Category Archives: Google Canada Blog

News and notes from Google Canada

Oodles of doodles: Vote now for your favourite Doodle 4 Google Canada student finalist

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Doodle 4 Google judge Sophie Diao 

A spacesuit that lets astronauts walk on Mars. Robots that cure cancer. Machines that turn garbage into paper. Waterslides that transport you everywhere.

These are just some of the great ideas that Canadian students, from kindergarten to grade 12, came up with for Canada’s second Doodle 4 Google contest.

Back in March, we asked students across the country to use their imagination and create a doodle that answers the question “What I see for Canada’s future is…”, to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.

As a Google Doodler, I get to collaborate with some of the brightest artists, designers and engineers who create doodles, those fun and surprising illustrations on Google's home page. I jumped at the opportunity to be a judge in this year’s contest and help the next generation of artists, animators, and engineers explore their creative sides.

We were blown away by the thousands of students who submitted a doodle and shared their vision of Canada’s future -- from co-existing peacefully with nature to innovative and eco-friendly technological advancements.

Now, Doodle 4 Google needs your vote! Help us pick the lucky Canadian student who will have their artwork takeover Google.ca for a day and win a $10,000 university scholarship.

Check out this year’s 12 grade group winners below and head over to g.co/d4gcanada to vote for your favourite. Share and vote as many times as you want!

Your vote will help determine our four grade group winners, who will receive a $5,000 technology award for their schools. From there, we’ll choose our winning student, who will receive a $10,000 scholarship and a $10,000 technology award for his/her school plus have their doodle takeover Google.ca for a day!

We’ll reveal the winning doodles at our finale event on June 13 at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Kindergarten-Grade 3 
Faizaan Buttar 
Surrey, British Columbia  
Leo Cao 
Markham, Ontario 
Olin Wang 
Richmond Hill, Ontario 

Grade 4-6
Wesley Babin 
Lower Cloverdale, New Brunswick  
Flora Hu 
Richmond Hill, Ontario 
Ahmber Bains 
Richmond, British Columbia 


Grade 7-9 
Carol Zhou 
Markham, Ontario 
Lina Yan 
Burnaby, British Columbia
Amélie Fortier 
Jonquière, Quebec 

Grade 10-12 
Jana Sofia Panem 
Toronto, Ontario 
Emma Diederichs 
Sherwood Park, Alberta  
Roldan Esteban 
York, Ontario 

Go North – Inspiring Future Innovators

Editor’s Note: Today’s blog is guest authored by Jennifer Flanagan, President and CEO of Actua 

Today, at the University of Toronto’s Convocation Hall, over 1200 students gathered to explore, learn and have fun with science and technology at Go North - Inspiring Future Innovators.

Building on the Go North technology summit, this one-day immersive event highlights the countless possibilities that STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering and Math - has to offer. The day is run by Actua and the University of Toronto’s Engineering Outreach team, who are national leaders in STEM programming. The participants, in grades 4 to 8, and their teachers engaged in hands-on workshops meant to spark a passion and stimulate a curiosity in STEM.
We kicked off the day with Phil McCordic, host of Science Max, who brought the 1,200 students in Convocation Hall to their feet with his immersive performance.

The partnership between the University of Toronto, Actua and Google is built on the shared goal that this experience will ignite and inspire these young students to consider computer science as not just a field of study but as a way to solve the big world problems of the future. According to the World Economic Forum, 65% of students entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in jobs that don’t yet exist. U of T, Actua and Google recognize the urgency of fostering an interest in STEM and the critical need to help equip students with skills they will need to excel.
In Innovate Alley, a corridor lined with education startups and tools to help ignite curiosity, the students and their teachers had an opportunity to immerse themselves in hands-on workshops with U of T engineering students and Actua outreach instructors.

For more than 20 years, Actua and our university network members have worked to prepare young Canadians to be innovators and leaders by engaging them in exciting and accessible STEM experiences that build critical skills and confidence.

