Tag Archives: Diversity and Inclusion

Pixel artists take time to refresh, reflect and create

For Tim Kellner, a nomadic photographer and filmmaker in the program, the COVID-19 pandemic led to  taking a step back from his art. “Quarantine gave me time to think more deeply about the types of things I wanted to create,” he says. “I was surprised after that break to feel a drive to create again that I hadn't felt for a few years.”

Tim is one of Google Pixel’s Creator Labs artists who’s been exploring the side effects of spending more time alone. Creator Labs is an incubator for emerging photographers, directors and YouTubers that launched last winter, pre-pandemic. All nine of the program’s recurring artists pivoted to working virtually with us this past summer.  

Image showing a person standing in a desert at dusk; the sky is dark blue. A small ping light is shining around him while he holds a lit up object in his hand.

Tim Kellner

Armed with the Pixel 5 and their imaginations, the artists set out to create work grounded in social impact and cultural narrative (captured in a COVID-safe way, of course). 

One theme all of the current Creator Labs artists are embracing is the idea of space. Los Angeles-based Creator Labs veteran Glassface has been exploring isolation and mental health throughout his tenure in the program. “We’re all going through a mass shared traumatic experience right now. It feels like a really necessary time for meaningful art. I’ve been able to hone in on the art and music I want to be making, and I’ve been reminded of why I create in the first place,” Glassface says. “I think art can be a guiding light during difficult times like right now, and that’s informed and inspired my approach heavily. I’m taking a lot more risks and only putting my energy into the creative projects that mean the most to me.”
Image showing a person sitting close to the camera, looking up at the sky and at a white house.

Glassface

New York-based program-newcomer,Andre Wagner, like Tim, decided to turn the camera on himself “I’m always making self portraits but something about this time in particular led me to putting more focus on myself as the subject matter. There have definitely been surprises, and for me that’s needed because it helps sustain the effort.”

A black and white image showing a person sitting on a bench in between two trees. The person is sitting on top of the back of the bench looking up at the trees.

Andre Wagner

Other self portraits celebrated the artists’ heritage, including Los Angeles-based photographers June Canedo and Andrew Thomas Huang. June photographed herself wearing an embroidered handkerchief, representing her family’s history of domestic work, while Andrew’s photos pay homage to the Chinese Zodiac—with a Sci-Fi twist. 

Image showing a person with their back to the camera. There's a kerchief in their hair.

June Canedo

Creator Labs also includes artists Mayan Toledano, Kennedi Carter, Natalia Mantini and Anthony Prince Leslie. You can find their work on Pixel’s Instagram page.

Image showing a person wearing an ornate blue and green suit against a blue green background. They're wearing an intricate mask and holding up their hand, which is painted blue.

Andrew Thomas Huang

The work of our Creator Labs artists is a reminder for all of us that isolation can have a silver lining—in this case, giving us more space to think, reflect, refresh and create. 

These 33 projects tackle diversity in local news

Today we are announcing an important list of projects selected for the second round of the Google News Initiative’s North American Innovation Challenge. The challenges are meant to encourage a spirit of experimenting, and quite simply, trying new things. It is especially important this year to tackle innovative ideas, and the 33 projects we're funding look at diversity, equity and inclusion through many different lenses, all focused around the communities they serve.

The Innovation Challenge received 215 applications from the US and Canada, and will fund 33 projects totaling $5.9 million.

We selected Ryerson University in Canada for JeRI: The Journalism Representation Index, an AI-powered tool that scores the institutional power of sources cited in news stories. “In this time of great change it’s really important as journalists that we ensure the stories we report on reflect a diversity of voices,” says Asmaa Malik, Associate professor at Ryerson University. “With JERI our hope is that we can rebuild trust with readers and offer them transparency into the process.” 

Our team selected The Houston Defender for their efforts in business transformation. Sonny Messiah-Jiles, the Defender’s CEO, says the Innovation Challenge “opens the doors of opportunity for us to combat undercapitalization, limited access to new technology and resources and expand our training of our staff. We’re striving to make sure we arrive where our audience wants us to be.” 

