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Google Lens will soon let you search via picture in real time

(TECH NEWS) Google Lens is an incredible augmented reality tool that could change how we all search online, and you can have it in a few months, get ready!

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Move over, hoverboards

Guys. Guys. I can’t even believe this. I don’t want a jetpack anymore. Or a flying car. I’m even okay not having a hoverboard! Real talk: I should never have any of those things. I’m a klutz. Klutz plus flying machines without safety features equals a very stylish hospital visit.

That’s OK. This is the future I want, a Google-Lens-erific future.

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That is to say, I want systematically integrated augmented reality (AR). AR has been a buzzword in the tech world for almost as long as virtual reality (VR), albeit with fewer hilariously failed attempts. The tl;dr on augmented reality is that it integrates digital info into the real world for you, making you more aware and bringing more options to your attention than boring old sense input and social cues.

You’ve already used AR, friends

AR’s not new. If you’ve used Foursquare or played Pokemon Go, you and AR have met: digital info linked to real-world objects and spaces. Google in particular has gone to great lengths in the AR space with Maps, Earth etc., which is why it can get you to a meeting, then find you a Starbucks afterward. Well, it’s the 21st century: you can pretty much blindfold yourself, point in a random direction and find a Starbucks, probably without taking the blindfold off, but you know what I mean.

For all that Google makes everything from chatty robots to intimidating cameras now, it still has its roots in a search engine. Nobody’s better than Google at providing users with data. They’re the company that gets you the info.

Why the upcoming Google Lens is so exciting

At Google I/O, their big developer gathering, CEO Sundar Pichai announced a new functionality: AR through your phone camera. Per the announcement, it’s going to start as a component of Google Assistant and Google Photos, interfacing publicly available data with your personal files.

Got a picture of a flower? It’ll give you genus and species. Local restaurant looks yummy? Snap a pic; it’ll tell you the hours.

Sounds convenient, right? But it is, or could be, so much more.

It has been noted that the Information Revolution comes down to the fact that we digitally enabled types now have the ability to delegate parts of our brains. A computer, after all, is only what you put into it: a box of memory. That’s how we use our computers and phones and digital sundries. Type is more comprehensible than handwriting, Facebook posts are faster than “thank you” notes, LinkedIn gets more eyeballs than a resume, but it’s all still us, our work, composed and conveyed in a convenient form. Computers make our lives easier.

AR makes our lives so much better

AR makes our lives bigger. Done right, it’s the smooth, non-invasive interface by which we can integrate as much or as little as we want of the Internet’s consensual hive mind into our non-digital lives.

It’s the difference between noticing a pretty flower and knowing what it is and how to care for it, so a month from now you have a windowbox full.

It’s how you get past picking your Friday night dive from the phonebook (or a Google search) in favor of telling a tiny robot you feel like a Hendricks and tonic and it finding the place 15 strangers agree does the best one.

My favorite: it’s about holding your phone up and, for the first time, being able to read the daily inspiration at the Korean church you’ve walked past every morning for a year. AR means if someone who uses Google speaks Korean, so do you.

Crowdsourced wisdom. I know this is geek blasphemy, but for real – that’s cooler than a hoverboard.Click To Tweet

Google Lens is set to be launched later in the year and be integrated into the Google Assistant, already available on Android smartphones.

#GoogleLens

Matt Salter is a writer and former fundraising and communications officer for nonprofit organizations, including Volunteers of America and PICO National Network. He’s excited to put his knowledge of fundraising, marketing, and all things digital to work for your reading enjoyment. When not writing about himself in the third person, Matt enjoys horror movies and tabletop gaming, and can usually be found somewhere in the DFW Metroplex with WiFi and a good all-day breakfast.

Real Estate Technology

Your office could benefit from a more open floor plan

(TECHNOLOGY NEWS) Science proves that open floor plans are more conducive to office productivity, but will it work for everyone?

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If you walk into a tech startup, nine times out of ten you’ll find an open seating/bull-pen style seating. Whereas traditional work environments are divided up into departments with individual offices and cubicles, open office floor plans put all employees in the same room. Studies have shown that cubicles don’t increase productivity. As a matter of fact, people are more productive when they are sitting close together, but can see each other.

Pros of openness

Some of the advantages of an open office floor plan are obvious. These kinds of offices are economical because you can fit more people and more desks in less space, and because it is more efficient to heat, cool, and light one large room than several small rooms.

Open office plans also facilitate communication between managers and their employees, and between departments.

Rather than taking the stairs or hiking down the hall to collaborate with another person, you can simply holler across the room.

Cons of openness

Unfortunately, all of that hollering can sometimes be pretty distracting. A University of Sydney study found that half of workers in open offices say that the most frustrating part of their workplace is the “lack of sound privacy.”

