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This week's feature

Google – WAY more than a Search Engine

You Google, we Google… everyone Googles. It’s the most popular search engine on the planet, accounting for 96% of searches in India, 92% in France, 86% in the UK, 81% in the USA… Well, OK, a measly 6% in a China, but hey, we know what that’s all about. Basically, Google is a search engine, a website that uses ingenious comparison algorithms! Since its inception in 1998, Google engineers have come up with all kinds of offshoot apps: Google Maps, Gmail, Android, Earth, Drive, Hangouts, Blogger, and so many others that on 10 August 2015, founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin gathered all their products under a new parent company, baptized Google Alphabet. (*source Statista)

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So this week, in mag 85, Google – WAY more than a Search Engine we’ll take a look at the Californian juggernaut and some of the amazing projects that don’t always make the headlines:

  1. With artificial intelligence, no need for hands to make a song!
  2. The story of the Google algorithm
  3. Google’s turning our windmills into kites
  4. Regina Dugan, the DARPA alum who nudged Google into research
  5. TOP 5 Projects we owe to “Google 20% time”
  6. Can Google turn the world into a video game?
  7. 3 questions to the Vice President of Levi’s and fashion designer for Project Jacquard
  8. Behind the scenes at Google
  9. Google’s future mobile phone
  10. Can Google win an Oscar?
  11. Google’s Toontastic 3D cartoon app
  12. Touch without touching: Google’s incredible Soli Project

Fasten your seatbelts, destination pop culture!

As cofounder Larry Page said:

Lots of companies don’t succeed over time. What do they fundamentally do wrong? They usually miss the future.

With artificial intelligence, no need for hands to make a song!

Music - January 25, 2017

Jay-Z, Adele, Coldplay… Google: that’s an eye-opening line-up, eh?;) Google’s making waves in every field, even music. The Web giant is developing Magenta, AI software that would “create art,” starting with music. It generated its premier song in 2016:

OK, so it’s not exactly Mozart, but it’s not bad for machine.

The researchers who came up with Google Brain have a second goal for Magenta: create an artistic community of musicians, coders and researchers. The idea is democratize musical production, using AI. They opened-sourced TensorFlow, their AI software library, spawning AI experiments, a site where internauts can upload their experiments and creations. One of them enables users to sing a duo with an AI partner, using a MIDI keyboard plugged into your laptop. You compose a tune, rhythm, and notes and the AI contributes a musically analogous complement.

Will we be going to concerts of AI-artists? It’s the logical next step after Daft Punk 😉

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The story of the Google algorithm

The infographic - January 25, 2017

Top Secret – like Coca Cola’s recipe

infographic-google-story-search-engine

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3 questions to Paul Dillinger, Vice President of Levi’s and fashion designer for Project Jacquard

The 3 questions - January 25, 2017

With Project Jacquard, Google is teaming up with Levi’s to manufacture smart clothes – iconic jeans all souped-up with new-tech. We met with Paul Dillinger, Vice President of Levi’s to talk about this hip new fashion/tech collaboration.

Orange Pop: How did Project Jacquard start?

Paul Dillinger: The Levi’s innovation team and Google joined forces to create a modern version of denim: The Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket, with Jacquard technology woven in. Both Google and Levi’s bring something very special to the table in each of their respective fields of expertise. Levi’s is built on design innovation, unique craftsmanship and a pioneering spirit that has been a part of culture and style over the past 140 years. Google brings cutting-edge tech, platforms and digital systems. Google approached Levi’s to be their first partner for the Jacquard interactive fabric as they knew they could count on us for our expertise, being the inventors of one of the most iconic products in the world: the blue jean. Google did not want to tackle clothing, they wanted to partner with experts in the field.

O. Pop: How did you work with Google on that project?

PD: The great thing about the partnership was that each company was able to own different elements within the project. Levi’s has always been about purposeful design and creating products that meet a consumer need. Since the launch of the Commuter collection in 2012, we have been integrating advanced technologies into our products- and so Commuter felt like the most natural fit for the collaboration. Jacquard is a platform developed by Google which enables the user to program interaction with a device – adjusting music volume, silencing a call, or getting an estimated ETA to their location.

 O. Pop: Do you think this is the start of something big, something everyone will wear in the future?

PD: What is special about Project Jacquard is that the technology is discreetly integrated into a fabric we know, and a garment we already love.  This isn’t “like denim”; this is denim.  Style isn’t sacrificed to achieve technical utility.  First and foremost, these are great-looking Levi’s® jean jackets.  You wear it and care for it just like your other favorite jean jackets.  …and if you get it dirty, you can put it in the laundry. We believe this is an important direction in the evolution of wearable technology.  Useful interface, discreetly integrated with the objects we already know and love, rather than invented “gadgets” that are added to or imposed on our lives and end up in junk drawers.

O.Pop : Comment avez-vous travaillé avec Google sur ce projet ?

