Google expands flood and wildfire tracking to more countries

The company announced the series of initiatives this week at its AI @ event.

The most practical development: Google is expanding its AI-based disaster detection and response systems. The company launched a fire monitoring tool during the apocalyptic fire season of 2020. The tool aims to track the movements of fires in real-time using satellite imagery, ground data and AI forecasts. Now the feature is expanding to the United States, Canada, Mexico and Australia. It aims to provide useful information to people in fire-affected areas who need to know down to the second where a fire is moving and who it could affect. The tool appears in Google Maps and sends alerts to nearby users and shows them options for evacuation and shelter. Google is using similar AI models to monitor floods and has expanded its flood warning system to include 18 new countries in Africa, South America and Southeast Asia.

Google has also delved into the AI ​​art generation game with a new video creation tool that combines Google’s Imagen image generation platform and Phenaki’s video generator. Working together, these platforms are able to conjure short bursts of high-resolution video from a simple text message. The video generator tool is not yet available as a service to the public, and Google has given no indication as to when or if it might be. The news comes just over a month after Meta announced a similar service called Make-a-Video. Both companies are keen to jump on the AI ​​art craze, though the prospect has proven controversial among artists.

Here’s more news from the Consumer Products Desk.

PS VR2 Preorders

Thanks to Mark Zuckerberg’s metavangelism, it feels like virtual reality for video games has fallen out of favour compared to other virtual reality destinations like virtual offices or whatever from Horizon Workrooms. But now Sony would like to remind you that there is also a new VR headset. And this week, he announced his exit.

The long-awaited PS VR2 headset will launch on February 22 and will be available for pre-order on November 15. It costs $550. It’s more expensive than a real PlayStation 5 console (depending on where you are) and the price includes the accompanying VR2 Sense controllers you need to control games in the Sony world.

All in all, the system shows a lot of promise for what VR games could be, assuming the announced games are half-decent. The PS VR2 headset only works with the PlayStation 5. Sony also recently confirmed that the latest generation PS VR1 games will not work with this new headset.

Where’d I Go?

Google definitely likes to kill their own apps. This week, 9to5 Google found that the company plans to add its standalone Street View app to its infamous boneyard in the coming weeks. The app allowed users to add their own 3D photos to Street View, which Google could then use to map places cars and backpacks with cameras couldn’t reach.

The service does not completely disappear. It will still be available in Google Maps, minus some features like Photo Paths, which allow users to upload 2D photos of their surroundings. RECOMMENDED VIDEO

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Google is finally bringing Google Hangouts to the lawn as well. Hangouts has been limping for months, but it’s clear that Google plans to end its misery soon. Both versions of the app appear to be part of an effort to consolidate Google’s many different apps and services. In August, Google also combined its two messaging services, Meet and Duo, into another confusing app.

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