The Torwali language and its new Android keyboard

Editor’s note: We invited Zubair Torwali, ​Executive Director​ of ​Idara Baraye Taleem-o-Taraqi​, an organization that works to promote northern Pakistan’s languages, to tell us how the new Torwali language Android keyboard will help preserve the language.

Torwali, a Dardic language with around 80,000 speakers in the Swat Valley, is one of Pakistan’s 27 highly endangered languages. With mounting pressures to speak the dominant Pashto language, Torwali is neither used at the public schools nor part of the formal curriculum.

For a long time, Torwali had no written alphabet, and therefore, little in the way of a written tradition. Around a decade ago, however, a team of language activists associated with Idara Baraye Taleem-o-Taraqi designed a spelling system (orthography) for Torwali under the expert guidance of linguists and educationists from the Summer Institute of Linguistics. The orthography was adapted from Arabic, much like Urdu, Pakistan’s national language.

Torwali needs four special phonemes (distinct units of sound) which are not in Urdu:

/ɶ/; /ɕ/; /ʐ/; /ʂ/

represented in Torwali writing as

“ݜ”, “ڙ” , “ڇ”, “ٲ”

In the Swat Valley, people primarily use Android smartphones to get access to the Internet and interact on social media.There are special keyboards for writing Torwali on computers, but only a few people in the Swat Valley have access to PCs. The question is then, how can people write in Torwali on their smartphones to communicate in their own language?

Wanting to make a specific Torwali script keyboard on Android smartphones, we contacted Google and worked with engineer Richard Sproat. Richard had experience building Tibetan and Khmer keyboards, and he helped us build  a Torwali keyboard into the Android Gboard keyboard. So now anyone with an Android phone running Jellybean or higher will be able to type in Torwali. To turn it on, just go to Settings in Android and then choose Languages & input > Virtual keyboard > Gboard > Languages > Torwali. (If you don’t have Gboard already, you can always download it from the Google Play Store here.)

Now people in the Swat Valley can use the keyboard to text their friends and family or update their status on social media. Endangered languages like Torwali can only be maintained by linking them with modern information technology, and a Gboard keyboard for Torwali is one step toward that goal​.

Indonesia’s YouTube creators Cameo Project: Laughter for Good

As part of our series of interviews with people using the Internet to do exciting things, we sat down with Cameo Project, Indonesia’s favorite comedic troupe on YouTube. They’ve been making relatable and funny videos about life in Indonesia since 2012, and have been using comedy to raise awareness about important social issues for young people. They were named YouTube’s Creators for Change Ambassadors last year.

As we announced at the YouTube Pop-up Space in Jakarta today, Cameo Project is teaming up with local NGOs—the Maarif Institute and Habibie Center—on a cross-country project to encourage students to create videos for positive change on topics that affect their community. They’ll also run workshops on YouTube to create content that can make a difference.

Here we speak to the members of Cameo Project about their plans to shine a light on the importance of diversity in Indonesia, and why they think video is the best medium to affect the change they want to see.  

The guys of Cameo Project

The Cameo Project

You’ve made videos confronting difficult and heavy topics such as racism, inclusion, and bullying. What prompted you to enter into these conversations, and why on YouTube?
We think video is the best medium for communication, and YouTube makes sense because it’s where you find the world’s biggest video audience. To make an impact, we have to deliver our message on the platform where we’re heard the most.

Through video, we can illustrate our points of view in a way that resonates with our audience—often in a humorous way, but in a way that is thought-provoking and honest, too. Indonesia is a diverse country with many different voices and perspectives—and we want to show that those differences are there to complement each other, and to make us stronger.

What feedback have you gotten from your viewers about these “social change” videos?
The responses are varied. The Internet is a platform for free expression, so even though some viewers may not personally agree with us, we hope they still appreciate our point of view.  We also understand that haters will be haters, and positive messages don’t always go viral. However, we are encouraged by the fact that there are always people in the audience who give us constructive feedback, which helps us evaluate how we can get better.

MAYORITAS VS MINORITAS #GUEMAYORITAS

MAYORITAS VS MINORITAS #GUEMAYORITAS

What do you think are the most important social messages that Indonesian youth need to hear today?
Create for good, make positive content, and embrace differences. The strength of Indonesia lies in its diversity. Because we’re different, we complement each other, and that’s unifying.

What’s the best part about being an Ambassador for YouTube’s Creators for Change program?
We get to meet young people from different cities all across Indonesia, and we get to remind them that you can change people’s lives through the positive content you create. And they can make money while doing it too! Doesn’t that sound like a dream? Work from home, make positive content, AND get paid.  

