Google Research Blog
The latest news from Research at Google
Projecting without a projector: sharing your smartphone content onto an arbitrary display
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Posted by Yang Li, Research Scientist, Google Research
Previously, we presented
, a system that allows a user to “capture” an application (such as Google Maps) running on a remote computer monitor via a smartphone camera and bring the application on the go. Today, we’d like to discuss how we support the opposite process, i.e., transferring mobile content to a remote display, again using the smartphone camera.
Although the computing power of today’s mobile devices grows at an accelerated rate, the form factor of these devices remains small, which constrains both the input and output bandwidth for mobile interaction. To address this issue, we investigated how to enable users to leverage nearby IO resources to operate their mobile devices. As part of the effort, we developed
, an end-to-end framework that allows a user to “project” a native mobile application onto an arbitrary display using a smartphone camera, leveraging interaction spaces and input modality of the display. The display can range from a PC or laptop monitor, to a home Internet TV and to a public wall-sized display. Via an intuitive, projection-based metaphor, a user can easily share a mobile application by projecting it onto a target display.
Open Project is an open, scalable, web-based framework for enabling mobile sharing and collaboration. It can turn any computer display projectable instantaneously and without deployment. Developers can add support for Open Project in native mobile apps by simply linking a library, requiring no additional hardware or sensors. Our user participants responded highly positively to Open Project-enabled applications for mobile sharing and collaboration.
Broadening Google Patents
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Posted by Jon Orwant, Engineering Manager
Cross-posted with the
US Public Policy Blog
European Public Policy Blog
Inside Search Blog
Last year, we launched two improvements to
Prior Art Finder
and European Patent Office (EPO) patents. Today we’re happy to announce the addition of documents from four new patent agencies: China, Germany, Canada, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Many of these documents may provide prior art for future patent applications, and we hope their increased discoverability will improve the quality of patents in the U.S. and worldwide.
So if you want to learn about a
Chinese dual-drive bicycle
German valve for inflating bicycle tires
, attach a
Canadian trailer to your bike
, or read the
WIPO application for pedalling with one leg
, those and millions of other inventions are now available on Google Patents.
, all patents are available in both their original languages and in English, and you can search across the world’s patents using terms in any of those languages. When there are multiple submission languages, you can move between them with a single click on the tabs at the top of the page, as shown in the screenshot below:
Happy patent searching!
We are joining the Open edX platform
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Posted by Dan Clancy, Director of Research
A year ago, we released
, an experimental platform for online education at scale. Since then, individuals have created courses on everything from game theory to philanthropy, offered to curious people around the world. Universities and non-profit organizations have used the platform to experiment with MOOCs, while maintaining direct relationships with their participants. Google has published a number of courses including
Introduction to Web Accessibility
which opens for registration today. This platform is helping to deliver on our goal of making education more accessible through technology, and enabling educators to easily teach at scale on top of cloud platform services.
Today, Google will begin working with
as a contributor to the open source platform, Open edX. We are taking our learnings from Course Builder and applying them to Open edX to further innovate on an open source MOOC platform. We look forward to contributing to edX’s new site, MOOC.org, a new service for online learning which will allow any academic institution, business and individual to create and host online courses.
Google and edX have a shared mission to broaden access to education, and by working together, we can advance towards our goals much faster. In addition, Google, with its breadth of applicable infrastructure and research capabilities, will continue to make contributions to the online education space,
the findings of which
will be shared directly to the online education community and the Open edX platform.
We support the development of a diverse education ecosystem, as learning expands in the online world. Part of that means that educational institutions should easily be able to bring their content online and manage their relationships with their students. Our industry is in the early stages of MOOCs, and lots of experimentation is still needed to find the best way to meet the educational needs of the world. An open ecosystem with multiple players encourages rapid experimentation and innovation, and we applaud the work going on in this space today.
We appreciate the community that has grown around the Course Builder open source project. We will continue to maintain Course Builder, but are focusing our development efforts on Open edX, and look forward to seeing edX’s MOOC.org platform develop. In the future, we will provide an upgrade path to Open edX and MOOC.org from Course Builder. We hope that our continued contributions to open source education projects will enable anyone who builds online education products to benefit from our technology, services and scale. For learners, we believe that a more open online education ecosystem will make it easier for anyone to pick up new skills and concepts at any time, anywhere.