Open offices are not only noisy, but are also less secure, since everyone can overhear one another.

Employees may get peeved if they can’t concentrate because of all the noise around them, or can’t make a phone call without being overheard.

Dr. Who inspired solution

A startup called Framery Acoustics offers a solution.

They create soundproof phone booths and meeting pods designed to complement open office floor plans.

One of the founders, who previously worked in an open office, complained that his boss talked too loudly on his cellphone. His boss replied, “Well, get me a phone booth.” Thus, Framery Acoustics was born.

Simple solutions

Framery Acoustics is just one company that offers a product suited to appease open office dissenters. Framery Acoustics isn’t ready to give up on openness and neither should you. So, when it comes time to return to your office (if you haven’t already), look for ways to make your office more flexible. Whether it is by providing a quiet capsule for private meetings and phone calls or just having a designated section for meeting, the solution is out there.

Compromising allows you to reap the benefits of an open office plan, while still ensuring that you and your officemates have privacy and quiet when it is needed.

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Real Estate Technology

3D printed homes are now gaining traction outside of the US and China

(TECHNOLOGY) Other countries are now using 3d printing to build homes to underscore their infrastructure. This shows the viability of the technology!

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3D printing

Recently, we reported that Lennar was using 3D printing to build homes in Austin. In 2014, the BBC reported that China was printing up to 10 homes a day at the low cost of $5000 per home. This trend is making strides in the real estate market, even though there’s still a long way to go. In a move that should give the industry confidence in 3D printing, Indonesia’s Public Works and Public Housing (PUPR) Ministry announced that they are using concrete 3D printing to build homes in rural areas. Eventually, plans are in the works to construct schools.

Using 3D printing to build an infrastructure

Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country. As with most countries, housing expenses are climbing in both urban and rural areas. According to Habitat for Humanity, 11.3% of the population lives below the poverty line. For comparison, in September, the U.S. Census Bureau released information that the U.S poverty rate increased to 11.4%, one percentage point over the same time in 2020. Affordable housing is a problem in Indonesia.

“This technology really helps us, so we can build faster, more accurately, and with precision,’ explains Kusumastuti, Indonesia’s Director General of Human Settlements.” The PUPR reports that 3D printing reduces waste and improves construction quality. Considering that up to 70% of housing is built by individuals, not private developers or the government, using 3D printing under the PUPR Ministry is an upgrade in a country that deals with many types of economic disasters, due to its climate.

3D printing’s potential for real estate

As 3D printing is used in more construction projects, not only in the U.S. and China, it’s hoped that the real estate industry embraces the technology. Indonesia isn’t the only country that is trying out 3D printing. 14Trees constructed a school in Malawi using this method already, with the project taking around 18 hours. The company is undertaking more projects in Africa using this technology and more companies are building houses using 3D printing in the United States. It will be exciting to watch how this plays out in the various markets.

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Real Estate Technology

Why everyone and their mother own spy machines (aka smart speakers)

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) Regardless of privacy issues with them, what does information about smart speakers, ownership, and usage tell us about future trends?

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smart speakers scare me

I don’t trust smart speakers, but even I can (begrudgingly) admit why they might be convenient. With just a simple wake word, I would be able to do anything from inquire about the weather or turn down my own music from across the room. And the thing is, plenty of people have bought into this sort of sales pitch. In fact, the worldwide revenue of smart speakers more than doubled between 2017 and 2018. And it’s projected that by 2022, the total revenue from smart speakers will reach almost $30 billion.

With over 25% of adults in the United States owning at least one smart speaker, it’s worth figuring out how we’re using this new tech…and how it could be used against us.

First things first: Despite the horror stories we hear about voice-command shopping – like when a pet parrot figured out how to make purchases on Alexa – people aren’t really using their smart speakers to buy things. In fact, in the list of top ten uses for a smart speaker, making a purchase is at the bottom.

Before you breathe a sigh of relief, though, it’s worth knowing where advertisements might crop up in more subtle places.

Sure, people aren’t using their smart speakers to make many purchases, but they’re still using the speakers for other things – primarily asking questions and getting updates on things like weather and traffic. And I get it, why scroll through the internet looking for an answer that Alexa might be able to pull up for you instantly?

That said, it also provides marketers with a great opportunity to advertise to you in a way that feels conversational. Imagine asking about a wait time for a popular restaurant. If the wait is too long, it creates the perfect opportunity for Alexa to suggest UberEats as an alternative (promotion paid for by UberEats, of course).

Don’t get me wrong, this is already happening when you search Google on your phone or computer. Search for a tire company, for instance, and the competitors are sure to appear in your results. But as more and more consumers start turning their attention to smart speakers, it’s worth being aware that they won’t be the only ones.

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