Tag Archives: Google

Your ‘smart’ fridge will broadcast adds – which may or may not (ever) exist

Photo: Ryan Steele
Photo: Ryan Steele

Imagine that you’re about to run out of milk. This sucks, because it means a trip to the store. Now imagine that your fridge is ‘smart’ and can see that you’re about to run out. Seeing as it’s ‘smart’ it can order the milk by itself – it would, however, just like to talk to you about what you’re missing out on by not switching to the new IsMilk brand.

Sounds wacky? Well, according to Google, this is the future of tomorrow, and not a hundred years.

“We expect the definition of “mobile” to continue to evolve as more and more “smart” devices gain traction in the market. For example, a few years from now, we and other companies could be serving ads and other content on refrigerators, car dashboards, thermostats, glasses, and watches, to name just a few possibilities. Our expectation is that users will be using our services and viewing our ads on an increasingly wide diversity of devices in the future, and thus our advertising systems are becoming increasingly device-agnostic,” the company wrote in a recent report.

And that’s fine. I mean, ads everywhere makes sense – especially if you’re Google.

What doesn’t make sense to me is the basic concept of a smart fridge. The definition of ‘smart’ in relation to intelligence is ‘having or showing a quick-witted intelligence.’ The fridge is basically going to be able to count. Lots of milk equals good, some milk is worrisome and no milk is bad. Surely that doesn’t make something smart?

A truly smart fridge would potentially let everything go old, giving its owners food poisoning – just because it was incredibly bored with just counting and then ordering things that were in short supply.

Oh yeah, it will also be capable of broadcasting adds. Adds that according to Google are ‘device-agnostic’.

The definition of ‘agnostic’ is ‘a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God.’ So in this case the fridge, this means that it believes that nothing can be known about whether or not adds exist – and if they did, you wouldn’t be able to describe them or what they were like.

I’m not sure if that’s smart or incredibly stupid….

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Google + Nest = Casper the ‘Friendly’ Terminator?

Google's next product?
Google’s next product?

Google’s purchase of thermostat producer Nest Labs for several billion dollars has raised eyebrows (there are so many puns on temperature of stock and so on that it’s almost…almost not funny) in tech circles and beyond.

The general agreement seems to be that the deal shows that Google is no longer ‘just’ a search engine company, but is aiming to be so much more – that the deal shows how the company has gone from wanting to run everything on your computer / tablet / phone to now steering toward a future where Google runs your home.

Others question paying $3.2 for a company that basically builds pretty thermostats. OK, you get a couple of former Apple poster boys thrown into the deal (one of them is seen as the daddy of the iPod), but it’s still a lot of money.

Others speculate that this new purchase is particular bad news for Apple – although also just generally bad for everyone in the tech industry that’s not Google.

While most people seem to think that this is due to the fact that Google is now taking a big swing at businesses that were previously out of harms way when the internet giant decided it was time to flex its almost limitless economic muscles, then I have a slightly different take.

In recent years, Google have, amongst other things, done the following:

Bought Nest – makes thermostats that thermostat can learn user behaviour and whether a building is occupied through temperature, humidity, activity and light sensors.
Bought Boston Dynamics – builds robots for the US military.
Bought a startup that works on software for recognising human gestures.
Sponsored automated vehicle competitions and shows videos of their self-driving cars.

So in other words Google have acquired soft- and hardware that, if you add it together, seem to be the building blocks for a Terminator – and they’ve already sort of built Skynet. Now take all those facts and think about the name of the software that Google have helped develop that powers most of the world’s smartphones…

If I was competing with Google, I’d be very nervous around Brin and Page in future and be sure to watch their hands for any sort of kill-signal….:-)

Google Android has more than quarter billion followers in China

Google’s Android operating system looks to be more popular than the Communist party in China – at least according to a recent study by the Chinese search engine Baidu.

The figures for actual users are a bit hazy…a bit like Beijing at midday, really. OK, Beijing at midday is downright foggy, but still – the point is that the number is a bit of a guesstimate, as there aren’t any centralized office that looks into this sort of thing in China.

Instead Baidu have had to count trends and then do a bit of creative maths.

Much like the Chinese Communist Party when they do their ‘user satisfaction’ studies, then….

Google buys flying windmills

Google have announced that they have bought Makani Power, a company know for its ‘flying windmills’.

Instead of building a tower and sticking some blades and an electricity generator on the top of it, Makani’s version of a windmill is a flying robot wing, with propellers that can act as both a means of propulsion at lift-off and power the generators once it reaches the desired height. The whole thing is tethered to the ground, meaning that the company does away with a lot of the construction costs usually associated with building a windmill.

“This formalizes a long and productive relationship between our two companies, and will provide Makani with the resources to accelerate our work to make wind energy cost competitive with fossil fuels,” Makani said in a statement on its website.

It might still be difficult to understand what exactly the whole thing is about, so here’s a video of the wing in action:

Google adds third city to Fiber – gets paid $1.7 million to do so

The city of Provo in Utah has become the third city to go Google Fiber .