This includes our Codemakers program, supported by Google, which has engaged over 80,000 youth in computer science and digital skill building. Canadian youth from all over this country have participated in Codemakers whether through coding throat singing in Canada’s north or printing 3-D selfies in Vancouver or participating in events like today. This unique partnership allows us to create unique moments of inspiration that connect technology to kids lives in meaningful ways.
A student experiences Virtual Reality for the first time

Together, we can show students that technology offers everyone the potential to create, to collaborate and to invent.

Say bonjour to your Assistant in Google Allo

@Google, ou est le marché Jean-Talon?

Last year, we launched Google Allo with smart features in English, Brazilian Portuguese and Hindi. Today, we’re adding support for these features in French, thanks to our latest update.

Now, for the first time ever, Canadians will be able to interact with their Google Assistant in French! 


The Google Assistant is ready to help en français

Google Allo is our smart messaging app for Android and iOS that helps you say more and do more right in your chats. You can get help from your Assistant without ever leaving the conversation. Sharing sports scores, recipes, or travel plans in French is now easy to do right in your chats with friends.

To start using the Assistant in Canadian French, just say “Talk to me in Canadian French” when you’re chatting with your Assistant in Google Allo. You can also adjust the language setting for your Assistant on your device. So whether you’re looking into weather forecasts for your trip to The Laurentians or for directions to the Olympic Stadium, add @google to your chat and your Assistant is ready to help.

Embracing French-Canadian culture
We’ve made Assistant be truly French Canadian, customizing the app with local elements that are unique to Quebec. From local celebrities and artists to landmarks and cultural institutions, you can ask the Assistant to answer questions that are specifically relevant to French Canada.

Respond rapidement with Smart Reply
We’ve found that Smart Reply in English has been helpful in sending quick responses while you’re chatting on the go. We’re now adding support for Smart Reply in French, so you can quickly send a “Oui” in response to a friend asking “Es-tu en chemin pour la partie de soccer?”.

Smart Reply will recognize the language you’re chatting in and begin to show suggested responses in that language. If you’re chatting in English, it will continue to show English responses. But if you start chatting in French, it will show you suggestions in that language.

Coming soon! Smart Reply will also suggest responses for photos. If your friend sends you a photo of their pet, you’ll see Smart Reply suggestions like “Trop mignon!” And whether you’re a “ah ah” or “😂” kind of person, Smart Reply will improve over time and adjust to your style.

We can’t wait for you to say bonjour to Google Allo! We’re beginning to roll out these new features in French for Google Allo on Android and iOS, and they will be available to all users in Canada in the next few days.

In addition to French, we’ll continue to bring the Google Assistant and Smart Reply to more languages over time — stay tuned for more!

Canada, meet Google Wifi

Nothing is more annoying than losing your Wi-Fi connection when binge watching your favourite TV show or video chatting in a business meeting. From spotty connections to dropped signals, leave your Wi-Fi troubles behind with the help of Google Wifi, launching today in Canada. Google Wifi is a new kind of home Wi-Fi system that works with your modem and internet provider to give you strong, reliable coverage, in every room.
Traditional Wi-Fi routers aren’t always built to support the increasing number of devices we use or high bandwidth activities like gaming or watching videos. Google Wifi is different. It’s a connected system that replaces your current router and brings everything you love about Google -- smarts, security and simplicity -- to home Wi-Fi.

Strong, reliable coverage
Google Wifi uses a technology called mesh Wi-Fi. Within our mesh network, each Google Wifi point creates a high-powered connection, and the different Wifi points work together to determine the best path for your data. The result is Wi-Fi coverage even in hard-to reach areas, not just right next to the router.*

Keeps itself fast 
Most of us don’t want to spend time tweaking complex settings or managing our Wi-Fi network. Google Wifi is smart and automatically places your devices on the clearest channel and optimal Wi-Fi band, so the entire family can keep doing what they love without missing a beat. And as you roam around your house, our built-in Network Assist software will seamlessly transition your device between the Google Wifi system points in real time, to help you avoid dead spots and delays. Google Wifi is an expandable system, so if you have a larger home, you can simply add Google Wifi points.* They connect to one another to spread a strong network signal to every room.

