Archive for the ‘Google’ Category

Google Glass: How will users who wear spectacles use Google Glass?

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

A question that I asked myself,  Google Glass: How will users who wear spectacles use Google Glass?


Users who wear spectacles will need to purchase custom designer frames that mount the corrective optics to the glass hardware. Example:

Google has publicly stated that the factory-standard aluminum band is easily detachable from the core electronics. This implies that the core electronics can be attached to any number of third-party OEM frames. It is highly likely that upon public launch, several designer eye-wear brands will release “Glass-compatible” frames.

A similar approach is implemented by Recon Instruments for their I/O Recon heads-up-display for skiers and snowboarders.

Isabelle Olssen, chief industrial designer on the project, is quoted as saying:

We ideally want Project Glass to work for everyone, and we’re  experimenting with designs that are meant to be extendable to different  types of frames. Many of our team members wear glasses, too, so it’s  definitely something we’re thinking about.


Google – Chrome

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Google also gave us a browser bump this past week, as Google pushed Chrome 14 to Google’s dev channel stage. It comes with improved secure HTTP support thanks to an updated V8 JavaScript engine, and tightened security when installing Web apps from the Chrome Web Store.

Google app uses Wi-Fi to track electricity use

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

The latest in energy-tracking technology is coming courtesy of Google’s PowerMeter Web application and Blue Line Innovations’ PowerCost Monitor. The software helps track and monitor home-energy use from a PC or smartphone via Wi-Fi and the user’s home broadband service. CNET/Green Tech blog (12/19)

Google TV not ready for 2011 International CES

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Google TV was expected to make its debut next month at the 2011 International CES in Las Vegas, but it will be sitting on the sidelines instead, sources say. The search-engine giant is reportedly still perfecting its software and has told its TV manufacturing partners that it won’t be ready for the big show. A Google spokeswoman declined to comment. New York Times (12/19)

When The Power Goes Out at Google

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

By: Rich Miller

What happens when the power goes out at a Google data center? We found out on Feb. 24, when a power outage at a Google facility caused more than two hours of downtime for Google App Engine, the company’s cloud computing platform for developers. Last week the company released a detailed incident report on the outage, which underscored the critical importance of good documentation, even in huge data center networks with failover capacity.

Most of Google’s recent high-profile outages have been caused by routing or network capacity problems, including outages in May and September of last year (see How Google Routes Around Outages for more). But not so with the Feb. 24 event.

“The underlying cause of the outage was a power failure in our primary datacenter,” Google reported. “While the Google App Engine infrastructure is designed to quickly recover from these sort of failures, this type of rare problem, combined with internal procedural issues extended the time required to restore the service.”

Power Down for 30 Minutes
Data center power outages typically fall into two categories: those in which the entire data center loses power for an extended period, and those in which power is restored relatively quickly but hardware within the data center has trouble restarting properly. The Google App Engine downtime appears to fall into the latter category. Power to the primary data center was restored within a half hour, but a key group of servers failed to restart properly. The somewhat unusual pattern of the recovery presented the first challenge.


Connecting Smart Buildings to the Smart Grid

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Suggesting turning off the lights in our buildings has been a constant theme. Saving or conserving energy, especially when the cleaning crew and security personnel are the only ones occupying a 250,000 sq ft office tower, makes sense at a very basic level. You would think that a simple concept such as conserving energy in our built environment would be easy to deploy. Given that energy, and thus our independence, is on everyone’s mind, combined with the fact that buildings use 40+% of the total daily energy spend, one would expect it to be a high priority.

Over the years engineers have introduced a number of different ideas, concepts and technologies that would help building owners conserve energy. Even to this day, adoption of these “common sense” ideas have been met with great resistance. In trying to better understand why this remains such a low priority I’ve summarized the common client drivers  / observations:

1) during the boom times, making money trumped every other priority,

2) in many situations tenants paid the utility bills and the landlord had no motivation to conserve,

3) real estate companies have struggled with “who” in their organization should take responsibility for this issue (IT,PM,FM,Energy),

4) while executives promoted “green” for marketing purposes, commitment and execution was superficial and

5) many of these technologies involve CAPEX or in some cases initial impacts to OPEX investments and without the motivation of a “return”, never made it past the budgeting process.

There have been bursts of interest in this topic by the built environment over the last 5-7 years. In fact there are case studies of real estate companies who have implemented sophisticated technology solutions to monitor and manage their energy consumption with a much greater level of accuracy. Over the last 24-30 months, many of our trade associations have also joined in the battle to conserve and begun to aggressively educate their memberships on conserving energy. While all of these “green” initiatives have been positive, there has been little discussion on the role that technology, automation and innovation can play. While insulated windows an important part of the strategy so is a lighting strategy that can reduce energy costs by 50%.