The city’s council recently decided to sell its own network, the iProvo fiber-optic internet, to the search engine (and by now so much more) giant.

Google Fiber uses fiber-optic networks to supply users with up- and download speeds of one gigabit – about 100 times faster than most Americans have – meaning that things like live streaming of TV is easy-peasy.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the city of Provo will end up paying Google about $1.7 million to take control of the iProvo network, which was facing financial difficulties (read: costing the city and arm and a leg).

Now I personally think they should have gone with another name. One that wouldn’t have been like a red flag for Google.

I mean, they might as well have named the thing MicroProvo….

Google releases specifics of Glass glasses

Google has released the (sorry, there really isn’t any avoiding this pun) specs of the Google Glass glasses.

So let’s take a look at some of them, starting with the bad:

Google says:

Fit

  • Adjustable nosepads and durable frame fits any face.
  • Extra nosepads in two sizes.

I say:

Well, anyone who’se tried earphones that come with various sized ear pieces, or anyone who has ever worn safety goggles with adjustable nosepads will tell you that if Google can keep their promise on this one, they’re very close to being able to walk on water. They’re committing the ‘one size fits all’ sin. One size fits all is, of course, true. If you make the item big enough, that is…

Google says:

Battery

One full day of typical use. Some features, like Hangouts and video recording, are more battery intensive.

I say:

This is exactly what your phone manufacturer has been telling you for years and years and year and….

 

However, the good are ery good:

Google says:

Display

High resolution display is the equivalent of a 25 inch high definition screen from eight feet away.

Camera

  • Photos – 5 MP
  • Videos – 720p

I say: I wants it. I wants it. A few more words: I really want it. No, it’s basically augmented reality and wearable high def recording equipment. Who wouldn’t want that.

Google says:

Audio

  • Bone Conduction Transducer

I say: This is going to be like wearing science fiction 🙂

I mean, look at it:

Photo by: Fifth World Art
Photo by: Fifth World Art

Microsoft hot on the heels of Apple and Google with wearable tech?

According to the Wall Street Journal, computer giant Microsoft are working on a touch-enabled watch device.

it’s unclear what capabilities the watch will have, and if it will ever get to market, but the story underlines the recent push by the Titans of the industry towards wearable tech.

Google recently showcased its much hyped Google Glass glasses while Apple are said to be working on a watch-like product.

Interestingly enough, it’s not the first time that Microsoft have dabbled in watch-like computers.

Back in 2004, the company released the Smart Personal Objects Technology (SPOT), which broadcast the MSN service package through the FM radio band in 100 metropolitan areas.

Basically, the MSN service package at the time included news and sports headlines and weather information that was broadcast to SPOT units. Companies who invested in the technology included watch makers Swatch and Tissot and, strangely enough, coffee machine maker Melitta. Why people would want to use their coffee machine as a browser? Yes, I was asking myself that exact question myself.

It looked like this:

442px-Melitta_ME1MSB_Smart_Mill_and_Brew_with_SPOT

Time will tell what services the new Microsoft watch will include.

Personally, I’m hoping for the Office Package – imagine walking down the street and seeing people desperately slapping their wrists, trying to update documents and spreadsheets….

‘Ungooglable’ – the Schrödinger’s cat of Sweden

Search giant Google recently went to extraordinary lengths to make sure something couldn’t actually be found.

The thing in question was the term ‘ogooglebar’ and Google wanted to make sure that it was either edited or removed from the annual list of new words released by the Swedish Language Council.

For the non-Scandinavians ‘ogooglebar’ refers to something that can’t be found using the popular search engine. The direct translation would be something like ‘ungoggleable’. In Sweden it refers to something which can’t be found using a search engine.

Since the Swedish Language Council released its latest list of new words – which included ‘ogoolgebar’ – in December, Google has been pushing the council to amend the definition of the term and add a disclaimer that added that Google is a trademark.

And, in what might just be a random coincidence, ‘ogooglebar’ can’t be translated into English using Google Translate.

Not wanting to be caught up in a lengthy legal process, the Swedish Language Council simple opted to remove ‘ogooglebar’ from it’s list of new words. Whether or not Google knew this was likely to happen? Well, one can only guess….

So where does that leave ‘ogooglebar’?

Well, you could say that it’s now a Swedish linguistic Schrödinger’s cat – there’s really no way of knowing if ‘ogooglebar’ is alive or dead without actually going to Sweden.

And if you choose to do that, and bump into anyone working for Google, this sentence might come in handy: ‘Jag förstår inte’

Wellcome to Google’s future

Project Glass created quite a stir at a Google conference not long ago. The project concerns itself with ways of adapting various technologies and apps into a wearable system, that will augment reality. Basically, what we’re looking at here is the HUD-display that we all know and love from a bunch of Sci-Fi movies, and more.

Here’s a video of the project: