Google’s self-driving car

Google carGoogle has unveiled its new driverless car, which it has built from scratch.

The prototype, which Google describes as ‘fully self-driving’, is designed without a steering wheel or pedals, as it should be able to operate safely without human intervention.

The ‘pod-like’ car is capped at a speed of 25mph and its sensors can detect objects from up to ‘two football fields’ away, removing blind spots.

Watch the car in action below and read more about the self-driving car here – let us know your thoughts on Google’s invention.

Google releases Zeitgeist 2013

Google has released its yearly ‘Zeitgeist’, which reveals what we searched for online in 2013.

Prince George, Peter Capaldi and Nigella Lawson, who were at the centre of big announcements last year, proved to be very popular online. The ‘How to…?’ searches reveal a diverse range of requests, such as ‘how to make pancakes’, ‘how to write a CV’ and ‘how to draw manga’.

Most of the top 10 searched movies were box office hits, including ‘Man of Steel’, ‘Skyfall’ and ‘Life of Pi’, while the soap operas ruled the television searches. Rome topped travel searches and 2012’s Gangnam Style scored surprisingly high in the music list.

As well as presenting the individual lists, Google Zeitgeist 2013 allows users to explore the top 100 search trends and what trended where throughout the year.

Take a look at all the trends here and let us know which ones you searched for throughout 2013.

Google make plans to enter the construction market

Google’s secret development department has reportedly been working on a project that will revolutionise the construction industry.

The project is called ‘Genie’ and Google intend it to affect the the overall costs of construction as well as reducing the time spent between planning and market.

A report from Genie’s development team claims between 30-50% of construction costs could be saved.

With the construction sector currently responsible for 10% of global GDP you can understand why Google want to be involved in this market.

Take a closer look at this here, and tell us if you think Google could enhance the construction industry.

Your face could soon find itself in a Google ad!

If you don’t approve of Facebook using information from its users in ads, then you won’t be a fan of Google’s latest terms of service.

Starting from November 11th Google will allow an adult user’s profile name and photo to appear in reviews and advertising.

These endorsements will operate in a similar way to Facebook’s ‘Sponsored Stories‘.

Google has stated that “this only happens when you take an action (things like +1’ing, commenting or following) – and the only people who see it are the people you’ve chosen to share that content with.” 

The programme is only targeting adults over the age of 18 and you can also opt out.

You can find out more about this hear, tell us how you would feel if you came across yourself in a Google endorsement.

The best 10 offices in the world

It‘s no secret that we all like a fun and cool environment to work in, so we thought we would share this list of the best ten offices around with you.

Most of the usual big hitting companies are to be found in this list; such as Google and Red Bull.

Some of the unique features in these offices stretch from the cool and fun to just unbelievable, for example, one office has a three-storey slide, and another has a full-sized basketball court!

See the full list here, and tell us if this inspires you to jump into the office environment.

Google launches Project Loon

Loon BalllonIn a new pilot scheme Google is attempting to provide Internet connectivity to people who may not be able to afford it. The scheme involved them releasing 30 balloons into the stratosphere, which will provide an Internet connection similar to 3G.

The idea is for developing countries to gain internet access, but the scheme can also be used for areas affected by disasters.

The balloons are solar powered and will be controlled by a team at Google to ensure that they can move in and out of the thermal winds, which will help them orbit the Earth.

The balloons were released in Canterbury, New Zealand, and will provide internet to areas on the same latitude.

More information can be found in this blog post or watch the videos below.

Burberry teams up with Google to share the love

Burberry KissesIn the latest of Google‘s ‘Art copy & code‘ projects it has teamed up with fashion label Burberry to allow users to send ‘kisses’ across the world to loved ones.

The campaign is a clever way to keep people connected as the kiss seals a personal message the user sends to their loved one. The act of sealing is done by kissing a touchscreen device.

The message is, of course, in the Burberry branding but you can also choose a colour from a range of their shades before sending the message.

Watch a video of the campaign below and find out more here.

Skeeball comes to Chrome

Google Roll ItGoogle has created another of its interesting Chrome Experiments, this taking a classic American boardwalk game and digitising it.

Roll it is an electronic version of the popular Skeeball game, where the object of the game is to roll a ball into different holes to gain points.

The Google version works on the same principle and like previous experiments, utilises a link up between desktop and mobile.

The game requires players to have the Chrome Browser installed on both their desktop computer and their mobile device, and then allows them to sync the two, utilising the mobile as a controller.

Play it here (desktop link) and go to on your mobile.

Location guessing game for endless fun

GeoGuessrAnother company has taken Google‘s Street View and created something wonderful, this time it’s a game. GeoGuessr is a location guessing game, perfect for travel addicts.

The game is pretty simple; you are dropped in a location on Street View and by clicking around you use the map interface in the top right corner to guess where you are, the closer your guess is to the actual location, the more points you get.

