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Hard Questions: More on Russian Ads

By Elliot Schrage, Vice President of Policy and Communications

1) Why did Facebook finally decide to share the ads with Congress?

As our General Counsel has explained, this is an extraordinary investigation — one that raises questions that go to the integrity of the US elections. After an extensive legal and policy review, we’ve concluded that sharing the ads we’ve discovered with Congress, in a manner that is consistent with our obligations to protect user information, will help government authorities complete the vitally important work of assessing what happened in the 2016 election. That is an assessment that can be made only by investigators with access to classified intelligence and information from all relevant companies and industries — and we want to do our part. Congress is best placed to use the information we and others provide to inform the public comprehensively and completely.

2) Why are you sharing these with Special Counsel and Congress — and not releasing them to the public?

Federal law places strict limitations on the disclosure of account information. Given the sensitive national security and privacy issues involved in this extraordinary investigation, we think Congress is best placed to use the information we and others provide to inform the public comprehensively and completely. For further understanding on this decision, see our General Counsel’s post.

3) Let’s go back to the beginning. Did Facebook know when the ads were purchased that they might be part of a Russian operation? Why not?

No, we didn’t.

The vast majority of our over 5 million advertisers use our self-service tools. This allows individuals or businesses to create a Facebook Page, attach a credit card or some other payment method and run ads promoting their posts.

In some situations, Facebook employees work directly with our larger advertisers. In the case of the Russian ads, none of those we found involved in-person relationships.

At the same time, a significant number of advertisers run ads internationally, and a high number of advertisers run content that addresses social issues — an ad from a non-governmental organization, for example, that addresses women’s rights. So there was nothing necessarily noteworthy at the time about a foreign actor running an ad involving a social issue. Of course, knowing what we’ve learned since the election, some of these ads were indeed both noteworthy and problematic, which is why our CEO today announced a number of important steps we are taking to help prevent this kind of deceptive interference in the future.

4) Do you expect to find more ads from Russian or other foreign actors using fake accounts?

It’s possible.

When we’re looking for this type of abuse, we cast a wide net in trying to identify any activity that looks suspicious. But it’s a game of cat and mouse. Bad actors are always working to use more sophisticated methods to obfuscate their origins and cover their tracks. That in turn leads us to devise new methods and smarter tactics to catch them — things like machine learning, data science and highly trained human investigators. And, of course, our internal inquiry continues.

It’s possible that government investigators have information that could help us, and we welcome any information the authorities are willing to share to help with our own investigations.

Using ads and other messaging to affect political discourse has become a common part of the cybersecurity arsenal for organized, advanced actors. This means all online platforms will need to address this issue, and get smarter about how to address it, now and in the future.

5) I’ve heard that Facebook disabled tens of thousands of accounts in France and only hundreds in the United States. Is this accurate?

No, these numbers represent different things and can’t be directly compared.

To explain it, it’s important to understand how large platforms try to stop abusive behavior at scale. Staying ahead of those who try to misuse our service is an ongoing effort led by our security and integrity teams, and we recognize this work will never be done. We build and update technical systems every day to make it easier to respond to reports of abuse, detect and remove spam, identify and eliminate fake accounts, and prevent accounts from being compromised. This work also reduces the distribution of content that violates our policies, since fake accounts often distribute deceptive material, such as false news, hoaxes, and misinformation.

This past April, we announced improvements to these systems aimed at helping us detect fake accounts on our service more effectively. As we began to roll out these changes globally, we took action against tens of thousands of fake accounts in France. This number represents fake accounts of all varieties, the most common being those that are used for financially-motivated spam. While we believe that the removal of these accounts also reduced the spread of disinformation, it’s incorrect to state that these tens of thousands of accounts represent organized campaigns from any particular country or set of countries.

In contrast, the approximately 470 accounts and Pages we shut down recently were identified by our dedicated security team that manually investigates specific, organized threats. They found that this set of accounts and Pages were affiliated with one another — and were likely operated out of Russia.

Read more about our new blog series Hard Questions. We want your input on what other topics we should address — and what we could be doing better. Please send suggestions to hardquestions@fb.com.

Facebook to Provide Congress With Ads Linked to Internet Research Agency

By Colin Stretch, General Counsel

Two weeks ago, we announced we had found more than 3,000 ads addressing social and political issues that ran in the US between 2015 and 2017 and that appear to have come from accounts associated with a Russian entity known as the Internet Research Agency. We subsequently made clear that we are providing information related to those ads, including the ad content itself, to the Special Counsel investigating allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US election. Since then, some people have asked why we aren’t sharing the content of the ads more broadly.

After an extensive legal and policy review, today we are announcing that we will also share these ads with congressional investigators. We believe it is vitally important that government authorities have the information they need to deliver to the public a full assessment of what happened in the 2016 election. That is an assessment that can be made only by investigators with access to classified intelligence and information from all relevant companies and industries — and we want to do our part. Congress is best placed to use the information we and others provide to inform the public comprehensively and completely.

This has been a difficult decision. Disclosing content is not something we do lightly under any circumstances. We are deeply committed to safeguarding user content, regardless of the user’s nationality, and ads are user content. Federal law also places strict limitations on the disclosure of account information. As our biannual transparency reports make clear, we carefully scrutinize all government data requests, from here and abroad, and we push back where they do not adhere to those legal limitations. And, of course, we also recognize and support the important work of government investigations and take care not to take steps, like public disclosures, that might undermine them.

Over recent weeks, we have grappled with the extraordinary nature of this particular investigation through this lens. The questions that have arisen go to the integrity of US elections. And the limited information Congress and the intelligence community have shared with us to date suggests that efforts to compromise the 2016 election were varied and sophisticated — and that understanding those efforts requires a united effort, from across the technology, intelligence and political communities. We believe the public deserves a full accounting of what happened in the 2016 election, and we’ve concluded that sharing the ads we’ve discovered, in a manner that is consistent with our obligations to protect user information, can help.

That’s why we have reached out to congressional leadership to agree on a process and schedule to provide the content of these ads, along with related information, to congressional investigators. At the same time, we will continue our own review and investigation, and to do our part to make sure investigators have the information they need. We look forward to their comprehensive assessment, and to a greater public understanding of what took place.

See also: Hard Questions: More on Russian Ads

Cooling off with #teampixel

We enjoyed all the fun in the sun with #teampixel this summer. From a whirlwind tour around the globe to getting one with nature, our Pixel photographers shared some stunning shots that gave us the chills (in a good way). Before we head into fall, we’re paying one last homage to the warmer months with a series spotlighting the cooler tones. Thanks for keeping us cool this summer, #teampixel. 😎

Shout out to @nemod96, whose photo is featured above and makes an appearance on our Instagram today. Tag your photos with #teampixel and you could be featured, too. 

Unsecured routers: the gateway to IoT smart home threats

If 2016 was the year of device development for the internet of things (IoT), 2017 has been the year of real-world deployments and monetization. Google and Amazon have moved quickly to offer smart home hubs in the forms of Google Home and Amazon Echo, arguably two of the most well-known home assistant devices in the consumer sector today.

The pool of IoT devices continues to grow with analysts at Gartner expecting 5.2 billion units to be in use before the end of the year. Connected door locks, home energy monitors, thermostats, and “smart” lighting are becoming commonplace. These products increasingly learn our preferences and can anticipate our needs. It means we can spend more time enjoying our home rather than managing it. Convenience is king, after all.

Except when it’s not. Nobody wants their life histories, banking details and personal photos leaked online or used fraudulently – that information, once leaked, is out in the public domain forever.

The problem with IoT devices is that the more endpoints there are connected to a network, the greater the threat vector. In other words, as the number of IoT devices behind a network’s firewall increase, the weaker the smart home becomes. A highly-connected home setup gives cybercriminals more devices to target. And as hackers adopt more sophisticated methods to attack people, they only need to find one small crack in a device’s shield to compromise the entire home network.

Securing your home with Netis Systems and Chime

A smart home’s defense is only as strong as its network’s security. This is why we have partnered with Netis Systems, a leading router manufacturer, to secure its Stonet router with Chime, our router security platform based on AVG technology.

Chime offers an extra layer of security by protecting against malware, viruses and other malicious behaviour that could compromise the network. It also provides parental controls such as app blocking and content filtering, as well as on-the-go security alerts via its user-friendly mobile app.

 

Two out of five routers in the world are vulnerable

In March this year, we ran 132 million unique scans of our user base to check the security status of their connected products. We found that over 40 percent had a router software vulnerability or were connected to the internet with weak or default passwords, compromising their security.

This evidence of unsecured routers is not unique to the Avast and AVG user base. Recently, internet and telecommunications giant Virgin Media advised 800,000 customers to change their passwords on their Virgin Super Hub 2 routers after an investigation from a UK consumer rights group found hackers could access personal information from smart home networks and connected appliances. While the study uncovered serious security flaws in eight of the 15 smart appliances reviewed, it also highlighted the liabilities of the internet access point in the home – the router.

Our partnership with Netis Systems further illustrates our commitment to solving the IoT security challenge for consumers. We believe that through collaborative partnerships and a “security by design” approach, we can help manufacturers and users safely enjoy their next generation smart home.

Netis has chosen to feature Chime security on its new Stonet router now shipping.

How Google went all in on video meetings (and you can, too)

Editor’s note: this is the first article in a five-part series on Google Hangouts.

I’ve worked at Google for more than a decade and have seen the company expand across geographies—including to Stockholm where I have worked from day one. My coworkers and I build video conferencing technology to help global teams work better together.

It’s sometimes easy to forget what life was like before face-to-face video conferencing (VC) at work, but we struggled with many of the same issues that other companies deal with—cobbled together communication technologies, dropped calls, expensive solutions. Here’s a look at how we transitioned Google to be a cloud video meeting-first company.

2004 - 2007: Life before Hangouts

In the mid-2000s, Google underwent explosive growth. We grew from nearly 3,000 employees to more than 17,000 across 40 offices globally. Historically, we relied on traditional conference phone bridging and email to communicate across time zones, but phone calls don’t exactly inspire creativity and tone gets lost in translation with email threads.

We realized that the technology we used didn’t mirror how our teams actually like to work together. If I want to sort out a problem or present an idea, I’d rather be face-to-face with my team, not waiting idly on a conference bridge line.

Google decided to go all in on video meetings. We outsourced proprietary video conferencing (VC) technology and outfitted large meeting rooms with these devices. 

If I need to sort out a problem or present an idea, I’d rather be face-to-face with my team, not waiting idly on a conference bridge line.
Hangouts 1
A conference room in Google’s Zurich office in 2007 which had outsourced VC technology.

While revolutionary, this VC technology was extremely costly. Each unit could cost upwards of $50,000, and that did not include support, licensing and network maintenance fees. To complicate matters, the units were powered by complex, on-prem infrastructure and required several support technicians. By 2007, nearly 2,400 rooms were equipped with the technology.

Then we broke it.

The system was built to host meetings for team members in the office, but didn't cater to people on the go. As more and more Googlers used video meetings, we reached maximum capacity on the technology’s infrastructure and experienced frequent dropped calls and poor audio/visual (AV) quality. I even remember one of the VC bridges catching on fire! We had to make a change.

2008 - 2013: Taking matters into our own hands

In 2008, we built our own VC solution that could keep up with the rate at which we were growing. We scaled with software and moved meetings to the cloud.

Our earliest “Hangouts” prototype was Gmail Video Chat, a way to connect with contacts directly in Gmail. Hours after releasing the service to the public, it had hundreds of thousands of users.

Gmail voice and video chat

The earliest software prototype for video conferencing at Google, Gmail Video Chat.

Hangouts 2

Arthur van der Geer tests out the earliest prototype for Hangouts, go/meet. 