Enter the Smart Grid discussion.

About 2-3 years ago the discussion of the Smart Grid started to heat up. Major companies like GE, IBM, Siemens and, most recently Cisco and Google, started to beat the drum on the benefits of being able to manage electricity in more sophisticated ways. Instead of producing power in big old clunky power plants and “broadcasting” the energy down very old “asynchronous” (one way) power lines, the idea has emerged of a “networked”, very smart, easy to manage electrical infrastructure that connects both your refrigerator to the network as well as the solar panel or wind turbine that you have in your backyard or the roof of your office building. The idea is big, the benefits are big, the issues are big, and so are the challenges. While the marketing of many of these large smart grid companies would lead you to believe that the technology is in place and everything has been figured out, there are a mountain of questions ranging from privacy issues to standards and everything in between.

One of those big issues to be figured out is how to we “connect” a smart building to the smart grid and what if we’re starting with a building that is not so smart. One of the most basic questions that need to be answered is “who in a building takes charge of this issue.” Buildings have many number of different tenant landlord relationships, from owner occupied to multi-tenant. The relationship in many cases will influence who takes the lead on this important topic. Once the “business” side of the equation is figured out, then you move to the building technology and ultimately the relationship with the smart grid. These are very big questions and in many respects are the primary reasons that so many building owners have not initiated an energy plan. The other major reasons for slow response to this issue is the maturity of the technology (still evolving) and the regulatory role of local, and national government agencies.

If you break the smart grid into three distinct categories it is a little easier to understand.

We have the:

1) “middle infrastructure” i.e. the transmission lines, sub-stations etc.,

2) the power plants – both traditional as well as the emerging technologies, and

3) the end user, which in our world translates to the building.

These make up the major components of the smart grid. When we isolate the building’s role it’s easy to understand why this is such a complex issue. It’s not only the connectivity of the building to the smart grid, but also the internal infrastructure of the building that needs to be automated in order to create a completely digital, transparent connection. Connecting a building to the smart grid without considering the tenant space will leave you with less than desired results. The topic gets even more complex when you consider all the other building technologies that need to be considered for integration into the building network such as security, tenant communications etc. at the same time you are trying to figure out the connectivity into the smart grid for the purpose energy management and conservation.

The benefits of the smart grid begin to get very interesting when you start talking about how a commercial building owner could gain financially from this concept. Just imagine you’re at 30,000 feet looking down on a major city and picture all the buildings being turned into individual solar and other renewable energy source power plants that could sell unused energy back to utilities via smart grid technologies. There are some who have speculated that this could be a significant income stream for owners and operators once the idea is adequately developed.

The bottom line is that the idea of smart buildings connecting to the smart grid is an idea whose time has come. Whether adoption is fueled by financial opportunities or by strict legislation, this idea is not going away. In the early stages, as with all new technologies and ideas, there are more questions than answers. However, last week’s announcement by the US Obama administration on their 3.2 billion dollar commitment to the smart grid is sure to advance the topic and produce real results.

The question remains how will BUILDINGS CONNECT to the SMART GRID, with technology companies developing products and exploring this new major industry (as it will become). Which company will become the brand leader, but even more important is which real estate owners will become the  known  to champion this technology, and get an competitive edge on its rivals.

Google – Chrome OS: Some Early Preview Videos

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Today Google released a number of early introduction/preview videos regarding their upcoming Chrome OS.

While the software does not currently appear to be in an easily installable state, requiring developers to build their own Chrome OS environments for the time being, the OS does look quite promising and Google’s “Stateless” objective where all user data resides in the cloud reflects an extremely modern concept in OS design.

What is Chrome OS?:

User Interface Concept Video for Chrome OS:

Chromium OS and Open Source:

Do these videos provide encouragement or interest in Google’s stateless, cloud-based OS offering?

Google makes Chrome OS eary code developed available to the open source community

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Contrary to rumors, Google did not release a beta version of its much anticipated Chrome operating system today. And nothing is coming anytime soon: the final version is at least a year away, the mega giant web company said.

But there was some significant news for the community today. Google made the early code available to the open source community and claims external developers will have the same access to the code as internal Google developers.

All the code is open and sketches of the design documents are available now. The final version of the cloud-based operating system is expected to ship at the end of 2010, before the holiday season, executives said.

Google also provided an early demonstration of the web operating system, which sports a Chrome browser-like interface that features application tabs instead of web page tab and a seven second bootup time that is expected to be much faster on its release.

