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Google’s best new gadgets – and how you might use them in education

Google has just finished its Developers’ Conference in San Francisco, which is where they unveil the gadgets and apps which seem outlandish now, but could transform our world in the short-term future.

Translating from the high-end geekery can be hard work, but these are likely to be the tools and apps that could end up in your hands:

Project Soli

This is the end of the button, transforming the way you and your students interact with technology. Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects Group has created a motion sensor that can pick up “sub-millimetre” movements, which would give any of your gadgets a new kind of control – your smartphone, fancy watch and tables could, if armed with a Soli sensor, be controlled with a whole new menu of gestures (which you’ll have to learn). ‘Ctrl+X’? That’s just a scissor action.

Project Jacquard

There’s not much we can be certain about with this, yet, beyond a tantalising website filled with spools of thread, and new from CNET that talks of normal fabric acting like interactive touch pads for a variety of smart devices. Which sounds weird, but this could be the first genuinely wearable technology – clothes, or at least patches, that control your gadgets. Those leather patches on the elbows of your tweed jacket? You just turned on the TV… This could be hugely significant and, again, a whole new way to interact with technology – in the classroom and at home.

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Jump

Jump is Google’s big push on virtual reality – a new VR platform which will allow anyone to create and upload VR content – a YouTube for a new generation. And if you don’t have a virtual reality camera? Then Google’s much talked-about collaboration with the GoPro camera people comes in with Array, which has 16HD cmeras in a circle and software which stitches the images captured by the Array into a single “image”, which anyone wearing a VR headset can then “look around”. As a classroom aid, this could transport  transporting classrooms of children to a whole new world.

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Now on Tap

You may be one of the few who used Google Now, but the idea of having an app that you can quiz is getting so much closer. Like a clever Siri, you can ask questions related to the apps you use of the searches you’ve made – ‘tell me the names of the Plantagenet Kings’ or ‘remember that museum I looked at earlier, get me their phone number. And an Uber to get me there’.

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Offline Google Maps

You’re on a field trip and lost – and with no internet connection or signal? Maps without the need for wifi or roaming charges. Download the map in advance and get around without the live link.

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Google Photos

Google is picking off the carcass of Google Plus quite effectively. The photos function – storage and tools – is now a standalone tool, ideal for storing your stash of school event photos, keeping the ability to tag people and locations, and upload them to other social networks – and keeping them searchable, maintaining the advantage that Google has always had. So much better than Flickr.

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