Google ATAP

Google's Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP) is a skunkworks team and in-house technology incubator, created by former DARPA director Regina Dugan. ATAP is similar to X, but works on projects, granting project leaders time--previously only two years--in which to move a project from concept to proven product. According to Dugan,[1] the ideal ATAP project combines technology and science, requires a certain amount of novel research, and creates a marketable product. Historically, the ATAP team was born at Motorola and kept when Google sold Motorola to Lenovo; for this reason, ATAP ideas have tended to involve mobile hardware technology.

The team embodies principles that former Google VP Dugan used at DARPA,[2]. One of these principles is to create small teams of high performers. Another is to make use of resources outside the organizational box; ATAP has worked with hundreds of partners in more than twenty countries, including schools, corporations, startups, governments, and nonprofits. Standing contracts are in place with a number of top-flight schools, such as Stanford, MIT, and Caltech, to facilitate rapid research arrangements when needed.

ATAP (Advanced Technology And Projects)
Google group
FateOriginally a division of Motorola, now part of Google
Headquarters1600 Amphitheater Parkway, Mt. View, CA 94043
Area served
ProductsProject Soli
Project Jacquard
Number of employees


Although ATAP has occasionally publicized the number of projects in progress, the individual projects are kept secret until they are nearing maturity and it's time to start developing public interest. At that point, they've historically been announced at the annual Google I/O developer conference. Some of the announced projects to date are described below.

Project Tango

The Project Tango team was led by computer scientist Johnny Lee, a core contributor to Microsoft's Kinect. Project Tango is a computer-vision technology that allows mobile devices to detect their position relative to the world around them, without requiring GPS or other external signals. This enables the use of mobile phones and tablets for indoor navigation, 3D mapping, measurement of physical spaces, recognition of known environments, augmented reality, and windows into virtual 3D worlds.

In the first quarter of 2015, the team left ATAP and became a Google team in its own right, making Project Tango the first product to emerge from the intensive two-year incubator process.[3]

Spotlight Stories

The Spotlight Stories team is developing cinema-quality immersive 360-degree video technology for Android and iOS. As users watch the video on a mobile device, they can move the device around to view different parts of the action as it unfolds, as if controlling the camera – for instance, following a leaf as it blows along the ground, or tracking a dancer as she moves across a stage. 360-degree sound technology matches the audio experience to the video.

Several short animated or live-action demos have been produced to demonstrate the technology, including Windy Day, an animation distributed over-the-air to Moto X phones at the time of its original Android app release.[4] Another demo was the short video Duet, featuring thousands of hand drawings by former Disney animator Glen Keane, which made the top-10 list for the 2014 Academy Award for Best Animated Short.[5] The Spotlight Stories team includes Oscar-winning Pixar veterans Jan Pinkava and Karen Dufilho-Rosen as well as Justin Lin, a director of the TV series Community and four movies in the Fast and Furious franchise.[6]

Project Ara

Project Ara is a platform for creating customizable, modular smartphones. With Project Ara, consumers populate an electronic frame, called an endoskeleton or "endo", with rectangular hardware modules for power, processing, memory, screen, wireless, and other functionality. Consumers assemble basic modules to create a working device, then add or remove additional modules as desired – in some cases, even while the device is operating. Optional modules include cameras, speakers, large data storage, and medical sensors. Since users can update individual modules when better technology becomes available, Project Ara provides a hedge against cyclical obsolescence.

It also reduces the purchase price of a low-end cell phone, by creating the option of buying only the most basic features. This may support the spread of technology in economically-disadvantaged areas. The official Project Ara website[7] specifies a targeted manufacturing cost for an entry-level device in the $50-$100 range, and states that the project has "the goal of delivering the mobile internet to the next 5 billion people". Google had targeted the first Project Ara public release for Puerto Rico in 2015, but announced that the test has been delayed until 2016.[8]

A Project Ara Module Development Kit (MDK)[9] will enable manufacturers to create Project Ara-compatible modules. An early pre-release version of the MDK is available on the Project Ara website. ATAP sponsored Project Ara Developer's Conferences in 2014 and 2015 to begin stimulating interest in the emerging hardware ecosystem and solicit input from potential designers and manufacturers.

Ara is an exception in that the usual ATAP two-year timeframe was extended to give more time for the project's completion. However, at the time of the extension team leader Paul Eremenko was replaced by Rafa Camargo,[10] named by CNET in 2015 as one of the Top 20 Latinos in Tech.[11]

Project Soli

Project Soli is a new gesture-recognition technology based on radar, unlike established approaches based on visual or infrared light such as stereo cameras, structured light, or time-of-flight sensors. This novel approach, which uses small, high-speed sensors and data-analysis techniques such as Doppler, can detect fine motions with sub-millimeter accuracy.[12] Thus, for instance, Project Soli technology enables a user to issue commands to a computer by rubbing a thumb and forefinger together in pre-defined patterns. Applications might include sensors embedded in clothing, switches that don't require physical contact, and accessibility technology.

