In my last post, I offered a detailed reflection of my last five years in Academia at Cornell University. In this second part of that two-part tale, I’ll explain what the next chapter in my life is going to look like.
Joining the Team that’s Building the Future
Yes, you read that title correctly. In one week I’ll be moving from New York City to San Francisco to start a full time position at Google [x] in Mountain View, CA. For the uninitiated, Google [x] is essentially Google’s secret hardware lab, where they build things like self-driving cars, flying internet hotspots, and Google Glass (the product that I’ll be working on). Google Glass is an augmented reality, wearable tech device that floats seamlessly in your field of vision and keeps you connected to what you care about. You can’t truly understand how amazing Google Glass is until you wear it, but you can watch the following video to get a pretty good idea:
Google Glass is a product of Google [x], a division of Google run by co-founder Sergey Brin that focuses on moonshot thinking – essentially trying to do the impossible. I’m honored and humbled to be joining such an amazing team of inventors, engineers, and designers. Frankly, it’s a little intimidating to join such a stellar group of people – but I’m really looking forward to everything I’ll be able to learn and contribute. This video does a good job of outlining the vision of Google [x]:
Don’t bother asking me specifics about Glass once I start working there – I will not be able to share any info about what I am working on until it is publicly announced by Google.
Moving out West
I am madly in love with New York City. Both of my parents are from New York, much of my extended family lives here, and I have hundreds of friends in New York City. I’m a total snob when it comes to New York Pizza and Bagels – I apologize in advance to all my friends in San Francisco who I’ll be complaining to about the horrible pizza. I’ve built an amazing network in New York, and there is no doubt that moving was a tough decision. But, I also love San Francisco (having visited several times in the last few years), and the opportunity to join Google [x] is simply one that I could not turn down. I have plenty of friends out west, and I’m excited to immerse myself in the Silicon Valley community. It’s going to be very different from New York, but it’s going to be awesome. There’s room in my heart to love two cities :)
I’ll be living in San Francisco and commuting to Google’s Mountain View Headquarters each day. Thankfully, Google offers an awesome, wifi-equipped free shuttle to take me to and from work. I’m using PODs to ship all my stuff out west (3D printers, my desktop computer, lots of electronics, clothes, etc). The day before the POD was set to be picked up, I had a revelation that it would be cool to build a a GPS tracker and transmitter to update a map in real time as my stuff makes its way to San Francisco. Utilizing a GPS and GPRS radio module from the awesome folks at Cooking-Hacks.com (one of the sponsors of my Arduino Tutorials), I assembled the tracker in a few hours and installed it in the POD. I used the battery that I used to power my “Control-my-Cap” project, and I taped the tracker onto the POD’s ceiling beam. Using the Twilio and Google Maps APIs, I built an auto-updating map. Since I hastily built the system in about 3 hours, I’m almost certain that it will fail before it makes it to San Francisco – I simply didn’t have enough time to make it robust and error-proof. At the time of this writing, the POD has not broadcasted an update in over a day – I believe that this is because it is currently inside a PODs storage facility where it cannot get a GPS lock (some quick research revealed that the last broadcast came from a location a few blocks away from a PODs storage facility). I’m hoping it will resume transmitting when it leaves this facility, but I won’t know until sometime this week.
If and when it starts transmitting again, the unit will capture its GPS location and speed once every 10 minutes and send it to my twilio development SMS number in a text message. Twilio then passes this info to a PHP script on my server which parses the data and saves it to a text file. Then, I use the google maps API to display a map with all the posting locations. The most recent marker bounces up and down.
You can track the pod at: http://pod.jeremyblum.com [UPDATE: I've decided to lock the page until the journey is complete - there are potential security concerns with broadcasting the exact location of all my stuff]. Again, I threw this together very hastily and would be surprised if it continued to work all the way across the country.
What about all my Other Stuff?
It’s no secret that I’ve got lots of things keeping me busy. Obviously, once I start my full-time position at Google, that will be my number-one priority. Blum Idea Labs operates nearly autonomously and will continue to exist as the platform that powers my educational engineering content. If time allows, I’ll continue to post tutorials, but I can’t make any promises with respect to their frequency. But, I’ll always have weekend projects, so I’m sure you’ll continue to see lots of updates from me on my independent work! I will continue to market my book in my off-hours, and I’ll be attending the Open Hardware Summit in September at MIT.
I will continue to sit on the Board of Directors for my present startup, SUNN, but am stepping down from my role as CTO. I accepted this position at Google many months ago, so we’ve had ample time to build an amazing team that will continue to operate fine without me. Thankfully, we finished the majority of our technical development this summer anyways, so the majority of the remaining work is licensing our technology and getting it on the market! I’ll post more updates about SUNN as we are able to make them public. Again, my position at Google will be my top priority, and any guidance I provide for SUNN will occur strictly during my personal time, and with my personal resources.
Wish me Luck!
I’m looking forward to sharing my new San Francisco adventures with all of you. Stay tuned for updates on the move, source code for the POD tracker (if it actually works as planed), and lots of obligatory photos of me posing with various West-Coast landmarks. If you’re based in San Francisco or the Bay Area, ping me on Twitter!