While a good start, we knew we couldn’t scale group video conferencing within Gmail. We built our second iteration, which tied meeting rooms to unique URLs. We introduced it to Googlers in 2009 and the product took off.

During this journey, we also built our own infrastructure (WebRTC) so we no longer had to rely on third-party audio and video components. Our internal IT team created our own VC hardware prototypes; we used  touchscreen computers and custom software with the first version of Hangouts and called it “Google Video Conferencing” (“GVC” for short).

First Google Video Conferencing Prototype | 2008

Google engineers test the first Google Video Conferencing hardware prototype in 2008.

With each of these elements, we had now built our earliest version of Hangouts. After a few years of testing—and widespread adoption by Googlers—we made the platform available externally to customers in 2014 (“Chromebox for Meetings”). In the first two weeks, we sold more than 2,000 units. By the end of the year, every Google conference room and company device had access to VC.

2014 - today: Transforming how businesses do business

GIF test

Nearly a decade has passed since we built the first prototype. Face-to-face collaboration is ingrained in Google’s DNA now—more than 16,500 meetings rooms are VC-equipped at Google and our employees join Hangouts 240,000 times per day! That's equivalent to spending more than 10 years per day collaborating in video meetings. And, now, more than 3 million businesses are using Hangouts to transform how they work too.

We learned a lot about what it takes to successfully collaborate as a scaling business. If you’re looking to transition your meetings to the cloud with VC, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Encourage video engagement from the start. Every good idea needs a champion. Be seen as an innovator by evangelizing video engagement in company meetings from the start. Your team will thank you for it.
  2. If you’re going to move to VC, make it available everywhere. We transformed our work culture to be video meeting-first because we made VC ubiquitous. Hangouts Meet brings you a consistent experience across web, mobile and conference rooms.  If you’re going to make the switch, go all in and make it accessible to everyone.
  3. Focus on the benefits. Video meetings can help distributed teams feel more engaged and help employees collaborate whenever, and wherever, inspiration strikes. This means you’ll have more diverse perspectives which makes for better quality output.

What’s next? Impactful additions and improvements to Hangouts Meet will be announced soon. All the while, we’re continuing to research how teams work together and how we can evolve VC technology to reflect that collaboration. For example, we’re experimenting with making scheduling easier for teams thanks to the @meet AI bot in the early adopter version of Hangouts Chat.

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Transforming Chile’s health sector with connectivity

Editor’s note: From instant access to medical records, to telemedicine in rural areas, connectivity in the health sector has the power to improve lives. In this guest post, Soledad Munoz Lopez, CIO of the Chilean Ministry of Health, shares with us how Chile implemented a national API-based architecture to help bring better health to millions.

Not long ago, Chile’s Ministry of Health (MINSAL) faced an enormous challenge. Chile’s 1,400 connected health facilities and 1,000 remote medical facilities lacked connectivity, and many of its healthcare systems could not easily interoperate. This meant healthcare providers couldn’t always expect to have fast and easy access to medical records.

Earlier efforts to centralize and manage medical records across facilities fell apart because they were costly and far too laborious. And as a result, we missed out on a lot of opportunities. We came to realize that we needed a new approach to IT architecture.

To help ensure that data, applications and services are securely available when and where they’re needed, I’m helping to lead the implementation of a national API-based architecture, powered by Google Cloud’s Apigee. From facilitating smoother public-private partnerships to enabling wider use of services such as telemedicine, we see this as a critical and aggressive move to rapidly improve wellness for our millions of citizens and visitors.

The API-first architecture aligns with a variety of MINSAL’s healthcare efforts, including a national program to connect unconnected healthcare centers, and a plan to digitize all clinic and administrative processes, both for major hospitals and local clinics and primary care centers. It also helps MINSAL’s strategic work, such as better leveraging data and connectivity for public alerts, population health management programs and the Public Health Surveillance initiatives needed for planning and execution of public health policy.

Connecting Chile’s healthcare system

One of the primary areas of concern addressed by the new digital architecture is the ease and speed of integration. As noted above, it’s important that whenever a patient is treated anywhere in Chile, the clinical teams and the patient have access to all the information that has been generated for that patient, regardless of where this information was recorded. This includes data from other health clinics, public or private institutions, laboratories, radiology and images and clinical equipment.

This variety of data sources typifies the diverse heterogenous environment that an API-first architecture needs to address: applications, devices, patient record systems, management systems, scheduling and so on. Most of these pieces within the MINSAL ecosystem were never designed to interoperate. We chose an API-first approach because APIs abstract all of this back-end complexity into predictable, consistent interfaces that allow developers to more quickly and efficiently connect data, services and apps across the nationwide system. The result is a more seamless experience for doctors and patients and a secure but agile infrastructure for MINSAL.

In a previous attempt to efficiently and scalably integrate health records, started in 2005, Chile utilized a centralized SOA-based architecture. This strategy turned out to be an expensive and inflexible way to try and achieve interoperability. The integration expenses were projected to require at least three times the current budget—untenable in a country where the total budget for development of clinical records is about $40 million annually.

Yet far larger are the costs to the users of an unconnected system, including unnecessary travel, duplication of exams and out of pocket costs in general.  

Working with Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and local system integrators such as Tecnodata, MINSAL is implementing a health systems technology investment strategy that is much more efficient. The API-based architecture enables any IT professional in any of Chile’s organizations, facilities, institutions and providers to onboard their information systems in an organized, more secure, self-service manner.  

This helps make the national program much more scalable, and involves local industry experts more closely. In addition, these entities can continue to evolve their own local systems as they need, as long as they’re compliant with the common integration strategy. MINSAL has established the policy that all data records be based on API-centric standards like FHIR and HL7, with images based on DICOM.   

All of these connectivity and interoperability efforts help enable important services that benefit Chilean citizens, such as telemedicine. Telemedicine, which enables patients to avoid unnecessary travel and relocation while under medical care, is highly developed in five specialties in Chile: teledermatology, teleophthalmology, telenephrology, teleradiology and tele-electrocardiography.  

An API platform for a healthy future

The Apigee platform has been the accelerator for the entire program, providing visibility and controls that make APIs easier to manage. It also saves MINSAL from needing to develop API management features that Apigee provides built right into the platform, such as key management, identity brokering, traffic routing, cyber-threat management, data caching, collection of analytics, developer management, developer portal and many others. As a result of the success of this program, we’re moving towards API-based strategies in more than just the health sector. Here are a few examples:

  • A single registry of individual and institutional health providers

  • An identity service integrated with the National Identity Registry

  • A birth pre-registry

  • A verification of identity service for use during emergency medical services

  • A national pharmaceutical terminology service

  • A patient portal (including pregnancy support, for example)

  • Electronic immunization records

  • Traceability and management of national health insurance accounts

  • An electronic medical prescription model


The API platform helps professionals in the entire network of healthcare systems in Chile access patient information throughout the care cycle. MINSAL was able to reduce costs through sharing  information, eliminating delays and reducing the duplication of medical tests. The platform also provides information to apps and websites used by patients, enabling them to see and gradually empower themselves with their own health data.

The promotion of preventive healthcare is a critically important initiative in Chile. API technology supports the monitoring of epidemiological changes in the population, consuming information from operational systems, through the same Apigee API platform that is already interfacing with all the health establishments. This means we now have far better data to begin testing machine learning  and use our big data to help focus our health programs on impactful outcomes.

Chile is a  leader among Latin American national health programs, and works closely with other countries and organizations to develop and coordinate programs and policies. By working with GCP and adopting an API-based architecture with the explicit goal of improving outcomes and the efficacy of the health care system, we hope to inspire others and pave the way to better health for billions of people.  

Android zero-touch enrollment: seamless and secure enterprise deployment


Companies around the world deploy Android to mobilize employees and transform their businesses. No matter the use case, we know that a successful deployment is about more than just selecting the right devices; it's about getting them configured and rolled out into the hands of users as quickly and easily as possible.

Today we’re launching a new deployment method called zero-touch enrollment to make Android rollouts more seamless and secure. With zero-touch enrollment, companies can configure the devices they purchase and have them shipped with management and settings pre-configured, so employees can get up and running out of the box.

Zero touch pixel demo

For administrators, zero-touch enrollment removes the need for users to configure their devices manually and ensures that devices always have corporate policies in place. Support is also much easier, with no extra steps for end-users; they just sign in and get access to their work apps and data.  

Zero-touch is available on devices purchased from our zero-touch carrier partners, and we’re excited to partner with Verizon to offer zero-touch enrollment on the Pixel, phone by Google, starting today.

“For our business customers, deploying new devices and services securely with the ability to enforce device-specific policies is critical for protecting proprietary information and an organization's brand,” says Ryan O’Shea, vice president of National Business Channels with Verizon Wireless. "The Android zero-touch enrollment program allows our business customers to get up and running seamlessly and securely, and we are excited today to introduce this initiative on the Pixel phone and other future Android devices.”

We’re working with our device partners including Samsung, Huawei, Sony, LG Electronics, HMD Global Oy Home of Nokia Phones, BlackBerry smartphones, HTC, Motorola, Honeywell, Zebra, and Sonim with additional OEMs to be added soon to deliver the zero-touch experience to enterprises. The Huawei Mate 10, Sony Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact specifically will be among the first devices to support zero-touch in the coming weeks and of course, other devices from our OEM partners will launch soon.

Organizations can use software from leading enterprise mobility management providers (EMMs) including VMware AirWatch, BlackBerry, MobileIron, IBM, SOTI, GSuite and others to specify configurations and device policies that are automatically applied to employees’ mobile devices during the initial setup.

If your company already uses other enrollment methods, don't worry — you can mix enrollment methods to suit your particular needs. Samsung will continue to offer Knox Mobile Enrollment (KME) on Samsung devices, including pre-Oreo devices. Samsung devices that upgrade to, or ship with, Android Oreo will have zero-touch as an additional option. Other existing enrollment methods like QR code and NFC bump will continue to be supported across Android.

Keen to get started with zero-touch? Talk to our carrier partners who plan to offer zero-touch:


  • USA: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile

  • Europe: BT, Deutsche Telekom


  • Asia-Pacific: Softbank, Telstra


To learn more, visit our zero-touch page.

Something’s coming … “West Side Story” on Google Arts & Culture

“In the olden days, everybody sang.”


Those are the words of Leonard Bernstein, composer behind the iconic musical “West Side Story,” where everyone danced and snapped through the streets, too. Whether you’re a Jet all the way or you side with the Sharks, Tony and Maria’s love story is as poignant today as it was 60 years ago, when the Broadway musical first debuted.


In partnership with Carnegie Hall, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the Museum of the City of New York and the National Museum of American Jewish History, Google Arts & Culture is launching a new collection honoring “West Side Story.” Bringing together artifacts and mementos from the making of the musical and movie, behind-the-scenes photographs, and a peek into the modern-day representation of the musical, this collection explores the history, artistic value and social relevance of “West Side Story.” Check it out at g.co/westsidestory and on the Google Arts & Culture app (available on Android and iOS).

Headphones optimized for the Google Assistant

Your Assistant is already available to help on phones, speakers and more. But sometimes you need something a bit more personal, just for you to hear. And that’s where headphones come into play. Like when you’re commuting on the train or reading at home. It would be nice to get on-the-go help from your Assistant, without glancing at your phone.

To help with those “in between” moments, together with Bose, we’re announcing headphones that are optimized for the Assistant, starting with the QC35 II. So now, you can keep up to date on your messages, music and more—with headphones that you’ve paired with your eligible Android phone or iPhone.

To get started, connect your QC 35 II headphones to your phone via Bluetooth, open your Google Assistant app and follow the instructions. From there, your Assistant is just a button away—push (and hold) the Action button on your headphones to easily and quickly talk to your Assistant. 

