Tag Archives: google

Is it a bird? erm nope.

The next era of connectivity is on the horizon, or rather more accurately hovering above it, as tech giants launch their test projects to provide internet coverage for the harder to reach parts of the world.

Google have test piloted Project Loon a few times since June 2013 near places such as New Zealand’s South Island and Sri Lanka, a series of high- altitude balloons equipped with LTE (more commonly known as 4G LTE) that rides the wind currents in the stratosphere.

Facebook have also developed a fleet of solar-powered drones called Aquila now ready to hover at altitudes of 60,000 to 90,000 feet. These can be steered and controlled more directly, constantly circling a two mile radius to stay aloft.

Both the balloons and the drones can be air born for around three months.

Combined with lower priced smartphones coming to market we are seeing the next evolution of connectivity looking set to be pretty rapid.

There’s still a way to go to stabilise the launch and flight of both, plus the clean up exercise once they come back down but the effort to connect the whole world with the internet is accelerating.

Next we’ll be in orbit, talking to the moon, connecting galaxies… well, maybe.

 

clangers

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Less science fiction, it’s really just science

I was just reading about Google’s newest project and it got me thinking about how the gap between science fiction and simply just, ‘science’ has pretty much closed since I was a kid and watching films like Innerspace and Terminator… bear with me…

Google’s new patent sees a range of smart contact lenses equipped with tiny cameras embedded within, to allow for ‘in lens’ photography or assistance for the visually impaired. Google also have lenses that are able to provide measurements of blood glucose levels for diabetics through a sensor that measures the glucose in tears and signals the levels through teeny, tiny LED’s.

Soooo… given we know that human bodies don’t accept foreign objects particularly well and this new lens means we can access the small surface of our eye (which is covered by live cells that can represent our whole body) in a non-intrusive way, how long before a contact lens can analyse what is happening inside our body without actually ever entering it… (that’s the Innerspace reference).

… and how long before we have night vision, or augmented data layered in. How long before we don’t need all the other screens around us, our phones, in-car dashboards… and how long before a simple lens scans everyone around us (Terminator ticked) and along with Arnie and Quaid, Cruise needs to re-draft his Minority Report to be something more actual fiction biased science fiction…

He'll be back...

He’ll be back…

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Google Moderator

What

Google Moderator is a service launched in 2008 that uses crowdsourcing to rank comments and questions from users to allow high volume management. Anyone can participate, that’s the main rule of thumb.

Why

Knowing and understanding what your audience are thinking and what they want is critical. By opening up the communication with your site visitors you’ll get to know and understand your audience, plus everyone gets their say, so, you get a rounded opinion.

How

Create a Google account, enter your question or topic, decide whether you want to allow both text and video responses, and decide how long your poll will run for.

And if you want to get clever you can play around with embedding it on a Google sites page, an iFrame or use the API…

You can read more about that here if you like

Who

Barack Obama used it quite early on in a public series called ‘Open for Questions’ which attracted 1m votes during the election in 48 hours.

But the guys attracting a lot of attention at the moment are Victors and Spoils. Founded in 2010 on the premise of crowdsourcing the agency enlists a database of 5,200 freelancers from around the globe. Their most recent project (and the reason I decided to write this blog post) is Virgin America Toronto Provocateur, which was designed and written using Google Moderator to launch the new service to Toronto. You can read more here (you’ll need to scroll down).

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Goggley Eyes

I was trying to explain to someone new to search engines (yes these people do, apparently, still exist) how the various tools across Google work; predictive search, social, geo-targeted and so on.

This led into chats about Google Goggles at which point, his eyes glazed over and he seemed to stare through me. This reaction led me to believe it would be a great topic for my fellow geek readers.

Google Goggles is a downloadable image recognition application meaning through us, Google has eyes in every orifice and intimate corner we search for and from.

