How Google did its Glasses skydiving stunt?
How’d Google pull off such a stunt?
According to published reports, Google had to get special clearance from the FAA for its big tech-filled dive through the air, in addition to cooperation from NASA, the San Francisco Mayor’s office, San Francisco Police and Fire Departments, as well as a crafty technical solution for sun glare and 25 different cameras to get the demonstration just right.
Oh, and a wok.
When Google re-ran its skydiving session during an IO keynote, the specific techniques Google used to ensure a consistent signal for its free-fall demonstration were captured in the rear of the video stream.
According to Ars Technica’s, here’s how it worked: Google’s skydivers jumped out of the plane and, immediately afterward, one of the two skydivers released a quick burst of smoke into the air.
That’s the target.
On the ground, Google helpers holding amplification dishes aimed at the smoke and followed the divers as they plummet to the ground.
Yes, we said “amplification” dishes – Google hasn’t disclosed exactly what it used to beam the signal up into the skies, but it provided a far better result than Google’s first experiment which had employees attaching a Galaxy Nexus smartphone to the inside of a wok as a kind-of makeshift broadcast dish.
In essence, Google targetted the wireless connection – hitting its skydivers with a tight, narrow beam of amplified connectivity instead of forcing them to try and tap into a general “bubble” of a signal emitted from a traditional antenna setup.
That’s how the divers are able to ensure a strong connection mid-flight, a feat that your average Google Glasses-wearing air enthusiast would likely not be able to replicate without a bit of help from the ground.
or instance, the Glasses weren’t designed to be worn by someone falling through the air at 200 miles an hour in bright sunlight. In early testing on the ground, engineers worried that the glare from the sun would interfere with the devices, according to Google. At one point, they applied electrical tape to the lenses to serve as a sort of filter. Eventually, they came up with a better solution — they applied photochromic film to the lenses.
An even bigger problem to figure out was how to get the live video feed of what the skydivers were seeing through the Glasses and out to the Internet. This is not a simple feat in a city where cell phone reception itself can be spotty on the streets below.
How’s this for ingenuity? Early on in the project, the team grabbed a Wok–yes, the kind for sauteing vegetables–and tried to use it as a broadcast dish. They attached a Nexus Galaxy smartphone to it and pointed it up at the sky. That initial idea was rejected in favor of more workable solutions, though Google hasn’t shared the details yet.
But forget the technology. The question on many peoples’ minds was who did the company have to bribe to get permission to carry out such a potentially dangerous and unprecedented stunt in downtown San Francisco? What started out as a joke at an early planning meeting about six weeks ago, ended up being the talk of the town and the highlight of the Google I/O developer conference this week. There was some red tape involved and costs for equipment and hiring the skydivers and the airship company, but apparently no money paid to officials.
[jwplayer config="My Player" file="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxmbbtuRszA"]
Google’s Sergey Brin leads a demo of Google’s Project Glass with a group of skydivers outfitted with the new video-capturing spectacles. The skydivers jump from an airplane during Google I/O while attendees watch via the company’s Hangout software.