A simple way to control your network
To make sure you’re always in control, Google Wifi comes with an app, available on Android and iOS*, that lets you do things like pause Wi-Fi on kids’ devices (or create recurring pauses for dinnertime or homework) and is built to help keep your network safe and secure. It also shows you which devices are connected and how much bandwidth they’re using and lets you prioritize devices within your network so you can stream that latest episode uninterrupted.

Google Wifi will be available in Canada on April 28th as a 1-pack for $179 and a 3-pack for $439 from the Google Store, Best Buy Canada, Staples Canada and Walmart Canada, with more retailers coming soon.

Find out more about Google Wifi here.



Get the best seat in the house and watch Coachella live exclusively on YouTube

When you think of Coachella you think of amazing music artists, thrilling performances and nonstop fun in the middle of the California desert. This year’s festival will be bigger than ever and even if you can’t make it to Coachella in person, you don’t have to miss out on a moment of the action.

For the seventh year in a row, YouTube is the the exclusive home of the Coachella livestream, presented in Canada by Coca-Cola. Music fans from around the world can tune-in to Coachella's YouTube channel from April 14-16, on any screen (desktop, mobile and living room).


Catch performances from global superstars and the hottest rising talent in the world including headliners Lady Gaga, Kendrick Lamar and Radiohead, as well as Canadian acts Kaytranada, Arkells, Majid Jordan and Crystal Castles.

And if you miss one of the big performances, COVERGIRL Canada will have you covered as the sponsor of a video-on-demand hub that will showcase highlights and footage from performers throughout the weekend.

You can choose from three always-on channels as well as a Live 360 Mode that will appear for select performances. Don’t miss any of the shows you’re most excited for by creating a personalized calendar that lets you track all your favorite performances. The livestream channels will automatically change to your favorite artists based on your selection. And if you turn on notifications for artists you subscribe to, you’ll get a note when they go live.

For the first time ever you’ll even get a sneak peek inside the famous underground dance music Yuma tent.

Stay tuned to find out more information about Coachella performances and be sure to subscribe to Coachella's YouTube channel so you’re part of the action!

 

Vimy through the lens of Google Maps

Ed. Note: Today’s blog post is authored by Peter Mansbridge, the Chief Correspondent for CBC News. It’s also cross-posted to CBCNews.ca.

So here's a challenge: How do you engage a new generation with an old story about a military battle thousands of kilometers away? That's what we had to consider when we decided to re-tell the story of Vimy Ridge.
Vimy is one of those names that Canadians mention when they talk about their country's military past – names like The Plains of Abraham, Ypres, Dieppe, Normandy and many, many others. But what do they really know about what happened a century ago now on that towering ridge in northern France? Did we win, did we lose, did it really make a difference? And perhaps most important of all, why do some historians say it was in that bloody, horrific battle that Canada forged its soul and became a nation? All good questions, but how in today's world of short attention spans and handheld technology can we find new and captivating ways to answer them.
 That's why a seemingly odd pairing - a new age tech giant: Google Canada, teamed up with the supposedly staid old Mother Corp (and it's aging anchor!) and headed off to the battlefield just last month. And within hours of arrival there I found myself with a Google "Trekker" strapped to my back, walking through the restored trenches of Vimy Ridge.

