Tag Archives: Google

WoW!! Amazing GoPro rig! $21k Google-Powered

Wow!! 16 GoPros and Google powered camera rig. Personally speaking, this thing is the best gadget I have seen so far this year (Still 3 months to go but..).

The most amazing thing is “GoPro claims Odyssey allows the 16 Hero4 Black units to act like a single camera, with every pixel of every frame synced accurately.”

As one of robotists, it is difficult to obtain that amazing data real-time(?) for closed-loop control since only GoPro allows recording on its own memory and pull it out after for postprocessing or transmitting through WiFi that has a limited bandwidth.

It is very cool gadget anyway. If you are interested in this, please have a look the following YouTube demo clip.

Source from: http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2015/09/gopros-21k-google-poweredcamera-is-the-next-best-thing-to-teleportation/

GoPro's $US15K Google-Powered Camera is the Next Best Thing to Teleportation

This year, the most amazing thing I saw at Google’s annual developer conference wasn’t a phone, a tablet, or even a head-mounted display. It was a 360-degree 3D video that took me to Japan. Now, filmmakers can spend $US15,000 ($21,300 AUD) on the tech that made it possible: the GoPro Odyssey. It’s one heck of a camera.

OK, so I probably need to do a little explaining: the GoPro Odyssey isn’t a camera in the traditional sense.It’s actually an array of 16 perfectly aligned GoPro Hero4 Black cameras — the same $519 ones you’d mount on your surfboard or drone or mountain bike — plus some special Google hardware and software to combine them into a single 360-degree stereoscopic 3D video at 8K resolution and 30 frames per second. (It’s an incredible amount of data.)

GoPro's $US15K Google-Powered Camera is the Next Best Thing to Teleportation

What Odyssey looks like now. The top image in this post is what it looked like back in May.

The result is a video like nothing you’ve ever seen. You place your smartphone into a Google Cardboard VR headset, put it up to your face, and you’re somewhere else. A beach. A glacier. A cable car climbing up a Japanese mountain filled with sightseers like yourself. And the quality is far better than any other such 360-degree video I’ve seen, due to the way Google’s software computationally generates believable 3D no matter where you turn your head. No seams. With this camera, filmmakers could take you to all sorts of wonderful places.

GoPro's $US15K Google-Powered Camera is the Next Best Thing to Teleportation

You don’t technically need to buy a $21,300 GoPro rig to create such a video: Google’s initative, dubbed Jump, will actually let you 3D-print a frame to install your own cameras. But the GoPro Odyssey kit doesn’t just come with 16 cameras (and 16 cables, and 16 microSD cards, and… you get the picture) it’s also got the hardware to interface all of them together, custom firmware loaded onto the cameras, and a way to plug ‘em all into an AC outlet simultaneously — so you don’t need to swap out 16 batteries in the middle of a shoot.

GoPro claims Odyssey allows the 16 Hero4 Black units to act like a single camera, with every pixel of every frame synced accurately.

Plus — since GoPro is Google’s primary partner — this is probably the only way you get access to Google’s super-impressive Jump video assembler technology for a while. Speaking of getting access, though, it may be rather limited to start: GoPro and Google are accepting applications now, but will only give “select content partners” the go-ahead to actually buy one.

In the meanwhile, there’s already a way for you to see what this camera is capable of: just direct your Chrome browser or the YouTube app on your phone to this video:

Be sure to tap and drag (or move your phone) to pan around. Or put on a Google Cardboard headset for the best results.

What if you aren’t a pro, yet you still like the idea of creating virtual reality videos? You could try a Ricoh Theta, which will let you publish non-3D spherical videos to YouTube and spherical photos to Google Street View. Or you could wait for GoPro to create a consumer-grade VR camera. I’m pretty sure that’s coming, too.



Google’s Project Tango headed to International Space Station


Source from: http://www.pcworld.com/article/2110660/googles-project-tango-headed-to-international-space-station.html

Google’s Project Tango, the prototype smartphone packed with sensors so it can learn and sense the world around it, is heading to the International Space Station.

Two of the Tango phones are due to be launched to the ISS on the upcoming Orbital 2 mission, which is scheduled to launch in May and take supplies to the station. The phones will be used as part of a NASA project that’s developing robots that could one day fly around the inside or outside of the space station, or even be used in NASA’s planned mission to land on an asteroid.

Work on the robots is already going on at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, and this week the space agency let a small group of reporters visit its lab and see some of the research.

spheres space station
Three Spheres satellites float inside the International Space Station.

The phones, which are being supplied to a limited number of developers at present, were unveiled by Google a month ago. They include several cameras and infrared range-finding so the phone can build up a three-dimensional model of its surroundings—a significant difference from current handsets that can see only a two-dimensional world through a single camera.

Google has already shown the phones being used to build up a detailed map of the interior of a home or office, but NASA has much bigger plans. At Ames, which is just minutes from Google’s Mountain View headquarters, researchers have attached a Tango handset to a robot development platform called a “Sphere.”

Technically an 18-sided polyhedron, each Sphere is about the size of a soccer ball and self-powered. They can free-fly around the inside of the ISS thanks to carbon dioxide-powered thrusters, said Chris Provencher, Smart Spheres project manager at NASA.

