Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Google Maps adds wheelchair accessibility info

Last year I mentioned the story of how my colleague Sasha Blair-Goldensohn has used his experience of using a wheelchair to make Maps help make the world easier to navigate. Now Sasha is sharing some good news:

People can now turn on an “Accessible Places” feature to have wheelchair accessibility information more prominently displayed in Google Maps. When Accessible Places is switched on, a wheelchair icon will indicate an accessible entrance and you’ll be able to see if a place has accessible seating, restrooms or parking. If it’s confirmed that a place does not have an accessible entrance, we’ll show that information on Maps as well.

It’s cool to see what a community-powered effort this is:

Today, Google Maps has wheelchair accessibility information for more than 15 million places around the world. That number has more than doubled since 2017 thanks to the dedication of more than 120 million Local Guides and others who’ve responded to our call to share accessibility information. In total, this community has contributed more than 500 million wheelchair accessibility updates to Google Maps. Store owners have also helped, using Google My Business to add accessibility information for their business profiles to help users needing stair-free access find them on Google Maps and Search.

Copy your handwriting to your computer via Google Lens

“FM technology,” man—F’ing Magic. Check this out:

Now, when you select text with Lens, you can tap “copy to computer” to quickly paste it on another signed-in device with Chrome. This is great for quickly copying handwritten notes (if you write neatly!) and pasting it on your laptop without having to retype them all. Copying text to your computer requires the latest version of Chrome, and for both devices to be signed into the same Google account.

Uke gone wild

My wife has been using quarantine to teach herself to play the ukulele (and me teaching myself to spell it correctly for once!), so I was especially charmed this year to learn that 1) Google has a ukulele group, and 2) they recently performed together for Hawaii’s celebratory Lei Day (May 1). Group member Eva Depta was kind enough to share the positive vibes publicly:

Bringing back horrible sax solos with Google AI

Dynamite saxophone solos in rock n’ roll songs” kinda died, per 30 Rock, back in the 80’s, but thanks to my colleagues in machine learning (who are truly doing God’s work 🙃), perhaps they’ll soon be back:

I’m told that the model requires ~10-15 minutes of audio training data, and once it’s ready you can apply a transfer in around 2-3 seconds.

Perhaps now we’ll all be Jack Blacks (Jacks Black?) 🎷

[Via Sehmon Burnam]

Matterport brings 3D room-scanning & reconstruction to iPhone

Hmm—I look forward to taking this thing for a spin:

The developers write,

* Share your 3D virtual tour on social and messaging platforms with a Matterport-generated URL
* Sit back and relax, with automatic image processing, color correction, and face blurring
* Guide viewers around by highlighting features in your space with Mattertags and labels
* Add measurements to your 3D capture to accurately size the space