Crowds gathered at a NASCAR racetrack in Miami this weekend to witness a more sedate sport than usual, as some of the world’s most advanced legged robots inched their way through a range of emergency tasks, including clambering over rubble, clearing debris, and operating a fire hose. And two of the robot-makers acquired recently by Google, Boston Dynamics and Schaft, dominated the contest, giving some sense of why the company was so keen to snap them up. In all, sixteen teams took part in the challenge (see photo gallery: “Robots to the Rescue, Slowly”). The robots were operated remotely but still required sophisticated automation to cope with the complexities and uncertainties faced when dealing with the real world. Teams scored points by completely tasks inspired by a real emergency faced at Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011: as hydrogen leaked from the stricken plant, human rescue workers risked their lives trying to reach and operate a valve that might’ve stemmed the leak.
Read the full story at Technology Review.
The technology behind Chromecast, Google’s tiny $35 dongle that allows viewers to stream content to their regular TV from a smartphone, tablet or laptop, is also coming to Google TV.
Warren Rehman, a Google employee who works on “secret stuff and Google TV”, said on Google+ yesterday: “I’m still gainfully employed working on Google TV – no it isn’t dead, and yes it will support Cast.”
Chromecast seems like an effortless solution for watching content stored online by high-profile streaming services such as Netflix and YouTube. Similar to Apple TV though, Google TV has a much wider range of apps and services built right into the box – no secondary device required – and acts as an intermediary for users’ existing cable or satellite TV hardware. A bit like what Microsoft is planning with the Xbox One.
Chromecast will therefore not replace Google TV. At least not yet. Sundar Pichai, Google’s SVP for Android, Chrome and Apps, emphasized how the two would co-exist in an interview with AllThingsD yesterday. He said Google TV would soon “be a full-fledged Android for television” and expected to announce new partners at the CES industry trade show next January.
Bundling Chromecast’s streaming technology into Google TV will make the latter a far more compelling product and also appease existing owners. It likely won’t be enough, however, to make Google TV the breakout success that the technology giant has always dreamed of.
The true test will be if and when Apple launches its much rumored and highly anticipated Apple TV successor. Google will need to be able to offer a solid counter-argument; Chromecast support should be but one part of its marketing artillery.
On the heels of the unveiling of Google’s new Chromecast TV dongle, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the company is developing a more feature-rich set-top box that would include a video camera for Hangouts and a motion sensor.
According to the newspaper’s sources, a prototype of the device was showed off behind closed doors at CES earlier this year.
It was clear from Google’s event this week that Chromecast is just one piece in the puzzle to occupy the living room. The company confirmed that the Google TV platform will get support for the Chromecast streaming technology.
Google SVP for Android, Chrome and Apps Sundar Pichai told AllThingsD on Wednesday that Google TV is soon to be a “full-fledged Android for television”. He also teased that more partners would be announced at next year’s CES.
The Journal went on to note that it was unsure whether Google has continued work on the set-top box prototype, which was said to have access to Android games and the Google Play Store. At the least, the overwhelming customer response to the Chromecast, which originally came with a generous Netflix promotion that quickly sold out, should help validate the Chrome and Google TV teams’ efforts to augment the TV.
With Microsoft billing its next-generation console as an “all-in-one entertainment system” and Apple tinkering with its Apple TV hobby, Google will find itself up against serious competition next year as it moves forward with Google TV. Still, it’s a trillion-dollar market, so it’s not likely to get too crowded soon.
Headline image credit: iStockphoto
Google has extended its Street View imagery to the top two viewing decks of the Eiffel Tower for the very first time, giving users a breathtaking view of the Parisian skyline from the famous French monument. The Eiffel Tower is the most visited monument globally – some 7 million people visit and ascend the monument each year – but Google is now opening the iconic structure up to absolutely everyone on the Web. Google employees took the Street View trolley, an image capturing device that looks exactly as you would expect, to both the second and top floors to capture the entire circumference of the viewing decks with all-new 360-degree photographs. The results are breathtaking and still trigger an inevitable sense of awe; it was the highest monument in the world for 40 years, although that title is now held by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai – a building which Google has also scaled for its Street View image library.
Read the full story at The Next Web.
Google has begun experimenting with encrypting Google Drive files, a privacy-protective move that could curb attempts by the U.S. and other governments to gain access to users’ stored files. Two sources told CNET that the Mountain View, Calif.-based company is actively testing encryption to armor files on its cloud-based file storage and synchronization service. One source who is familiar with the project said a small percentage of Google Drive files is currently encrypted. The move could differentiate Google from other Silicon Valley companies that have been the subject of ongoing scrutiny after classified National Security Agency slides revealed the existence of government computer software named PRISM. The utility collates data that the companies are required to provide under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act – unless, crucially, it’s encrypted and the government doesn’t possess the key.
Read the full story at CNET.
Have you used google andriod on your PC??? If not try it now….
Just Try It…Only 190MB
Google Earth puts a planet’s worth of imagery and other geographic information right on your desktop. View exotic locales like Maui and Paris, as well as points of interest such as local restaurants, hospitals, and schools. Google Earth combines satellite imagery, maps, and the power of Google Search to put the world’s geographic information at your fingertips. With Google Earth you can fly from space to your neighborhood–just type in an address and zoom right in, search for schools, parks, restaurants, and hotels. Get driving directions, tilt and rotate the view to see 3D terrain and buildings, save and share your searches and favorites and even add your own annotations.
What’s New In This Version:
Improved Startup Time. The improvement is most noticeable when users launch the Earth application multiple times.
Improved overall rendering performance. Changes include faster atmosphere rendering and using compressed textures whenever possible.
Improved Road rendering Performance: Frame rate at places with dense road networks is three times faster than in previous releases.
Improved memory utilization in the application.
Significantly smoother frame-rate and less stuttering in the application compared to previous releases.
Improved performance with large region based network link KML documents. Some of large
KML documents are now processed and rendered at more than twice the speed of earlier releases.
Improved KML document handling performance. Large regionated KML Image overlays are up to 80% faster than previous releases.
Support for KML hint = moon or mars to switch to moon or mars based on kml document.
Availability of one installer that installs both the Google Earth application and browser plugin.
Desktop Application now works on Windows 7.
Users can set the memory cache size up to 1024 MB now.
If you have ever wondered which of the two personal voice assistants provides the fastest results the video created by Gizmodo after the jump might be worth watching.
The team put Siri head-to-head against Google Voice Search asking them both the same questions to see which was able to recover the desired information in the fastest time.