  • Stay connected to what matters: Hear your incoming messages, calendar events and more, automatically, right from your headphones. So if you’re listening to your favorite song and you get a text, your Assistant can read it to you, no extra steps. 
  • Listen to music, news and more: Now it’s easier to access a playlist, skip a track or go to a new song when you’re listening to music—and the music experience will continue to get better over time. You can also keep up with news while you take walk, jump in a cab or go for a run. Just ask your Assistant to “play the news” and you’ll get a read-out of the current hot topics. You can choose from a variety of news sources, like CNBC, CNN, NPR and others. 
  • Keep in touch with friends: You can make a call with just a few simple words—“Call dad”—take the call from your headphones and continue on your way. No stopping or dialing, just talking. 

Bose

We’ve worked together with Bose to create a great Assistant experience on the QC35 II—whether you’re on a crowded street or squished on a bus, Bose’s active noise cancellation will help eliminate unwanted sounds around you, so you’re able to hear your Assistant, your music and more. The Assistant on the QC35 II will be available in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Germany, France and the U.K.

Samsung Ushers in a New Era for Digital Art with The Frame at the London Design Festival

 

Samsung Electronics today opened exhibition spaces celebrating artistry and design at the London Design Festival, one of the top three worldwide design festivals. Based on the partnership with Saatchi Art, Samsung has created ‘The Frame X Saatchi Art’ gallery to utilize The Frame, the latest lifestyle TV designed for artists, galleries and consumers alike to share and experience art in new ways. Samsung will also host a pop-up store for visitors to see the inspiration behind The Frame.

 

The Frame is designed specifically to give more purpose and meaning to the TV. Reflecting an entirely new concept and category in television, it beautifully blends into any living space while providing added value and functionality for the home. When The Frame is powered on, it delivers the premium UHD picture quality consumers have come to expect from Samsung. When it’s powered off, it transforms into a work of art – offering a new proposition for the wall and for the home.

 

“The Frame is created to push the boundary of the conventional TV which we only use when they are powered on.” said Sunghee Han, Vice President of the Visual Display Business at Samsung Electronics. “Changed to a beautiful art pieces when it’s powered off, The Frame will also be a new standard for artists and galleries to share their work through The Frame’s innovative feature ‘Art Mode’, bringing art into the consumer’s lifestyle.”

 

At the London Design Festival, ‘The Frame X Saatchi Art’ gallery showcases prominent artwork from the online art gallery, Saatchi Art, which represents thousands of extraordinary artists from all over the world. Visitors will also have the chance to interact with The Frame and learn more about the Art Store at The Frame pop-up store. Through the Art Store, The Frame creates an ecosystem that provides an opportunity for artists or galleries to share their artwork on a platform that is professionally curated to meet the tastes of any consumer.

 

 

Through Samsung’s partnership with Saatchi Art and chief curator Rebecca Wilson, the brand will also host a series of presentations at the London Design Festival, including “Vision Telling,” focusing on the intersection of art and technology, and a “Talk with Artists,” including Colin McCallum and Anna Hymas, to discuss the inspiration behind their work for The Frame.

 

The Frame is now available in 43, 55 and 65-inch models, offering consumers more choice and flexibility to customize any living space. In addition to customized art pieces from the Art Store and the Samsung Collection, consumers can utilize the My Collection feature to import and display their own art images or pictures from their personal photo libraries directly onto the screen.

 

Celebrating the London Design Festival, Samsung will provide exclusive offers to all the consumers who purchase The Frame from September 20 to October 1 in the UK. Consumers will be given a six-month free subscription to the Art Store, a choice of two TV bezels or Studio Stand and six-month interest-free option. Visitors who purchase The Frame at the festival will also receive additional offers, such as free delivery and installation of The Frame as well as a custom The Frame eco-tote bag with free catalog and postcards of beautiful artwork.

 

Samsung’s The Frame gallery and pop-up store will be open at Old Truman Brewery, Unit 7 and 11, on Drays Walk from September 21 through 25. For more information on The Frame at the London Design Festival, please visit here.

A ride to remember on World Alzheimer’s Day

Editor's note: Anne-Christine Hertz is a Swedish inventor who works at Health Technology Centre of Halland. Today, she shares a story of how the Centre used Street View to invent a device that helps elderly with Alzheimer’s.

A few weeks ago I met 75-year-old Lars Jonsson and his wife Ingrid. They married when Lars was 40 and have lived a happy, fulfilling life together. Lars also suffers from dementia.

Every three seconds someone develops dementia, a condition that creates disability and dependency among many elderly, robbing them of memory and judgment. It's not only overwhelming and stressful for those suffering, but also their loved ones. It was tough on Ingrid when her husband suddenly had trouble recalling the memories they’d spent a lifetime creating.

We met Lars and Ingrid when they came to test a device we invented to improve the lives of dementia patients. It’s called BikeAround, and it pairs a stationary bike with Google Street View projected on a big screen to take patients on a virtual ride down memory lane, letting them pedal around a place they have visited in the past. As Lars sat in the saddle, Ingrid suggested we take him back to the city and church in which they got married. Lars’s face flickered with happiness as the church rose up before him. The expression on his wife’s face when she knew for sure that he remembered was heartwarming

The development of the BikeAround system, which is now owned by health care company Camanio Care, started back in 2010 at Health Technology Center in Halland, Sweden. We were conducting research on dementia, and noticed people living with the disease were given different access to physical activity depending on which municipality they were living in. Since it’s often recommended that dementia patients perform physical activities to stimulate both physical and mental health, this was an issue. We wanted to find a way to motivate the elderly with dementia to exercise more, in a safe and secure way.

Dementia patient Bengt and his wife Laila test the BikeAround system.

Our strongest memories are tied inexorably to location. It’s no coincidence, when you think about any big memory or past event, your first thought is often “Where was I when that happened?” BikeAround taps into this idea by combining mental and physical stimulation—surrounding the patient with places they recognize through the Street View images, and then having them pedal and steer through them. Scientists think this kind of pairing produces dopamine in the brain and has the potential to affect memory management in a profound way.

Today is World Alzheimer’s Day, a time when people and organizations from all over the world concentrate their efforts on raising awareness of this disease for which there’s no cure. Researchers all over the world are trying to find new ways to increase quality of life for the people affected by the disease. The experience with Lars—and many others patients—proves we’ve developed not just a product for improving health, but something that creates emotion and connects people. Patients often find the BikeAround solution so fascinating—so comforting—they don’t want to get off. Neighborhoods they grew up in. Parks they played in as a child. Family visits to the seaside. They remember again. That’s a feeling of freedom.

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Bengt Ivarsson tests BikeAround, a stationary bike that’s paired with Google Street View to take dementia patients on a virtual ride down memory lane.

I have always looked at digitization and technology as a catalyst to open up the world not just to the tech savvy, but also to the elderly, who often live in digital exclusion. We’re excited about having found a way to bring happiness to many people living with dementia and their relatives. But what's also exciting to me is that this is just one example of how technology can be harnessed to make a real impact on people's lives. If we look beyond ourselves and unleash our imaginations, there's no limit to what we can do to help others.

Google signs agreement with HTC, continuing our big bet on hardware

About a year and a half ago, I joined Google to pursue my dream job to create compelling hardware products, built with Google’s smarts at their core. As a first step, we brought together various consumer hardware-related efforts and established a single hardware organization within the company. Our team’s goal is to offer the best Google experience—across hardware, software and services—to people around the world. Last fall, we introduced our first family of Made by Google products, including Pixel smartphones, Google Home, Google Wifi, Daydream View and Chromecast Ultra, and we’re preparing to unveil our second generation of products on October 4. We’re excited about the 2017 lineup, but even more inspired by what’s in store over the next five, 10, even 20 years. Creating beautiful products that people rely on every single day is a journey, and we are investing for the long run.

That’s why we’ve signed an agreement with HTC, a leader in consumer electronics, that will fuel even more product innovation in the years ahead. With this agreement, a team of HTC talent will join Google as part of the hardware organization. These future fellow Googlers are amazing folks we’ve already been working with closely on the Pixel smartphone line, and we're excited to see what we can do together as one team. The deal also includes a non-exclusive license for HTC intellectual property.

In many ways, this agreement is a testament to the decade-long history of teamwork between HTC and  Google. Together, we’ve achieved several mobile-industry firsts, including the first ever Android smartphone, the HTC Dream, also known as the T-Mobile G1 (I loved mine!); as well as the Nexus One in 2010, the Nexus 9 tablet in 2014, and the first Pixel smartphone just last year.

It’s still early days for Google’s hardware business. We’re focused on building our core capabilities, while creating a portfolio of products that offers people a unique yet delightful experience only made possible by bringing together the best of Google software—like the Google Assistant—with thoughtfully designed hardware. HTC has been a longtime partner and has created some of the most beautiful, high-end devices on the market. We can't wait to welcome members of the HTC team to join us on this journey.

Working together to combat terrorists online

Editor’s note: This is a revised and abbreviated version of a speech Kent delivered today at the United Nations in New York City, NY, on behalf of the members of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism.

The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism is a group of four technology companies—Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube—that are committed to working together and with governments and civil society to address the problem of online terrorist content.

For our companies, terrorism isn’t just a business concern or a technical challenge. These are deeply personal threats. We are citizens of London, Paris, Jakarta, and New York. And in the wake of each terrorist attack we too frantically check in on our families and co-workers to make sure they are safe. We’ve all had to do this far too often.

The products that our companies build lower barriers to innovation and empower billions of people around the world. But we recognize that the internet and other tools have also been abused by terrorists in their efforts to recruit, fundraise, and organize. And we are committed to doing everything in our power to ensure that our platforms aren't used to distribute terrorist material.

The Forum’s efforts are focused on three areas: leveraging technology, conducting research on patterns of radicalization and misuse of online platforms, and sharing best practices to accelerate our joint efforts against dangerous radicalization. Let me say more about each pillar.

First, when it comes to technology, you should know that our companies are putting our best talent and technology against the task of getting terrorist content off our services. There is no silver bullet when it comes to finding and removing this content, but we’re getting much better.

One early success in collaboration has been our “hash sharing” database, which allows a company that discovers terrorist content on one of their sites to create a digital fingerprint and share it with the other companies in the coalition, who can then more easily detect and review similar content for removal.  

We have to deal with these problems at tremendous scale. The haystacks are unimaginably large and the needles are both very small and constantly changing. People upload over 400 hours of content to YouTube every minute. Our software engineers have spent years developing technology that can spot certain telltale cues and markers. In recent months we have more than doubled the number of videos we've removed for violent extremism and have located these videos twice as fast. And what’s more, 75 percent of the violent extremism videos we’ve removed in recent months were found using technology before they received a single human flag.

These efforts are working. Between August 2015 and June 2017, Twitter suspended more than 935,000 accounts for the promotion of terrorism. During the first half of 2017, over 95 percent of the accounts it removed were detected using its in-house technology. Facebook is using new advances in artificial intelligence to root out "terrorist clusters" by mapping out the pages, posts, and profiles with terrorist material and then shutting them down.

Despite this recent progress, machines are simply not at the stage where they can replace human judgment. For example, portions of a terrorist video in a news broadcast might be entirely legitimate, but a computer program will have difficulty distinguishing documentary coverage from incitement.  

The Forum’s second pillar is focused on conducting and sharing research about how terrorists use the internet to influence their audiences so that we can stay one step ahead.

Today, the members of the Forum are pleased to announce that we are making a multi-million dollar commitment to support research on terrorist abuse of the internet and how governments, tech companies, and civil society can fight back against online radicalization.