The Educational Video Center in New York pitched an idea to develop the infrastructure to distribute and monetize youth-produced documentary films from EVC’s digitized archive of over 200 short films. “Youth voices are underrepresented in mainstream media and important news stories are not being told,” says Ambreen Quresh, the group’s executive director. “To address this EVC will create the first of its kind B2B video licensing platform for mainstream media to acquire youth-produced documentary shorts and clips.”

Other recipients include Vox Media, which is creating a comprehensive, inclusive open-sourced style guide and editing resources designed to recognize bias in storytelling. The Local Media Foundation is creating Word in Black, a national news collaborative that is powered by 10 of the leading Black publishers. Save the Black Press, a project from Black Voice News in California, will create a data access portal, content discovery platform and resource support model for generating revenue and innovating content at black news organizations.

215 applications, 33 projects selected, $5.9 million in funding

Industry leaders joined Google in selecting winners. "As one of four external participants on the jury, I appreciated the emphasis on local media outlets that can easily be overlooked nationally but who are vital in serving local communities and truly know the landscape and are invested in solutions,” says Donna Ladd, editor and co-founder of the Mississippi Free Press andJackson Free Press

You can read the full list of the successful recipients on our website. We extend our sincerest thanks to everyone who took the time to apply to this challenge.

Spread holiday cheer (even in 2020) with Google

As the year comes to a close, my family and I are looking forward to the much-needed cheer of the holiday season. For us, the holidays symbolize the joy of reconnecting with friends, spending time with loved ones and together as a community. While we’ve had to be more creative in planning the "together" part this holiday season, the Perry household is still looking forward to our annual family gift exchange during Christmas. 

I’m one of the two executive sponsors of Google’s Inter Belief Network, an employee resource group that provides a voice to more than 7,000 Googlers of religious or belief-related communities. Formed in May 2018, we seek to create a thriving community where Googlers are empowered to practice their beliefs, and promote mutual respect, understanding and allyship. I’m celebrating Christmas this year, and my fellow IBN sponsor James will be lighting the menorah each night of Hanukkah with his family. 

We hope that you can keep your meaningful holiday celebrations alive this year as well. With Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and the Lunar New Year celebrations right around the corner, here are some suggestions for using technology to stay connected with friends, loved ones, and your faith community.

Two weeks before the holiday 

As you get ready to virtually light a Menorah, read the Christmas story or exchange red envelopes with each other, here are a few Google tools my family is using that might also help you and yours prepare for the upcoming festivities.

  • You can share photos with friends and family from throughout the year by creating a “Year in Review'' shared album. 

  • Build a joyful playlist by sending out a Google Form to gather everyone’s favorite songs.

  • A Chromebook or Pixelbook Go can help ensure all attendees are able to partake in the virtual gathering. 

One week before the holiday 

Ensure everyone has the final details before the big day. Preparation is key for a successful event!

The day of the holiday 

The holiday has finally arrived! Bring a cup of hot chocolate and cookies to the festivities. 

Come together, virtually

My family and I will be using this season to relax, celebrate and reconnect. Connection to one another and to our wider communities is an essential part of our wellbeing, and technology can help bridge physical distance and bring us together in celebration. From my family to yours, we wish safe and healthy holidays to all.

Learn to code with Grasshopper, now in Spanish

Ver abajo versión en español

Since Grasshopper launched in 2018, one million people have spent at least one hour learning to code through our app. That’s approximately 114 years spent learning the fundamentals of coding. We’ve also run a number of academic studies on the effectiveness of Grasshopper, and found two insights: after two weeks of use, students are more motivated to learn to code. And while women tend to start off their Grasshopper journey feeling a bit more unsure about learning to code, we see that confidence gap between men and women decrease by 18 percent.

Grasshopper app in Spanish

Feedback in Spanish for one of our initial lessons.

With our beginner-centered learning environment, we guide students through quick, visual puzzles that teach key coding concepts like functions, loops and variables. Students build coding skills and gain confidence in their abilities as they progress through the curriculum.

