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How Google Tracks Everyone and Everything at I/O 2013

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 11 comments

Google want's to know everything, everywhere.

Walking around Google I/O, one begins to notice many of these dispersed all around:

 

Reading the attached sign removes some of the mystery; it's a sensor placed there by Google to record the various conditions of the environment, including temperature, humidity, pressure, light, air quality, motion, and noise levels. Five hundred of these things scattered throughout Moscone are feeding over 4,000 data streams back to Google.

The idea for tracking and monitoring in real time the conference conditions came about after last year's Google I/O, where the Google Cloud Platform Developer Relations team wondered about where the busiest and loudest locations were. They also wondered where the best place would be to take a nap.

 

"We think about data problems all the time, and this looked like an interesting big data challenge that we could try to solve. So this year, we decided to try to answer our questions with a project that's a bit different, kind of futuristic, and maybe a little crazy," wrote Michael Manoochehri, Developer Programs Engineer, in the a Google blog. "Since we love open source hardware hacking as much as we love to share open source code, we decided to team up with the O'Reilly Data Sensing Lab to deploy hundreds of Arduino-based environmental sensors at Google I/O 2013."

Manoochehri continued, "In addition, our motes will be able to detect fluctuations in noise level, and some will be attached to footstep counters, to understand collective movement around the conference floor. Of course, since a key goal of Google I/O is to promote innovation in the open, the project's Cloud Platform code, the Arduino hardware designs, and even the data collected, will be open source and available online after the conference."

Even without 500 sensors, my singular person moving throughout the conference center could detect dramatic changes in noise, traffic, temperature – and yes – air quality too. The session rooms were dramatically warmer than the main hallways. The crowds were the worst when between sessions. Don't even try to get into a session on Google Glass; just watch the live video on YouTube. And only go into the men's washroom when you really, really have to go.

Google, being the information-obsessed company it is, sees this sort of real-time tracking as applicable in many other instances, such as city planning and consumer products. A retailer could put such data points to use in managing the insane foot traffic of holiday season. Perhaps shopping malls could make parking a less frustrating experience.

For a very in-depth look at Google's data sensing and collection, check out this session from Google I/O:

Google I/O 2013 - Behind Data Sensing Lab

Display 11 Comments.
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  • 0 Hide
    Spooderman , May 18, 2013 6:46 AM
    That's kinda cool, I guess.
  • 1 Hide
    jalek , May 18, 2013 7:07 AM
    Next they just need RFID so they can identify the blobs of flesh their sensors detect and the government will make them incredibly wealthy, or nationalize their company.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 18, 2013 12:25 PM
    I'm a bit skeptical of the whole constant surveillance thing, but as long as the data is used appropriately, I think it could work.
  • -1 Hide
    j2j663 , May 18, 2013 1:44 PM
    Its not a matter of if this technology will be abused its a matter of when. And in reality its only a matter of when the government wants to tell us its using this kind of technology.
  • 3 Hide
    house70 , May 18, 2013 2:35 PM
    "Google want's to know everything, everywhere."
    Want's? Really?
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , May 18, 2013 5:17 PM
    Quote:
    "Google want's to know everything, everywhere."
    Want's? Really?


    Typical of Tom's. (I left that apostrophe intentionally)
  • 0 Hide
    hurfburf , May 18, 2013 5:47 PM
    Google wants to know why anyone would put an apostrophe in the word "wants." Do you guys have editors?
  • 0 Hide
    Darkk , May 18, 2013 6:14 PM
    Google already knows alot about you. Excuse the pun... Google your name!
  • -1 Hide
    speedemon , May 18, 2013 7:55 PM
    Well time to stop using google.. for the most part. Ill frequent Youtube as a guest.
  • 0 Hide
    smeezekitty , May 18, 2013 10:20 PM
    "Big brother is watching you"
  • 3 Hide
    RazberyBandit , May 19, 2013 4:36 AM
    Quote:
    Google wants to know why anyone would put an apostrophe in the word "wants." Do you guys have editors?


    OT, but...

    Yes, Tom's has editors. I was once one of them, but only for a short time. I don't believe I would have ever let "want's" get by me. While I certainly cannot speak to the experiences any other editor may have endured, I can share mine. To that end, I will admit to times when I found myself...disappointed...with my editing assignment.

    Marcus hired me to do some freelance news editing, and I was assigned to work on only one particular writer's pieces. Sadly, English is not his native language, and an unfortunate language barrier quickly became apparent. It was never easy to overcome, and often became quite...challenging. The expressive and grammatical issues which arose meant I would sometimes have to spend hours editing his articles, not just the few minutes required to perform a simple proofread and correction. I was compensated on a fixed-amount-per-word basis, so I earned a fixed sum per article no matter how long it took to complete each one. Additionally, if my assigned writer were to write only a few pieces in a week, those were the only assignments I received.

    The articles I edited for "he who shall not be named" no longer received any grammar-related comments. (His previous articles quite often garnered such comments). And while it was never actually part of my editing task, there were also far fewer fact-related issues because I actually took the time to fact-check anything within an article I found myself questioning to any degree.

    Marcus always had good things to say about my work. When I told him how long some of the articles were taking to not only edit, but to correct, he told me not to worry about corrective fact-checking. "That's the writer's responsibility," he said.

    Chris Angelini was also pleased with my efforts, enough to press me to try taking on some of the feature article editing load, which he handled exclusively. (He may still handle them on his own.) We discussed the "unified voice" he gave to all of the site's feature articles, and after some discussion and trial runs, the best I could ever hope to do was mimic that voice. Why? Because that voice was his, not mine. I felt that in order to maintain the site's integrity, the "unified voice" had to be his voice, alone. He agreed.

    Overall, my experience editing for Tom's was a good one, even despite feeling it was rather underwhelming financially due to the issues I mentioned above. Unfortunately, I had to abandon editing here due to a sudden family illness, and I just haven't had a desire to return to it.