The Spheres have already been used in developing autonomous equipment. The space agency conducted a Spheres test with a Nexus S smartphone as part of Shuttle mission STS-135 in 2011, but the Tango phones promise more capabilities.

“We are researching how effective Project Tango’s vision-based navigation capabilities are for performing localization and navigation of a mobile free flyer on ISS,” said Andres Martinez, Spheres Manager at NASA.

“Specifically, we are researching how well the 3-D modeling and visual odometry can be used to let the [Spheres] free flyer learn its environment and maneuver through it based on what it sees,” said Martinez. “This is in contrast to the current Spheres localization system, which relies on fixed sensors in the environment to help the Spheres track its position.”

On Monday, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden saw a demonstration of the Tango-equipped Spheres during a visit to Ames. One was connected to a Spheres satellite, which was slowly gliding across a huge granite table in a laboratory.

There are already three Spheres units on the ISS.

Hearing that researchers are working toward a robot that would autonomously fly around the inside and possibly outside of the ISS carrying out checks, Bolden asked if the same technology could be put to use on NASA’s planned asteroid mission. The space agency wants to approach and capture a piece of an asteroid, and Bolden wondered if the work could form the base of a robot that could approach, analyze and help identify a target for the mission.

That could be so, said Provencher.

Researchers hit upon the idea of using smartphones in their development work when they realized the features they wanted—Wi-Fi, a camera, more processing power—were all present in an off-the-shelf device.

The phones in use by NASA have had several minor modifications. The lithium-ion battery pack has been removed, the phone is powered by six AA batteries and the cellular radio chip has also been removed to put it into “the ultimate airplane mode,” said Provencher. A cover has also been put over the screen to contain pieces of glass should it be shattered.

(Additional reporting by Melissa Aparicio in San Francisco.)

Google’s robot acquisitions likely cost less than $100 million

$50 million and $60 million of this $97 million went on the purchase of those eight robot companies.

Photo: Andy Rubin, Head of Google’s Robot Revolution, former head of Android.

There is much speculation about Google’s intentions with its acquisition of eight robot companies in the fall of last year. What has been missing in this speculation is just how much it has spent on the eight companies.


The acquisitions of the robot companies appear to have been completed in the last quarter of 2013; they were announced in December.

At the end of the third quarter of 2013 Google stated in their financial reporting that they had completed twenty-one acquisitions with a total value of $1.338 billion. They confirmed that $969 million of this was spent on the purchase of mapping company Waze.

The remaining $369 million was spent on purchasing an additional twenty companies.

None of these were material so the company does not have to account for them individually in its regulatory filings.

Some of these acquisitions can be found online. The largest of them was Channel Intelligence for which Google reportedly paid $125 million. Then there are lots of smaller acquisitions ranging from file sharing app, Bump for $35 million, motion detector device Flutter, which cost $40 million. The acquisition of Wavii for $35 million enhances Google’s natural language technology. They boosted their cloud computing capabilities when they brought in Talaria Technologies for around $20 million, their green energy capacity with the addition of Makani Power to the Google X team for around $30 million. They also brought in some great recruits with the purchase of DNNResearch headed up by AI expert Geoff Hinton for around $5 million, and employees from the venture fund Hatter again for around $5 million. Google also bought 217 patents from IBM during the first 9 months although it’s not clear where these have been accounted for and could be expensed in R&D.

This is a nominal selection of the 20 non-material acquisitions in the first three quarters of 2013, accounting for $318 million of the $369 million expenditure, but it helps establish a baseline for the cost of the robot companies they bought.

Yesterday Google posted their annual report on form 10K on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) website. In the annual report they confirm that during the twelve months ended 31st December 2013 they spent a total of $489 million on acquisitions that were not material and therefore did not require specific details. They also accounted for the Waze acquisition at $969 million – “The acquisition is expected to enhance our customers’ user experience by offering real time traffic information to meet users’ daily navigation needs.”

Now we know that they spent $369 million on non-material companies in the first three quarters and $489 million during the whole twelve months, we can safely calculate that $120 million was spent in the fourth quarter on non-material acquisitions.

The announcement of French company Flexycore for a rumored $23 million took place in the fourth quarter (end of October) and its not clear when they closed the deal for Flutter on whom they spent $40 million, as the media picked this up on 2nd October, but I’ll ‘assume’ they closed it in the 3rd quarter.

Taking the deal for Flexycore off the table indicates that Google spent an additional $97 million during the last quarter of 2013 on acquisitions, the time during which they bought the 8 robot companies.

It’s likely that somewhere between $50 million and $60 million of this $97 million went on the purchase of those eight robot companies.

It’s fascinating that these acquisitions have created such media speculation given the nominal size of the purchase costs.

Of course this is very good news for the robotic industry as it possibly increases the value of the sector in the eyes of investors, raises awareness about the advances being made in robotics and brings an important subject about the future direction of technology and jobs into the public domain.

As I have said before, Google’s acquisition of robots and Artificial Intelligence technologies is anything but scary.

If you liked this article, you may also be interested in:

It looks Google didn’t spend too much money on robotic companies acquisitions. But robot developments require much resource such as manufacturing, experts and spaces. The following articles might reflect what will happen next.

Google, Foxconn team to build ROBOT ARMY

Google plans aerospace and robotics projects for Hangar One

Although we still don’t know yet what they are aiming for, but can guess attentions to robotics are increasing.



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