With the launch of Grasshopper in Spanish, Spanish-speaking students will be able to read through the instructions, get support and receive feedback in their native language so they can learn to code without having to constantly translate from English. 

As technical skills continue to become more important for employers around the world, it is crucial that we continue to build learning tools for everyone. Skills like coding help people thrive in today's job market. According to Code.org, computing jobs are the number one source of new income in the US and they're projected to grow at twice the rate of other jobs.

If you’re ready to start learning to code, Grasshopper is available on Android, iOS and desktop in English, and now, por supuesto, in Spanish.


Desde el lanzamiento de Grasshopper en 2018, un millón de personas han pasado al menos una hora aprendiendo a programar a través de nuestra aplicación. ¡Esos son aproximadamente 114 años dedicados a aprender los fundamentos de la programación! Hoy, como parte de Crece con Google, estamos lanzando Grasshopper en español. 

También hemos llevado a cabo unos estudios académicos sobre la efectividad de Grasshopper y hemos encontrado dos resultados interesantes: mientras que las mujeres comienzan con el programa sintiéndose un poco más inseguras sobre aprender a codificar, vemos que la brecha en este sentido entre hombres y mujeres desciende al 18%.

Con nuestro entorno de aprendizaje centrado en principiantes, guiamos a los estudiantes a través de acertijos visuales rápidos que enseñan conceptos clave de programación como funciones, ciclos y variables. Los estudiantes desarrollan habilidades de programación y ganan confianza en ellas a medida que avanzan en el plan de estudios.

Con el lanzamiento de Grasshopper en español, los estudiantes podrán leer las instrucciones, obtener apoyo y recibir comentarios en su idioma materno para que puedan aprender a programar sin tener que traducir constantemente del inglés.

A medida que las habilidades técnicas continúan siendo más importantes para los empleadores de todo el mundo, es fundamental que sigamos creando herramientas de aprendizaje para todos. Habilidades como la programación ayudan a las personas a prosperar en el mercado laboral actual. Según Code.org, los trabajos de informática son la principal fuente de nuevos ingresos en los EE. UU. Y se prevé que crezcan al doble de la tasa de otros trabajos.

Si estás listo para comenzar a aprender a programar, Grasshopper está disponible en Android, iOS y dispositivos de escritorio en inglés, y ahora, por supuesto, en español.

Learn to code with Grasshopper, now in Spanish

Ver abajo versión en español

Since Grasshopper launched in 2018, one million people have spent at least one hour learning to code through our app. That’s approximately 114 years spent learning the fundamentals of coding. We’ve also run a number of academic studies on the effectiveness of Grasshopper, and found two insights: after two weeks of use, students are more motivated to learn to code. And while women tend to start off their Grasshopper journey feeling a bit more unsure about learning to code, we see that confidence gap between men and women decrease by 18 percent.

Grasshopper app in Spanish

Feedback in Spanish for one of our initial lessons.

With our beginner-centered learning environment, we guide students through quick, visual puzzles that teach key coding concepts like functions, loops and variables. Students build coding skills and gain confidence in their abilities as they progress through the curriculum.

With the launch of Grasshopper in Spanish, Spanish-speaking students will be able to read through the instructions, get support and receive feedback in their native language so they can learn to code without having to constantly translate from English. 

As technical skills continue to become more important for employers around the world, it is crucial that we continue to build learning tools for everyone. Skills like coding help people thrive in today's job market. According to Code.org, computing jobs are the number one source of new income in the US and they're projected to grow at twice the rate of other jobs.

If you’re ready to start learning to code, Grasshopper is available on Android, iOS and desktop in English, and now, por supuesto, in Spanish.


Desde el lanzamiento de Grasshopper en 2018, un millón de personas han pasado al menos una hora aprendiendo a programar a través de nuestra aplicación. ¡Esos son aproximadamente 114 años dedicados a aprender los fundamentos de la programación! Hoy, como parte de Crece con Google, estamos lanzando Grasshopper en español. 

También hemos llevado a cabo unos estudios académicos sobre la efectividad de Grasshopper y hemos encontrado dos resultados interesantes: mientras que las mujeres comienzan con el programa sintiéndose un poco más inseguras sobre aprender a codificar, vemos que la brecha en este sentido entre hombres y mujeres desciende al 18%.

Con nuestro entorno de aprendizaje centrado en principiantes, guiamos a los estudiantes a través de acertijos visuales rápidos que enseñan conceptos clave de programación como funciones, ciclos y variables. Los estudiantes desarrollan habilidades de programación y ganan confianza en ellas a medida que avanzan en el plan de estudios.

Con el lanzamiento de Grasshopper en español, los estudiantes podrán leer las instrucciones, obtener apoyo y recibir comentarios en su idioma materno para que puedan aprender a programar sin tener que traducir constantemente del inglés.

A medida que las habilidades técnicas continúan siendo más importantes para los empleadores de todo el mundo, es fundamental que sigamos creando herramientas de aprendizaje para todos. Habilidades como la programación ayudan a las personas a prosperar en el mercado laboral actual. Según Code.org, los trabajos de informática son la principal fuente de nuevos ingresos en los EE. UU. Y se prevé que crezcan al doble de la tasa de otros trabajos.

Si estás listo para comenzar a aprender a programar, Grasshopper está disponible en Android, iOS y dispositivos de escritorio en inglés, y ahora, por supuesto, en español.

Honoring Black Consciousness Day in Brazil

Editor's note: Last night, on the eve of the Black Consciousness Day in Brazil, a Black man, João Alberto Silveira Freitas, died after being beaten at a supermarket in Porto Alegre, in the south of the country. We would like to express our sentiments to the Black community in Brazil.

In Brazil, November 20 is Black Consciousness Day, or Dia da Consciência Negra in Portuguese, a public holiday celebrated in more than 830 cities around the country. It’s a tribute to Zumbi dos Palmares, the most prominent resistance leader against slavery and a symbol of the fight for freedom and recognition.

In a country where more than half the population of 212 million people identify as Black, Brazilians celebrate this day to raise awareness about the history and the achievements of the Black community. It’s also a moment to further debate the struggles Black Brazilians face: structural racism, inequality, displacement, exploitation, poverty and more. 

Following Google’s commitments to racial equity, we created a series of initiatives to celebrate Black Consciousness Day: a wealth of new material on Google Arts & Culture; a Google Play Store collection and a film showcasing local Black founders and developers of apps, games and websites; a new group of Black-led startups will be funded by Google for Startups; and Google.org grants to advance racial justice.

Honoring Black art

In partnership with 15 cultural institutions, Google Arts & Culture created “Celebrating Black Brazil,” a hub dedicated to Afro-Brazilian art and culture that features more than 30 exhibitions about the history behind this celebration. Thanks to the Geledés Black Women Institute, you can learn more about the artistic representation of the Black community, or explore African culture in over 600 artworks from the Museo de Arte de Bahia digitized in super high-resolution. You can also examine the artistic and cultural expressions at the Port of Rio, one of the main harbors for slave trade in the Americas.

Restoring history

Four young Brazilian artists worked with the Museu Afro Brasil and a team of historians and curators to uncover unknown stories of Black Brazil.

The stories range from an empowering tale of sisterhood and entrepreneurship in Salvador, to an exploration of how African design and technology have influenced Brazil’s development. The artworks represent Black communities beyond stereotypes, integrating elements from African legacy.

To explore these remarkable stories in more detail, and to discover collections from more than 2,000 cultural institutions around the world, visit Google Arts & Culture online  or download the free mobile app (iOS and Android).

Helping Black job seekers and entrepreneurs

Unemployment in Brazil increased 43 percent between May and September, leaving 4.1 million people out of work. To help Black job seekers discover, prepare and apply for jobs around the country, the Grow with Google team launched the mentorship program "Black Careers Matter," a guide to your next professional move. 

