My brand new gig: Augmenting reality in Google Research

I’m stupid-excited to say that I’ve just joined Google’s Skynet Machine Perception team to build kickass creative, expressive experiences, delivering augmented reality to (let’s hope) a billion+ people. I told you sh*t just got real. 🙂

Now, the following career bits may be of interest only to me (and possibly my mom), but in case you’re wondering, “Wait, don’t you work on Google Photos…?”

Well, like SNL’s Stefon, “I’ve had a weird couple of years…” 


The greatly smoothed version goes basically like this:

  • I joined Google in early 2014 to work on Photos. I liked to say I was “Teaching Google Photoshop,” meaning getting computers to see & synthesize like humans (making your Assistant your artist!). Among other things, we created a brand-new image editor, did some early AR face-painting work (a year+ ahead of Snapchat et al), and made movies for tens of millions of people.
  • After a bit over a year, I wanted to explore some crazier photo- and video-related ideas (stuff not ready for Photos to include then, if ever), so I left the team & walked across the hall to work with & learn from Luke Wroblewski. Thus I was “working at Google on photos, just not Photos.” This was a subtle distinction, and as I was working on secret stuff, I didn’t spend time publicizing it. I remained closely involved with the ex-Nik Photos folks in building out Snapseed & the next rev of the new editor we’d started.
  • Meanwhile I spent the better part of the next year thinking up, prototyping, and iterating on a bunch of little photo apps. It was a tough but enlightening process. I know we were on to something, but I also felt like Edison saying some variant of “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways not to make a light bulb.”
  • Somewhat tired from the process & eager to make concrete contributions, I was set to join an imaging hardware team. When project plans changed, however, I agreed to help improve photography experiences on social apps including Google+.
  • Having witnessed on Photos the massive importance of speed, I teamed up with my future teammates in Research to build out the RAISR machine-learning library and ship it in Google+, saving users immense amounts of bandwidth (critical in the developing world).
  • Since then, and up until this week, I’ve been focusing on enterprise social needs. Though it wasn’t an area I sought out, I ended up really digging the experience, and I look forward to eventually sharing some of the rad stuff my team was building.
  • And then, Google bought this little company in Belarus & my old Research friends came calling…

So now we’ve come full circle, and to capture my feelings, I’ll cite SNL yet again. Wish me luck. 🙂 

4 thoughts on “My brand new gig: Augmenting reality in Google Research

  1. Excellent news. Many congratulations. Wish you every success in your new role. Looking forward to hearing more about the developing technologies. Family celebration called for! Ginger beer all round!

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