Life in GoogleVille

Google is changing your urban world.

* Self driving cars
* Helper robots
* Augmented reality
* Universal wifi
* high resolution surveillance video cameras with infrared imaging and other home gadgets from Nest

The latest models of Google’s self-driving cars are now cruising the streets near the Internet company’s Silicon Valley headquarters as an ambitious project to transform the way people get around shifts into its next phase.

This marks the first time that the pod-like, two-seat vehicles have been allowed on public roads since Google unveiled the next generation of its self-driving fleet more than a year ago.

The Dropcam is changing its name to the Nest Cam as part of an upgrade that will feature higher-definition video, a sleeker design, a stand with a magnet that can be connected to refrigerators and better infrared technology for recording images in the dark. It will cost $199.

Nest is also offering a $10-per-month subscription service that will store up to 10 days of video, send alerts about suspicious activity and bundle up to three hours of clips likely to be of the most interest to the home occupants.

Nest’s next-generation smoke detector will have more sophisticated sensors for sniffing out fires and a 10-year lifespan, up from seven years. The device also will perform automatic tests each month to ensure its speaker and horn are working properly. As with the original version of the smoke alarm, it will announce a potential problem in an automated voice before resorting to a loud alarm. It will sell for $99.

Google Robotics

Google has been buying up robotics companies left and right. They extensive research and development experience in robotics, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles and a range of other relevant technologies, appears to be focused primarily on vision – which appears to be a strong point of existing systems – rather than the other senses.

Google Life Sciences officials who talked to the Wall Street Journal hinted that they wanted to expand real-time image analysis so surgeons could see the edges of nerves or tumors, add more sensors to tools, consolidate visual information so they’re looking at one screen rather than several to see images from MRIs, cameras and other systems.

They didn’t talk about Google’s own patents in haptic feedback, or adapting haptic tech already being built into surgical systems in research labs, or super-fine motor feedback that makes robotic hand controllers feel like real hands, let alone futuristic discoveries like how to use ultrasound technology to create a virtual-reality sense of touch in thin air – technology simple enough that Disney has done a version of it to create the sensation of contact in thin air using cheap speakers stuck in a tube.

Focusing on machine vision, image analysis and visual-data management all play to Google’s strengths, but they don’t do much about the weaknesses of the surgical-assisting robots, though.

Google is exploring the concept of interactive robotic toys, that could provide a personable interface to the smart home The research, revealed in a recently published patent, is the handiwork of Richard Wayne DeVaul of Google [X], the search giant’s unorthodox skunkworks lab.

Universal Wi-Fi

Larry Page had announced last month that Sidewalk Labs (a new Google company) would focus on improving city life for everyone by developing and incubating urban technologies to address issues like cost of living, efficient transportation and energy usage.

Sidewalk Labs announced it would be leading the acquisition of two companies behind New York City’s LinkNYC initiative, an ongoing plan to convert old pay phones into free public Wi-Fi hubs. Sidewalk Labs is merging the two companies—Control Group, which provides the interface for the new hubs, and Titan, which is overseeing the advertising that will pay for the project. The new venture, aptly named Intersection, will seek to bring free public Wi-Fi to cities around the world using different pieces of urban infrastructure, from pay phones to bus stops.

“The vision really is to make cities connected places where you can walk down any street and have access to free ultra high speed Wi-Fi,” says Dan Doctoroff, the former CEO of Bloomberg and one-time deputy mayor of New York City, who heads up Sidewalk Labs.

The new company, named Intersection, combines both companies’ expertise in technology and innovation at the convergence of the digital and physical worlds. LinkNYC, their groundbreaking project in New York City with partners Qualcomm and Comark, will create up to 10,000 communications hubs that provide city residents and visitors with free public gigabit Wi-Fi, access to communications, information and municipal services across the city. Intersection will aim to extend the thinking and approach behind LinkNYC into an array of solutions to help make cities around the world more livable and connected.

Google will be able to put real time television ads on bus stops in combination with free Wi-Fi. Google knows how to boost the value of ads.

This plus fi srvicr will enable free phone service.
Android one – capable phones for less than $100

The Google Fi service one simple plan starts with the Fi Basics for $20/month. It includes unlimited domestic talk and text, unlimited international texts, Wi-Fi tethering to use your phone as a hotspot, and access cellular coverage in 120+ countries. Wi-Fi everywhere would mean that a version of Google Fi would not need to use cellular networks.

This addresses 55 million urban poor.
It also means no device (tablet, laptop or any new devices) need be unconnected to the internet and each other.
Currently you might need simcards (usually with a charge per month for the data or a small amount of free data as a bundle with some cellular service).

Augmented Reality

Google-backed augmented reality company Magic Leap’s CEO, Rony Abovitz, was supposed to appear at TED to talk about his company’s mysterious work. At the last minute, though, the company pulled out of this and another appearance for reasons unknown.

They have a prototype system has been kept tightly under wraps, but it’s thought to be a kind of retinal projection that evolved out of surgical research over the past several years. It’s been called hyper-realistic by people who have seen it, and it was impressive enough to have attracted the likes of visionary sci-fi author Neal Stephenson, so having a simple but surprisingly good-looking game isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Microsoft’s Hololens, a similar product, has certainly managed some excellent augmented reality demos.

Magic Leap wants to reduce the friction to Virtual Reality. They want interfaces where a five year old can figure it out in ten seconds. They want a naturalistic interface.

Neal Stephenson is the chief futurist of the Magic Leap team. This shows that Google and Magic Leap have a real futurist vision of what they want to bring to reality. Neal Stephenson wrote Snow Crash and other science fiction books.

Combination of technology in GoogleVille

Universal Wi-Fi (combined with Google Loon and Google Satellites) will make robot deployment easier and the robots more effective and productive.

Augmented reality and Nest home devices could improve the interaction with robots and with other people.

Augmented reality, real time advertising and wifi and the information that is already being shared via cookies and location would be able to provide the Minority Report style personal advertising. The real version will try to be less intrusive in order to actually get you to buy instead of being something that was intended to look shocking.

SOURCES – Youtube, Google Plus, Computer World, BBC News, Wired, The Verge, Delaware Online