Folks seeking information on natural disasters or other global emergencies can now access Google Maps for the latest details through a new Google Crisis Response project.
The Mountain View, Calif.-based search giant launched a Google Public Alerts system today to keep users informed of disaster alerts regarding tornadoes, floods, winter and tropical storms, and other hazards menacing throughout the world.
“With today’s launch of Public Alerts on Google Maps, relevant weather, public safety, and earthquake alerts from US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Weather Service, and the US Geological Survey (USGS) will be accessible when you search on Google Maps,” announced Google in a blog post.
Google's evolving Earth Day logo throughout recent years. The logo signifies the company's interest in green energy.
Google is ending 2011 with a green bang.
The technology giant made an investment that brought its total renewable energy investments to more than $915 million. Google announced this morning that it is injecting $94 million into four solar photovoltaic projects established near Sacramento, Calif. The portfolio projects are being built by solar development company Recurrent Energy.
“We’ve already committed to providing funding this year to help more than 10,000 homeowners install solar PV panels on their rooftops,” announced Recurrent Energy in a statement. The development company also released energy details through its press-release concerning expected electricity generation:
The four solar PV facilities included in the transaction will provide 88 MW of power to SMUD and were the first to be awarded as part of the utility’s feed-in tariff program (FIT) introduced in January 2010…The projects are expected to generate nearly 160,000,000 kWh in their first year of operation, which is roughly equivalent to offsetting the electricity consumption of more than 13,000 average U.S. homes.
The facilities serve the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. Construction on three of the area projects will finish in early 2012, with the fourth completing later in the year. Global investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., through a new venture called SunTap Energy, is co-investing in the projects alongside Google.
“The investment is a clear demonstration of solar’s ability to attract private capital from well- established investors like Google and KKR,” said Arno Harris, CEO of Recurrent Energy, in the blog post. “This transaction provides an example of the direction solar is headed as a viable, mainstream part of our energy economy.” Read more
The New York Times today relayed an open secret among some in the Google community: the company is working on wearable technology in its secret off-campus Google X lair. However, the technology we have heard about is not the watch-type variety as described (although, we would be surprised if Google was not working on that technology, too):
Over the last year, Apple and Google have secretly begun working on projects that will become wearable computers. Their main goal: to sell more smartphones. (In Google’s case, more smartphones sold means more advertising viewed.)
In Google’s secret Google X labs, researchers are working on peripherals that — when attached to your clothing or body — would communicate information back to an Android smartphone.
People familiar with the work in the lab say Google has hired electronic engineers from Nokia Labs, Apple and engineering universities who specialize in tiny wearable computers.
While Apple may be focusing on iPod nano-like watches, Google seems to be pushing ahead in heads-up displays. We first brought news that prominent wearables PhD Richard DuVaul moved from Apple to Google in June. His research is focused on wearable heads up displays (HUDs).
His dissertation was on “The Memory Glasses“, a heads-up display focused on the problems associated with wearable memory support technology. This included hardware and software architectures, and low-attention human-computer interaction for wearable computing, including the use of subliminal visual cues for just-in-time memory support.
Our source tells us that this is what Google is building. They are in late prototype stages of wearable glasses that look similar to thick-rimmed glasses that “normal people” wear. However, these provide a display with a heads up computer interface. There are a few buttons on the arms of the glasses, but otherwise, they could be mistaken for normal glasses. Additionally, we are not sure of the technology being employed here, but it is likely a transparent LCD or AMOLED display such as the one demonstrated below:
In addition, we have heard that this device is not an “Android peripheral” as the NYT stated. According to our source, it communicates directly with the Cloud over IP. Although, the “Google Goggles” could use a phone’s Internet connection, through Wi-Fi or a low power Bluetooth 4.0.
The use-case is augmented reality that would tie into Google’s location services. A user can walk around with information popping up and into display -Terminator-style- based on preferences, location and Google’s information.
Therefore, these things likely connect to the Internet and have GPS. They also likely run a version of Android.
British Telecom is suing Google over six alleged infringements that affect its services in a plethora of areas, including Android Market, Google Maps, Google Search, Google Music, Google Places, Google Offers, Google Plus and location-based advertising.
According to Florian Mueller’s news blog Foss Patents, the lawsuit was reportedly filed in the U.S. district court for Delaware.
BT is seeking damages and an injunction, and its complaint indicates Google refuses to pay. The second sentence of paragraph 21 in the action states: “BT brings this action to recover the just compensation it is owed and to prevent Google from continuing to benefit from BT’s inventions without authorization.”
Google contacted the Wall Street Journal Dec. 19 and issued a statement regarding the recent patent infringement allegations.
“We believe these claims are groundless and we will vigorously defend ourselves against them,” said Google to WSJ.
In July Google launched an experimental Hotel Finder tool, which allows users to search specifically for the most relevant hotel related results. The service allows users to find places to stay in select areas, get price comparisons in one convenient location, and compile a shortlist of potential destinations. According to Search Engine Land, Google is now testing rather large “Comparison ads” at the top of hotel related search results that display links to the Hotel Finder tool. The move apparently has the hotel industry concerned… Read more
UPDATE [Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 9:58am ET]: Ouch! Google has killed Google Shoot View.
A Dutch advertising agency called Pool Worldwide has turned Google Maps into a first-person shooter. The website is called Google Shoot View, and simply puts a first-person M16 overlay on top of Google Maps Street View — and quite frankly that’s really it. There’s no blood, running, or screaming, but just the fun of simply shooting at whatever appears on Google Maps. While it won’t replace your midnight Call of Duty rampage, it’s a fun little game to play while sitting at your desk. Check out the promotional video after the break. (via Business Insider)