Snap happy researchers using the app send a collectively huge bank of images to a series of backend engines coordinated by Google’s Superroot Server which, identifies the source as either; text, geographic location, QR codes, corporate identities, products… you get the idea. All similar images are tagged and confidence scored* for future use.

As the database of images builds so will the use and accuracy of the app, making it easier to search for things that are difficult to summarise in text through traditional keyword search (wow, keyword search has been around so long now it feels normal to call it traditional- in web life anyway).

So the next time you’re out and about and you take a picture of a restaurant you want to dine in, you’ll know what happens behind the scenes to serve you the results that appear.

Simple really, thanks Google!

*Confidence scoring considers various weighted validation parameters such as quality and source, to determine the accuracy of the data held in the image.

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Google’s going places

Following the recent rebrand of Google’s Local Business Center to ‘Google Places’ (initially developed to help local businesses gain more visibility in search engine marketing through free listings) the search engine is now adding in over 50 million locations in order to expand their database further.

This means that when you search for something fairly generic such as ‘Indian Restaurant’ it will return local place page listings for you (which will be plentiful for that term as I’m writing this from Brick lane).

This added feature is built into the existing Google search functionality and listings will now pull in groups of relevant links and information such as; reviews, hints and tips, travel and so on. This development dynamically links millions of websites and ‘real-world’ locations, so numbered are the days of ‘+ Shoreditch’, another great step forwards for predictive search.

I wonder how long it will be before Yelp, Google and Foursquare get together…

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Google TV – better than Apple?

With the recent announcement of Google TV, closely followed by Sony announcing their new series of HDTV sets with Google TV built-in, the buzz around the agency is not surprisingly, all about internet TV.

This isn’t the first time a TV-connected computer has been attempted; Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation both dominate this front room experience (albeit more reputedly in the gaming world). There are more attempts in the archives that never made it to mainstream too but most notably was the recent Apple TV (basically a simple media streamer with access to on-demand television and movie rentals) and superseding all of that of course was the Microsoft Media Center.

So what does everyone think of Google’s attempt? There seem to be a few opinions:

On one side of the fence are the group that feel Google TV really isn’t much more elaborate than plugging your computer into a TV, which they deem neither  ‘clever nor desirable’.

“I can’t think of anything more boring or anti-social than having to watch somebody else browse the web. And if you need to use a keyboard to find content then I think you’ve failed.”

Anon: Technical Architect

Fair enough I suppose this concept doesn’t particularly take me by storm either.

On the other side are those that feel Google TV will outshine Apple because of their attitude towards what they deliver…

“It will all be about the content offered to viewers. Whichever service/device provides the best content will win out and since Apple probably won’t put porn on their offering my money is on Google.”

Anon: (Another) Technical Architect

By using that quote I’m possibly opening this post up to a digression however, a valid point; Content is still King.

Generally overall I think there is a resistance (as always) to the latest technology trend, people want a cinematic HD widescreen experience at home and don’t necessarily relate that to surfing the web. In this generation though I think that’s naive, you only have to look at the number of people who have their laptop out or are tweeting from their phone and so on, all whilst watching the box…

I’m sitting on the fence (for now), it could make multi-tasking simpler but then, it could reduce my in-home cinematic experience. I like the idea of being able to combine the web and TV experience, but only if I’ve got control of the remote… I’d be most annoyed if the other half decided to load The Gadget Show halfway through my Monday date with my TV boyfriend from Spooks!

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How will Google Instant affect Paid Search?

So the web is buzzing about Google’s new ‘Instant Search’ offering which, in a nutshell means you can get to search results much faster than you could before because you don’t even have to finish typing your full search term, or even press ‘search’ – laziness refined.

However, my immediate next thought was; will this mean that because you will see results as you type it will help you define your search term, therefore self-optimising your results or, will it just be bloody confusing?

Then, with my business head on and my client’s best interests at heart (of course), how will this affect how we bid on paid search results? When you bid on search terms, impressions impact directly on your Google quality score, which is equally important to how much you pay per click.