Google for Startups’ Black Founders Fund in Brazil provides non-dilutive, equity-free cash awards up to $1 million for startups founded and led by Black entrepreneurs in Brazil. The goal is to support around 30 startups by the end of 2021. 

In addition to the first startups announced in September (Afropolitan, CREATORS and TrazFavela), six new startups from different business areas and regions of the country will receive financial resources from Google: EasyJur, LegAut, Treinus, Wellbe, WeUse and Aoca Game Lab

Aoca, for example, is a small studio in Salvador, the cradle of Afro-Brazilian culture. Since September 2016, the studio has focused on the development of Árida, a series of survival games for PC that tells the story of Cícera, a girl on a journey of discovery in the Brazilian hinterland of the 19th century.
Google employees and startup founders on a video call

The Google team welcomes the founders of the 6 new startups that will be funded by Google for Startups’ Black Founders Fund in Brazil.

Celebrating Black developers and creators

We caught up with some Black founders and developers who create apps, games and websites in Brazil. They shared their journeys, tips and passions in this video:

Through November 26, the Google Play Store will highlight content celebrating Afro-Brazilian culture. This special collection features apps by some of these Black Brazilian entrepreneurs alongside movies, books, and a game showcasing Black Brazilian protagonists and stories of courage and resilience.

Starting on November 20, Google Podcasts will showcase a collection of local Black podcasters running shows such as Afetos, História Preta, Afropausa and many more.

Supporting organizations fighting for racial justice

2020 has been a year of racial reckoning that led to more global awareness and solidarity. In June, our CEO Sundar Pichai reinforced the importance of addressing systemic racism in regions beyond the United States, such as Brazil, and across Europe and Africa.

Google.org will provide $500,000 in grants to nonprofit organizations working to advance racial justice in Brazil. To start that work, we are announcing two grants: 

Fundo Baobá

Fundo Baobá is the first and only fund solely focused on racial equity in Brazil. Google.org will make a $400,000 grant to support an open call for organizations from all 27 states of the country to submit ideas for funding, centered on how they are tackling racial justice locally, and ultimately funding 10 organizations in all of the five regions of Brazil. Stay tuned on how to apply by following Fundo Baobá on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Fundação Getúlio Vargas - FGV

To improve information-gathering about the state of racial justice in Brazil, Google.org will make a $100,000 grant to the Racial Justice and the Law Research Center (Núcleo de Pesquisa em Justiça Racial e Direito) at FGV. The research will be led by Black scholars and thought leaders in the field, and will focus on data analysis and visualization of the racial dimensions of police violence in Brazil. 

We know that Brazil still has a long way to go to reduce racial inequality. With initiatives like these, we hope to continue contributing to build a more equitable future.

How Project Guideline gave me the freedom to run solo

Editor's Note: At Google Research, we’re interested in exploring how technology can help improve people’s daily lives and experiences. So it’s been an incredible opportunity to work with Thomas Panek, avid runner and President & CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, to apply computer vision for something important in his everyday life: independent exercise. Project Guideline is an early-stage research project that leverages on-device machine learning to allow Thomas to use a phone, headphones and a guideline painted on the ground to run independently. Below, Thomas shares why he collaborated with us on this research project, and what the journey has been like for him.

I’ve always loved to run. Ever since I was a boy, running has made me feel free. But when I was eight-years-old, I noticed that I couldn’t see the leaves on a tree so well, and that the stars in the night sky began to slowly disappear—and then they did forever. By the time I was a young adult, I was diagnosed as legally blind due to a genetic condition. I had to rely on a cane or a canine to guide me. For years, I gave up running.

Then I heard about running with human guides, and I decided to give it a try. It gave me a sense of belonging, holding a tether and following the guide runner in front of me. I even qualified for the New York City and Boston Marathons five years in a row. But as grateful as I was to my human guides, I wanted more independence. So in 2019, I decided to run the first half-marathon assisted only by guide dogs.