You get dropped in 5 locations each game and you can move around as much as you like.

Why not have a go for yourself here.

Google takes you back in time

Las Vegas TimelapseTimelapseGoogle has been working with the U.S. Geological Society and NASA to produce some amazing time lapse images of our planet.

Collating images from over 40 years of Landsat satellite footage, the search engine has produced a several timelapse videos, that start in 1984 and finish 2012.

They map out several major changes to the planet, from the Shrinking of the Amazon forest to the growth of Las Vegas. The project was also partnered with Time Magazine, for their Timelapse project.

You can read more on the Google Blog, and see the timelapse here.

Scratch-and-Sniff banner ad

Old Spice BannerFrom the company that brought you ‘the man your man could smell like‘ comes a new kind of banner ad. Old Spice, who are becoming renowned for their crazy ad antics has produced the internet’s first scratch-and-sniff banner advert.

Unlike Google‘s April Fools joke, this one won’t have you pressing your nose up to the screen, instead you fill in a form and they will send you “the smell of the Internet”.

Another clever and amusing campaign from the brand, promoting their Wolfthorn line of products.

Take a sniff for yourself here or see it in action over on the Onion’s Sport Page.

The state of B2B social media

InfographicB2B Marketing has produced an infographic on The State of B2B Social Media 2013, built from the data included in their 2013 B2B Marketing Social Media Benchmarking Report.

From the infographic we can see that Twitter is the most popular platform for B2B businesses, however there looks to be an increase in the prevalence of Google+ in the B2B market.

We also see that a lot of companies don’t calculate the ROI from social media.

Click on the image to see the full Infographic, or click here.

Pass the time with this Street View Hyperlapse

Street View HyperlapseStreet View HyperlapseIf you’ve managed to tear yourself away from the last time-waster we shared with you, Google’s 3D marble Maze, then perhaps it’s time you had a play with another Google favourite; Google Street View Hyperlapse.

Developed by the team at  Teehan + Lax, a Toronto based digital utility designer, the hyperlapse works by taking images saved on Google Street View, then speeding them up.

To create your own, you choose a location, select starting and end points and then a focal point, the focal point is the icing on the cake, it will allow you to see an image as the camera approaches and passes, simply recreating a car journey as you pass a point of interest.

Watch the video from Teehan + Lax below, then have a go yourself here.

Google Street View Hyperlapse from Teehan+Lax Labs on Vimeo.

A visual exploration of Google Image Search

I am GoogleI am GoogleI am GoogleIn her latest and ongoing project, artist Dina Kelberman has created a fantastic blog that documents patterns found on Google Image Search

Called ‘I’m google‘ the project involves a seamless link between pictures found via image search, from one subject to the next based on similarities in form, composition, colour, and theme.

The result is a colourful and intriging compliation of images that links pictures of planes dropping fire retardant to orange kayak to a bridge, which all feels so natural when you go through the blog.

The Tumblr blog came out of Dina’s natural tendency to spend long hours obsessing over Google Image searches, collecting photos she found beautiful and storing them by theme.

Often the images that interested her are of industrial or municipal materials or everyday photo snapshots, not those that appear to be intentionally artistic.

Follow her blog here.

Google Chrome experiment creates perfect time-waster

chrome mazechrome mazechrome mazeGoogle‘s latest innovation in time-wasting fun is the Chrome World Wide Maze, and it isn’t an April Fool’s joke.

Coming from Japan, it is a browser experiment that turns any Web page of your choosing into a 3-D maze. You guide a marble via a smart phone synced with your computer (and, of course, installed with Chrome for Mobile for this to work properly). The aim is to collect ‘power-ups’ whilst completing the maze, and avoiding falling off.

The mobile-phone-as-game-controller idea has promise and isn’t much different from the Wii U’s current setup. It isn’t the first time Google has played with this idea previously releasing Chrome Super Sync Sports and hopefully won’t be the last.

Take a look at the promotional videos below.

Superbrands of 2013

SuperbrandsRolexappleGoogleBritish AirwaysSuperbrands UK has announced their annual league tables for brands in the UK.

The league tables are based upon many different factors from sector reports to blogs to public nominations, and are narrowed down to a preliminary shortlist of 1700.

Through ratings given by judges and then a public vote this number is whittled down to 500 ‘Superbrands’. These are then seeded in order of ratings, which results in the main 
B2C (business to customer) table and a B2B (business to business) table.

All those involved in the voting process are asked to bear in mind the following definition: ‘A Superbrand has established the finest reputation in its field. It offers customers significant emotional and/or tangible advantages over its competitors, which customers want and recognise.’

The judging panel gives each brand a rating from 1-10, but members are not allowed to vote on brands they work with, competitor brands or those they are unfamiliar with, and the lowest scoring brands are removed from the shortlist.