So, I’m typing in my search box and as I hit each key on my keyboard its changing results (obviously) but that of course means the ads change too.  Sooo; whereas before one word could result in one impression, that same word could now mean several impressions…

This dramatically changes the way our consumers will look at the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) and I would imagine how they click on the results and ads.  So off to Google’s BlogSpot I went and this is what I found out:

When someone searches using Google Instant, ad impressions are counted in these situations:

The user begins to type a query on Google and clicks anywhere on the page (a search result, an ad, a spell correction, a related search).The user chooses a particular query by clicking the search button, pressing Enter, or selecting one of the predicted queries. The user stops typing, and the results are displayed for a minimum of three seconds.

Google recommend monitoring your ads’ performance the same way you usually do. Google Instant might increase or decrease your overall impression levels. However, Google Instant can improve the quality of your clicks since it helps people search using terms that more directly connect them with the answers they need. Therefore, your overall campaign performance could improve.

This goes some way to help but I think we’re going to need to keep a close eye on our quality scores and also pay particular attention to negative and long tail keywords…

If you want more information or help on Google Instant Search here are some useful links:

http://adwords.google.com/support/aw/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=187309

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/09/search-now-faster-than-speed-of-type.html

http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2010/09/google-instant-impact-on-search-queries.html

http://adwords.blogspot.com/2010/09/google-instant-more-innovative-approach.html

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Google Social Search

One of the latest developments I’ve been exploring is Google’s Social Search feature designed to aid quick searches from within your online social circle.

The theory behind Social Search is that your online connections will likely be talking about topics more relevant to you because you’re connected with them due to shared work life or interests.

So how does it work?

Well if you’re logged in to Google, as you search for something you should see an additional search result pop up at the bottom of your results page “Results from people in your social circle.” The results will consist of things like blogs from your friends and colleagues, their website feeds, tweets and status updates.

Who’s in your circle?

At the moment Google Social Search is just that, a social search within all linked Google assets e.g. Gmail, Google chat, people in your contacts list or following you on buzz and so on. It’s not known at this stage whether it will branch out to the likes of Facebook but in theory this is great if you want to see what your friends are saying about a film you want to see or a new restaurant you want to check out.

I’d much rather take their word for it, wouldn’t you?

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Google is ACE

Google are Beta testing their latest tool in the US at the moment which allows you to test and measure amends to keyword campaigns and the relative effect of that change in real-time.

AdWords Campaign Experiments (ACE) will mean we will no longer have to rely on pre and post campaign analysis to measure the effectiveness of optimisation tactics or second guess effects of any external factors e.g. demand for the bid subject.

ACE means you can compare your optimised test campaign directly to your original campaign at the same time otherwise known as A/B testing. This means we will have a clear correlation telling us whether the changes made have had a direct impact.

You can watch the demo video here if you’d like more information.

I can’t wait for this to come to the UK, what a brilliant way of ensuring that we are doing everything we can to optimise a campaign and having sound evidence to back it up.

Thank you Google.

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iPhone v Android

I’ve been the owner of an iPhone for almost a year now but I doubt very much I’ll ever own one again once my contract runs out, reason being Android are kicking the heels of Apple all the way and seem to be doing everything better and above-board.

One thing that I particularly don’t like about Apple is the way that they treat their developers, having worked with teams on the receiving end of their do’s and dont’s you get to a point when you think enough is enough, just be nice it doesn’t cost anything Apple!

What’s nice about Android is they have a firm but fair term of service policy that make it much easier to develop apps and get the support you need to get it right, interested? You can read the full thing here.

Android have also adopted a full refund policy, if you buy an app you have a 24 hour cooling off period to decide whether or not it’s worth the money you paid for it, beneficial both to the user and the developer, also another thing Apple don’t offer.

Can’t help but think Apple are going to start sweating a bit…

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