During a non-stop, two-hour keynote address at its annual I/O developers conference, Google unveiled a barrage of new products and updates. Here's a rundown of the most important things discussed: Google CEO Sundar Pichai kicked off the keynote by unveiling a new computer-vision system coming soon to Google Assistant. Apparently, as Pichai explained, you'll be able to point your phone's camera at something, and the phone will understand what it's seeing. Pichai gave examples of the system recognizing a flower, a series of restaurants on a street in New York (and automatically pulling in their ratings and information from Google), and the network name and password for a wifi router from the back of the router itself--the phone then automatically connecting to the network. Theoretically, in the future, you'll be searching the world not through text or your voice, but by pointing your camera at things.
What happens when a tech artist and her gene-scientist husband try to wow the crowd at a "Nerd Nite" event in Kendall Square? They pitch an idea for an app to help fight disease by crowd-sourcing millions of 3-D digital maps of human faces. Facetopo was the brainchild of Boston documentarian and artist Alberta Chu and her husband Murray Robinson, whose brother was diagnosed with a rare disease that, like Down's syndrome, can be detected in the face. In a Q&A with Patch, Chu says some day participants could "maybe trade pictures, or eventually, find a twin." "Every user who wants to participate creates a private account and is able to download the app on either IOS or Android where we provide instructions so that you can create a 3-D face map.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating water accounts for fully 18 percent of the typical household's annual energy consumption, second only to the amount of energy consumed to heat and cool their residence. And because the typical tank water heater keeps 40 to 50 gallons of water piping hot 24 hours a day, seven days a week--whether or not anyone is home to use it--20 to 50 percent of the energy is completely wasted. Following an aborted crowd-funding campaign in late 2014, Aquanta (formerly Sunnovations) is now taking pre-orders on its Aquanta "learning" water-heater controller, which it expects to ship in July. In a note to its would-be backers when it cancelled its Kickstarter campaign, the team said while its campaign was unsuccessful, the exposure it garnered lead to "a sizable number of large and exciting strategic and distribution partners to contact us." Fast forward 18 months and Aquanta CEO Matthew Carlson tells me his company has "had test units in the field for more than a year."
Google has helped build intense speculation for its October 4 event in San Francisco, where it's expected to reveal new phones aimed at consumers that will power a new virtual reality platform, and possibly other smart home devices. Now that the buzz has reached a football-stadium roar, here comes the hard part: living up to the hype. Google has been teasing the event as one for the history books. A tweet Monday from Hiroshi Lockheimer, the company's senior vice president of Android, Chrome OS and Google Play, turned up the volume on the buzz. We announced the 1st version of Android 8 years ago today.
A link has been posted to your Facebook feed. Amazon acquired another startup this week, the maker of the beloved tech product Eero, a mesh router that improves dead Wi-Fi spots in the home. To that, you might have said, OK, so? But, more importantly, it's an indication of how Amazon wants to go further than just making our homes "smart." It wants to turn our dwellings into the "Amazon Home."