In addition, the voters are asked to judge brands against the following three factors: quality, reliability and distinction.

The league tables show that Google, Apple and British Airways are highly rated as both B2C and B2B brands; making the top 10 of both tables. Apple lost out to Rolex for the top spot in the consumer table, but was able to snatch it in the business table. The full tables are below, and you can read the full results here.

The B2C Superbrands are
1. Rolex
2. Apple
3. Microsoft
4. British Airways
5. Coca-Cola
6. Google
7. Hilton
8. Heathrow Airport
9. Kellogg’s
10. Mercedes-Benz
11. BMW
12. Heinz
13. BBC
14. Facebook
15. Lego
16. Disney
17. Marks & Spencer
18. BP
19. Dulux
20. Nescafé

Whilst the B2B Superbrands are:
1. Apple
2. British Airways
3. Google
4. Visa
5. Virgin Atlantic
6. IBM
7. Shell
8. Microsoft
9. London Stock Exchange Group
10. Mastercard
11. BP
12: BT
13. Bosch
14. Samsung
15. FedEx
16. Rolls-Royce Group
17. Royal Mail
18. PayPal
19. GlaxoSmithKline
20. DHL

Google Glass is here.

Google GlassGoogle GlassRecently Google gave developers the chance to get their hands on a pair of Google glasses, called Glass, or more importantly, access to the API which allows apps to interact with them. 

They also set up an oppurtunity for  “creative individuals”  to trial the glasses via a campaign on Twitter and Google+, called Project Glass.

Using the hashtag #ifihadglass they are looking for people to give a reason why they should be the first to get their hands on the glasses in 50 words or less, however the winners will still have to fork out £1,500+tax for the privilege.

To encourage people to enter Google has released a video on YouTube which shows how Glass can be used, inclduing the voice operation, which uses the line “OK glass” to begin a command; i.e. “OK glass take a picture”

The video also highlights the sort of tasks you can perform with Glass, from text messaging, video calling, photo taking to searching Google and finding a location on a map. There is also an automatic-picture-taking mode, which takes pictures at preset intervals.

The glasses are the next step in wearable technology, allowing the user to record everything they do, as well as interacting with others via video, although the headset doesn’t actually have lenses in front of your eyes, just a small screen (viewable via a mirrored glass block) above and to the right of the wearer’s right eye. Whilst not the only wearable technology in development (other companies including Microsoft has been developing their own versoin of Glass), the Google Glass is the one closest to completion, having first been announced last year, and featured in our blog last April.

Find out more at the Glass Website and watch the video below.

Google shopping

GoogleGoogle ShoppingGoogle has started to roll out changes that will affect the way products appear in their search engine. Back at the end of May last year, they announced that Google Product Search was changing to Google Shopping.   

After a rollout of this service in the U.S. Google Shopping is going global; starting with the U.K., Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France, Japan and Australia. This rollout began on 13th February 2013.  

What this means is that when you search for a product there is an option above your results to see ‘Shopping’ results. These results are products sourced from registered websites, a service that was previously free to retailers.  

This is no longer the case. Google Shopping is a commercial model just like Adwords; retailers will bid on searches, so merchants who pay for Google Shopping listings will rank higher than those merchants who don’t.  

Ranking is based upon a combination of relevance and bid price; retailers can automatically bid on Product Targets based on user rules and move products between Product Targets to best optimise their performance. Or, retailers can just let the rule-based automated bid manager adjust their Product Target bids based on performance and their overall goals.  

Product targets allow you to select which products are eligible to show on Product Listing Ads, and they also allow you to bid differently on different sets of products. Grouping products by Product Target enables retailers to control bids across multiple products based on these qualifications, (e.g. all products characterised as “sale” should receive a bid of £0.75).  

Ensuring your product data feeds are updated frequently, are accurate and include product details such as name, price, product page URL, product image URL, description, category and more, will help with the ranking in terms of relevance.   If you’re already using the Google Product Listing service don’t worry it’s not going to end straight away. By the middle of the year though your listing will no longer be as visible as they might have once been. So act now and convert your listings to the new Google Shopping format and set up an Adwords account if you don’t already have one.  

If your site isn’t using Google products there’s still time to sign up under the free model. Google will be supporting these listings until the middle of the year so you can still take advantage of the free period. Get registered in the Merchant Centre and get your products listed.     

Google Analytics ridicules online retailing in new clips

Google Analytics ecommerceIn an attempt to demonstrate what poor website design can do to an ecommerce site Google Analytics has developed a series of film clips that replicate the online experience in real life.

We think that everyone will recognise the annoying sales tactics that online retailers now employ but surely this is the pot calling the kettle black?

The clips encourage web site owners to use Google Analytics to learn more about their customers habits. The only reason is to target products at customers and thus sell more – exactly what the clips are ridiculing.

Are we missing something here? If so, please enlighten us.


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