Archive for month: February 2016

Google’s Self-Driving Car Crash

Google’s Self-Driving Car Crash

Google released a 32-page report last month containing data during 15 months of testing their fleet of self-driving cars on California’s public roads, which showed that there have been 272 situations where the Google car disengaged from its autonomous drive mode and immediately turned control of the car over to the Google employee driving it.  In total there were 13 instances that would have resulted in a crash left up to the automated driving software.

Google leads the way in terms of their search engine, advertising and pay per click advertising, but this recent data undermines their recent foray into building cars without manual controls. Fortunately all the near-misses recorded in the new report resulted in a safe outcome, but only thanks to the human driver intervention in each case, which surely discredits the premise of the experiment.

Chris Urmson, the Director of Google Self-Driving Cars stated that “software detected an anomaly in the system somewhere that could have had possible safety implications, and in these cases it immediately handed control of the car to the test driver.”

The 32-page report released in January says that during 15 months of tests:

  • Google’s vehicles drove 424,331 miles without manual control.
  • In 72 instances, the car’s software registered a “failure” that resulted in emergency control being given to the manual driver.
  • In a further 69 cases, the driver took control without being alerted by the system because they anticipated an accident themselves.
  • Computer simulations designed to replicate each incident found that in 13 of the cases where drivers intervened, a crash would have occurred if they had failed to do so.

There is no way of knowing how many of those incidents might have ended in a serious collision where someone could have been hurt or killed.

The question is, should Google continue to develop this kind of technology, or will it go the same way as Google Glass? Google insist that these cars are “safer than humans”, which may be true on average, but without the necessary data we can’t make that comparison. If the experiment was repeated with human drivers instead of Google software, perhaps we would have seen a higher number of near-misses or actual accidents. All we know for sure is that in these cases, the human knew better than the car.

Many think that driver-less cars will be beneficial to the economy, which is an interesting point. The idea is that our working lives will be made more efficient since we won’t have to concentrate on driving, which takes up valuable time we could spend working! We should also be less tired when we get to work since we didn’t have to concentrate on the road. Except, of course, that if Google’s test drivers took this attitude, 11 of them would have crashed.

In any case, the safety of this new mode of transport needs to be tested much more rigorously given these results. It does serve as a reminder, though, of Google’s continuous push towards a future where automated software understands the human brain better than we do ourselves, a trend we’re also seeing in search engine technology. What do you think about Google’s plans – are they pushing the limits too far too fast, or do we need that attitude to make progress?

Web Design Trends For 2016

Web Design Trends For 2016

Website design has come a long way since the GIFs of the 1990s, and more recent emphasis has been on flat web design.  Since Google’s drive to become more “mobile ready” last year the main emphasis has been on responsive design websites to cope with this, as it is just as important today for a website to look good on mobile devices, tablets and smartphones as on laptops and desktop computers. This means that the majority of websites are much improved when viewing them on mobile devices and are built with browsing on tablets and smartphones in mind.

Many websites today boast wide/fluid background sections along with long, vertical scrolling feature strips and hero sliders.  Parallax sites have also become increasingly common and coupled with the popularity of WordPress, despite its huge theme marketplace, it is now difficult to tell some modern sites apart. With an emphasis on simplicity and functionality becoming very popular very quickly, a bit of individuality has arguably been lost.

In 2016, there will be a renewed emphasis on originality, which may come in the form of custom drawn elements along with carefully produced animations and video.  Also, gradients have become less popular while flat design has taken over. Some trends and colours that are emerging as forerunners in web design in 2016 include:

White space
Going for a simple layout instead of a complex one is the key to keeping your visitors interested. Using lots of images, colours and shapes on a site can make it look cluttered and messy.

Pastel colours
In 2016 there will be growing trend in web design for the use of less dominant colours, and a move to more subtle, pastel shades. These can be used to create a calm and warming effect on website visitors.  However, they can be difficult to implement well and requires skills to get the right balance between colours and tones. Bold colours can still be used to draw attention to a key area on a page, for example on a call to action button.

Long scroll
Everyone is used to long scrolling on websites today thanks to mobile devices and smartphones. This technique works well for sites that want to attract users through clear storytelling, and a multi-page site can still be achieved  by breaking the scroll into clear sections.

Card Layouts
Pinterest is the pioneer of the card layout, and this layout has been adopted and used on many sites because information is  easily presented on them in bite size “chunks”. Each card usually represents one concept, and act as “content containers”, with their rectangular shape making them easier to arrange for different devices.

Hero Images
Vision is the strongest human sense, so high definition hero images are a quick and easy way to grab a website visitors attention. Advances in bandwidth and data compression means that users won’t suffer from slow loading times. A common layout of a hero image is one above the scroll, followed by a cards-based theme or zig-zagging sections.

Thanks to the availability of Google Fonts, websites are no longer restricted to using “Arial” and “Comic Sans” for compatibility. More care will be taken in 2016 with choosing fonts and font sizes, a small bit minimal change that makes a big impact on how a site is perceived.

You might ask yourself, “What are the best web design techniques and colour trends for me to follow this year?”.  This will depend on your brand, how these elements work together to portray your brand and how much you are willing to invest in tweaking/overhauling your web design. No matter what’s hot and what’s not, the trend you choose to follow should serve your customers first and foremost – as well as your brand – before anything else.  Contact us today to find out how we can help!