Google I/O 2012 Introduces Glass, Nexus 7 and Nexus Q


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Like Apple’s WWDC event, Google I/O is always an event filled with announcements that they hope will keep us on the edge of our seats. While they’ve had some exciting announcements in the past, they’ve really brought their game this year. With announcements about the latest version of Android named Jelly Bean, new features for Google+, and the unveiling of their Nexus 7 tablet and Nexus Q social media player, the grand finale was really Sergey Brin’s special project, Google Glass skydiving in.

Google Glass

The presentation that really stole the show was Google Glass, but it was more for the presentation itself than the device’s current abilities. During a presentation on Google+ features, Google founder, Sergey Brin interrupts, wearing a Google Glass headset. He announces that he’s got a Glass device out on loan that’s being delivered and cuts to a Google+ Hangout with a bunch of skydivers in a plane, each also wearing a Google Glass headset. They skydive in, showing us their viewpoint from Glass’ embedded camera. This carries on to the package being then biked across a rooftop, scaled down the side of the building and then biked up to the stage. It was a new first for one of these events.

The video above shows Google Glass from the wearer’s point of view, using the device to get all kinds of information about things they see, in real time. When I first saw the promo video, I wondered if it was a spoof like the see-through iPhone 5 concept or just another example of Google’s sense of humor, but this thing is real. One thing I noticed during the real demonstration at I/O is that they gave a lot of attention to taking photos and participating in Google+ Hangouts with Glass, but didn’t once demonstrate any of the cooler augmented reality features we saw in the promo video. Google opened up a preview model for purchase to US attendees of the conference who would like to experiment and develop on it, so we’ll hopefully see more features before it’s handed over to the public. No word on when that might be.

Nexus 7 : Small In Size And Price

Tablets worth buying are often also priced around $400 and up. Google’s Nexus 7 tablet breaks the price mold coming in at $199. With that price, they decided to throw in a $25 Google Play marketplace credit to get started with some movies, TV, books, or magazines as well as a free copy of the latest Transformers movie. Not too bad for $200. The Nexus 7 will come with Android Jelly Bean and all the hackable possibilities it offers and it all runs on a quad core processor with a 12 core GPU. It looks incredibly fast and responsive, but it’s also pretty small. Easy to hold in one hand, it’s definitely big enough to not be compared to a phone, but still noticeably smaller than an iPad. Either way, it looks like a lot of fun.

Here’s Google’s introduction to the tablet:

Nexus Q : A Social Glowing Ball

Another product people got pretty excited about this year was the new Nexus Q, which seems a lot like the darker side of Apple’s Air Play. It’s a small, black, spherical computer that you connect up to your TV. The Q connects to Google’s cloud to sync up all your music and movies and your family and friends can even control it when they’re over. Google demonstrated at I/O 2012 how to tell it (via an interface on your phone or Nexus 7) to play your media in the living room or maybe in a bedroom. I assume that you’d need a device in each room for this to work. It looks like something from Star Wars and many have compared it to a bowling ball already on Twitter, but is it worth the $299 price tag? That’s yet to be seen. Below is Google’s promo video for Nexus Q.

Google presented some great hardware today, along with some pretty cool announcements about their software, including Events and new photo stream features for Google+ and Android Jelly Bean and it’s new smart “cards” that learn about the information that you want. It’ll be exciting to see what else they have in store for tomorrow and the year to come.

Backpack Lets You Climb Walls Like Spiderman


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Have you ever wanted to scale a wall like Spiderman? Daredevils have climbed walls over and over, but their feats have been a combination of skill and luck more than anything. Fortunately, like with most other things, you can overcome a lack of rare skill and bravado/stupidity by putting machines to work for you.

wall climbing vacuum backpack
(photo: USU News)

Pictured above (and shown in the video below is the machine for the job. The Utah State University “Ascending Aggies” team created this vacuum backpack with suction “gloves” as an answer to an Air Force 90-foot wall-climb competition, beating out 33 other wall-climbing devices. It also earned them an additional $100,000 grant to continue working on it. The 48 pound Personal Vacuum Assisted Climber (PVAC) is designed to strap to the back of a brave soldier for the vertical trek and can support weights up to 700 pounds.

If you watch the video, you may note that the only thing upstaging how cool this thing is would be the amount of noise it makes. I don’t think the Air Force is going to sneak up on anyone with this early model, but the team is already working on plans to make it quieter and more efficient. Now if they could just get it to shoot high-tension webbing from our wrists, we’d be all set.

Introducing The New Space Race


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Did you ever want to be an astronaut when you were a kid? A lot of us did, but as we grew older, we learned that some dreams are harder to accomplish. This was the case for me but even as my goals became more realistic, I never lost my child-like curiosity with space. I love a full, bright moon, you can find me staring skyward during most any meteor shower, and I have even renewed my goal of travelling to space one day. My dream may now have less to do with innocent naivety and more to do with waiting and saving every dollar.

The New Space Race

This article isn’t just about my personal dreams of space travel, though. It’s about an amazing shift in space exploration on the whole and how it will effect us now and in the years to come.

Privatized Space Travel

Growing up, we all learned that to go to space, you had to become an astronaut. While that’s a glamorous job title, it also means 4-5 years of training and brutal physical endurance testing. And let’s face it. Your odds of becoming an astronaut are about as likely as those of winning the lottery. Luckily, you can now just buy yourself a seat on a galactic flight.

Virgin Galactic
(photo: Virgin Galactic)

Companies like Virgin Galactic are offering reservations and have been for some time. The ticket to ride with Virgin Galactic is a hefty $200,000, but the first seats have had no trouble selling and it’s no surprise. I’d buy a ticket in a second if I had $200K lying around like Ashton Kutcher, who reportedly reserved the 500th seat.

Another company making strides in commercial space flight is SpaceX, who just last week successfully sent their unmanned SpaceX Dragon capsule into space, making it the first private vessel to go to the International Space Station. The success of the Dragon capsule is a sign of things to come and proof that private companies can hold their own in a playground previously reserved for governments.

Live On Mars

The last decade has brought us more discovery of the surface of Mars then we’ve ever imagined, showing us vivid pictures of a strange new world, but have you ever wished you could move there? Believe it or not, hundreds of people have asked for just that rare opportunity.

Mars One
(Mars colony rendering: Mars One)

Mars One is another commercial venture into space, but instead of just a vacation, Mars One is a move to another planet. With the lofty goal to begin colonizing Mars with human beings, Mars One plans to take four people at a time on a one-way trip to Mars, where they will live the rest of their lives.

Much like the reality-TV style civilian space travel we’ve seen in more than a few sci-fi flicks, Mars One aims to fund their Mars colonization project by televising everything and courting corporate backers. Although I won’t be packing my bags and volunteering, I can’t wait for the show. It will surely be a first for mankind if they can pull it off. Sadly, the first team won’t land until April, 2023, so we have a long wait ahead of us.

Mining Asteroids

Mining asteroids is not quite as exciting as sending average Joe Techs into space, but it certainly seems more practical. Following with the theme of corporate endeavors that seem like they’ve been yanked straight from science fiction movies, a company called Planetary Resources is readying themselves to land on, and mine asteroids for water and precious metals. Most of the precious metals we mine on earth today came from asteroids and they say that one asteroid may contain more platinum than has been mined in all of history, which is an incredible thought on its own. If successful, Planetary Resources will vastly increase the GDP of the United States while making many resources virtually limitless and helping provide for deeper space exploration.

What do you think? Should we be mining asteroids? Would you pay $200K for space travel or leave the Earth behind completely and move to Mars? Comment below and share on Facebook to see which of your friends would be volunteer Martians.