But I know it’s not possible for everyone to have a brilliant, fast companion like my guide dog, Blaze. I run an organization called Guiding Eyes for the Blind, and we work tirelessly to help people with vision loss receive running guide dogs that can help them live more active and independent lives. The problem is that there are millions more people with vision loss than there are available guide dogs. So I started asking a question: “Would it be possible to help guide a blind runner, independently?” 

In the fall of 2019, I asked that question to a group of designers and technologists at a Google hackathon. I wasn’t anticipating much more than an interesting conversation, but by the end of the day they’d built a rough demo that allowed a phone to recognize a line taped to the ground, and give audio cues to me while I walked with Blaze. We were excited, and hopeful to see if we could develop it into something more.

We began by sketching out how the prototype would work, settling on a simple concept: I’d wear a phone on a waistband, and bone-conducting headphones. The phone’s camera would look for a physical guideline on the ground and send audio signals depending on my position. If I drifted to the left of the line, the sound would get louder and more dissonant in my left ear. If I drifted to the right, the same thing would happen, but in my right ear. Within a few months, we were ready to test it on an indoor oval track. After a few adjustments, I was able to run eight laps. It was a short distance, and all with my Google teammates close by, but it was the first unguided mile I had run in decades.

Our next step was to see if the tech could work where I love running most: in the peace and serenity of a park. This brought a whole new batch of challenges to work through: variables in weather and lighting conditions and the need for new data to train the model, for starters. After months of building an on-device machine learning model to accurately detect the guideline in different environments, the team was finally ready to test the tech outside for the first time.

I’d been waiting 25 years to run outdoors, on my own. I stood at the start of the guideline, hopping up and down with excitement. When the team gave me the go-ahead, I began sprinting on my toes, as fast as my legs could carry me, down the hill and around a gentle bend in the road. As I tightened my form, my stride was getting more confident and longer with every step. I felt free, like I was effortlessly running through the clouds.

When I arrived at the finish line, I was completely overcome with emotion. My wife, Melissa, and my kids hugged me. My guide dog Blaze licked the salt off of my hand. They were happy for me, too. For the first time in a lifetime, I didn’t feel like a blind man. I felt free.

Today, we’re testing this technology further. I’ll be attempting to run NYRR’s Virtual Run for Thanks 5K along a line temporarily painted in Central Park in New York City. I want to thank NYRR, NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, Central Park Conservancy, NYPD, NYC Department of Sanitation and the NYC Department of Transportation for helping to make today’s 5K run possible. We want to see how this system works in urban environments, just one of the many challenges to complete before it can be used more widely. 

Collaborating on this project helped me realize a personal dream of mine. I’m so grateful to the Google team, and whoever came up with the idea of a hackathon in the first place. I hope there will be more runs with Project Guideline in my future, and for many other runners as well.

By sharing the story of how this project got started and how the tech works today, we hope to start new conversations with the larger blind and low-vision community about how, and if, this technology might be useful for them, too. As we continue our research, we hope to gather feedback from more organizations and explore painting guidelines in their communities. To learn more, please visit: goo.gle/ProjectGuideline.

How Project Guideline gave me the freedom to run solo

Editor's Note: At Google Research, we’re interested in exploring how technology can help improve people’s daily lives and experiences. So it’s been an incredible opportunity to work with Thomas Panek, avid runner and President & CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, to apply computer vision for something important in his everyday life: independent exercise. Project Guideline is an early-stage research project that leverages on-device machine learning to allow Thomas to use a phone, headphones and a guideline painted on the ground to run independently. Below, Thomas shares why he collaborated with us on this research project, and what the journey has been like for him.

I’ve always loved to run. Ever since I was a boy, running has made me feel free. But when I was eight-years-old, I noticed that I couldn’t see the leaves on a tree so well, and that the stars in the night sky began to slowly disappear—and then they did forever. By the time I was a young adult, I was diagnosed as legally blind due to a genetic condition. I had to rely on a cane or a canine to guide me. For years, I gave up running.

