases used in games have similar issues, and they are usually addressed by adding padding at the discontinuities. These details offer an opportunity for making choices and tradeoffs for the way the abstract EAC concept is deployed.

For those of you who are familiar with OpenGL, you may have noticed that this can all be done with a cubemap texture and a fragment shader which alters the texture lookups. You’re correct! The actual math is left as an exercise for the reader.

Image quality matters a lot for VR, and it’s important to balance accurate projections with the realities of bandwidth constraints. Having reviewed some of the challenges with equirectangular projections and traditional cubemaps, it’s clear that Equi-Angular Cubemaps offer better results and more efficient use of resources. We believe it’s worth understanding EAC projections, since this is how we’re achieving higher quality streaming at lower bandwidth on YouTube. We’re excited to see how you use them in other contexts as well.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/WLj9KiqBlEw/

Send and request money in your Gmail app on Android

Category: Google | Mar 14, 2017

You can already reliably and safely share photos and files on the go with Gmail. Now you can share money, too. Whether you’re splitting a dinner bill or planning a group trip, you now have a fee-free way to work out the details and settle up without ever leaving the Gmail app on Android, just like you can already do on the web. Plus, you can exchange money with anyone—not just people with Gmail addresses.

Sending money in Gmail is as easy as sending any other attachment. Just tap on the attachment icon and choose whether you want to send or request money.

send money_medium

Recipients are able to receive or request money right from the email itself—without having to install another payment app. They can even arrange for money they receive to go directly into their bank account. Either way, it’s completely free for both of you.

transfer money_medium

This feature is currently available in the U.S. only on Gmail on the web or Android, starting today.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/Wv5pr_YEdjs/

Shedding light on solar potential in all 50 U.S. States

Category: Google | Mar 13, 2017

Solar power is an abundant, low carbon source of electricity, but historically it has been more expensive than traditional electricity. With solar costs dropping dramatically, many people are starting to ask: does solar power make sense on my rooftop? In my town or state?  Since its initial launch in 2015, Project Sunroof has used imagery from Google Maps and Google Earth, 3D modeling and machine learning to help answer those questions accurately and at scale. For every building included in the data, Project Sunroof calculates the amount of sunlight received by each portion of the roof over the course of a year, taking into account weather patterns, position of the sun in the sky at different times of year, and shade from nearby obstructions like trees and tall buildings. Finally, the estimated sunlight is translated into energy production using industry standard models for solar installation performance.

sunroof image 1

Project Sunroof county-level coverage from 2015 – 2017

Today, Project Sunroof is helping answer those questions for more places than ever, with an expansion that brings Project Sunroof’s data coverage to every state in the U.S, with a total of approximately 60 million buildings analyzed. The expanded data reveals some fascinating insights about the solar energy opportunity nationwide:

  • Seventy-nine percent of all rooftops analyzed are technically viable for solar, meaning those rooftops have enough unshaded area for solar panels.

  • Over 90 percent of homes in Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico are technically viable, while states like Pennsylvania, Maine and Minnesota reach just above 60 percent viability.

  • Houston, TX has the most solar potential of any U.S. city in the Project Sunroof data, with an estimated 18,940 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of rooftop solar generation potential per year. Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Antonio, and New York follow Houston for the top 5 solar potential cities — see the full top 10 list in the chart below.

Sunroof image 2

To put the rooftop solar potential into perspective, the average U.S. home consumes 10,812 kilowatt-hours (kWh) a year according to EIA. There are one million kWh in one gigawatt-hour (GWh). One GWh of energy is enough to supply power to 90 homes for an entire year.

If the top ten cities above reached their full rooftop solar potential, they'd produce enough energy to power 8 million homes across the US.

Sunroof image 3

Sample of Project Sunroof solar energy potential map

This also means that if you’ve been thinking about going solar, there’s a much better chance there’s Project Sunroof data for your area. The Project Sunroof data explorer tool allows anyone to explore rooftop solar potential across U.S. zip codes, cities, counties and states. If you’re looking to learn about the solar and financial savings potential for your homes, the Project Sunroof savings estimator tool now covers 40x more buildings in the U.S. than when we launched it in 2015.

Sunroof Image 4

Visualization of solar potential at the Googleplex in Mountain View, CA.

Almost 10 years ago, Google became an early adopter of rooftop solar, installing a 1.6 megawatt (MW) solar array at our headquarters in Mountain View, CA—the largest corporate solar installation of its kind at the time. Today, Project Sunroof combines Google’s longstanding interest in sustainability and renewable energy with unique, high-quality information about the potential of rooftop solar power. We’re proud to be expanding coverage of this project to help more people decide if solar makes sense for you.  

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/Wm0ZdJqWfgg/

With your Google Assistant, the weekend’s golden

Category: Google | Mar 10, 2017

Ready to get your green on for St. Patty’s celebrations? With parades going on across the country, you’re in luck—with a little help from your Google Assistant. Just touch and hold the Home button on your Android phone* and try this for a weekend that’s over the… rainbow:

  • Play Irish River Dance videos on YouTube
  • Text my bestie, “we’re learning this routine this weekend”
  • How do you say “we’re going to rock the parade” in Gaelic?
  • Give me walking directions to the Chicago River
  • Remind me to pick up something green in the morning

irish dance

For more things to try, check this out. Sláinte!

*The Google Assistant is available on Android Marshmallow and Nougat Phones with Google Play Services. To get started, simply touch and hold the Home button on your phone.

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