The project is headed by Ivan Poupyrev,[13] a former scientist for Disney Imagineering who was named one of Fast Company's "100 Most Creative People in Business 2013".[14] Project Soli was announced at Google I/O 2015[15] and generated considerable media interest.[16][17][18] According to the official site, in 2015 the team was preparing to make an alpha Project Soli development kit available to a limited number of developers, with plans for signing people up for a larger beta release later that year.

Project Jacquard

Another novel user-input technology, from the same team responsible for Project Soli, is Project Jacquard, a platform for embedding sensors and feedback devices in fabrics and clothing in ways that seem natural and comfortable. The platform encompasses techniques for creating fashion fabrics with conductive fibers woven into them, plus small, flexible computing components and feedback devices (such as haptics or LEDs), along with software APIs that applications can use to exchange data with the garment. In one basic use-case, users can provide input to a mobile phone by touching or stroking the garment in a designated location, and can receive alerts through vibrations, sounds, or lights in the garment. With an embedded Project Soli sensor built into the garment, the application can also recognize finger gestures or other signals.

The name "Jacquard" is borrowed from the Jacquard loom, invented in 1801, which could be controlled with punched cards and inspired the use of punched cards in computing more than a century later. Like the loom, ATAP's Project Jacquard is a platform, not a consumer product; it enables the creation of products for uses such as communication, personal assistance, navigation, health and fitness, fashion, and work. To date, demos and marketing materials emphasize style and quality, as opposed to a purely sports-based or utilitarian positioning. Project Jacquard was announced at Google I/O 2015, and at the same time Google announced a related partnership with clothing manufacturer Levi Strauss & Co.[19]

According to the ATAP website, designers can use Jacquard "as they would any fabric, adding new layers of functionality to their designs, without having to learn about electronics." The site goes on to say "We are also developing custom connectors, electronic components, communication protocols, and an ecosystem of simple applications and cloud services." A developer's kit or product release date have not been announced.

Other Projects

  • Project Abacus, a password replacement project using biometric data[20]
  • Project Vault, a project to develop secure computers on Micro SD cards[21]


On March 24, 2014, MIT Researcher Jie Qi was invited and met with Google ATAP to discuss her research and work with electronic (LED) books. During the meeting with Regina Dugan and other ATAP employees she was offered a job. Qi, declined the offer to continue her PhD and research at MIT.

Two years later Jie Qi discovered that those she met with at ATAP tried to patent her work without her consent or knowledge.

See also


  1. ^ Bohn, Dieter (29 May 2015). "The renegade future of Google's ATAP lab". Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  2. ^ Helft, Michael (14 August 2014). "Google Goes DARPA". Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  3. ^ Announcement on ATAP Google+ site, 30 January 2015
  4. ^ Summers, Nick (29 October 2013). "Motorola debuts 'Windy Day' on the Moto X: A beautiful, interactive short story from a Pixar director". Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  5. ^ Official Oscars site "10 Animated Shorts Advance in 2014 Oscar Race
  6. ^ Levy, Steven (6 November 2014). "Lights, Camera, Android!". Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  7. ^ Project Ara official website
  8. ^ Google delays its Project Ara modular smartphone until 2016
  9. ^ Project Ara MDK page
  10. ^ Announcement on ATAP Google+ site, 29 May 2015
  11. ^ Top 20 Latinos in Tech
  12. ^ Agrawal, Vaishnavi (5 October 2015). "Gesture control features to be introduced by Google's Project Soli". Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  13. ^ Ivan Poupyrev personal website
  14. ^ Wilson, Mark. "100 Most Creative People in Business 2013". Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  15. ^ Google I/O 2015
  16. ^ Nash, David (1 June 2015). "Google I/O 2015 ATAP keynote: Project Jacquard, Soli, Ara, Vault and more!".
  17. ^ Mokey, Nick (1 June 2015). "Google just reinvented motion control and the fabric in our clothes". Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  18. ^ Swanner, Nate (29 May 2015). "Google unveils Project Soli, a radar-based wearable to control anything". Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  19. ^ Rodriguez, Salvador (29 May 2015). "Google, Levi's Team Up To Make Jeans That Are Smarter Than You". Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  20. ^ "Google plans to bring password-free logins to Android apps by year-end". 2016-05-23. Retrieved 2017-02-21.
  21. ^ "Google's Project Vault Is A Secure Computing Environment On A Micro SD Card, For Any Platform". 2015-05-29. Retrieved 2017-02-21.

External links

42nd Annie Awards

The 42nd Annual Annie Awards honoring excellence in the field of animation of 2014 was held on January 31, 2015 at the University of California, Los Angeles's Royce Hall in Los Angeles, California, presenting in 36 categories. This year, a new category called Best Character Animation in a Video Game was added.