The Forum has also set a goal of working with 50 smaller tech companies to help them better tackle terrorist content on their platforms. On Monday, we hosted dozens of companies for a workshop with our partners under the UN Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate. There will be a workshop in Brussels in December and another in Indonesia in the coming months. And we are also working to expand the hash-sharing database to smaller companies.

The Forum’s final pillar is working together to find powerful messages and avenues to reach out to those at greatest risk of radicalization.

Members of the forum are doing a better job of sharing breakthroughs with each other. One success we’ve seen is with the Redirect Method developed at Alphabet’s Jigsaw group. Redirect uses targeted advertising to reach people searching for terrorist content and presents videos that undermine extremist recruiting efforts. During a recent eight-week study more than 300,000 users clicked on our targeted ads and watched more than 500,000 minutes of video. This past April, Microsoft started a similar program on Bing. And Jigsaw and Bing are now exploring a partnership to share best practices and expertise.

At the same time, we’re elevating the voices that are most credible in speaking out against terrorism, hate, and violence. YouTube’s Creators for Change program highlights online stars taking a stand against xenophobia and extremism.  And Facebook's P2P program has brought together more than 5,000 students from 68 countries to create campaigns to combat hate speech. And together the companies have participated in hundreds of meetings and trainings to counter violent extremism including events in Beirut, Bosnia, and Brussels and summits at the White House, here at the United Nations, London, and Sydney to empower credible non-governmental voices against violent extremism.

There is no magic computer program that will eliminate online terrorist content, but we are committed to working with everyone in this room as we continue to ramp up our own efforts to stop terrorists’ abuse of our services. This forum is an important step in the right direction. We look forward to working with national and local governments, and civil society, to prevent extremist ideology from spreading in communities and online.

More mobile threats, better mobile security

Mobile threats are on the rise, and hopefully you have not already been infected. A recent study by Avast reveals a 40% increase in cyberattacks targeting Android smartphones and tablets this year. Last year’s average was 1.2 million of these attacks per month. This year, that number has jumped to 1.7 million per month. In response to this increased danger, we have fortified the AVG Antivirus Mobile app with increased security.  

The problem

Tracking an average of 788 virus variations per month, researchers have found the top three mobile threats to be:

  1. Rooters (23%) — Rooters use exploits to obtain root access to your smartphone, gaining control of the device to spy on you and steal personal information.
  2. Downloaders & Droppers (23%) — Downloaders and droppers use social engineering tactics to trick you into installing more malicious apps. Droppers also typically show full-screen ads, even outside of the app itself. These ads are not just annoying, but are often linked to suspicious sites as well.
  3. Fake apps (7%) — These are illegitimate apps posing as real ones in order to drive downloads and expose you to advertisements.


The solution

Introducing AVG Antivirus Mobile 6.5, our updated app that provides enhanced protection against theft, unwanted calls, and privacy intrusion, with plenty of new next-gen cybersecurity features, including:

  • Anti-Theft Features—Users can control the app online, activate a siren if the phone has been stolen, remotely adjust settings, and set custom screen messages.
  • Call Blocker—Users have the option to block, or send directly to voicemail, any callers from stored, unknown, or hidden numbers.
  • App Permissions—Users can see the permissions granted to each app installed on their phone, and what information each one can access.
  • Wi-Fi Speed Test—Users can check the download and upload speed of their Wi-Fi network.
  • Safe Clean—Cleans residual data and caches in order to improve smartphone speed and performance.
  • Modernized design—Our redesigned user experience makes the app easier to use than ever before.

AVG uses the same mobile threat detection engine as Avast Mobile Security, which was awarded the best detection score and best usability score by independent testing organization AV-Test. Update your existing AVG app or download it for the first time and experience the benefits of next-gen cybersecurity.

Best Practices: Creating Art Assets for VR

Editor's Note: This is a design-focused post for anyone interested in creating art assets for virtual reality.

As a VR and AR artist, I’ve noticed two trends. First, new tools and practices that can make us better artists are appearing all the time. But also, techniques and skills from the late 90’s and early 00’s are making a comeback, and they apply to virtual reality because computing resources in VR are limited. If you’re just starting out, there’s a lot to consider. So if you’re an artist and you’re new to VR, here are some of my favorite tips for creating great assets.

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  • Never drop a frame. You need to keep your frame rate as high as possible, because the lower it goes, the greater the chance of discomfort and motion sickness due to conflicts between your inner ear and your visual inputs. One technique to keep your frame rate high is to create levels of detail (LODs). A character with 10,000 polygons only needs such a high resolution really close up. At further distances, you could swap in a 5,000 poly version, and then even lower poly models as the distance increases, all the way to a single polygon (LOD 4 in the diagram below). This will help with performance, and it works especially well for large groups of background characters that are always seen at a distance.

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  • Be aware of the textures you’re using. Busy, noisy and contrasting textures can be nauseating in VR, as they tend to cause a jittering look. However, flat textures with no detail can pose problems as well, because without texture it’s hard to measure motion or depth. Although extremes can work in non-VR experiences, avoid them in VR. 

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LeafRight

  • How it looks in VR is what matters. When designing assets in 2D, be sure to constantly check and see what it looks like in VR.  It can be cumbersome to jump back and forth, but your perspective will be different: volume and size are extremely present in VR. Putting that tree on a hill may look like a fine distance to cover when you’re designing in 2D, but once you’re in VR and comparing distances, it might not work at all.

Cave

  • Make exploration fun, not hard. Exploration should be fun and available, but in VR you really want to clearly point out where to go. Create a visual language, like having orange torches near the proper dungeon exit, or street lights in a zombie apocalypse. These are subtle yet important indicators, because it’s very easy to become lost in VR.

Hopefully, these tips will be useful as you get started creating art in VR. We’re all on the edge of a new frontier, and because of that, we’re learning all the time. It’s great. What are some of your favorite tips and tricks? Let’s get a conversation going; use #VRArtTips to share.

Project Fi welcomes Android One, with the moto x4

With Project Fi, we set out to make your wireless experience fast, easy and fair—with access to three national 4G LTE networks, and international roaming at no extra cost. But many of you have asked us for more options for high quality, affordable devices that work with Project Fi. We've heard you and we're excited to launch our newest phone for Project Fi: the Android One moto x4.

We took some important steps with Android One earlier this month by expanding the program to bring a fresh, secure software experience designed by Google to more high-quality devices no matter the price point. The launch of Android One moto x4 on Project Fi is the next step in our commitment to work with more partners and expand Android One to new places.



Packed with a pure Android experience, advanced hardware and great network connectivity, here’s a closer look at what you’ll get with the new Android One moto x4.

Best-in-class software experience designed by Google

Like all Android One phones, Android One moto x4 runs a pure Android experience, with a clean software design and a carefully curated set of preinstalled apps to give you just what you need. For example, it comes optimized for the Google Assistant to help you get more done, and offers high-quality video calling with Google Duo. You’ll also get access to the latest updates from Android, such as Android Oreo before the end of the year. Android One moto x4 will be among the first to receive an upgrade to Android P.


Powerful cameras and unlimited high-quality photo storage

The Android One moto x4 comes with three cameras. A 12MP + 8MP dual rear camera system lets you capture wide-angle photos and detailed portraits. The front-facing camera comes packed with 16MP and an adaptive low light mode. And with free high quality storage from Google Photos, you never have to worry about running out of space.


All day battery and ultra-fast charging

Power through the day and enjoy your favorite Android software features like battery saver. When you need to recharge, TurboPower™ charging makes it ultra fast: You can get up to six hours of power in just 15 minutes.


Top of the line security

The Android One moto x4 will receive timely security updates and built-in malware protection from Google Play Protect, working around the clock to keep your device, data and apps safe.


The Android One moto x4 is priced at $399, comes in Super Black and Sterling Blue, and is available only in the U.S. on Project Fi’s network. You can pre-order it on the Project Fi website starting today. If you've got an older Nexus phone and want to trade it in for a new device, we're making it easier than ever with our new trade-in program. We’ll give you up to $165 for select Nexus devices, and if you start your trade-in for an Android One moto xby October 5, you’ll earn an extra $50 Fi credit.

Hector Mujica on “showing grace to those in the margins” and his social impact work at Google

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re celebrating the fascinating stories and important contributions of our Hispanic Googlers—their histories, their families, and what keeps them busy inside and outside of work. 

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Any Venezuelan football fans out there? Here I am showing some love for "Vino Tinto."

Next up is Hector Mujica, social justice champion, enthusiast of the outdoors, and self-proclaimed acronym inventor (SPAI).

Give us the 10-second, one-sentence version of what you do at Google.

I work on Google.org, Google’s philanthropy team, where I manage our programs across Latin America, and support our disaster relief giving and volunteering work globally.

When did you (or generations before you) immigrate to the U.S.?

My family immigrated to the U.S. from Venezuela when I was a young child, after my dad landed a job at Oracle in Miami. Of all the places to start in America, South Florida must be one of the best—with the rich cultural diversity and ample Latin food, it made the transition smooth, and kept me close to my Hispanic heritage.

How are you involved in the Hispanic community at Google, and why is it important to you?

I worked closely on the founding of HOLA, our Hispanic employee resource group (ERG). Through HOLA, I’ve gotten to meet many of our Latino Googlers over the years—all of whom continue to amaze me with their stories, talents, and passions to make this company, and the world, a better, more equitable place. The Hispanic community is vital to Google because it brings in people who might otherwise feel like cultural strangers and tells them, “come as you are—you belong.”

The Hispanic community is vital to Google because it brings in people who might otherwise feel like cultural strangers and tells them, “come as you are—you belong.”

How did you find your way to Google? Have you always pictured yourself working here?

I actually never had ambitions to work in tech or at Google. While in my junior year of undergrad at Florida International University, I looked for internships around the country, and was intrigued by working at company that was breaking all the established norms in corporate America. I applied to Google’s BOLD internship program, thinking it was a long shot, and after a few interviews, I found myself living out the coldest summer of my life in San Francisco, interning at Google on the People Operations team. I fell in love with Northern California and Google, and anxiously awaited the opportunities that lay ahead.

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Day one of my BOLD internship at Google in 2010, before I learned that dress shirts and ties are not part of the dress code at Google.

Who has been the most influential person in your life?

My dad’s hustle, grit, passion and optimism have taught me much about life and the world. As a first-generation immigrant, he taught me about risk-taking and tenacity. As a man of faith, he’s taught me about unapologetically straying true to my convictions. As a family man, he’s been a caretaker and steward of not only his nuclear family, but—like a good Latino—his extended family as well. He’s always balanced family life with the needs of the community. Whether it meant taking immigrant families into our home while they got on their feet, working with the homeless to help them rehabilitate, or volunteering to feed the needy at nearby shelters, my dad never turned down a chance show grace to those in the margins. These experiences shaped my worldview and gave me sense of social justice and altruism, which continues to influence the work I do today at Google.org.

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Sunrise on top of the world, at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Climbing mountains is tough, but the summit is always worth it.

How do you spend your time outside of work?

Outdoors. Or traveling to experience the outdoors in the rest of the world. I’ve always been in awe of nature. Oceans and mountains both scare me and inspire me. Whenever I have a chance to see the natural world from a new angle, I usually take it. That wanderlust has taken me to nearly every continent (Antarctica, I’m coming for you!), 51 countries, and from the deepest depths (I’m a scuba diver) to some of the highest highs (just did Kilimanjaro last year!).

What career advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

Invest wisely in people and moments. The networks of people around you will help shape your perspectives, career and open doors to new opportunities ... and when these opportunities present themselves, capitalize on the moments. They will teach you more than any classroom can.

What has been a big moment for you at Google?

