ZOMG: A life-sized Lego Westy

Ladies & gentlemen, we are approaching Peak JNack…

Using 400,000 LEGO® bricks, two experienced LEGO® model makers have built what is probably the world’s biggest camper from LEGO® bricks. The full-size T2 was revealed at the f.re.e leisure and travel fair in Munich. Visitors young and old to f.re.e (20 – 24 February) will be able to admire the 700 kg Bulli up close. The vehicle that served as the blueprint for the model was the T2a camper van, built from 1967 to 1971 – to this day the truly iconic camper for globetrotters.

See more photos & details here.

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[Via]

Photography: Beautiful orbital shots of “The World Below”

Bruce Berry (not Neil Young’s late roadie) created some beautiful time lapse imagery from images captured aboard the International Space Station:

On Vimeo he writes,

All footage has been edited, color graded, denoised, deflickered, stabilized by myself. Some of the 4K video clips were shot at 24frames/sec reflecting the actual speed of the space station over the earth. Shots taken at wider angels were speed up a bit to match the flow of the video.

Some interesting facts about the ISS: The ISS maintains an orbit above the earth with an altitude of between 330 and 435 km (205 and 270 miles). The ISS completes 15.54 orbits per day around the earth and travels at a speed of 27,600 km/h; 17,100 mph).

The yellow line that you see over the earth is Airgolw/Nightglow. Airglow/Nightglow is a layer of nighttime light emissions caused by chemical reactions high in Earth’s atmosphere. A variety of reactions involving oxygen, sodium, ozone, and nitrogen result in the production of a very faint amount of light (Keck A and Miller S et al. 2013).

I love the choice of music & wondered whether it comes from Dunkirk. Close: that somewhat anxious tock-tock undertone is indeed a Hans Zimmer jam, but from 20 years earlier (The Thin Red Line).

[YouTube]

Machine learning in your browser tracks your sweet bod

A number of our partner teams have been working on both the foundation for browser-based ML & on cool models that can run there efficiently:

We are excited to announce the release of BodyPix, an open-source machine learning model which allows for person and body-part segmentation in the browser with TensorFlow.js. With default settings, it estimates and renders person and body-part segmentation at 25 fps on a 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro, and 21 fps on an iPhone X. […]

This might all make more sense if you try a live demo here.

Check out this post for more details.

David Salesin joins Google Research

“Man, that dude looks eerily like David Salesin,” I thought the other day as I was getting coffee, “but nah, he’s wearing a new-employee badge. But wait, holy crap… that dude is David Salesin wearing an employee badge!”

Perhaps you don’t know his name, but for 11+ years David (a tango-dancing Aikido black belt) led a wing of Adobe Research, and we collaborated on more projects than I can begin to count. Now he’s at the Goog (having led Snapchat research in the interim), teaming back up with several of our fellow Adobe alums. I can’t wait to see what he does here!

Last Monday I began work as a Principal Scientist / Director at Google AI Perception, based in San Francisco. I’m excited to collaborate with so many good friends and colleagues who are already at Google, and, in time, to hire many more. Google’s products and reach are incredibly broad, and so is the mandate for my lab: I look forward to continue inventing tools for creative expression, as well as to begin working on some brand new far-reaching challenges potentially well outside my area of expertise, like applying AI to healthcare. In my new role, I’m energized to grow in new ways, working on projects that, in Larry Page’s words, are “uncomfortably exciting”! 

Eye-popping racing drone photography

Holy crap! Now my stuff looks positively lethargic ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, but what the heck, strap in & enjoy:

DIY Photography writes,

Johnny Schaer (Johnny FPV) is a pro drone racer. His drones are designed to be light, quick, nimble, fly upside down and through all kinds of crazy flightpaths that DJI’s drones could never achieve. And when somebody with the skill of Johnny turns on the camera, that’s when you get results like the video above.

To shoot the footage, Johnny used a drone built around the AstroX X5 Freestyle Frame (JohnnyFPV edition, obviously) frame with a GoPro Hero 7. It has no GPS, no gimbal, no stabilisation, no collision avoidance, none of those safety features that make more commercial drones predictable and easy to fly. 

[YouTube]

It’s Friday: Let’s melt some faces!

I’m so pleased to say that my team’s face-tracking tech (which you may have seen powering AR effects in YouTube Stories and elsewhere) is now available for developers to build upon:

ARCore’s new Augmented Faces API (available on the front-facing camera) offers a high quality, 468-point 3D mesh that lets users attach fun effects to their faces. From animated masks, glasses, and virtual hats to skin retouching, the mesh provides coordinates and region specific anchors that make it possible to add these delightful effects.


“Why do you keep looking at King Midas’s wife?” my son Finn asked as I was making this GIF the other day. :-p

Check out details & grab the SDKs:

We can’t wait to see what folks build with this tech, and we’ll share more details soon!

Electricity-generating kites? Google’s “Makani” moonshot takes off

“Days of miracles & wonder,” part 9,277:

We’re working to advance the global adoption of renewable energy by creating kites that efficiently harness energy from the wind. After more than a decade developing our energy kite technology on land, I’m thrilled to share that we’re now partnering with Shell to bring Makani to offshore environments. As we take this next step towards commercialization, we’ll also be moving on from the Moonshot Factory, our home for the last five years, to become an independent business within Alphabet.

Watch it soar:

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[YouTube]