Trekker in the Trenches
The "Trekker" is the same piece of technology that takes those Street View pictures of downtowns across Canada It isn’t that heavy – it weighs about twenty kilograms – but it does make you a bit top heavy and you have to be careful not to topple over! But the benefits for the viewer are terrific – the "Trekker" puts you right there, walking through history along the same paths our grandfathers and great grandfathers did exactly one hundred years ago during the Easter weekend of 1917. That's when the 100,000 soldiers of Canada's four divisions, for the first time together, launched an attack on what was seen as the most strategic ridge the Germans held in France.
The Tunnels
Beneath the trenches, the tunnels that shuttled the troops to the front lines. Today they too are restored and safe – a far cry from the muddy, rat infested and highly dangerous subways that our forefathers used to get to the fight. And here again, we bring you right there. This time using The Odyssey - 16 interconnected GOPRO cameras - created a 360 degree video of your surroundings, to give you the ultimate feel. When watching through virtual reality goggles you can point the picture where you want to go, see what you want to see. The tunnels were an engineering feat - able to keep the soldiers and the officers safe, but right at the frontlines of the battle as it raged above.

Cemetery Trekker

Canada won the battle, and at home, that became a source of considerable national pride. And for the soldiers who did the fighting, a source of considerable and justified boasting. They had done what neither the French nor the British had been able to do over months of intense fighting. But Canada paid a very heavy price. Over four days of sometimes hand to hand combat, we lost nearly four thousand soldiers, and more than seven thousand wounded. In the Canadian Vimy cemetery thousands lie side by side – they're young, sometimes very young, ages paying testament to the generation we lost.
Monument at Vimy 
The Vimy monument sits high atop the ridge that so much Canadian blood was lost to win. It is tribute to all those who died in the Great War but whose bodies were never found --- all their names, more than 11 thousand of them – are carved into the monument's walls.

Every name a compelling story of a Canadian who had travelled across the oceans to fight for "King and Country". They were fathers, sons, brothers, cousins, farmers, teachers, lawyers, labourers, hockey players, artists, preachers …. and there were kids, school students who lied about their age to do what they thought was right.

In the classroom
In the past few days the results of the Google-YouTube-CBC partnership have started to hit some select Canadian schools. Last week a grade eight class in Harriston, Ontario watched in amazement. It can be disconcerting – you really DO feel like you're there, almost reaching out to touch the trenches, the tunnels, the carved names.

And really, that's what we were hoping would happen.

Letting that new generation to virtually reach back a century and touch a moment that helped make all us, and our country, who we are.

Relive the 2017 JUNO Awards with live recordings on Google Play Music

The JUNO Awards stage is a hallowed place where Canadian music legends mix with rising stars -- and this year’s show in Ottawa was no different. The legendary Buffy Sainte-Marie kicked off the night by introducing Ottawa’s own A Tribe Called Red who were joined by Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq. The performances that followed, although musically diverse, paid a similar homage to Canada’s musical past and promising future, from Leslie Feist performing a stunning tribute to Leonard Cohen to cheeky rockers Arkells singing a song about… well… Drake’s Dad.

When looking at the top searched performances from last night’s show, it’s evident that Canadian musical taste also balances the classics with the contemporary. 
Google Play Music is thrilled to support Canada’s incredible music ecosystem as the official music streaming partner of the 2017 JUNO Awards. To celebrate, we’re offering everyone the chance to relive this year’s show by making top performances available for stream or download exclusively on Google Play Music at g.co/JUNOS.
Photo courtesy of Sidewalk Hustle
Streams and downloads of tracks by participating artists include: A Tribe Called Red, The Strumbellas, Ruth B, Shawn Mendes, July Talk, Alessia Cara along with Canadian music legends Bryan Adams, Sarah Mclachlan and many more.

Listen on, Canada!

Canada, Let’s Get Coding!

Today’s guest post is by Melissa Sariffodeen, CEO of Ladies Learning Code and Canada Learning Code

“An object in motion, stays in motion.” That’s Newton’s first law of physics, and it’s also the goal of Canada Learning Code Week. Our aim is to put in motion a movement to teach kids to code across Canada. We want to help youth to see technology as a powerful tool to change the world, inspire them to build the world around them and give them the critical coding skills to do so. And, we’re thrilled to be partnering with Google Canada to help make that happen!

