26 Little-Known Facts About Google (Infographic)

You probably didn’t know Google’s original name was Backrub. It was inspired by the system’s method of using back links to find and rank pages.

That’s just the beginning of the interesting facts about Google this infographic by WhoIsHostingThis? features. It lists 26 facts you probably didn’t know about the technology company, like:

1. The first Google Doodle was an out-of-office message. Google’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, posted it in 1998 to let users know they wouldn’t be able to fix technology issues while they attended the Burning Man festival.

2. Google’s homepage is simply designed because when Page and Brin launched the site, they didn’t know enough about HTML to dress up the homepage. They also didn’t know how to design a submit button, so users had to press the return key on the keyboard to launch their searches.

3. Google Street View features about 28 million miles of photographed roads.

4. Google has averaged one company acquisition a week since 2010. Google acquired YouTube through a series of meetings at Denny’s.

5. In 2002, Google added Klingon as a language option.

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Mozilla Wants To Bring Virtual Reality To The Browser

Last summer, Mozilla launched a very experimental version of Firefox with support for web-based virtual reality apps that could be experienced through the Oculus Rift. Earlier this week, support for WebVR also landed in Firefox’s Nightly and Developer Edition release channels.

So why is Mozilla working on virtual reality when its mission is to “promote openness, innovation and opportunity on the Web?” At a talk last summer, Mozilla’s Josh Carpenter argued that the organization knows VR will be a “really big deal” and because “it presents a really great challenge — and we like great challenges.” To give users that feeling of actually being present in a different world (and not just that of looking at a simulation), you need to get the latency between head movements and the screen reacting to them down to an absolute minimum. Mozilla argues that, in the end, all of this work will not just benefit the VR experience, but also the Web experience as a whole.

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Russian Startup Livemap Lands $300K Grant For Its Motorcycle Helmet With Built-In Navigation

As we’re coming up on the next Consumer Electronics Show, I got an updatefrom one of the companies that participated in TechCrunch’s Hardware Battlefield at the last CES — Russian startup Livemap.

The Livemap team is working to create motorcycle helmets with voice control and GPS navigation directly in your field of vision — so while you’re riding, you can see directions in your helmet display without having to fiddle with another device or look away from the road. (Back in January, the Livemap team demonstrated an early version of their display, which was transparent enough to show a map without obscuring the road ahead.)

CEO Andrew Artishchev told me via email that most of the past year has been spent building the pre-production prototype of Livemap’s optics. Those optics will be built entirely of aspheric lenses, allowing the helmet to, in his words, be “smaller and lighter and sometimes cheaper than the multi-lens design.” He added that the other big focus has been creating a design that will keep the optics costs down.

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Facebook in 2015: Drones, messaging and virtual reality, oh my!

Facebook-drones-thumb
As Facebook has matured into a social media platform unrivaled in size and reach in recent years, the persistent question hanging over the company in 2014 has been: what’s next?

To properly answer that question it’s best to look into the company’s recent past to glean a hint at what might be in store for Facebook in 2015.

Messaging

Earlier this year, Facebook recovered from its stinging rebuke from Snapchat by snapping up the messaging app WhatsApp for $16 billion in February. The app, which currently claims to have 600 million active monthly users, added a significant amount of heft to the company’s already massive billion-user base. Nevertheless, the acquisition hasn’t appeared to put a dent in Snapchat’s popularity.

slingshot messages

Slingshot allows you to draw on photos. You can control the size of the brush by moving your finger farther away from the color bar.

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As Developers Depart, Google Glass Is Ready To Become This Era’s Segway

Just over 18 months ago Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said he found having to talk to Google Glass out loud “the weirdest thing” and admitted that there would be “places where Google Glass are inappropriate.” Well, hello! I think the average person could have told Google this long before they spent millions developing the thing, and as I wrote at the time, the product was simply incapable of becoming a mass-market device. I predicted it would become this era’s Segway: hyped as a game changer but ultimately used by warehouse workers and mall cops.

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Google Cardboard surfaces to promote Volvo

Google-cardboard
Remember Google Cardboard, the company’s cut-rate response to Oculus Rift? It’s now being used as a marketing tool for Volvo.

The Swedish automaker will offer a simulated test drive on Google Cardboard to promote its XC90 crossover, which will go on sale in spring 2015. The automaker will roll out the Cardboard test drives at the Los Angeles Auto Show and at Volvo dealers. Volvo has used Oculus in the past for a similar purpose, but Bodil Eriksson, EVP of product, brand and marketing communications at Volvo, says Cardboard is a lot more accessible. “This is really bringing the car to where people are in an un-fussy way.” R/GA and Framestore created the experience, known as Volvo Reality.

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Chiaro Reboots The Pelvic Floor Exerciser As A Sleek Connected Wearable Called Elvie

 

Chiaro Reboots The Pelvic Floor Exerciser As A Sleek Connected Wearable Called Elvie

Pelvic floor/kegel exercises have had known benefits for women for decades, especially post-child birth, for strengthening bladder muscles, reducing the risk of pelvic prolapse and improving sex. It’s the same core strength promise of popular activities such as pilates and yoga but without the easy availability of motivating group exercise classes.

The challenge has always been motivating women to do regular exercise workouts of a muscle that’s not visible, when it’s difficult to tell whether lifts are being performed correctly. Standard (unconnected) kegel devices can help with performing pelvic floor exercises but don’t fix the feedback problem. So if ever there was an activity that could really benefit from being connected and quantified it’s surely this.

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