Then I heard about running with human guides, and I decided to give it a try. It gave me a sense of belonging, holding a tether and following the guide runner in front of me. I even qualified for the New York City and Boston Marathons five years in a row. But as grateful as I was to my human guides, I wanted more independence. So in 2019, I decided to run the first half-marathon assisted only by guide dogs.

But I know it’s not possible for everyone to have a brilliant, fast companion like my guide dog, Blaze. I run an organization called Guiding Eyes for the Blind, and we work tirelessly to help people with vision loss receive running guide dogs that can help them live more active and independent lives. The problem is that there are millions more people with vision loss than there are available guide dogs. So I started asking a question: “Would it be possible to help guide a blind runner, independently?” 

In the fall of 2019, I asked that question to a group of designers and technologists at a Google hackathon. I wasn’t anticipating much more than an interesting conversation, but by the end of the day they’d built a rough demo that allowed a phone to recognize a line taped to the ground, and give audio cues to me while I walked with Blaze. We were excited, and hopeful to see if we could develop it into something more.

We began by sketching out how the prototype would work, settling on a simple concept: I’d wear a phone on a waistband, and bone-conducting headphones. The phone’s camera would look for a physical guideline on the ground and send audio signals depending on my position. If I drifted to the left of the line, the sound would get louder and more dissonant in my left ear. If I drifted to the right, the same thing would happen, but in my right ear. Within a few months, we were ready to test it on an indoor oval track. After a few adjustments, I was able to run eight laps. It was a short distance, and all with my Google teammates close by, but it was the first unguided mile I had run in decades.

Our next step was to see if the tech could work where I love running most: in the peace and serenity of a park. This brought a whole new batch of challenges to work through: variables in weather and lighting conditions and the need for new data to train the model, for starters. After months of building an on-device machine learning model to accurately detect the guideline in different environments, the team was finally ready to test the tech outside for the first time.

I’d been waiting 25 years to run outdoors, on my own. I stood at the start of the guideline, hopping up and down with excitement. When the team gave me the go-ahead, I began sprinting on my toes, as fast as my legs could carry me, down the hill and around a gentle bend in the road. As I tightened my form, my stride was getting more confident and longer with every step. I felt free, like I was effortlessly running through the clouds.

When I arrived at the finish line, I was completely overcome with emotion. My wife, Melissa, and my kids hugged me. My guide dog Blaze licked the salt off of my hand. They were happy for me, too. For the first time in a lifetime, I didn’t feel like a blind man. I felt free.

Today, we’re testing this technology further. I’ll be attempting to run NYRR’s Virtual Run for Thanks 5K along a line temporarily painted in Central Park in New York City. I want to thank NYRR, NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, Central Park Conservancy, NYPD, NYC Department of Sanitation and the NYC Department of Transportation for helping to make today’s 5K run possible. We want to see how this system works in urban environments, just one of the many challenges to complete before it can be used more widely. 

Collaborating on this project helped me realize a personal dream of mine. I’m so grateful to the Google team, and whoever came up with the idea of a hackathon in the first place. I hope there will be more runs with Project Guideline in my future, and for many other runners as well.

By sharing the story of how this project got started and how the tech works today, we hope to start new conversations with the larger blind and low-vision community about how, and if, this technology might be useful for them, too. As we continue our research, we hope to gather feedback from more organizations and explore painting guidelines in their communities. To learn more, please visit: goo.gle/ProjectGuideline.

A call to advance women entrepreneurs

When I joined Google more than a decade ago, I was one of the only working mothers at Google Tokyo. I spoke with other women at the office, and was surprised to find that for many of my female colleagues, the cultural stigma of being a working mom was still hard to overcome, even at a company as supportive as Google. I was especially struck by conversations with younger women who had yet to start families, but who had already decided that when the time came, work and family would be too hard to juggle. 


I became an advocate for encouraging women in the workplace, both within and outside of Google. I wanted women to know they can choose what is right for them. It means a lot to be able to say that, today, 100 percent of women at Google in Japan come back to work after maternity leave.  