I’ve had many Google “magic moments,” but the one that comes to mind was Googlers’ collective reaction to the travel ban earlier this year. Within days of the ban, Googlers organized a demonstration and showed up in full force, with messages of encouragement and enthusiasm during grim times. My team and I assembled a $4 million crisis fund to support key organizations that were leading the way in fighting injustice and intolerance. This moment reinforced in me the power of unity and comradery at Google, and within immigrant communities, who bring their best selves to this great country of ours.

As a Venezuelan-American that has benefited from ample opportunity, I am compelled to give back to my community. That’s why I’m so thankful of the opportunity I have at Google.org to invest in a better, most just, and more equitable world, for everyone.

Addressing the UK NCSC’s Cloud Security Principles

As your organization adopts more cloud services, it's essential to get a clear picture of how sensitive data will be protected. Many authorities, from government regulators, to industry standards bodies and consortia, have provided guidance on how to evaluate cloud security. Notably, the UK National Cyber Security Centre offers a framework built around 14 Cloud Security Principles, and we recently updated our response detailing how we address these principles for both Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and G Suite. Google Cloud customers in the UK public sector can use the response to assess the suitability of these Google Cloud products to host their data with sensitivity levels up to “OFFICIAL,” including “OFFICIAL SENSITIVE.”

The UK National Cyber Security Centre was set up to improve the underlying security of the UK internet and to protect critical services from cyber attacks. Its 14 Cloud Security Principles are expansive and thorough, and include such important considerations as data in-transit protection, supply chain security, identity and authentication and secure use of the service.

The 14 NCSC Cloud Security Principles allow service providers like Google Cloud to highlight the security benefits of our products and services in an easily consumable format. Our response provides details about how GCP and G Suite satisfy the recommendations built into each of the principles, and describes the specific best practices, services and certifications that help us address the goals of each recommendation.

The NCSC also provides detailed ChromeOS deployment guidance to help organizations follow its 12 End User Device Security Principles. With an end-to-end solution encompassing GCP, applications and connected devices, Google Cloud provides the appropriate tools and functionality to allow you to adhere to the NCSC’s stringent security guidelines in letter and spirit.

Our response comes on the heels of GCP opening a new region in London, which allows GCP customers in the UK to improve the latency of their applications.

We look forward to working with all manner of UK customers, regulated and otherwise, as we build out a more secure, intelligent, collaborative and open cloud.

Samsung and Open Networking Foundation (ONF) Host ONOS BUILD 2017 to Unleash Software-Defined Next-Generation Network

Samsung Electronics and the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) together will host the ONOS™(Open Network Operating System) BUILD 2017 conference to be held at Samsung R&D Center in Seoul, Korea, from September 20 to September 22. ONOS BUILD is a large-scale developer conference where industry experts gather to share, discuss and hack together to build next-generation Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) solutions using the Open Network Operating System (ONOS). ONOS is an open source SDN network operating system designed for assuring carrier-grade solutions.

 

As the second ONOS BUILD following the first in France last year, there will be over 300 participants across the industry, ranging from open source developers and contributors from the academic community to operators and vendors. The annual event will consist of ONOS roadmap, Central Office Re-architected as a Data Center (CORD™) as an ONOS use case, a community showcase and Hackathon.

 

In line with the telecommunications industry’s growing awareness and perception of open source, this year’s event is expected to act as a catalyst that will foster the commercialization of carrier-grade SDN in the global telecommunications market. This is a significant leap from last year’s inaugural event which was organized with the aim of establishing a strong initial foundation for SDN technology.

 

“The innovation for next-generation will be unleashed by open source communities, and I am confident that ONOS is a key integral part in paving the way for the software-defined architecture,” said Sohyong Chong, Vice President of Virtualization Platform Lab at Samsung Electronics. “Samsung is excited to contribute and connect developers who are fueling innovation to make new visionary challenges into real SDN networks.”

 

“Since joining the ONOS project in 2016, Samsung has been actively contributing to the development of each release and is working closely with the community to help develop commercial level SDN solutions.” said Guru Parulkar, Executive Director of the ONF. “We are thrilled they volunteered to host this year’s ONOS Build, bring together a large community of developers who have extensive experience working on SDN. Those gathering this week share a keen interest in driving forward the ONOS SDN Controller and associated projects that rely on ONOS. This global effort will help further the work of the ONF and the broad impact we are having on the networking industry.”

 

Samsung has been involved in the commercialization of virtualized products in cooperation with leading Korean operators and actively working towards the expansion of virtualized solutions such as fully-automated network slicing solution. Samsung plans to hold multiple trials beginning from the end of 2017. More details on the event are available at http://onosbuild.org/.

 

About ONF

The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) is an operator led consortium spearheading disruptive network transformation. Now the recognized leader for open source solutions for operators, the ONF first launched in 2011 as the standard bearer for Software Defined Networking (SDN). Led by its operator partners AT&T, China Unicom, Comcast, Deutsche Telekom, Google, NTT Communications, Turk Telekom and Verizon, the ONF has now merged operations with ON.Lab to create a single organization driving vast transformation across the operator space. For further information, visit http://www.opennetworking.org/.

Why we should develop “circular cities” and how Google technology can help

The process of digging up materials, turning those materials into a product, and shipping it to an “end user” (who eventually tosses it in the trash) is called the “linear” economy, and it’s depleting our world of resources faster than they can be replenished. We need to ditch this old model and move to a “circular” economy. Instead of using raw resources (think timber and ore) to create new products, the circular economy keeps materials in circulation for multiple uses, whether they are maintained, reused, refurbished, or recycled.

Today, 54 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas accounting for 75 percent of natural resource consumption, 50 percent of global waste production, and 60-80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. So, the concept of the circular economy is especially relevant in cities.

Digital technology helps city leaders and citizens gather, refine, and analyze data to create cities that are circular by design. Today we published a white paper with our partners at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation that explores how digital technology and a few of Google’s existing efforts can enable more circular cities. Google has captured insights across cities, from the quality of the air people breathe to the amount of solar power people could put on their roof at home. Google Cloud Platform allows for global-scale data sharing and provides the foundation for collaborative projects between public and private organizations, such as the Waze Connected Citizens Program.

Along with Arup and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, we’re also exploring how to build circular cities through a joint project called the Circularity Lab. Located in both the Bay Area and New York City, the Lab will raise awareness about circularity in the built environment and create a space where people can see how it could positively impact their lives and communities.

The circular economy model, enriched with technology, is a powerful and potentially highly productive combination. We’re excited to continue exploring these opportunities.

Supporting new ideas in the fight against hate

Addressing the threat posed by violence and hate is a critical challenge for us all. Google has taken steps to tackle violent extremist content online—putting our best talent and technology to the task, and partnering with law enforcement agencies, civil society groups, and the wider technology industry. We can’t do it alone, but we’re making progress.

Our efforts to disrupt terrorists’ ability to use the Internet focus on three areas: leveraging technology, conducting and sharing research, and sharing best practices and encouraging affirmative efforts against dangerous radicalization. Today we’re announcing a new effort to build on that third pillar. Over the last year we’ve made $2 million in grants to nonprofits around the world seeking to empower and amplify counter-extremist voices. Today we’re expanding that effort and launching a $5 million Google.org innovation fund to counter hate and extremism. Over the next two years, this funding will support technology-driven solutions, as well as grassroots efforts like community youth projects that help build communities and promote resistance to radicalization.

We’re making our first grant from the fund to the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), an expert counter-extremist organization in the U.K. ISD will use our $1.3 million grant to help leaders from the U.K.’s technology, academic, and charity sectors develop projects to counter extremism. This will be the largest project of its kind outside of government and aims to produce innovative, effective and data-driven solutions that can undermine and overcome radicalization propaganda. We’ll provide an update in the coming months with more information on how to apply.

By funding experts like ISD, we hope to support sustainable solutions to extremism both online and offline. We don’t have all the answers, but we’re committed to playing our part. We’re looking forward to helping bring new ideas and technologies to life.

Samsung Opens its Smart Schools in the Zaatari Refugee Camp

In response to the needs of children around the world to access high quality digital education, Samsung Electronics Levant has partnered with Relief International to open two smart schools for Syrian students in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.

 

 

While a considerable proportion of the students at the refugee camp attend schools established by the Jordanian government, there are many who receive no formal schooling. The situation of these out-of-school children strikes at the heart of Samsung’s goals to provide equal opportunities in education to underserved communities and easier access to information and technology.

 

Equipped with cutting-edge technology, the smart schools offer students an engaging and creative approach to learning. The interactive learning environments give students the chance to learn about a variety of technology-related topics which will help them unleash their potential and creativity, including modern languages, social media, photography, filmmaking, art and painting.

 

 

The two smart schools are housed within Makani centers, which offer alternative education opportunities to those aged between 5 and 24. Founded by UNICEF, Makani centers emphasize a holistic approach for Syrian children and youths who have struggled with formal education in Jordan, offering learning opportunities, psychosocial support services and life skills training. By reengaging students in their education, Makani centers can provide a bridge back to formal education.

 

Changsup Lee, Samsung Electronics Levant President remarked, “We have a duty as part of the local community to help improve access to education in the Zaatari Camp. Though considerable effort has already been made to improve education in the Zaatari Camp, there is more work to be done and we are excited for the partnership with Relief International. These fully equipped smart schools will provide them with an engaging educational environment, allowing them to develop valuable life skills, which will ultimately broaden their knowledge and understanding.”

 

“At Samsung, we believe in what technology can achieve. Technology is a source of inspiration for those kids who need to build a brighter future. The ability to innovate is a valuable tool in building a normal life and will prepare them for a better, more hopeful future.”

 

 

“We have already seen children who were disinterested in formal schooling become highly engaged in creative and meaningful projects. Based on that enthusiasm, many have found the desire to further their formal schooling as well, realizing that gives them tools to achieve their dreams,” noted Nancy Wilson, CEO of Relief International. “These smart schools will provide very powerful tools for them to be creative in more ways, increase their collaboration and strive for even bigger dreams. We are proud to be partnering with Samsung on this leadership initiative.”

 

Established in 2013, Samsung’s Smart School program equips classrooms in underserved communities with cutting-edge educational tools – such as PCs, tablets and electronic blackboards – to create interactive learning environments that allow students to truly thrive. As of this writing, a total of over 3,000 Smart Schools are up and running in over 90 countries around the globe.

Two new white papers examine enterprise web browser security

Online security has never been more critical to businesses, and the tools used to access the web are a major factor to evaluate. Choosing an enterprise-grade web browser that offers the right security features keeps businesses’ data protected while enabling employees to take advantage of the open web. But knowing which browser to choose often requires a deep  understanding of security design and implementation tradeoffs that enterprise IT decision makers don’t have the time or resources to fully identify and investigate. Furthermore, well-researched, independently-verifiable data on enterprise browser security is in short supply. And in its absence, many IT administrators resort to guesswork and experimentation in their decision-making.

This complex landscape of enterprise browser security is the topic of two white papers recently published from security engineering firms X41 D-Sec GmbH and Cure53. Both firms have extensive industry experience and expertise in information security, application security, web application security and vulnerability discovery. These two papers leverage that expertise to examine the relative security strengths of the three most popular enterprise browsers: Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE).



We sponsored this research, which was conducted independently by the research firms, to help enterprise IT administrators evaluate which browser best fits their security and functionality needs. To be most useful for enterprises and the public, Cure53 and X41 performed their research and testing using only publicly available information, and clearly documented their comparison methodologies. This enables anyone to recreate their tests, validate their methodologies, and verify their conclusions.

Although Cure53 and X41 produced these white papers in isolation from each other, both came to similar conclusions when it came to enterprise browser security. Here are their findings in a few key areas:


Phishing and malware protection is critical to staying safe on the web.