Annie Award for Best Animated Short Subject

The Annie Award for Best Animated Short Subject is an Annie Award given annually to the best animated short film. It was introduced in 1995. In 1998, the award was renamed to Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Short Subject, and renamed again to Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animated Short Subject in 1999, but went back to its second title in 2000. In 2005, it was again reverted to its original title, and has remained so ever since.

Criticism of Google

Criticism of Google includes concern for tax avoidance, misuse and manipulation of search results, its use of others' intellectual property, concerns that its compilation of data may violate people's privacy and collaboration with Google Earth by the military to spy on us , censorship of search results and content, and the energy consumption of its servers as well as concerns over traditional business issues such as monopoly, restraint of trade, antitrust, "idea borrowing", and being an "Ideological Echo Chamber".

Alphabet Inc. is an American multinational public corporation invested in Internet search, cloud computing, and advertising technologies. Google hosts and develops a number of Internet-based services and products, and generates profit primarily from advertising through its AdWords program.Google's stated mission is "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful"; this mission, and the means used to accomplish it, have raised concerns among the company's critics. Much of the criticism pertains to issues that have not yet been addressed by cyber law.

Motorola Mobility

Motorola Mobility LLC is a U.S.-based consumer electronics and telecommunications company owned by Chinese technology firm Lenovo Group Limited.

The company primarily manufactures smartphones and other mobile devices running the Android operating system developed by Google.

Motorola Mobility was formed on January 4, 2011 after a split of Motorola Inc. into two separate companies, with Motorola Mobility assuming the company's consumer-oriented product lines (including its mobile phone business, as well as its cable modems and pay television set-top boxes), and Motorola Solutions assuming the company's enterprise-oriented product lines.

In May 2012 Google acquired Motorola Mobility for US$12.5 billion; the main intent of the purchase was to gain Motorola's patent portfolio, in order to protect other Android vendors from litigation. Under Google, Motorola increased its focus on the entry-level smartphone market, and under the Google ATAP division, began development on Project Ara—a platform for modular smartphones with interchangeable components. Shortly after the purchase, Google sold Motorola Mobility's cable modem and set-top box business to Arris Group.

Google's ownership of the company was short-lived. In January 2014, Google announced that it would sell Motorola Mobility to Chinese consumer electronics firm Lenovo for $2.91 billion. The sale, which excluded ATAP and all but 2,000 of Motorola's patents, was completed on October 30, 2014. Lenovo disclosed an intent to use Motorola Mobility as a way to expand into the United States smartphone market. In August 2015, Lenovo's existing smartphone division was subsumed by Motorola Mobility, and in November 2016, Lenovo announced that it would discontinue its existing, self-branded smartphone lines in favor of Motorola-branded devices going forward.

Peiter Zatko

Peiter C. Zatko, better known as Mudge, is a network security expert, open source programmer, writer, and a hacker. He was the most prominent member of the high-profile hacker think tank the L0pht as well as the long-lived computer and culture hacking cooperative the Cult of the Dead Cow.

While involved with the L0pht, Mudge contributed significantly to disclosure and education on information and security vulnerabilities. In addition to pioneering buffer overflow work, the security advisories he released contained early examples of flaws in the following areas: code injection, race condition, side-channel attack, exploitation of embedded systems, and cryptanalysis of commercial systems. He was the original author of the password cracking software L0phtCrack.In 2010 Mudge accepted a position as a program manager at DARPA where he oversaw cyber security research. In 2013 Mudge went to work for Google in their Advanced Technology & Projects division.

Regina E. Dugan

Regina E. Dugan (born 19 March 1963), is an American businesswoman, inventor, technology developer and government official. She was the first female director of the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), where she served from July 2009 until March 2012.

Dugan began working for DARPA in 1996. Over the next 4 years, she led numerous multimillion-dollar research programs. Her most notable research project, known as the 'Dog's Nose,' involved the development of an advanced portable system that could detect the explosive content of landmines. In 1999, she was awarded 'Manager of the Year' for her work at DARPA and in 2000, she was honored with the Bronze de Fleury Medal by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. She has also received awards from the United States Secretary of Defense; specifically, the Awards for Exceptional Service and Outstanding Achievement.Dugan left DARPA in 2000 to become a special advisor for the Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army. Her work included a study titled 'Quick Reaction Study on Countermine,' which was briefed to senior members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and implemented in Operation Enduring Freedom. Dugan also took positions on the Naval Research Advisory Committee, Threat Reduction Agency and Technology panel. Prior to DARPA, she founded a company called Dugan Ventures. In 2005, Dugan Ventures began a new investment, RedXDefense LLC.

After leaving DARPA in March 2012, she was appointed to an executive position at Google. Here, she led and created Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) at Motorola Mobility, a subsidiary of Google. In January 2014, it was announced that Motorola Mobility would be acquired by Lenovo. Dugan and her team were retained by Google. She later moved to Facebook, joining a team called Building 8. In October 2017, she announced that she would be leaving in early 2018 to pursue other endeavors.


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