Category Archives: Miscellaneous

“Not Hot Dog”… but ramen, or hummus?

Google had some dorky fun recently with an April Fool’s announcement of a Cloud Hummus API:

Silly, yes—but apparently not as far-fetched as you’d think. Check out computer vision being trained to identify ramen by shop:

Recently, data scientist Kenji Doi used machine learning models and AutoML Vision to classify bowls of ramen and identify the exact shop each bowl is made at, out of 41 ramen shops, with 95 percent accuracy. Sounds crazy (also delicious), especially when you see what these bowls look like. […]

You don’t have to be a data scientist to know how to use it—all you need to do is upload well-labeled images and then click a button. In Kenji’s case, he compiled a set of 48,000 photos of bowls of soup from Ramen Jiro locations, along with labels for each shop, and uploaded them to AutoML Vision.

Days of miracles and wonder… and ramen.



The terrific behind-the-scenes making of Apple’s “Welcome Home”

Spike Jonze, a quarter century on from Sabotage (Dios mio…), continues to crush it. AdWeek writes,

The almost seven-minute mini-documentary, directed by Danilo Parra, explores all the creative disciplines in wonderful detail, shedding light on the challenges that the intricate piece presented every step of the way.

And if you somehow haven’t seen the finished piece, enjoy:

[YouTube 1 & 2]

New eerily realistic “Siren” performance capture & rendering

We now find ourselves in one of those internal arms races, with one group of nerds working to realistically smooth real people’s skin in realtime while others work to make fake people’s skin realistically imperfect. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

‘Siren’, a high-fidelity, real-time virtual “human,” is the brainchild of Epic Games, 3Lateral, Cubic Motion, Tencent, and Vicon, and was designed as a more effective, timesaving alternative for creating hyperrealistic video game characters… Look up close, and you’ll find that ‘Siren’ even has beauty “imperfections” like pimples and visible pores.


[YouTube] [Via]

Google makes an AI-powered musical instrument (for real!)

Expressive superpowers FTW!

The Verge writes,

The NSynth Super is a piece of hardware that brings the NSynth technology to life. As Douglas Eck, research scientist on the Google Brain team, says in the video above, NSynth doesn’t generate notes, but rather, the actual sound of an instrument. The NSynth algorithm learns the core qualities of what makes up an individual sound and then is able to combine sounds to create something completely new.


[YouTube 1 & 2]

Check out Kittyhawk’s autonomous electric flying taxi

Yeah, if I had Google-founder money, I’d be funding craziness like this pretty much nonstop. Fortunately, actual Google founder Larry Page is doing just that.

TechCrunch writes,

With Cora, Kitty Hawk’s real vision comes through – the startup aims to build, own and operate a fleet of these as an on-demand self-flying taxi service, beginning commercial operations in as few as three years’ time. No word yet on price or how this will operate exactly in terms of pick-up and drop-off points, but it seems farther along than a lot of the other pie-in-the-sky autonomous aerial taxi projects out there, thanks to official government support.



Google “Pup View” comes to Japan

Yo dawg, I put a GoPro on your dog…

Speaking of Google’s why-the-heck-not streak:

Akita dogs are a big part of life in Ōdate city. So to give visitors a snapshot of the local area, residents called on the help of a hardy trio of Akita dogs—Ako, Asuka and Puuko—to give their unique perspective of a dog’s life in Akita. With a small camera attached to a dog-friendly harness on their backs, the dogs set out to collect their very own Street View Pup-View of their home city.



“Let’s-A go!” Mario Kart comes to Google Maps

Happy “Mar10” Day! All this week you can have a little Italian plumber & his kart drive along with you:

To get started, you’ll need to first update your app from Google Play or the App Store. Next, simply click on the yellow “?” icon found on the bottom right of your Google Maps app on Android or iOS. You’ll then see a prompt to enable Mario Time!

Whenever I see these little “why the heck not?” bits from Google, I think of this observation from Khoi Vinh, occasioned by the Smarty Pins map/trivia game:

Apple fans like myself often criticize Google for doing things that Apple would never do, and Smarty Pins is a prime example of that. Aside from being an unfair criticism, it’s pointless. The fact that Google endeavors to produce silly things like this is on the whole a positive thing, I believe. It’s acting according to its own compass, which is what every company should be doing.

At Adobe I used to say, “We’ll never out-Apple Apple. We’ll never be more mysterious & magical, so let’s be ourselves—conversational and down-to-earth.”

Or as Steve Jobs said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”


Google AI powers… Cheetos Vision?

As I’m wont to say ~15 times daily, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Developed by the GS&P Labs at Goodby Silverstein & Partners, the AI builds upon Google’s open-source ‘Tensorflow’ machine learning framework to create a photography app that packs a crunch. The AI is trained to closely replicate the irregular silhouettes of Cheetos bits to fill in images completely—none of that bag-of-air nonsense.


[YouTube] [Via]

Engineers & testers: Come work on Photoshop

Turns out that my Adobe friends are hiring for a lot of positions in & around Photoshop engineering. If any of the following sound like an interesting match for your skills, let ‘em know!









[Via Jackie Lincoln-Owyang]

Kids in Africa experience Legos for the first time

Seeing this & remembering how wildly creative I’ve seen little kids be when given just a handful of wheels & bricks brought a big smile to my face:

Support our Crowdrise campaign! We sent 50 pounds of Legos to a school in a rural Uganda. This video captures the students, none of whom had ever seen Legos before, playing the Legos for the firs time. For more information, visit


[YouTube] [Via Sally Cox]