n June, we celebrated the seventh annual GoogleServe, where employees come together and volunteer in our communities. This year, we doubled GoogleServe from one to two weeks so we could involve more volunteers and serve more community organizations. And it paid off—more than 12,000 Googlers from 70+ offices participated in 800+ projects, making this our biggest GoogleServe to date. Here’s a look at how we gave back to our communities this year:
Making tech more accessible
At our Mountain View headquarters and in Hyderabad, India, Googlers volunteered in three SocialCoding4Goodevents. Googlers participated in an Accessibility Code Sprint with Benetech’s Global Literacy Program to improveGo Read, a free mobile app for people with visual impairments and reading disabilities. A team of Googlers also worked with Bookshare to write descriptions for nearly 1,400 images in five STEM textbooks, making charts, graphs, and diagrams more accessible to blind and visually impaired students.
At our Mountain View headquarters and in Hyderabad, India, Googlers volunteered in three SocialCoding4Goodevents. Googlers participated in an Accessibility Code Sprint with Benetech’s Global Literacy Program to improveGo Read, a free mobile app for people with visual impairments and reading disabilities.
Over the past few months, we’ve had the chance to talk to businesses all over the country and hear stories of how they’ve become successful. For many, it’s pretty simple: the Internet. The web is helping businesses and communities across the U.S. to grow and succeed. In fact, last year Google’s search and advertising tools helped provide $111 billion of economic activity for more than 1.5 million businesses—advertisers, publishers and nonprofits—across the U.S.
Take Go2marine, a boat supply company located on Bainbridge Island, off the coast of Washington State. Because of their remote location, bringing traffic to their website using Google AdWords plays an important role in their ability to sell their 250,000+ boat supplies to customers in 176 countries. When it’s winter in the U.S., they rely on customers located in other parts of the world where it’s boating season, with the web bringing them business from any place, in any season.
There will be obstacles to overcome (like the conventional wisdom of engineering). But whoever gets it done will help change the future of electricity. A smaller inverter could help create low-cost microgrids in remote parts of the world.
These days, if you’re an engineer, inventor or just a tinkerer with a garage, you don’t have to look far for a juicy opportunity: there are cash prize challenges dedicated to landing on the moon, building a self-driving car, cleaning the oceans, or inventing an extra-clever robot. Today, together with the IEEE, we’re adding one more: shrinking a big box into a little box.
Of course, there’s more to it than that. Especially when the big box is a power inverter, a picnic cooler-sizeddevice used to convert the energy that comes from solar, electric vehicles & wind (DC power) into something you can use in your home (AC power). We want to shrink it down to the size of a small laptop, roughly 1/10th of its current size. Put a little more technically, we’re looking for someone to build a kW-scale inverter with a power density greater than 50W per cubic inch. Do it best and we’ll give you a million bucks.
Whether your email address is firstname.lastname@ or something more expressive like corgicrazy@, an email address says something about who you are.
Kenneth Shinozuka, from New York City, wants to help people with Alzheimer’s Disease, like his grandfather. Kenneth developed a small, wearable sensor to be worn on his grandfather’s foot. When pressure is applied to the sensor, it alerts his family via a mobile app, which allows them to monitor when his grandfather is on the move. By monitoring this behavior, Kenneth hopes to understand the causes of wandering brought on by Alzheimer’s, and to ultimately find a way to mitigate or prevent it.
Samuel Burrow, from the U.K., wants to improve the environment by reducing pollution. Taking inspiration from the chemical used in sunscreen, Samuel created a special coating that reduces waste chemicals in the air when subjected to ambient light. And Cynthia Sin Nga Lam, from Australia, thinks everyone deserves access to clean water and created an eco-friendly and economical device to do just that.
These are just a few examples of the 15 incredible projects we’ve named as the global finalists for 2014 Google Science Fair. This is our fourth time hosting the competition as a way to encourage the next generation of scientists and engineers. From Russia to Australia, India to Canada, this year’s finalists (ages 13-18) are already well on their way to greatness. See all 15 projects on the Google Science Fair website.
Would you turn down a free trip to Hawaii? Julio and Iselle aren’t. The two hurricanes are barreling towards the islands, bringing 90 mph winds, flash floods and hordes of searches with them. If Iselle makes landfall, she’ll be the first hurricane to hit the Big Island since 1950. Julio, like the tag-a-long younger brother, is right on Iselle’s tail. You can review tips on how to stay safe during hurricane season here.
A Hawaiian hurricane isn’t the only trouble brewing in the air. Searchers had a virtual panic attack when Facebookwent down for a couple hours last Friday. In a state of shock, some people even called the police to assist with their social media emergency. Meanwhile, a toxin called microcystin is contaminating the waters in parts of Ohio, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to stockpile bottled water and look for answers on the Internet.
But there’s only one thing that can distract us from the craziness of real life… and that’s the sheer absurdity of reality TV. Viewers and searchers tuned in to watch the premiere of the Bachelor in Paradise, an elimination-style show where contestants compete for love. This is probably not what Cervantes meant when he wrote that all’s fair in love and war.