Last week, a leaked video created by Google X’s head Nick Foster created quite a stir on the web. The Selfish Ledger video paints a scary future where technology increasingly makes decisions for humans. It explores the idea of “Lamarckian user data” which uses collected information to improve the lives of the future generations. Of course, this concept raises a lot of ethical concerns. But apparently, that’s not the only issue Google is dealing with in this video. Recently, BBC interviewed filmmaker Phillip Bloom who accuses the tech giant of using his stock footage without compensation. That’s a big deal considering the company sees itself as a champion of protecting copyright on the internet.
It seems that every major web-based company is jumping on the social media bandwagon these days. Just a few days ago, Google added hearts and star icons to Google Photos. And today, Airbnb is launching Travel Stories, which pretty much like Instagram Stories made specifically for travelers.
A few years ago, Google gave students a chance to experience virtual reality through Google Expeditions. Using Google Cardboard, the app allowed students to take VR field trips all over the world. Some of the places they got to explore included the Great Wall of China and the Yosemite. This time around, however, the tech giant is now letting students create their own virtual tours through their new app called the Tour Creator.
Google, it seems, is acquiring Lytro. Yes, the company that made that crazy light field camera and then got out of photography to move into VR and cinema is being snapped up. In a deal which TechCrunch report to be worth either $40mil or $25mil, depending on who you ask, Google will pick up the company in an “asset sale”. Presumably, this will include the 59 patents related to light-field and imaging technology which Lytro owns.
Virtual reality can take you to places you otherwise couldn’t see, and there’s still plenty of room for improving and experimenting with VR technology. In a recent blog post, Google has announced that they’re experimenting with light field photography to create more realistic VR experience. To make this possible, the company is using a solution that seems pretty simple and clever: a rig made of 16 rotating GoPro cameras.
Portrait Mode has been simultaneously one of the biggest jokes and coolest advancements in smartphone camera technology. Google’s version of it can be found in the portrait mode of the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones. And they have just released their latest version of it as Open Source, available to any developer who can make use of it.
It’s detailed in Semantic Image Segmentation with DeepLap in Tensorflow on the Google Research blog. And reading how it works is quite interesting, even if you have no idea how to actually do it. Semantic Image Segmentation is basically the process by which pixels in an image are defined by labels, such as “road”, “sky”, “person” or “dog”. It allows apps to figure out what to keep sharp and what to blur.
A few days ago, Getty and Google announced the upcoming changes as a result of a licensing deal. The announced changes have arrived, and now you can’t see the “View Image” button on Google any longer. Instead, if you want to see the photo, you’ll have to go directly to the website where it’s hosted.