The prevalence of phishing to steal credentials and deliver malicious payloads makes protection more critical than ever. X41 found that Safe Browsing on Chrome and SmartScreen on Edge and IE offered similar protection, with Safe Browsing performing more accurately than SmartScreen in some test results.


Isolating application components through sandboxing reduces risk.

Sandboxing isolated application components from one another, and from the rest of the system, limits the potential impact of vulnerabilities. Cure53 and X41 both found that Chrome renderers have significantly less access to the operating system than Edge or IE, including revoking access to win32k system calls in Chrome renderers and plug-in processes. Cure53 and X41 also found that Chrome has more types of sandboxed processes, for finer-grained privilege separation. Edge uses out-of-process JavaScript compilation, enabling Edge content processes to drop the privilege to create executable memory.


Modern browsers that eliminate legacy functionality are more secure.

Browser Helper Objects (BHOs) and plug-ins like ActiveX have been a go-to choice for client-side attacks. Cure53 and X41 found that Chrome and Edge do not support these vulnerable technologies. IE supports both, making it more susceptible to attack than either Edge or Chrome. Additionally, Cure53 and X41 found that IE is still vulnerable to attacks via signed Java Applets, and more susceptible to malicious Flash content. While Chrome and Edge can both be configured to fall back to IE to support legacy compatibility, administrators can exert more control over Chrome’s fallback mechanism.

Web security is one of Google’s primary concerns, and has been a guiding principle for Chrome since day one. We’re pleased that these papers independently confirm significant improvements in the enterprise browser security landscape overall. We think strong security safeguards, regardless of which browser you choose, make the web better, and safer, for everyone. We hope these white papers can help you find the right solution for your business.

Take a read through the white papers linked above to learn more about their findings. If you’d like to take a deeper look at the security controls available in Chrome or download the Chrome enterprise bundle, visit the Chrome enterprise website.

Google Play Billing Library 1.0 released

Posted by Neto Marin, Developer Advocate

In June we announced the developer preview for a new Google Play Billing Library. Today, we are pleased to announce the official release of the Play Billing Library 1.0. This library simplifies the development process for Google Play Billing, allowing you to focus your efforts on your app.

Thank you for your valuable feedback and suggestions that helped us reach the 1.0 release. Watch the video below for a quick overview of the library's features.

Before you start

With Play Billing, you can receive payments from users around the world via a payment system they trust and you can take advantage of features and reports in the Play Console to manage and earn more revenue.

If you have never implemented in-app billing in your apps, or you want to know what you can offer using Play Billing Library, read the In-app Billing Overview to familiarize yourself with concepts and terminology that make it easier for you to implement In-app Billing using the Play Billing Library.

Getting started

Play Billing Library is available through Maven repository, and adding Play Billing Library to your project is simple as adding the following dependency into your app's build.gradle file:

dependencies {
    ...
    compile 'com.android.billingclient:billing:1.0'
}

The Play Billing Library 1.0 automatically adds the com.android.vending.BILLING permission to your APK. This means you no longer need to manually include it in your application module's manifest.

BillingClient and PurchasesUpdatedListener

These classes are the most important pieces when integrating the library into your Android app. The BillingClient is the bridge between your app and Google Play. You will use it for listing available products, starting the billing flow for in-app products or subscriptions (i.e. opening the payment interface), getting user purchases, and creating or modifying subscriptions.

When creating your BillingClient instance, you'll need to set a PurchasesUpdatedListener. This allows your app to receive updates from the In-app Billing API, including transaction results after the billing flow, as well as purchases completed outside of your app, e.g. user redeemed a Promo Code or bought a product on another device.

The following code demonstrates how you could override the )">onPurchasesUpdated() method of your PurchasesUpdatedListener:

@Override
void onPurchasesUpdated(@BillingResponse int responseCode,
        List<Purchase> purchases) {
    if (responseCode == BillingResponse.OK
            && purchases != null) {
        for (Purchase purchase : purchases) {
            handlePurchase(purchase);
        }
    } else if (responseCode == BillingResponse.USER_CANCELED) {
        // Handle an error caused by a user canceling the purchase flow.
    } else {
        // Handle any other error codes.
    }
}

You can implement the PurchasesUpdatedListener in your Activity or in any other class you want, according to your app's architecture. And here's the code for creating the BillingClient instance, and setting the PurchasesUpdatedListener:

mBillingClient = BillingClient.newBuilder(mContext)
                              .setListener(mPurchasesUpdatedListener)
                              .build();

Listing and selling products

To sell products in your app, first, you need to add them using the Play Console. For more details about how to add in-app products see the page Administering In-app Billing.

Attention: If this is a brand new app, before adding the products you must publish it to the alpha or beta distribution channel. For more information, see Draft Apps are No Longer Supported.

To get a list of product details with prices for current user, call , com.android.billingclient.api.SkuDetailsResponseListener)">querySkuDetailsAsync(). You must also specify a listener which implements the SkuDetailsResponseListener interface. You can then override the onSkuDetailsResponse() method which notifies the listener when the query finishes, as illustrated by the following sample code:

List<String> skuList = new ArrayList<> ();
skuList.add("premiumUpgrade");
skuList.add("gas");
SkuDetailsParams.Builder params = SkuDetailsParams.newBuilder();
params.setSkusList(skuList).setType(SkuType.INAPP);
mBillingClient.querySkuDetailsAsync(params.build(),
    new SkuDetailsResponseListener() {
        @Override
        public void onSkuDetailsResponse(SkuDetailsResult result) {
            // Process the result.
        }
    })

After the user chooses a product to buy, you'll need to start the billing flow and handle the transaction result. To start a purchase request from your app, call the launchBillingFlow() method on the Play Billing Library client. You must call the launchBillingFlow() method (and all the other methods from BillingClient) from the UI thread.

The launchBillingFlow() method needs BillingFlowParams object that contains relevant data for completing the purchase, such as the product ID of the item to purchase and the product type (in this case, SkuType.INAPP). To get an instance of BillingFlowParams, construct it with newBuilder() method:

BillingFlowParams.Builder builder = BillingFlowParams
                                       .newBuilder()
                                       .setSku(skuId).setType(SkuType.INAPP);
int responseCode = mBillingClient.launchBillingFlow(builder.build());

As we mentioned earlier, the transaction result will be sent to the )">onPurchasesUpdated() method. For details how to process the data received on )">onPurchasesUpdated() and how to handle a purchase, check the section Purchase an item in our training guide.

Consuming products

By default, all in-app products are managed. It means that Google Play tracks the product ownership and doesn't allow to buy multiple times. To be able to buy a product again, you must consume the product before it becomes available again.

It's common to implement consumption for in-app products which users may want to purchase multiple times, such as in-game currency or equipment. You typically don't want to implement consumption for in-app products that user purchases once and provide a permanent effect, such as a premium upgrade.

To consume a product, call the consumeAsync() method on the Play Billing Library client and pass in the purchaseToken String value returned when you made the purchase. The consumption result is returned via onConsumeResponse() method of the ConsumeResponseListener interface, that you must override to handle the consumption result.

The following example illustrates consuming a product using the associated purchaseToken:

ConsumeResponseListener listener = new ConsumeResponseListener() {
    @Override
    public void onConsumeResponse(@BillingResponse int responseCode, 
                                  String outToken) {
        if (responseCode == BillingResponse.OK) {
            // Handle the success of the consume operation.
            // For example, increase the number of player's coins,
            // that provide temporary benefits
        }
    }
};
mBillingClient.consumeAsync(purchaseToken, listener);

Sample updated: Trivial Drive V2

With a new library comes a refreshed sample! To help you to understand how to implement in-app billing in your app using the new Play Billing Library, we've rewritten the Trivial Drive sample from the ground up.

Since we released Trivial Drive back in 2013, many new features, devices, and platforms have been added to the Android ecosystem. To reflect this evolution, the Trivial Drive v2 sample now runs on Android TV and Android Wear.

What's next?

Before integrating within your app, you can try the Play Billing Library with the codelab published during Google I/O 2017: Buy and Subscribe: Monetize your app on Google Play.

In this codelab, you will start with a simplified version of Trivial Drive V2 that lets users to "drive" and then you will add in-app billing to it. You'll learn how to integrate purchases and subscriptions as well as the best practices for developing reliable apps that handle purchases.

Get more info on the Play Billing Library and the official reference for classes and methods documentation on the Android Developers website. For a step-by-step guide to implementing the Play Billing Library in your project, visit the library's training class.

For more details about the Play Billing Library 1.0 release, check out the Releases Notes page, where you can find updates, bug fixes and behavior changes on the library since the Developer Preview release.

We still want your feedback

If you have issues or questions, file a bug report on the Google Issue Tracker, and for issues and suggestions on the sample (like a bug or a new feature), contact us on the Trivial Drive issues page.

For technical questions on implementation, library usage, and best practices, you can use the tags google-play and play-billing-library on StackOverflow or visit the communities on our Google+ page.

[Interview] How Samsung “Unpacked” the Galaxy Note8

At Galaxy Unpacked 2017, Samsung Electronics demonstrated – on a very big stage with even bigger effects – how the Galaxy Note8, its newest flagship smartphone, is designed for people who have big dreams. Held in New York on August 23, the event was well received by both the media who were in attendance as well as viewers who tuned into the event livestream all around the world.

 

 

Josh Kim, Daeun Alison Han and Heesung Lee, members of the Global Brand Marketing Group of Samsung Electronics’ Mobile Communications Business, discuss what it took to put the large-scale event together, as well as some of their favorite Unpacked moments.

 

 

Q. What was the main focus of the Galaxy Note8 Unpacked event?

 

Kim: This Unpacked event was all about celebrating the return of the Note and showing our appreciation for Note fans. In fact, we invited 100 Note fans to the event. DJ Koh began his opening keynote address by expressing his gratitude for Note fans and their continued support during the past year. One fan was brought up on stage during the Galaxy Note8 camera demonstration, while others were featured in a video at the end of the event. Being able to make our fans a central part of the event made it all the more special.

 

 

 

Q. The fan video played at the beginning of the show was especially moving. Can you tell us a little more about it?

 

Han : We learned a lot from the Galaxy Note7 incident, including how loyal our Note users are. The faith that our Note fans demonstrated for our product was what kept us going in this journey.

 

We wanted to express our gratitude to these fans, and after receiving their permission, compiled many of their comments to create our Note fan video to convey that message. The process of gaining permission from each and every one of them was not easy, but after posting the video, we received a lot of positive feedback regarding Samsung’s sincere attitude. This was a great source of encouragement for myself and the team. 

 

 

 

Q. Both the media and viewers who tuned into the Unpacked livestream were particularly impressed by the stage. What was the idea behind its design?

 

Kim: We wanted to present a launch event that was just as innovative as the Galaxy Note8 itself. So, we installed two floor-to-ceiling screens and one that stretched across the floor to create a box-like stage. Utilizing special 3D effects, we were able to create the illusion that the stage was “unpacked” at the moment of the product unveiling. In a similar way, we were able to make a number of giant S Pens appear as if they were standing three-dimensional objects. It was our first time attempting this.

 

 

For spectators to get the full effect, the location of the livestreaming cameras had to be just right, and this took a bit of trial and error. Those who watched the livestream gave us great feedback – it was even better than I expected!

 

 

Q. What elements do you consider when deciding on an Unpacked venue? Why did you choose the Park Avenue Armory for this event?

 

Kim: The two most important factors to consider when selecting a venue for an event like Unpacked are seat capacity and space for a stage. It should also be iconic. The Park Avenue Armory ticks all the boxes. It’s a beautiful venue. It’s widely known. And it had enough open space for us to realize the design that we wanted. Conversely, other venues with fixed stages would have limited us in terms of stage design.

 

 

Q. The venue’s entrance hall was decorated with a number of Samsung’s The Frame TVs, which displayed stunning S Pen-created artworks. Is there a reason why you incorporated another Samsung product into the event?

