Natural Search Blog

Google Launches Audio Search

Google Labs has launched an experimental audio search which allows one to search text within YouTube videos. “Google Audio Indexing“, it’s called.

Google Audio Indexing

On the backend, Google has taken the audio tracks of YouTube videos of politicians, and automatically converted it to text for search capability.

How will this impact the overall internet? (more…)

Google Adds Data to Georgia Maps?

Google announced additional map data for Georgia today on the Lat Long Blog, along with a few other countries.

This announcement comes on the heels of explanations a few weeks ago about why Google Maps was missing data for the Georgian Republic. A number of sources on the internet had claimed that Google had yanked map data for Georgia in order to not be facilitating the war that sparked in the region with Russia. Google stated that this was untrue — that the region had never had detailed roads displayed because they didn’t have a good source of information for the area yet. (I was one of the people duped by the spurious claims — surprising, since it’s patently apparent that the Russian military would ALREADY have good maps of their region!)

Map of T'bilisi, Georgia - illustration for Google Maps article
(click to enlarge)

However, even though it’s great that Google is beefing up their map data, I have to say that publicising it and releasing it as they have done seems terribly precipitate. If you look at the screengrab above, you’ll see that the map data they added is just city name labels — no streets or roads connecting them up — and not even dots or outlines to show where the cities are actually located! (more…)

Chrome – Google Browser Launching

Google has officially confirmed that they’ll be launching “Chrome” — their newly developed, open-source browser, into the wild tomorrow for the Windows platform.

Google Chrome

If you recall, I’d previously posted about rumors of a Google browser here and here a year ago, despite Google executives previously indicating that they would not build another browser. A number of other analysts dismissed my observations that a Google browser would be advantageous to the company and complimentary to their various other applications and services – but, I’m now proved right and Google’s efforts to obscure the fact of their browser initiatives appear in retrospect to have been intended to keep the whole thing as top secret as possible until deployment. In 2006, Google CEO Eric Schmidt had stated, “We would only do so…if we thought there was a real user benefit.” (more…)

Googledance 2008

The Googledance party was held last night at the Googleplex for SES Conference attendees, and it lived up to its traditional party-on-a-grand-scale reputation for which it has become known.

Googledance, beside building 43
Googledance, 2008

The theme this year was “Glow in the Dark”, and they gave out t-shirts which flouresced nicely under blacklights, and those endothermic glow sticks that can be linked up for bracelets or necklaces. In one area was a large Lite Brite station that allowed party-goers to make colorful messages or illustrations of their choosing with the translucent pegs.

One really cool entertainment was the “Glow Graffiti” – they had set up a couple of different stations to allow the crowd to do digital graffiti — using laser pointers to write on the sides of a couple of buildings. A camera tracks where one drags the laser pointer beam on the wall’s surface, then a computer captures the trajectories and redisplays the lines drawn back onto the wall continuously with a projector. In this way, one can draw all over the side of a building with light.

Google in Digital Graffiti
“Google” tagged in digital graffiti on side of building


Google Pushes Reading Lists of Politicians & Pundits

Google announced today that they’re introducing reading lists from major politicians like Barack Obama and John McClain along with reading lists from political commentators like Ariana Huffington and Mark Halperin. Google promoted the new service today on their homepage by touting the ability to read what Obama and McCain are reading, with a link line just below the search form:

Google provides Obama & McClain's reading lists
(click to enlarge)

The Google Reader blog states that you’ll now be able to “read what they read” and here their commentary as they share and discuss news. (more…)

Text In Street View Could Be Used For Quality Improvement

Philipp Lenssen at Google Blogoscoped observes that Google could potentially use OCR (optical character recognition) to attempt to derive text from signage and such within Google Street View images in order to create further enhancements.

Grauman's Chinese Theatre
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Street View
, Los Angeles.

However, I see a much more immediately valuable use that could be put to text scanned from the images — quality improvement of address pinpointing functionality. (more…)

Marriage Proposals Via Google Maps

What is it with Google Maps that seems to inspire people to propose marriage?

Proposal 2.0 - Marry Me Leslie
(Click to enlarge – Marry Me Leslie)

Googler Michael Weiss-Malik, a member of the Google Geo Team, planned ahead and stood at the side of the road when the Google Street View pictures were being updated in a drive-by photo shoot. (Read Michael’s explanation of what he did and why.) Google has been aggressively expanding Street View images this summer.

Michael isn’t the first to have a marriage proposal appear in Google Maps. Here’s a few more we’ve collected in the past: (more…)

Australian Yellow Pages Finally Optimizes For Search Engines

Sensis LogoThe Australian edition of Lifehacker reports that Sensis, Telestra’s yellow pages division, has finally allowed bots to crawl their online yellow pages so links to their listings are now showing up in Google SERPs and other search engines. Previously, they were apparently blocking Google and bots by either using robots.txt disallow rules and/or blocking the bots with network access rules.

Australian Sensis Yellow Pages in SERPs
Australian Yellow Pages in Google results (click to enlarge)

Amusingly, Lifehacker mentions, (more…)

Google Street View Attacked As Potential Tool For Child Predators

The Stop Child Predators organization has launched a campaign specifically targeting Google’s Street View as a tool that potentially enables predators to stalk and kidnap children more effectively.

Kids at the Park in Google Street View, San Jose
Kids playing at a park in Google Street View

A video on the site presents Stacie Runemap, Executive Director of the organization, outlining how Street View shows pictures of neighborhoods, homes, playgrounds, schools and pics of kids. She further describes how Google Maps can be used to plot distances from your doorstep to bus stops and schools, suggesting that child predators could use the service to plan attacks or kidnappings. The site elsewhere describes how to request that Google remove photos from Street View. (more…)

Google Launches New Virtual Reality: Lively

Google has finally launched the long-awaited Lively virtual reality service.

Will it be a SecondLife killer, as some have suggested? So far, no, since it doesn’t have one huge planet or room for interacting with everyone as SecondLife does.

But this is the first baby-step Google has taken into VR, and we can expect them to evolve it further, particularly if the service proves popular. I haven’t tried it out just yet, but the feature descriptions include adding VR rooms to webpages, pulling photos and vids into the VR environments, and tying it closely to Google Talk – Google’s chat service. (more…)

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