Canada Learning Code week is a week-long coding celebration running from June 1st to June 8th, 2017. Over those days, Canadian youth will assemble in schools, libraries, museums, and other community gathering places to hear from local storytellers and historians and learn about Canadian art, culture and history before diving into a coding lesson. By inspiring Canada’s next generation of technology talent, our hope is to inspire Canadian youth to build a strong, vibrant, and inclusive Canada for the next 150 years.

Google Canada’s contribution will support our workshops and signature events across the country during the week (and beyond) and will also provide one lucky school with a set of brand-new Chromebooks to help them keep coding all-year-round.

Want your school to win? Run a coding workshop over Canada Learning Code Week and submit your students' work to be featured in our digital scrapbook! A lucky class or organization will be chosen from all submissions that celebrates Canada's history and demonstrates historical accuracy, creativity and use of coding concepts in their final project.

No coding experience necessary. We’ll provide educators all of the tools and training to run a beginner-friendly coding workshop for your community or classroom.

Visit canadalearningcode.ca/week to get started now!

Happy coding, Canada!

Meet the winners of the Google.org Impact Challenge

Necessity is the mother of invention, so the saying goes. But what about when it comes to difficult, global problems - tough challenges like poverty, hunger, and disease? How do you innovate when the need is urgent and overwhelming?

That was the task we put to Canadian nonprofits when we kicked off Canada’s first Google.org Impact Challenge, a nationwide competition to find and fund organizations that are using technology to make the world a better place. More than 900 applications poured in - more applications than we had in France, the UK and Australia combined.
Winners of the Google.org Impact Challenge, left to right: Joel Heath, Arctic Eider Society; Audra Renyi, World Wide Hearing International; Tariq Fancy, The Rumie Initiative; Renee Black, PeaceGeeks; and Katherine Schmidt, Food Banks Canada
Today, we selected the winners of the Challenge in a live competition adjudicated by a panel of esteemed Canadian leaders in both philanthropy and technology.

In total, we’re announcing $5M in grants to Canadian nonprofits across 10 different organizations. 

Five winning projects will each receive $750K in grant funding from Google, alongside hands-on support from both Google and our local support partner, the LEAP Centre, for the next year to help them bring their projects to life. The remaining five projects will receive $250K in funding from Google, along with the same support program.

Winning Projects - $750K: 
  • The Rumie Initiative - Only 40% of students on indigenous reserves graduate from high school, compared to 90% of students in the rest of Canada. The LearnCloud Portal is an offline, tablet-based curriculum to help high school students learn about Indigenous culture, history and language while gaining employment skills and financial literacy. 
  • World Wide Hearing Foundation International - Globally, 32 million children suffer from significant hearing loss, the majority of whom live in countries where access to hearing care can be a significant barrier. The Teleaudiology Cloud will connect children living in remote communities with audiologists and speech therapists who can assist with remote screening, hearing aid fitting, speech therapy and parent counselling. 
  • Arctic Eider Society - With Arctic sea ice declining at over 13% per decade, changing conditions make navigation unpredictable and limits access to traditional foods for Arctic communities. The SIKU platform will provide a set of open-source tools that help Inuit communities map changing sea ice, and build a living archive of Inuit knowledge to help inform decision making for stewardship and sustainable development. 
  • PeaceGeeks Society - It can take up to ten years for the employment rate of recent immigrant cohorts to reach the equivalent rates for those born in Canada. With information provided in their native language, Services Advisor is an application aimed at welcoming new Canadians to our shores, making it easier for newcomers to access immigrant services like mentorship and employment skills.  
  • People’s Choice Award, selected by nearly 500,000 votes 
    • Food Banks Canada - Each year, close to $31 billion of food is wasted in Canada, yet nearly one in ten Canadian households have to worry about whether they have food on the table. The FoodAccess App diverts surplus quality food away from landfill by connecting farmers, manufacturers and restaurants with donation agencies and Canadian dinner tables that might otherwise go empty. 