 

Kim: When deciding on the décor for the event, we contemplated how we could cultivate a refined atmosphere that harmonized with the Armory’s classic ambience. We determined that The Frame TV would be the most suitable medium for displaying our content, which is why we collaborated with Samsung’s Visual Display Business. It turns out it was a fantastic choice!

 

 

 

Q. Are there any particularly memorable moments that stick out from this year’s Galaxy Note8 launch?

 

Kim: At the end of the main event, the Galaxy Note8 and New York cityscape remained displayed on the stage screens. We had anticipated that attendees would immediately head to the experience zone after leaving their seats, so it was a great surprise to watch many of them walk directly to the stage to snap a few selfies. It was completely unexpected and because I had personally been involved with the stage design, I was particularly touched by this.

 

 

 

Q. Walk us through the process of planning an Unpacked event.

 

Kim: We start planning each Unpacked event months before it actually happens. As soon as the schedule is confirmed, we make a list of potential venues. In fact, while we were preparing for this past event, we were simultaneously looking for a space for the next Unpacked.

 

Two to three months prior to the event, we draw up general plans covering everything from the event theme and stage design to show effects and demonstrations. We begin setting things up onsite about a week before the product launch and work in earnest until the big day.

 

 

Q. How do you come up with new event concepts?

 

Kim: Typically, we refer to other large-scale events and see how they incorporate different effects such as hologram lasers and 3D effects into their presentations. Sometimes we meet with companies that develop these technologies. But we always try to innovate even further to deliver the wow factor and truly differentiate our events.

 

 

Q. What’s the most challenging part in making sure each event goes smoothly?

 

Lee: When scripts are confirmed, we start creating presentation slides. However, finalizing the slides takes a long time since we have to accommodate different requests from multiple departments. Because this isn’t always feasible, changes are often made right up until the last minute.

 

From time to time, we also have to deal with unexpected complications. During the Galaxy Note8 launch, for example, we experienced a number of power outages prior to the event because we were using so many devices to achieve the best possible effects. Fortunately enough, the event went off without a hitch.

 

We also did not anticipate how much interest there would be in Unpacked. We were really surprised at the sheer number of people who showed up to participate, including many who hadn’t even pre-registered.

 

 

 

Q. How does it feel to be a part of a team that organizes a globally recognized event?

 

Kim: It can be a bit stressful, as months of work essentially all boil down to a one-hour event. We work tirelessly day in and day out to ensure that no mistakes are made, but in the end, there are always a few unexpected situations that require quick thinking and creative solutions. Nevertheless, nothing is more rewarding than watching an Unpacked event successfully unfold and getting positive feedback from the audience.

 

Check out the highlights of Galaxy Unpacked 2017 in the video below.

 

 

What Vox Learned from Building Groups and Creating Communities on Facebook

By Meghan Peters, News Partnerships

In November 2016, when it became clear the future of the Affordable Care Act was in doubt, journalist Sarah Kliff, and members of Vox’s social team wanted to build a community for Americans most impacted by a possible repeal of the law. So they started the Facebook group “What’s Next? A Community for Obamacare Enrollees by Vox.”

Over the next several months, the group of nearly 3,000 members grew and evolved in ways Vox didn’t expect. It became a place where people who didn’t otherwise know each other would debate, engage, commiserate, seek advice, and organize in constructive ways. Kliff was able to use the group to develop sources, engage directly with readers, start in-depth policy book clubs, meet with members in person, and even help field questions for a Facebook Live with President Obama. After months of engaging with the group, Kliff says, “It’s what I always hoped the internet would be.”

With the success of What’s Next, Vox launched a new group for listeners of The Weeds, a policy podcast Kliff hosts with fellow Vox journalists Ezra Klein and Matthew Yglesias. There, the group’s 8,600 members can do deeper dives into policy covered by the show, and the three hosts can interact directly with listeners.

We talked with Kliff as well as Lauren Katz, the Senior Engagement Manager who manages What’s Next?, and Allison Rockey, the Director of Programming, about how the groups have evolved and what observations they’ve had since starting these communities.

9 Observations from Vox About Building and Growing Groups

Journalists Can Use Groups to Find Sources and Develop Content
According to Kliff, finding sources is usually the hardest part of reporting on health care. “But now, if I want to talk to a specific Obamacare enrollee, like someone whose medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania is ending, I have a whole group to ask,” she says. Kliff has used the group to get quotes for stories, identify Trump voters who rely on Obamacare, and source questions for a Facebook Live she did with President Obama.

Thirty group members were chosen to attend that conversation. Afterwards, they were interviewed and photographed for a photo essay published on Vox about people who found career freedom thanks to Obamacare

Group Members Often Moderate Each Other
Katz, who oversees operations of the group, was surprised at how the group organically moderates itself. Intervention from Vox staffers is rare, as the group generally polices itself if anyone is out of line or the tone of comments becomes unproductive. Katz attributes this to the significant work done upfront to moderate and establish clear guidelines for the group. And over time, as group members have gotten to know each other, the tone has become more civil and the need for moderation has decreased.

There is Thoughtful Debate Around Sensitive Issues
One of Katz’s favorite moments was when a Trump voter in The Weeds group posted “Hi everyone, as probably one of the few trump voters on here, I was wondering if any of you had any questions.” What followed was a long, thoughtful Q+A where Weeds listeners asked tough questions and got insightful answers. Likewise, in the Obamacare group, some members early on were eager to speak out loudly, and in all caps. Over time, however, the conversation evolved to where the most thoughtful voices, rather than the loudest, were engaged with most frequently. “It’s everything you’d want to believe about a community of strangers,” says Rockey.

Community Members Connect
Both groups have turned a shared interest into greater community building. Rockey has seen members in The Weeds post questions unrelated to the podcast just to get to know each other more. “People are not just interested in The Weeds, but about other people in the group. They’re learning from each other and seeing how policy and identity are related,” she says. “That kind of organic community building is something I didn’t expect.”

It Opens Up a Direct Line Between Readers and Journalists
Klein, Yglesias and Kliff jump into The Weeds group to ask questions and seek advice on the future of the show, while Kliff often engages in the comments of What’s Next. When Klein asked if the podcast should hold more roundtable discussions and outside guests, members had direct influence on the future of the show. “It feels so human,” Kliff says. “The people are really nice, and it feels different from the rest of the internet. Writing can be lonely and this is a great place to connect.”

Group Members Have Taken an Active Role in Posting and Sharing Content
After work upfront creating group guidelines and setting a tone, Katz says the Obamacare group is largely self-sufficient at this point. Members post stories and engage with each other without much, if any, prompting from Vox staff. Kliff says she’ll see her own stories posted in the group before she has a chance to share them herself.

It’s a More Engaged Audience
Through these groups, the audience, as well as Vox journalists, are able to go deeper into policy than they would have otherwise. Members have a like-minded community just as eager to discuss whitepapers about Universal Basic Income, while Vox journalists can tap into thousands who want to participate in a book club about the health care industry.

When Kliff first announced “Kliff’s Notes” — a book club that culminated in a Facebook Live with the author — one member commented, “This is actually a dream come true for me. I’ve been on this subject studying alone since 2008. Now I have a tribe to help me learn.” The live was exclusive for the group, and Kliff sourced her questions from its members.

The Group Serves as an Organizing Space
Within What’s Next, members are using the group to organize and meet in person. At first, it was a space for people to find comfort in a community of people in similar circumstances, but now, they are actively trying to affect change by planning events and developing strategies.

Groups Build Loyalty
Vox found a way to create more direct engagement with their audience and, in the long run, build greater loyalty amongst readers. “It’s not an easy task to get people to get really loyal to someone or a publisher. To do that we need to give them resources and connections. If we can feed people’s interest in policy and give them what they want, that’s good for our brand in the long term” says Rockey. “They’ll be clicking on more Vox headlines because they actually have a direct relationship with us.”

Learn More about Facebook Groups

If you have a Facebook Page and want to link or create a new group to engage your community — please find more detail here.

Want to know more about our latest tools to help grow and manage your group? At our first ever Facebook Communities Summit we announced features including group insights, membership request filtering, remove member clean-up, scheduled posts, and group to group linking. Find out more about our new tools for group admins.

Samsung Introduces Highly Advanced, Enhanced Chip-Scale LED Packages for Spotlights and High-Bay Applications

 

Samsung Electronics, a world leader in advanced digital component solutions, today announced two new additions to its chip-scale package (CSP) line-up: LM101B, a 1W-class mid-power LED, and LH231B, a 5W-class high-power LED. Built with enhanced CSP technology, the new LED packages deliver industry-leading efficacy and reliability for spotlights and high-bay lighting applications.

 

The LM101B and the LH231B packages are based on Samsung’s state-of-the-art, fillet-enhanced CSP (FEC) technology, which forms TiO2 walls around the chip surface to reflect its light output toward the top, acting as a plastic mold in conventional EMC-based LEDs.

 

With their FEC design, the packages provide a higher light efficacy level compared to Samsung’s previous generation of CSP LEDs*. The more focused beam also helps to eliminate cross-talk between neighboring packages and enables the new packages to be placed in close proximity to one another, offering greater flexibility to luminaire designers.

 

“Our FEC line-up represents an outstanding set of highly advanced LED component solutions that accommodates a variety of luminaire designs from below 1,000lm to well over 10,000lm,” said Jacob Tarn, executive vice president of LED Business Team at Samsung Electronics. “Samsung will continue to pave the way for widespread adoption of CSP technology in the mainstream lighting market, bringing greater performance and cost benefits to a growing number of lighting manufacturers.”

 

 

LM101B: 1W-class mid-power FEC

The LM101B features the highest efficacy among currently available mid-power CSP LEDs with 200lm/W (Ra80 5000K, 65mA, 25˚C). Furthermore, with low thermal resistance (2K/W) and high reliability (0.5W, 105˚C, L90>50000 hours), the LM101B has been optimized for spotlights and high-bay applications where high efficacy and long lifespan are required.

 

LH231B: 5W-class high-power FEC

With an operating current of 2A (max. 6W), the LH231B offers an efficacy of 170lm/W (Ra70 5000K, 700mA, 85˚C). This is the same high efficacy level offered by ceramic-based high-power LEDs, one that can bring a high degree of cost-effectiveness when applied to high-bay applications that require an output between 5,000 and 10,000lm. Thanks to Samsung’s FEC structure, the 120-degree beam angle allows for simple optic designs, making it also suitable for outdoor applications, such as street and parking lot lighting.

 

The LM101B and LH231B complement the currently available 3W-class high-power LH181B CSP LED, and the entire FEC lineup is now in mass production.

 

*Editorial Note: Previous-generation CSP LEDs create a wider beam angle by emitting light through the top and side surfaces of a package that has been coated in phosphor film.

[Hands-On] The Gear Fit2 Pro – Built to Go Beyond Fitness

Made for all the ways people work out, Samsung Electronics’ water-resistant Gear Fit2 Pro helps users stay motivated, maintain a healthy lifestyle and achieve their fitness goals so they can get the most out of their everyday activities and live a well-balanced life.

 

Read on to learn more about the new fitness band’s ergonomic design, robust fitness tracking capabilities and premium partnerships that help users get the most out of their workouts.

 

 

Stylishly Designed with Lifestyle in Mind

Available in Red (left) and Black (right), the Gear Fit2 Pro is a stylish accessory that blends seamlessly with both workwear and activewear.

 

 

Featuring a lightweight, ergonomic design with an enhanced watch-style clasp, the Gear Fit2 Pro provides a comfortable fit during exercise sessions and other everyday activities. The fitness band’s Super AMOLED curved 1.5-inch display with a high-resolution color touchscreen adds to the user experience by making messages easier to type and notifications easier to read.

