In the days leading up to Christmas, Barbara Starr sent me a link to a patent with a note that it would make a tremendous Christmas blog post. I absolutely agreed, and am writing and sharing that post with you now.
When you see a patent where it’s based upon sharing joy and happiness, it is the kind of thing that makes you want to share, and to find more like it. In this case, it’s a patent that Google acquired when they purchased Nik Software in 2012, so that it could be used with Google Plus, to automatically edit some photos into animations and into stories.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
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?”