Google: from finding answers to getting thing done

This summary of Google’s I/O 2019 event shows some of the impressive products Google is working on: new Augmented Reality functionalities, a smarter Google Assistant and cheaper Google Pixel phones.

What is really interesting about this event is the shift in the mission of the company:

“We’re moving from a company that helps you find answers to a company that helps you get things done”

This statement by CEO Sundar Pichai illustrates the developments in digital technology and the role digital products will have in our daily lives. The focus in articles on Artificial Intelligence is often on completely autonomous computer systems. The focus in this event however, is mostly on how smarter algorithms allow for more sophisticated computer interfaces for users.

Augmented Reality & natural conversations

Two emerging computer interfaces get most attention during this event. Both are at the cutting edge of computer science and rely heavily on fundamental research and development:

  • Advancements in computer vision make our devices increasingly aware of our surroundings, which e.g. allows for live translation with Google Lens and the Augmented Reality directions in Google Maps.
  • The self-learning algorithms involved in voice recognition and higher level functions in Google Assistant, allow users to form more and more natural conversation with computers.

Both these interfaces allow for much more intimate collaborations with computers. but both in their own distinctive ways. With AR computers can support our activities by directly augmenting our perception of the world. Conversational UI on the other hand mimics our social interactions.

This video shows how invested Google is in these emerging computer interfaces. It also raises questions on how profoundly these computer interfaces will change our work, our society and our minds.

Research project: Human-Computer Collaboration & the Future of Work

This blog post is part of our research program Human-Computer Collaboration & The Future of Work. Here we focus on how emerging computer interfaces like Augmented Reality will help people solve problems more effectively, in collaboration with computers. This project consists of:

  • A new Honours Class at Leiden University;
  • An event in PLNT Leiden connecting Honours Class students with organizations for their real-world final projects;
  • A research internship on creating thought-provoking Augmented Reality prototypes
  • A series of brief and extensive blog posts following our Open Science approach

Do you want to stay up-to-date about this research program, the event and its outcomes?

Please keep me posted!

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