For example, users will see the same clean tabbed style interface but the tabs on the upper left hand of the screen are for gmail, Yahoo, Facebook and any other web service or application customers use on a day-to-day basis.  All of the data, of course, is stored in the cloud.

Executives who showed the demo Thursday said the Chrome OS functions more like a TV than a computer. It is entirely sold state and based on Flash memory storage so there’s no latency that comes with using a hard disk.

The OS uses web-based security model. The software offers a verified boot and cryptohgraphic signature keys that check for and ensure there’s no malware impacted the applications.  Like the Chrome browser, it will also feature security sandboxing to isolate one web application from another.

The web operating system will offer auto-updating and synchronization capabilities.

Go To Market

Google is working with partners to specify hardware competence and reference implementations at the hardware level. That is, Google Chrome OS will support only solid state drives and select wireless cards. This means that customers will have to buy a new next-generation netbook or device that is designed for the Chrome OS.

The initial form factor for 2010 is the netbook. Laptops and desktops may follow in the future.

Google expects hardware devices to fall in same price range as netbooks are today.  Chrome OS netbooks will be larger and feature a full sized keyboard.

“The code is open. We would not be here if it were not for several large open source projects such as Linux kernel, Ubuntu, Moblin and webskit,” said Caesar Sengupta, Group Product Manager. ”We’ll be a good open source citizen.”

The open source operating system won’t support other browsers natively but third parties including Mozilla and Microsoft can take the code and do Firefox-based and Windows-based versions of the OS.

Smart Energy, Courtesy of Google

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Companies large and small are excited about smart metering, but one of the biggest companies to enter the space has been Google,, Mountain View, Calif. Earlier this year,, the search-engine giant’s philanthropic arm, announced the PowerMeter system, designed to help consumers manage their energy consumption.

This week, Google announced the first utility partnerships for the PowerMeter initiative. Eight electric utilities in the United States, Canada, and India will help roll out the technology to consumers. PowerMeter is a Google gadget that lets consumers view information about their electricity consumption over the Web on their home computers. The software requires the use of smart meters, which the eight utility partners are implementing for customers, and which provide two-way data transfer between the customer and the utility.

Google’s partners range from utilities with millions of customers to utilities with only a few thousand customers. The PowerMeter partner utilities are: San Diego Gas & Electric,, San Diego, Calif.; TXU Energy,, Dallas, Texas; JEA,, Jacksonville, Fla.; Reliance Energy,, Mumbai, India; Wisconsin Public Service Corp.,, Green Bay, Wis.; White River Valley Electric Cooperative,, Branson, Mo.; Toronto Hydro–Electric System Ltd.,, Toronto, Ont.; and Glasgow EPB,, Glasgow, Ky.

Google will also work with integration partner Itron,, Liberty Lake, Wash., for the project. Itron is a provider of intelligent metering, data collection, and utility software solutions.

In the future, Google plans to expand the number of customers and utilities using the PowerMeter system.

In the tech world, everybody used to break into hives at the slightest hint that the all-knowing, all-seeing Google was going to enter their business, providing free tools and doing everything better.
But slowly people realized that Google isn’t the best company to do everything. They don’t always win, and they may well not win here either.

First, where’s all that data going to come from? Sure, Barack Obama’s stimulus plan calls for 40 million more smart meters to be installed, but as we noted last year, the functionality of these little devices varies widely. Some track things in real-time, others don’t.

And they’re expensive. The sensors required to track all of the major appliances in your home would be hundreds of dollars and Google isn’t just going to send you a kit with all of the smart devices.

Absent the data gathering ecosystem, all Google is really offering you is a graphing utility. And we’ve already seen plenty of companies, including the guys who made Flash, offer up similar or better products.

To become the de facto window into your energy usage, Google will have to use their size and weight to bring some standardization to smart metering practices. To do that, they’ll need hardware manufacturers to come out with very cheap Google-ready devices and then they’ll have talk dozens of utilities into eschewing their own smart meter plans to follow Google’s lead.

Or they’ll have to get the government to mandate that Google’s approach is correct. This could be where Google earns its money. Some utilities aren’t really interested in helping consumers cut their usage — what they’re really after is just simply knowing how much power people are using at any given, so they know when they have to fire up their expensive, dirty peaker power plants. Smart-meter makers have responded with products that aren’t always consumer friendly or even consumer facing.

Google, on the other hand, has a vested interest in making sure that information is freely available in real-time and that it can be tied to real-time electricity pricing information. That’s a very consumer-friendly approach — and we’re glad to see someone pushing that agenda.