P.D : Ce qui était vraiment bien dans ce partenariat est que chaque entreprise a pu amener au projet des élément différents. Levi’s a toujours cherché à concevoir et créer des produits qui répondent à un besoin du consommateur. Depuis le lancement de notre collection Commuter en 2012, nous intégrons les nouvelles technologies dans nos produits. Cette collection Commuter nous paraissait donc naturellement adaptée à cette collaboration. Jacquard est une plateforme développée par Google qui permet à l’utilisateur de programmer lui-même l’interaction avec un périphérique – par exemple, pour ajuster le volume de sa musique, refuser un appel ou demander un itinéraire.

O.Pop : Pensez-vous que c’est le début de quelque chose que tout le monde portera dans le futur ?

P.D : Ce qui est particulier avec Project Jacquard, c’est que la technologie est discrètement intégrée dans un tissu que nous connaissons déjà, et un vêtement que nous aimons déjà. Ce n’est pas “une sorte de jean”, c’est du jean. Le style n’est pas sacrifié au profit de l’utilité technique. Avant toute chose, c’est une belle veste en jean Levi’s. Vous la portez et en prenez soin comme n’importe laquelle de vos autres vestes en jean préférées… Et si elle est sale, vous pouvez la mettre à la machine. Nous pensons qu’il s’agit d’une direction importante dans l’évolution des technologies à porter comme des vêtements. Une interface utile, discrètement intégrée avec les objets que nous connaissons déjà et que nous aimons, bien plus que les “gadgets” inventés qui sont ajoutés ou imposés à nos vies et qui finissent à l’arrière de nos garde-robes.

©Paul Dillinger, Vice President of Levi’s & Jacquard Project

ELSEWHERE ON ORANGE POP

Interview: Eric Schmidt (Alphabet/Google) : « The Internet will disappear »

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Google’s turning our windmills into kites

Shine at parties! - January 25, 2017

Proving that profitable and environmentally friendly aren’t incompatible, Google is one of the world’s most-valuable businesses and eco-aware, too. British daily The Guardian reported that in 2017 Google will be run entirely on renewables (wind and solar). No surprise, then, that they’ve been conducting research in sustainable energies and technologies for years.

One of the most interesting green projects is Makani Power. The idea is simple: build ultra-light kites with on-board electronics that convert wind into clean energy very cheaply. Experiments are being conducted by Google X (one of their big R&D labs) and if successful, would mean we could replace big costly windmills with cheap efficient kites. Go fly a kite… and fuel the planet!

RECOMMENDED FOR YOU

Story: Web browsers, then & now

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Can Google turn the world into a video game?

The killer question - January 25, 2017

Project your virtual environment into the real world? Google’s betting on it with its Project Tango. Sensors enable you to perceive the world in 3D via smartphone and tablet enhanced reality. Gaming is the sector that stands to benefit the most, offering enthusiasts a whole brave new (cyber) world. Ready or not, the revolution is here.

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Regina Dugan, the DARPA alum who nudged Google into research

Who's who - January 25, 2017

Basically, if it weren’t for Regina Dugan, Google may never have even gotten into research and development. It’s not a stretch to say that this New Yorker is one of the Web’s key historical figures. This science whiz joined DARPA (US defense project launched in 1958 that was the Web’s precursor) and became its first woman director, then headed over to Google in 2012 where she then set up Google ATAP (Advanced Technology and Projects), the lab responsible for many of Google’s innovations.

Regina’s the Queen of Google tech: we have her to thank for most of their ground-breaking inventions. Regularly head-hunted, she wound up at Facebook last year. Zuck knows a thing or two about talent-scouting brainy women!

regina-dugan-darapa-google-recherche-googleatap-facebook

Google’s Regina Dugan, innovation is her game © Virginia Tech University

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TOP 5 Projects we owe to “Google 20% time”

Gimme 5 - January 25, 2017

A long-time Google policy is that its researchers can spend 20% of their work day on personal projects, while using the company resources. The policy was so successful it was abandoned in 2013 because these cool ideas merited way more than 20% of in-house time. Here are the top 5 innovations born of this unorthodox policy:

1. Gmail: Google’s email service is world famous now but few are aware that it started out in-house. A pure product of “20% time,” gmail is the brainchild of software designer Paul Buchheit.

2. AdSense: Google’s advertising user interface also came from 20% time. And it’s a goldmine: AdSense accounts for 25% of Google’s revenues.

3. Google News: Google’s news service has snowballed since its creation in 2002. It’s been updated numerous times and is continuously spreading to more and more countries. Thanks 20% time.

4. Google Talk: Back in 2005 and well before Google Hangouts, the Web juggernaut already had an in-house instant messaging service called Google Talk, another free time invention.

5. Google Map Wheelchair App: Google Drive product manager Rio Akasaka used his 20% time to come up with a wheelchair map-app, adding wheelchair-accessibility info to Google Maps. Doing well by doing good.

