Google Drives Better Than You

ben sheehy denver colorado google cars drive better than youI recently blogged about Google’s efforts to seek suppliers for their new self-driving cars, which you can find here. Six years since beginning to test their self-driving cars, Google happily claims that they are indeed better drivers than your average human motorist. In those six years, Google’s fleet of 20+ self-driving vehicles have had 11 accidents, all of which Google says were caused by nothing more than human error and not the autonomous vehicles.

Chris Urmson, the director of Google’s self-driving car program, calls the 11 accidents minor, involving a few dents and scratches and notes that not once during any of those collisions was a Google car responsible. Instead, many of the accidents were caused by other nearby drivers who have crashed into Google’s cars from behind at traffic lights, side-swiped or hit some of the cars by not following the rules of the road. Most of the accidents occurred on city streets rather than freeways, which should come as a relief and a surprise to people who feared how an autonomous car would perform in fast-moving traffic.

So what makes Google’s autonomous car algorithm a better driver than the rest of us? According to Urmson, it all comes down to how much attention we put on the road versus how much attention a machine puts on the road and everything else around it. Humans are easily and often distracted; Urmson cites statistics that indicate that at any given moment, there are 660,000 people distracted behind the wheel either by checking their devices or other distractions. Currently, Google’s self-driving cars have a safety-driver, a human that is present in case anything does go wrong on the part of the car, and those drivers have witnessed other drivers doing rather strange and very distracting things while on the road. Reading books is a common one, but so is playing a trumpet apparently.

Google’s cars will not be reading books or playing trumpets while rolling down a city street. Instead, the latest sensors on Google’s cars come with 360 degree visibility and 100% attention on the road in all directions at all times. They can also track vehicles, pedestrians and cyclist from a distance of close to two football fields. Looks like they have us humans beat there.

The Next Version of Google Glass

ben sheehy google glass servicenow tech blogGoogle Glass has not taken off like other products and services provided by Google, but that doesn’t mean they are done with it. We still see the occasional person wearing the Google Glass, but what is next?

According to TechCrunch, Google is currently working on their next version of Glass. The new version is reported to have replaced Texas Instruments for Intel. The first version of Glass had a few things that could be improved on such as longer battery life and a less bulky case. Additionally, the first device looked incredibly, as some would say, “nerdy,” or like something from the future. It is possible they would be more popular if the style were more current, or if it looked like an everyday device.

The first update since the creation of Google Glass was to make the system compatible with prescription lenses and the second update doubled the amount of RAM. While we do not know much about other updates, we do know that Glass is reported to be powered by an unknown Intel chipset. This is the first significant update to the product since 2012.

Intel has recently made moves to join the wearable, mobile chipset market, which it had been resisting previously. At last year’s International CES, Intel revealed their mobile goals and showed some wearable computing devices as demos. Later they announced the MICA, a refined, niche wearable computer. The idea of the MICA is that it is a non-computer looking computer. MICA stands for My Intelligent Communications Accessory. You can find more about this computer bracelet here. If Intel is creating the mobile chip that powers the next Google Glass, that would be a huge win for Intel, improving their reputation.

Gaming Industry Helps US Economy

ben sheehy servicenow gaming industry blogIf you have been following updates on the economy here in the United States, then it should come as no surprise that there is reason to be optimistic. Unemployment is down to 5.8 percent, which translates to hundreds and thousands of new jobs according to monthly job reports. Attribute these numbers to a political party if you must, but the fact of the matter is the video game industry is partially responsible for creating jobs.

In a report released this week by the Entertainment Software Association, business grew by more than 9 percent annually from 2009 to 2012. With the economy hit as badly as it was in 2009, it is hard to imagine any businesses were able to grow at that rate. In fact, during these years, the US economy was only growing at around 2% annually. High-paying manufacturing jobs were disappearing while some of the creative industries were continuing to generate growth. The gaming industry was responsible for contributing approximately $6 billion to the US economy in 2012.

The study also found that the gaming industry can claim approximately 42,000 employees working throughout 36 states. Estimates put employment as a direct and indirect result of the gaming industry at around 146,000 individuals. With an average salary lying between $90,000 and $100,000 it is easy to see how playing video games for all those years is actually paying off. These numbers may help parents sleep at night when they wonder how to get their kids active and away from the gaming consoles.

According to the Chief Executive Officer Michael Gallagher of the Entertainment Software Association, “The high-energy, high-tech video game industry is rapidly producing some of the most valuable jobs in the U.S. economy.” He also added, “Our industry is one of the nation’s fastest growing economic sectors and represents tens of thousands of high-paying, well-educated professionals, artists, and creators.” A consistent 9 percent economic growth allowed publishers and developers to reinvest in their companies, resulting in increased employment.

As gaming becomes more accessible and technology continues to advance, one has to believe that these numbers will remain consistent for some time.

NASA Partners with Boeing and SpaceX

ben sheehy servicenow blog nasa boeing spacexAs we have witnessed the consistent efforts by congress to slash and cut the NASA budget, many have wondered what may lie ahead for our beloved space program.  Budget cuts present a real threat to the goals and ambitions of the NASA program.  Bill Nye, head of the Planetary Society, and well-known figure in today’s science, has expressed these shared concerns in a letter to President Obama.  Despite cuts, the Obama administration has not completely neglected NASA programs, repeatedly insisting the U.S. should not rely on foreign nations to get into space.  One might suggest that recent heated relations with Russia have provided quite the catalyst.

In the wake of proposed budget cuts and uncertainty of these NASA programs, the private industry has taken the lead.  Companies from all over the aerospace industry have submitted proposals to NASA, exposing a light at the end of the tunnel – a very bright light.  NASA announced earlier this month that it will be partnering with American companies Boeing and SpaceX with the hopes of returning space launches to American soil.  Both have already submitted designs to transport astronauts to the International Space Station, which could be operational within a few years.

Over the last 2 years, SpaceX and Orbital Sciences have initiated the pathway for US-launched missions by transporting cargo to the International Space Station.  With the help of Boeing and SpaceX, NASA is closer to taxiing astronauts to and from space.  Not only will we end our reliance on Russia, but we will bring human spaceflight launches back to American soil.

NASA is launching a new and ambitious chapter of the iconic American program.  SpaceX founder and Tesla Motors CEO, Elon Musk, remains enthusiastic as he publicly expresses his vision for the future of space travel.  The dreamers at SpaceX and Boeing possess the vision and knowhow to accomplish these goals.  Today, we are a step closer to launching our astronauts into space from U.S. soil on American-made spacecraft.  Tomorrow may find us closer to putting humans on Mars.  The future is bright.

What is ServiceNow?

ServiceNow is a platform-as-a-service provider that automates enterprise IT operations. It helps to centralize all of the IT processes within your organization while also providing you with a record for all these processes. It works as a productivity tool; ServiceNow is not to be used by one particular type of business user but a wide-variety of users.

Built on the IT nfrastructure Library v3 platform, ServiceNow is designed to offer you flexibility when building an IT solution. Operating as a cloud service, the Service Desk is accessible through any web browser.

One way that ServiceNow is different than other IT support systems is that it has become a form of social IT. It has made your IT solutions live, allowing you to chat with your support team instantaneously. This not only makes your employees more productive but it also lowers your support costs.

The Service Desk is a simple, efficient way for your employees to request help on their IT needs. It was modeled to be similar to the way that you make purchases online (and we’ve all bought at least something online).

ServiceNow also provides the user and the support team with feedback, showing them how well services are performing. For more information about ServiceNow, check out its website.