 

But the device’s design isn’t all about functionality. Available in Black and Red, and featuring linear and geometric band patterns, respectively, its polished, sleek aesthetic also makes it a stylish accessory that blends seamlessly with both workwear and activewear. Furthermore, with Small (125-165mm) and Large (158-205mm) strap options, and approximately 3,000 interchangeable display faces that are either preloaded or can be downloaded via the Galaxy Apps store directly from the device, the Gear Fit2 Pro can easily be personalized to fit the user’s individual style.

 

Users can select from approximately 3,000 interchangeable display faces to personalize their Gear Fit2 Pro.

 

Preloaded display faces can be further stylized to fit the user’s preferences, while additional display faces can be downloaded via the Galaxy Apps store.

 

 

Ideal for Swimmers with 5 ATM Water Resistance and Speedo On

A water resistance rating of 5 ATM (50 meters) under ISO standard 22810:20101 enables advanced swim tracking and monitoring directly from the Gear Fit2 Pro to allow users to measure their key swim metrics for better results. Furthermore, when users begin tracking their swimming session, the device automatically activates the Water Lock Mode, which prevents its screen from being accidentally triggered when touched by water.

 

 

Speedo On, Speedo’s first wearable swim tracking app, comes preloaded on the device, and allows users to track, analyze and share their swim data with other swimmers. The app measures and tracks key swim metrics such as stroke type, lap time, SWOLF, pace and more, all the while offering personalized tips, training plans and drill videos. After transferring the data to the corresponding app on the user’s smartphone, Speedo On syncs the user’s data with Samsung Health so they can get a more comprehensive view of their overall fitness progress.

 

 

GPS and Precise Tracking Features to Improve Well-Being

With a variety of intuitive fitness tracking features, the Gear Fit2 Pro gives users more control over their fitness routines and general well-being.

 

Its built-in GPS offers precise tracking2 of users’ swimming, running, cycling and hiking data, including distance traveled, speed and calories burned, allowing users to accurately monitor their progress throughout their workout directly from the device itself.

 

Automatic activity detection also recognizes users’ movements and automatically tracks activities including running, walking, cycling, elliptical and rowing machine, as well as other dynamic activities such as dancing and tennis after the user has been exercising for more than 10 minutes. Moreover, users can manually select up to 17 workout categories to track additional activities based on their needs.

 

 

Similarly, real-time, continuous heart rate monitoring with improved accuracy tracks every second of the user’s heart rate and provides them with detailed feedback. The device measures maximum heart rate3 and breaks it down into three zones (moderate, vigorous and maximum) so users can stay informed and motivated throughout the day, whether they’re enjoying a stress-free snooze or an invigorating cycling class.

 

 

Because the Gear Fit2 Pro tracks the user’s activity for 24 hours a day, the user is able to not only monitor their exercise, but can also view information about the quality of their sleep as well as the number of calories that they burn throughout the day.

 

 

 

Premium Partnerships for a More Connected Life

Adding to the Gear Fit2 Pro’s robust tracking capabilities are an assortment of unique partnerships with industry-leading brands such as Spotify, Under Armour and, as previously mentioned, Speedo that help to deliver premium fitness experiences.

 

The Gear Fit2 Pro is the first wearable to offer Spotify Offline mode.4 This means that users can store and listen to up to 500 songs – even when they’re offline or without their smartphone5 – so they can stay entertained and motivated even during the most grueling of workouts.

 

 

Samsung’s Under Armour partnership provides users with access to the brand’s popular fitness apps6 that offer a connected experience via exclusive features including activity, nutrition and social functions. Users will also have access to a one-year free membership of premium access to content on MyFitnessPal, MapMyRun and Endomondo, including personal training plans, advanced statistics and a nutrition dashboard. Under Armour’s apps sync with Samsung Health to make it easier to keep track of fitness data and workouts no matter which app the user is in.

 

 

Samsung’s Gear Fit2 Pro is now available for purchase in select markets.

 

 

1 Water-resistant in up to 50 meters of water under defined conditions of pressure, time, velocity and temperature per ISO 22810:2010 certification. Not intended for deep-water snorkeling, scuba diving or waterskiing. Avoid excessive, sudden temperature changes and high-velocity water activities. Falls and shocks may breach integrity. Rinse in fresh water and dry after use in sea water.

 

2 GPS accuracy may be affected by factors such as weather conditions, trees, buildings/structures and satellite interference.

 

3 MHR (Maximum Heart Rate) = 220 – Age, Moderate: 50~70% of MHR / Vigorous: 70~90% of MHR / Maximum: 90~100% of MHR

 

4 A Spotify Premium subscription is required to play music offline.

 

5 The Gear Fit2 Pro is compatible with Samsung Galaxy devices (Android 4.3 or later) and other Android devices (Android 4.4 or later). Compatibility for iPhone 5 or later devices (iOS 9.0 or later) is under review.

 

6 Under Armour’s MapMyRun, Endomondo and Under Armour Record for Gear devices are not supported in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Under Armour’s MyFitness Pal for Gear devices is not supported in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Samsung Presents Clinical Usability of its Ultrasound Imaging Technology at ISUOG 2017

 

Samsung Medison, a global medical equipment company and an affiliate of Samsung Electronics, is hosting a number of seminars at the 27th World Congress of the International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology (ISUOG) in Vienna. Through 13 sessions at Samsung’s Satellite Symposium, leading medical professionals are publicizing the clinical benefits of Samsung’s ultrasound imaging solutions for women’s health.

 

Professor Lami Yeo, M.D., from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, U.S., presented research on the diagnostic performance of Fetal Intelligent Navigation Echocardiography (5D Heart™) which showed a sensitivity of 98%, specificity of 93%, and accuracy of 95% for the prenatal detection of congenital heart disease*.  She also explained that 5D Heart™ offers a rapid and simple solution to screen for and diagnose congenital heart disease by generating nine standard fetal echocardiography views in a single template display.

 

Additionally, novel research conducted on color Doppler Fetal Intelligent Navigation Echocardiography (5D Heart Color™) will be published in the October 2017 issue of the scientific journal Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology (UOG), which will also feature on its front cover, the prenatal diagnosis of congenital heart disease using 5D Heart color™.

 

In addition recently developed diagnostic tools such as E-Cervix™, Crystal Vue™ and IOTA-ADNEX from Samsung’s Crystal Clear Cycle™, the lifelong healthcare solution for women, are also being presented throughout the congress.

 

Samsung also displayed prototypes of ultrasound system with new ergonomics and stress-relief transducers, as well as cloud-based IT solution at a private room for selectively invited key opinion leaders. Visitors to the room shared feedbacks that the next-generation product meets the needs of professionals and patients with a form that is entirely unlike the norm. Some also showed positive response to the new IT solution designed to provide efficiency for doctor’s demanding tasks, and that they look forward to its commercial release.

 

“I believe Samsung’s proactive technological developments in ultrasound in recent years are providing quite significant clinical value to the field. Samsung has been releasing machines for users at all levels of expertise,” said Dr. Andrew Ngu, former President of the ISUOG. “Seeing Samsung’s vision for design innovations that enhance user workflow and efficiency, it is not difficult to expect Samsung to play a pivotal role as a game changer for the future ahead.”

 

For additional information, [click here].

 

 

 

* Congenital heart disease is the most common organ-specific birth defect, and is also the leading cause of infant mortality from congenital malformations. The performance of conventional two-dimensional ultrasound of the fetal heart is time-consuming, requires considerable expertise and skill, and therefore is highly operator dependent. As a result, not all fetal cardiac views required for the accurate prenatal detection of congenital heart disease may be routinely obtained.

Winning the Built-in that Takes Up 40% of the Total Appliances Market in Europe

 

Did you know that four out of ten refrigerators in the European market are built-in types?

 

It is a simple yet noteworthy statistic of the European market. Unlike other regions, the percentage of built-in appliances in Europe is over 40 percent. Especially in Germany, around 50 percent of households use built-in appliances. This shows how much European customers love to use built-in type products that will perfectly fit into their home.

 

This is why Samsung Electronics and other home appliance manufacturers have such a fierce built-in appliances competition in Europe. Because built-in products exceed other types by far in terms of growth rate and profitability, the European market is all about built-in appliances. Global appliances manufacturers cannot miss this market as built-in appliances are an integral part and excellent test bed for the Internet of Things (IoT) in future households.

 

 

Opening a Premium Built-in Showroom in Poland

 

Samsung recently opened a built-in showroom “Cook Story by Samsung” in Warsaw, Poland. This showroom was the first of its kind in the European market and is full of premium built-in products that are optimized for European lifestyles. Samsung was the number one manufacturer of refrigerators, washing machines and electric ranges in Poland since 2012. As the new built-in products gained huge popularities after their release in the market earlier this year, Samsung also took the first place in the built-in refrigerator market in July.

 

Poland is just a starting point for Samsung to showcase its built-in products, as it plans to add more built-in showrooms in many other European countries. These showrooms will offer hands-on experiences of the leading built-in products to the customers, along with cooking shows and other various events. Samsung will bring unprecedented kitchen experiences for its customers.

 

 

Building a Full Lineup of Smart Built-ins

 

Samsung introduced a variety of the new built-in products to European countries to build its unique lineup in this year.

 

The lineup includes refrigerator models with No Frost technology and Twin Cooling Plus™ that maintains an optimal humidity level up to 70 percent, ovens with Gourmet Vapour Technology™ that efficiently delivers a super-heated vapor that quickly spreads from corner to corner to ensure even cooking, and Dual cook that is divided into two small ovens for separate cooking processes. It also contains induction cook tops with Virtual Flame Technology™ as well as Water Wall™ dishwashers that clean all of your dishes from corner to corner using high pressure wall of water that glides back and forth.

 

Another special feature of Samsung built-in appliances is that all major functions can be simply controlled via smartphones. For example, your smartphone can tell you whether the doors of refrigerators are opened. You can also check the temperatures of fridge and freezer so you can adjust the numbers from outside or start Rapid Cooling function. The products also support a smart warranty service that automatically diagnoses and treats any problems without consulting the manuals. In addition, Samsung plans to adopt soon the IoT services that will realize a more convenient connected home by enabling connection between appliances and other devices with Samsung Connect.

 

 

 

Close Collaborations with European Furniture Companies

Built-in appliances are basically the fusion of furniture and appliances, and therefore cooperation with furniture companies is inevitable. Samsung will collaborate to showcase and sell built-in appliances with major European furniture companies such as Nolte of Germany, Nobia of Northern Europe (including Marbodal), Veneta Cucine of Italy and more.

 

At the beginning of this month, Samsung revealed a European style built-in kitchen composed of elegant design and technologies at IFA 2017 that took place in Germany. The kitchen, a result of collaboration with three companies, drew a lot of attention with Family Hub refrigerator at the central point for an IoT-based built-in kitchen system that enables convenient management of food, ingredient, family communication and even entertainment.

 

 

 

“Built-in as a New Driving Force for CE Business”

Samsung has been expanding its built-in appliances business in not only Europe, but also North America, Asia and other parts of the world. Samsung showcased new products this year in cooperation with Dacor, a North American premium built-in appliances company which Samsung acquired last year.

 

“B2B and IoT are the new driving force for us to overcome the stagnated global CE market,” said BK Yoon, CEO of the CE Business at Samsung Electronics, at IFA 2017. “In three years, we will raise our competitive edge by becoming the top-tier in the North American built-in appliances market.”

 

BK Yoon, CEO of the CE Business at Samsung Electronics, introduces one of the Column Refrigerators of “Modernist Collection”, a new suite of sophisticated luxury appliances of Dacor, at the launch event on March in the U.S.
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