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Behind the scenes at Google

Stories - January 25, 2017

Google might very well be one of world’s most admired companies, but very few actually know what it’s like to work on a project there…

Thankfully, the Mountain View-based company is very open on the matter, and started a channel called Life at Google – the title speaks for itself 😉 The channel posts weekly or monthly exclusive content that you could never learn by simply visiting the Googleplex (which is open to the public): How to: Prepare for a Google Engineering Interview, Working at Google – What is Research at Google?, and many more topics!

But the tech giant does not only reveal what life on campus is like, it also has a vlog like channel – Nat & Lo – which goes behind the scenes of Google projects. Their videos include What Does YouTube Do To Your Video After You Upload It?, Can Your Phone Actually Make You A Better Driver?, and We Popped A Giant Internet Balloon!

Press play and Google will no longer be a secret to you !

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Google’s future mobile phone

Stories - January 26, 2017

By 2020, 70% of the world population will own a mobile phone – and Google doesn’t plan on being left behind!

The American multinational technology company is already on 9 out of 10 mobile phones (maybe yours 😉 ) thanks to its Android branch. But Google wants to go further, it wants to customize and imagine the future of mobile experience by refreshing as well as creating new apps.

For example, Google Maps partnered with Tock to make restaurant reservations easier. As well, they have brought Google Translation to a whole new level with the “Google instant camera translator”: scan a text with your camera, and the job is done!

Google is also using science to reinvent the future of mobile use. For example, with Project Tango’s augmented reality, users can now insert virtual elements into the real world thanks to their camera (visualize a chair/lamp in a room before buying it online!).

But Google’s boldest futuristic move (yet to come) is Android Instant Apps. The idea is simple: you will no longer need to install countless apps to see all the content your friends send you – all in one! In the same vein as its GBoard and Google Trips, Google shows once again that its vision is all about using science and technology to make mobile experience easier.

Finally, Google even considered working on a new mobile design – a modular phone, called Project Ara, that reimagined the smartphone as a series of smaller, LEGO-style bricks that could be attached, rearranged, and swapped out in seconds. Unfortunately, for weight and technical reasons, the project has been suspended.

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Can Google win an Oscar?

Stories - January 27, 2017

With over hundreds of ongoing projects, Google has often overstepped the fine line between science research and other (well known) industries.

Spotlight Stories is a perfect example of this phenomenon. Initiated by Google’s ATAP branch, the “virtual reality storytelling project has already developed several cinema-quality immersive 360-degree videos. Films include On Ice, Rain or Shine, as well as a feature with award-winning illustrator Jon Klassen.

Google scientists have reached such a quality standard that the iconic TV series The Simpsons called upon them to work on a special 600th episode – Planet of the Couches.

Is there any way Google can top The Simpsons? 😉 Well, as a matter of fact it can, and it did: Spotlight Stories has officially been nominated for an Oscar! Pearl is the very first VR film ever to be nominated for the award – a sweet story that follows a father musician-daughter relationship over a span of years. If Google wins or not is another matter, but getting an Oscar nod is quite enough to say that Google is going to play a great part in the future of VR filming 😉

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Create your own cartoon with Google’s Toontastic 3D

Stories - January 30, 2017

After making 3D painting possible with Tilt Brush, Google is back with another palette for our imagination: Toontastic 3D.

As the title suggests, the app allows kids (and adults 😉 ) to create their own 3D cartoon stories in a very intuitive way. Users can choose from a selection of animated figures and backgrounds (or draw their own), as well as give their own voice to the narrative. Using the app’s editor and camera features, users can even insert themselves into the story. Do not worry, for those a little weary of where to start, you can access a preset story arc!

The app was created in collaboration with the award-winning company Launchpad Toys, and has already acquired a certain level of recognition amongst psychologists who believe that the ability for kids to narrate their stories gives them a sense of freedom and helps them learn basic social cues.

Entertaining and fun – play on 😉

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Touch without touching: Google’s unbelievable Project Soli

Stories - January 31, 2017

As you might have already noticed it ( 😉 ) Google has an impressive foothold in many fields: mobiles, AI, cinema, painting, health… and – last but not least – smart watches.

Google and LG have officially released the fifth and final preview of their highly anticipated 2.0 collaborations: LG Watch Sport and LG Watch Style. As well as being round-shaped, the two devices will include an additional unique feature compared to classic square smart watches: gesture control! Thanks to Google’s scientific research with Project Soli, users will no longer need to press screens, nor turn buttons. Everything will be done without a touch!

Indeed, for the past months, Project Soli has been developing a radar capable of tracking gesture control up to 15 meters! No need to say that with such valuable technology Google has already started working on integrating it to other objects – like a speaker for example.

The future is just a touch away 😉

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See you next week!

To be continued - January 25, 2017

Next Wednesday, we pay tribute to the pop culture icons who have seen the future

 

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