Monthly Archives: September 2020

TensorFlow.js brings faster ML to your browser

Speaking of making machine learning-powered experiences fast & ubiquitous via the Web, check out the latest work from our friends on TensorFlow.js:

In March we introduced a new WebAssembly (Wasm) accelerated backend for TensorFlow.js (scroll further down to learn more about Wasm and why this is important). Today we are excited to announce a major performance update: as of TensorFlow.js version 2.3.0, our Wasm backend has become up to 10X faster by leveraging SIMD (vector) instructions and multithreading via XNNPACK, a highly optimized library of neural network operators.

You can see the performance improvements for yourself:

Check out this demo of our BlazeFace model, which has been updated to use the new Wasm backend: To compare against the unoptimized binary, try this version of the demo, which manually turns off SIMD and multithreading support.

Google Meet adds background blur—with a twist

“But what about the Web??”

I’d endlessly ask this of my old teammates, and I kept pushing to bring Google’s ML infrastructure (TensorFlow Lite, MediaPipe, etc.) and ML models (e.g. background segmentation) to everyone via browsers. Happily that work continues to bear fruit, and now the tech has come to the Web in Google Meet. This is something I haven’t seen from competitors (which rely on native apps for segmentation).

Background blur works directly within your browser and does not require an extension or any additional software. At launch, it will work on the Chrome browser on Windows and Mac desktop devices. Support for ChromeOS and Meet mobile apps will be coming soon, we’ll announce on the G Suite Updates blog when it’s available on those devices. 

Zen & the ARt of Motorcycle Customization

I have to admit, as eager as I am to see augmented reality thrive, I was a little skeptical about the value of this AR bike-modding application, but my neighbor Chris (who rides when he’s not designing motorsports gear) is enthusiastic and offered some good perspective:

Over the winter I will build my Suzuki into a pure track bike, but there are things I won’t know if they will fit until I get them all together. I know they all fit an otherwise stock bike, but won’t know if they fit together. 

Check it out for yourself:

Photography: Insects lift off at 3,200fps

Hats off—and wings up—to Prof. Adrian Smith & team from NC State:

[They] utilized a black light to attract unusual insects, like a plume moth, eastern firefly, and a rosy maple moth that, as Smith notes, resembles “a flying muppet.” He then recorded the creatures’ flight maneuvers at 3,200 fps to capture their unique wing movements, which he explains during each step. 

Let your freaky proboscises fly:


Ikea + Lego = BYGGLEK!

“Man, I thought this was gonna feature some Swedish Meatball-printed bricks, but it’s just boxes? Hmm.” — Finn Nack, who at age 12 is now deeply hard to impress 😌

Skepticism of tweens notwithstanding, this seems like a fun, simple way to upgrade storage for kids, and who doesn’t want to yell “BYGGLEK!” (a la Vonnegut’s “Gilgongo!”) from time to time?

The BYGGLEK collection will hit stores worldwide with a variety of sizes, from a three-box set priced at US$10 to a US$15 huge box, from October 2020. There will also be a LEGO brick set with 201 pieces sold along with the boxes.