Category Archives: Culture

Robots Search Google Goggles to Pick New Things Up

Some days Google seems like it’s more of a science fiction factory than a search engine, developing products like driverless cars, and augmented reality glasses. An academic project at Berkeley adds another element to the mix – Robots. Robots that can help pick up commonplace objects around your home, and put them in their proper places.

A paper submitted to the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, to be held in Karlsruhe, Germany on May, 2013, describes the role that Googles visual search queries plays in helping robots understand the objects that they might try to pick up, before they do. In Cloud-Based Robot Grasping with the Google Object Recognition Engine, we’re told about cloud-based robots that can view objects, and send queries about them to version of Google Goggles on the cloud to learn more about those objects and the best way to grasp them.

Google Goggle’s is Google’s visual search app, which enables you to take photographs and send them to Google to potentially perform facial recognition searches, OCR searches for text in images, product and bar code recognition, recognizing landmarks and places and named entities, and more. I spent a few hours at my Mom and Dad’s house a couple of weekends ago taking pictures of almost every photo and painting they had on their walls, and seeing if Google Goggles recognized any of them.

Another feature that the visual search engine is capable of is recognizing objects, and the Berkeley team, with the assistance of James Kuffner of Google, appears to have achieved a goal that had eluded them in the past with the use of Google Goggles. From the paper’s introduction:

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Hornet’s Balls and Gold Mining

As much as I love exploring search engines, and how they tick, sometimes its good to get away from behind the monitor, and go exploring outdoors.

I’ve been writing recently about topics such as how search engines might mine data found on the Web, and in their own log files to learn more about the intent behind searchers queries, but I learned a little about a different kind of mining this past weekend with a trip to a local Gold Mining Camp Museum.

A scene from inside the Monroe Park Gold Mine Museum

The earliest history of gold mining in Virginia dates back to 1804, and miners dug ore out of Virginia’s mines until World War II, though many speculators moved out West during the California Gold Rush. In the early 1800’s Virginia and surrounding southern states were the major gold producing region in the United States.

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Some Random Observations

People still read books. I started on Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness not long ago. I’m about a fifth of the way through, and I’ve already added “Choice architecture” to my list of concepts to study more, and I’m looking more carefully at the choices I make.

Seeing a lot of intriguing search patents published by Yahoo over the past few months, and that’s made me sad. I don’t know if they will end up in the graveyard of unfulfilled intellectual property, or migrate to Redmond, Washington, with Microsoft taking over Yahoo’s search results.

My favorite baseball team is in first place in their division after more than a decade straight of losing seasons (Go Reds!). Part of the reason for their winning comes from a few trades that have turned out better than expected, and part comes from an improved minor league system. I can’t help thinking of that as I watch Yahoo search engineers move to Microsoft or begin startups of their own. Also wondering if the Yahoo/Bing search merger has helped to made Google stronger. Especially when observing things like Yahoo’s Chief Scientist of Search choosing to join Google instead of Bing.

Seeing too many Search Engine Optimization tools that include keyword density calculators. Please stop.

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Search Engines, Poverty, and Opportunity: Google Blocking Chrome Downloads in Syria and Iran

Simon Owens, from Bloggasm, sent me a note yesterday pointing out a post at MediaShift – Google Blocks Chrome Browser Use in Syria, Iran.

When I received his message, I had been working upon a post for Blog Action Day 2008, and had started compiling resources that nonprofits working on issues involving poverty might find useful. But the idea of Google limiting access to their Chrome browser had me thinking about how important it is to provide access to information and to tools to access that information (pdf) to people around the world.

Google does offer a number of programs that can help non profit organizations, such as

Google Grants,
YouTube Nonprofit Program
Google checkout for Nonprofits
Google Earth Outreach

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Pro Bono Opportunities for Non Profit Web Site Marketing and Development

There are many web sites for nonprofit organization online that could use a little direction, a little help from people in the web design and internet marketing communities.

I came across a site this weekend that works to connect professionals interested in helping non profits with organizations that need their help.

The Taproot Foundation is a non profit that partners with corporations, universities and trade associations to help provide pro bono marketing, human resources and IT consulting to non profit organizations.

The term “pro bono” means “for the good,” and Taproot has been working to connect business professionals with non profits since 2001, enabling those professionals to provide a few hours a week to help organizations that can benefit from their experience and expertise.

Many of the Taproot projects involved creating or updating web sites for non profits. Here are some of the names of non profits that have been benefitting with Taproot, on projects involving basic or advanced web sites:

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Trademarking Air

Since I spend a lot of time over at the web site of the US Patent and Trademark Office, looking for patent information, sometimes I get questions from someone about the goings on over there.

Charlie Anzman noticed recently that both Apple and Adobe (warning – audio and video start playing on arrival) were touting new products with the name AIR in them. Charlie made a post at his blog asking if it were possible to Patent Air, and called upon me to see if I could give him an answer:

“Is it possible, one of these guys can get a patent on AIR?”

air flowing out of a machine, and circling around a man

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2008 is the Year of the Frog

Ok, so why is a blog that usually focuses upon internet marketing and search related patents publishing a post about saving amphibians?

year of the frog banner

The short answer is that I was asked very nicely, by Jeff Davis of Frog Matters and Amphibian Ark.

The longer answer is addressed by some other folks who are also posting about the Year of the Frog:

Darren Naish, vertebrate palaeontologist, and blogger at Tetrapod Zoology – Get Ready for 2008: Year of the Frog

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How Does Congress Use Google? Mentions on the Congressional Record

I had read that a hearing regarding the proposed Google-Doubleclick merger was going in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights on Thursday.

In looking for information about the hearing, I also decided to take a look at when and how Google was mentioned by Congress on the Congressional Record.

A search on Thomas for the 110th Congress yielded 43 results, and I’ve listed those below, along with the quotes where the word “Google” was used. It’s difficult to link directly to documents found through Thomas, so if you want to see more context for those, the best way might be to go to the Thomas page that I’ve linked to in this paragraph, and search for “Google.”

Congress has used Google as an example (good and bad), and as a verb. The number of results found for a search in Google has been used as proof of a position, and as a clever retort of that position.

There are mentions of Google the company, and Google as a new employer of a former agency member. One Congressman pleaded for others to look at Google Maps for proof of the size of a particular land mass.

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