Make Your Websites More Accessible to More Users with Introduction to Web Accessibility
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Eve Andersson, Manager, Accessibility Engineering
Google Developer's Blog
You work hard to build clean, intuitive websites. Traffic is high and still climbing, and your website provides a great user experience for all your users, right? Now close your eyes. Is your website easily navigable? According to the World Health Organization, 285 million people are visually impaired. That’s more than the populations of
As the web has continued to evolve, websites have become more interactive and complex, and this has led to a reduction in accessibility for some users. Fortunately, there are some simple techniques you can employ to make your websites more accessible to blind and low-vision users and increase your potential audience.
Introduction to Web Accessibility
is Google’s online course that helps you do just that.
There’s a lot to learn in the realm of web accessibility, and a lot of work to be done to ensure users aren’t excluded from being able to easily navigate the web. By introducing fundamental tips to improve web usage for users with visual impairments, Introduction to Web Accessibility is a starting point to learn how to build accessibility features into your code.
is now open, so sign up today and help push the web toward becoming truly universally accessible.
A Comparison of Five Google Online Courses
Thursday, September 05, 2013
Posted by Julia Wilkowski, Senior Instructional Designer
Google has taught five open online courses in the past year, reaching nearly 400,000 interested students. In this post I will share observations from experiments with a year’s worth of these courses. We were particularly surprised by how the size of our courses evolved during the year; how students responded to a non-linear, problem-based MOOC; and the value that many students got out of the courses, even after the courses ended.
Observation #1: Course size
We have seen varying numbers of registered students in the courses. Our first two courses (Power Searching versions one and two) garnered significant interest with over 100,000 students registering for each course. Our more recent courses have attracted closer to 40,000 students each. It’s likely that this is a result of initial interest in MOOCs starting to decline as well as students realizing that online courses require significant commitment of time and effort. We’d like other MOOC content aggregators to share their results so that we can identify overall MOOC patterns.
*based on surveys sent only to course completers. Other satisfaction scores represent aggregate survey results sent to all registrants.
Observation #2: Completion rates
Comparing these five two-week courses, we notice that most of them illustrate a completion rate (measured by the number of students who meet the course criteria for completion divided by the total number of registrants) of between 11-16%. Advanced Power Searching was an outlier at only 4%. Why? A possible answer can be found by comparing the culminating projects for each course: Power Searching consisted of students completing a multiple choice test; Advanced Power Searching students completed case studies of applying skills to research problems. After grading their work, students also had to solve a final search challenge.
Advanced Power Searching also differed from all of the other courses in the way it presented content and activities. Power Searching offered videos and activities in a highly structured, linear path; Advanced Power Searching presented students with a selection of challenges followed by supporting lessons. We observed a decreasing number of views on each challenge page similar to the pattern in the linear course (see figure 1).
Figure 1. Unique page views for Power Searching and Advanced Power Searching
Students who did complete Advanced Power Searching expressed satisfaction with the course (95% of course completing students would recommend the course to others, compared with 94% of survey respondents from Power Searching). We surmise that the lower completion rate for Advanced Power Searching compared to Power Searching could be a result of the relative difficulty of this course (it assumed significantly more foundational knowledge than Power Searching), the unstructured nature of the course, or a combination of these and other factors.
Even though completion rates seem low when compared with traditional courses, we are excited about the sheer number of students we’ve reached through our courses (over 51,000 earning certificates of completion). If we offered the same content to classrooms of 30 students, it would take over four and a half years of daily classes to teach the same information!
Observation #3: Students have varied goals
We would also like to move the discussion beyond completion rates. We’ve noticed that students register for online courses for many different reasons. In Mapping with Google, we asked students to select a goal during registration. We discovered that
52% of registrants intended to complete the course
48% merely wanted to learn a few new things about Google’s mapping tools
Post-course surveys revealed that
78% of students achieved the goal they defined at registration
89% of students learned new features of Google Maps
76% reported learning new features of Google Earth
Though a much smaller percentage of students completed course requirements, these statistics show that many of the students attained their learning goals.
Observation #4: Continued interest in post-course access
After each course ended, we kept many of the course materials (videos, activities) available. Though we removed access to the forums, final projects/assessments, and teaching assistants, we have seen significant interest in the content as measured by Google and YouTube Analytics. The Power Searching course pages have generated nearly three million page views after the courses finished; viewers have watched over 160,000 hours (18 years!) of course videos. In the two months since Mapping with Google finished, we have seen over 70,000 unique visitors to the course pages.
In all of our courses, we saw a high number of students interested in learning online: 96% of Power Searching participants agreed or strongly agreed that they would take a course in a similar format. We have succeeded in teaching tens of thousands of students to be more savvy users of Google tools. Future posts will take an in-depth look at our experiments with self-graded assessments, community elements that enhance learning, and design elements that influence student success.
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