Finalist Projects - $250K: 
  • British Columbia Children’s Hospital Foundation - Globally, pneumonia is the single largest cause of death among children under five. The PocketDoc for Pneumonia is a mobile platform to accurately diagnose pneumonia in the developing world and save children’s lives. 
  • GlobalMedic - In the chaos after an earthquake or a tsunami, every minute counts. The RescUAV project will use Canadian-made Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to fly over disaster areas, allowing emergency responders to see the terrain they are heading into and help them get aid to where it’s needed most. 
  • Victoria Hand Project - Only 5% of the 40 million people who need prosthetic care can access the resources they need. The Victoria Hand Project will provide affordable 3D-printed prosthetics in low-to-mid income countries. 
  • Growing North - In Nunavut, nearly 70% of adults are food insecure - meaning they lack reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. Growing North addresses food insecurity issues by building greenhouses that will provide fresh produce all year round in latitudes above the Arctic Circle at about half of the present cost. 
  • Canadian Red Cross - The Register Educate Deliver System (REDS) system will take a pilot project developed in the days following the Fort McMurray Wildfire and scale it so it’s ready for the next big disaster. The program registers those affected, shares critical information about how to respond, and quickly delivers financial assistance into the hands of Canadians when they need it most. 

At Google.org, we believe that the best ideas positively impact as many people as possible. We look for leaders who have bold, ambitious ideas. They open source their technology. They build models with the potential to scale. They speak publicly about their successes and failures so that others can learn and benefit. We are excited to work alongside each of these Canadian nonprofits to help them bring their ideas to life.

We have learned something important about Canada throughout this Challenge. In Canada, there are a whole lot of innovators who understand the needs of underserved populations, and who are ready to create new and unexpected solutions to address inequities. This is a country with humanitarianism and innovation baked into its DNA, and that comes out in these big ideas that will make the world better through technology.

The future belongs to Canada, a country whose capacity for innovation is matched only by the generosity of its people.

Canada’s AI Moment

Today’s blog post is authored by Geoffrey Hinton, Chief Scientific Advisor for the Vector Institute and VP and Engineering Fellow at Google


A “vector” is a geometric object with two important properties: magnitude and direction.  These two attributes might also describe Canada’s AI sector today, as key investments and a sense of shared purpose fuel Canada’s amazing AI momentum. Deep learning is a new direction in AI research and this funding gives it, well, magnitude.


The Vector Institute
Today’s launch of the Vector Institute in Toronto - a research facility dedicated to expanding the applications of AI by performing cutting-edge explorations in deep learning and other forms of machine learning - is the product of provincial, federal and corporate funding, including a $5 million dollar commitment from Google. Once up and running, Vector will supply a large number of the highly skilled masters, doctoral  and postdoctoral scientists who are desperately needed by Canadian industry. The research generated at Vector will find application in fields as diverse as healthcare, financial services and advanced manufacturing.


Canada’s AI Supercluster
With the launch of the Vector Institute, Toronto joins Montreal as a world leader in both research and AI investment. In November, Google invested $4.5 million in Montreal’s MILA Institute, led by deep learning pioneer Yoshua Bengio. We also launched Google Brain Montreal, a team dedicated to basic research in the field. I’ve seen firsthand how research in Toronto and Montreal has contributed to major advances in speech recognition, image classification and machine translation. And pairing Canada’s research pedigree with an active startup community, incubators, government investment and large anchor companies that attract and retain talent, is key to solidifying this country’s reputation as a global AI supercluster.


Google Brain Toronto
An example of the investment and innovation coalescing around investment in Canadian AI research is today’s launch of Google Brain Toronto. Consisting of Canadian deep learning experts this team will focus on the biggest research challenges facing AI today. Google will continue contributing to Canada’s AI momentum by publishing our findings and helping researchers collaborate more easily by sharing code through our open-source TensorFlow library.


Between its funding of the Vector Institute and the launch of Google Brain Toronto, Google is committed to supporting Canada’s amazing AI moment.

Posted by Geoffrey Hinton