Monthly Archives: January 2021

Google Lens hits 500 million downloads

This is one of the many Google projects to which I’ve been lucky enough to contribute just a bit (focusing on object tracking & graphical adornments). It’s built into Google Photos, among other surfaces, and I’m really pleased that people are seeking it out:

We at AP don’t think that Lens gets enough praise; we even named it one of our 10 favorite Android features from 2020. Lens is an AR-powered service that can help you translate, identify, and scan things around you. Last year, it added support for solving homework questionstext-to-speech and “copy to computer” functions, and helping choose the best dishes at restaurants. There’s lots of nifty stuff that Lens can do.

Google turns offices into vaccination sites, dedicates $150M to education & access

I love seeing people with the means—material, technical, organizational—to help fight the pandemic stepping up to do so. As one step:

To help with vaccination efforts, starting in the United States, we’ll make select Google facilities—such as buildings, parking lots and open spaces—available as needed. These sites will be open to anyone eligible for the vaccine based on state and local guidelines. We’ll start by partnering with health care provider One Medical and public health authorities to open sites in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area in California; Kirkland, Washington; and New York City, with plans to expand nationally. We’re working with local officials to determine when sites can open based on local vaccine availability. 

Google is also adding $150 million to previous commitments around education & access:

Our efforts will focus heavily on equitable access to vaccines. Early data in the U.S. shows that disproportionately affected populations, especially people of color and those in rural communities, aren’t getting access to the vaccine at the same rates as other groups. To help, Google.org has committed $5 million in grants to organizations addressing racial and geographic disparities in COVID-19 vaccinations, including Morehouse School of Medicine’s Satcher Health Leadership Institute and the CDC Foundation.

Fight on. 💪

“The World Deserves Witnesses”

Lovely work from Leica, testifying to the power of presence, capture, and connection.

Per PetaPixel,

“A witness, someone who sees what others simply watch,” the company writes in a description of the campaign. “When Leica invented the first 35mm camera in 1914, it allowed people to capture their world and the world around them and document its events, no matter how small or big they were. Today, as for more than one century, Leica keeps celebrating the witnesses, the ones who see the everyday beauty, grace and poetry, and the never ending irony and drama of our human condition, and bring their cameras to the eye in order to frame it and fix it forever.

Facebook improves automatic image description

I love seeing progress towards making the world more accessible, and tech that’s good for inclusion can also benefit all users & businesses. Here the researchers write,

To make our models work better for everyone, we fine-tuned them so that data was sampled from images across all geographies, and using translations of hashtags in many languages. We also evaluated our concepts along gender, skin tone, and age axes. The resulting models are both more accurate and culturally and demographically inclusive — for instance, they can identify weddings around the world based (in part) on traditional apparel instead of labeling only photos featuring white wedding dresses.

PetaPixel writes,

Facebook says that this new model is more reliably able to recognize more than 1,200 concepts, which is more than 10 times as many as the original version launched in 2016.

From refugee to… squirrel photographer?

Our kids were born with such voluminous, Dizzy Gillespie-grade cheeks that we immediately dubbed them “The Squirrels,” and we later gave our van the license plate SQRLPOD. This has nothing to do with anything, but I thought of it fondly upon seeing this charming 1-minute portrait:

Niki Colemont, is a wildlife photographer and a survivor who fled the Rwandan genocide at just four years old, arriving in Belgium as a refugee. The National Geographic 2019 finalist photographer finds peace today in photographing squirrels, who he considers “the perfect models.”

AR: Super high-res car interiors arrive in Google Search

Imagine loading multi-gigabyte 3D models nearly instantaneously into your mobile device, then placing them into your driveway and stepping inside. That’s what we’ve now enabled via Google Search on Android:

Take it for a spin via the models listed below, and please let us know what you think!

Volvo: Volvo XC40, Volvo XC40 Recharge, Volvo XC60, Volvo XC90

Porsche: Porsche 911, Porsche Cayenne, Porsche Macan, Porsche Panamera, Porsche Taycan

Fiat Chrysler: Jeep Wrangler 4xE

Drone rescues drone

“For he is truly his brother’s keeper, and the finder of lost children…”

Photographer Ty Poland tells the story, including this MacGyver-y bit:

Next up, we needed a lasso. Thankfully our good friend Martin Sanchez had an extra pair of shoes in the trunk. On top of that, he had just polished off a fresh iced coffee from Dunkin with a straw. With these two ingredients, we were able to construct an open lasso. By simply putting the straw over the shoelace and adding a small key chain for weight, we were able to center the lasso to the Mavic 2 Pro for the rescue.