Making space for women and diverse voices means more creative ideas and solutions. But you don’t have to take my word for it—the benefits of investing in women entrepreneurs in particular are substantial. Experts have said that closing the entrepreneurial gender gap could boost the global economy by up to $5 trillion. This is even more important as economies around the world strive to recover from the challenges of COVID-19. 


Today, on Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, Google’s Women Willinitiative is launching a global report called Advancing Women in Entrepreneurship, which takes a look at some of the factors behind the entrepreneurship gender gap, as well as potential areas for intervention.


The report, which surveyed women in Asia-Pacific (Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam), Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Mexico) and Sub-Saharan Africa (Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa), finds that:

  • Self-confidence is ranked by women as one of the top three skills most critical to successfully running a business in most countries in Asia. However, aspiring women entrepreneurs are less confident (compared to men) across all of the twelve countries in our research.

  • Less than half of women surveyed said they had access to mentors or supportive social groups.

  • About 80% of both current and aspiring entrepreneurs were interested in learning and improving their skills.

Building a culture of support, confidence and learning is important for women entrepreneurs to grow and thrive. Just a few weeks ago, I kicked off the first session of the Google for Startups’ Immersion: Women Founders program for Asia-Pacific, an eight-week, mentorship program for female founders. We’ve already heard that access to mentorship and the chance to form a community have been highlights for the participants. Hanna Kim, the founder of Grip, a live-streaming e-commerce platform in Korea, said, “It’s been really helpful to get insights from the mentors, like practical business and HR insights. I’m also so inspired by everyone in the cohort. It makes me dream even bigger!” 

Another initiative we hope will make a difference is a series of six  webinarswith UN Women’s WE EMPOWER campaign, focused on on topics like adapting through COVID-19 and developing leadership skills.


We’re looking forward to building on these steps with more initiatives to encourage women entrepreneurs in Asia Pacific and around the world. We hope you’ll take a look at the report, and join the online conversation on the Women Will Instagram channel. 

Introducing Google News Initiative Conversations

This year, the way many of us work has changed dramatically. We’ve gone from lunch meetings and large networking conferences to meeting virtually from our makeshift home offices. The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly upended a lot of this, but that doesn’t mean sharing ideas is on hold, too. That’s especially true for the Google News Initiative team; our commitment to helping journalism thrive is still just as strong. 

That’s why we’ve launched Google News Initiative Conversations, a new video series in which we bring together industry experts and our partners from around the world to discuss the successes, challenges and opportunities facing the news industry. Since March 2018, the GNI has worked with more than 6,250 news partners in 118 countries, several of which are featured in the series.

Over the course of four episodes, we cover the themes of business sustainability, quality journalism, diversity, equity and inclusion and a look ahead to 2021 from a global perspective. Take a look at what the series has to offer:

Sustaining the News Industry, featuring: 

Miki King, Chief Marketing Officer of the Washington Post
Gary Liu, CEO of the South China Morning Post
Tara Lajumoke, Managing Director of FT Strategies
Megan Brownlow and Simon Crerar talk about local journalism in Australia.

Quality Journalism, featuring: 

Claire Wardle, U.S. Director, First Draft
Surabhi Malik and Syed Nazakat of FactShala India

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, featuring: 

Soledad O’Brien, CEO of Soledad O’Brien Productions
Drew Christie, Chair of BCOMS - the Black Collective of Media in U.K. Sport
Bryan Pollard, Associate Director of Native American Journalists Association
Kalhan Rosenblatt, Youth and Internet Culture Reporter at NBC News
Tania Montalvo, General Editor at Animal Político, Mexico 
Zack Weiner, President of Overtime

Innovation and the Future of News, featuring: 

Brad Bender, VP of Product at Google interviewed by broadcaster Tina Daheley  
Charlie Beckett, Professor in the Dept of Media and Communication at LSE
Agnes Stenborn, Responsible Data and AI Specialist
Christina Elmer, Editorial RnD at Der Spiegel

It’s uncertain when we’ll get to gather together in person again, but until then, we’ll continue learning, collaborating and innovating as we work towards a better future for news.