Carnegie Mellon University Stories July 23, 2012

Google just took to its official Lat Long blog to wish Landsat a “Happy 40th Birthday” and make its surface imagery live for the entire world to enjoy.

The revered satellite program essentially collects continuous images of the Earth to help smart folks, like scientists and researchers, make knowledgeable decisions on the economy and environment. Google Earth Engine has made Landsat’s data available to such experts anywhere in the world, but now it wants to give the public access.

Googler Eric Nguyen explained:

  • We’re working with the USGS and Carnegie Mellon University, to make parts of this enormous collection of imagery available to the public in timelapse videos of the Earth’s surface. With them you can travel through time, from 1999-2011, to see the transformation of our planet. Whether it’s deforestation in the Amazon, urban growth in Las Vegas or the difference in snow coverage between the seasons.
  • […] In 2008, the USGS opened access to the entire Landsat archive for free. Google Earth Engine makes it possible for this data to be accessed and used by scientists and others no matter where they are in the world.

A highlighted timelapse video is below:

expand full story

Carnegie Mellon University Stories August 1, 2011

In a report from the WSJ, a new study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh used facial-recognition technology in combination with data from Facebook accounts to successfully identify one-third of volunteer participants.

In the study, researchers used PittPatt software and a webcam to snap photos of volunteers who would later be identified via their publicly available Facebook profile pictures. Raising considerable security and privacy concerns, however, was the fact Professor Acquisti was also able to correctly predict the first five digits of a participant’s Social Security number in approximately 27% of cases (those are determined where you are born and when).

Should you be worried? Not if you trust Google’s stance on privacy… Addressing the privacy concerns highlighted by the study, a Google spokesperson told WSJ:

“We’ve said that we won’t add face recognition to our apps or product features unless we have strong privacy protections in place, and that’s still the case”

Google recently acquired the facial-recognition technology and will more than likely be integrating it into various Google products including Google+ and Google Goggles. A Google spokesperson had this to say about the acquisition:

“The Pittsburgh Pattern Recognition team has developed innovative technology in the area of pattern recognition and computer vision. We think their research and technology can benefit our users in many ways, and we look forward to working with them.” expand full story

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