You’re also teaming up with two local NGOs—the Maarif Institute and Habibie Center. Can you tell us more about that?
The work we do will create a bigger impact if we have more hands joining us.  It’s humbling to be named a role model for young people, but we definitely can’t do it alone—it makes sense to work with organizations that have been working on social change initiatives for years. So as part of the Creators for Change program in Indonesia, we will join forces with local NGOs with similar objectives: to make the Internet a better place for  youth.

With Maarif Institute for instance, we will have a program to show how diversity can lead to many good things for the country. We will travel and meet high school and university students in ten cities and share what it’s like to be YouTube creators and how they can play a part in creating a positive online community. We will also give technical workshops for those interested in becoming YouTube creators, and provide them with a challenge where they have to make videos that they think will affect positive change in their home city.

Dive into Okinawa’s stunning—but endangered—underwater world

Editor’s note: We’ve invited Christophe Bailhache of The Ocean Agency, a nonprofit working to preserve our oceans, to tell us about its collaboration with Google. Together, we’ve brought imagery of the waters around Okinawa, Japan online for the world to discover on Street View.

Google Street View doesn’t just offer a way to explore the world—it can also help conservation efforts by documenting landscapes threatened by environmental change. This is why The Ocean Agency is working with Google to capture underwater landscapes around Okinawa, making 360˚ panoramic imagery of the marine habitat in Japan’s southernmost region available on Street View.

The oceans off Okinawa are home to a stunning underwater world, with beautiful reefs, unique coral landscapes, and a rich variety of fish and other marine life.

While dive sites like the mysterious rock formations of Yonaguni have captured the imagination of divers and marine biologists for many years, part of the marine habitat has sadly come under stress of coral bleaching and terrestrial changes. And the 99% of people in the world who don’t dive will never get to know this environment first hand, which makes finding ways to show and explain what’s happening here even more important for ocean conservationists like us.

Explore the ocean in Okinawa with underwater Street View

Explore the ocean in Okinawa with underwater Street View

A rise in seawater temperatures is the main culprit behind the reefs’ deterioration. Okinawans have undertaken a number of initiatives to save the reefs. For example, the community in Onna has come together to transplant corals, creating the largest man-made coral field at over 2.5 hectares (that’s about the size of 4 football fields).

Yamada Point

The coral plantation at Yamada Point was built by local fishermen, who nurtured broken corals, creating this unique site of tens of thousands of corals planted on metal sticks

We built a series of unique underwater camera systems to document marine landscapes in 360° panoramic vision, and we’ve trained local divers to use one of these systems in order to monitor the changes to Okinawa’s marine environment. These divers will now be able to collect more imagery, expanding the Street View collection over time.

With this new Street View collection, we look forward to bringing the beauty of Okinawa’s oceans to many more people around the world, raising awareness of the challenges the reefs are facing, and creating a scientific record that helps marine biologists track the changes in these marine habitats.

Dive into Okinawa’s stunning—but endangered—underwater world

Editor’s note: We’ve invited Christophe Bailhache of The Ocean Agency, a nonprofit working to preserve our oceans, to tell us about its collaboration with Google. Together, we’ve brought imagery of the waters around Okinawa, Japan online for the world to discover on Street View.

Google Street View doesn’t just offer a way to explore the world—it can also help conservation efforts by documenting landscapes threatened by environmental change. This is why The Ocean Agency is working with Google to capture underwater landscapes around Okinawa, making 360˚ panoramic imagery of the marine habitat in Japan’s southernmost region available on Street View.

The oceans off Okinawa are home to a stunning underwater world, with beautiful reefs, unique coral landscapes, and a rich variety of fish and other marine life.

While dive sites like the mysterious rock formations of Yonaguni have captured the imagination of divers and marine biologists for many years, part of the marine habitat has sadly come under stress of coral bleaching and terrestrial changes. And the 99% of people in the world who don’t dive will never get to know this environment first hand, which makes finding ways to show and explain what’s happening here even more important for ocean conservationists like us.

Explore the ocean in Okinawa with underwater Street View

Explore the ocean in Okinawa with underwater Street View

A rise in seawater temperatures is the main culprit behind the reefs’ deterioration. Okinawans have undertaken a number of initiatives to save the reefs. For example, the community in Onna has come together to transplant corals, creating the largest man-made coral field at over 2.5 hectares (that’s about the size of 4 football fields).

Yamada Point

The coral plantation at Yamada Point was built by local fishermen, who nurtured broken corals, creating this unique site of tens of thousands of corals planted on metal sticks

We built a series of unique underwater camera systems to document marine landscapes in 360° panoramic vision, and we’ve trained local divers to use one of these systems in order to monitor the changes to Okinawa’s marine environment. These divers will now be able to collect more imagery, expanding the Street View collection over time.

With this new Street View collection, we look forward to bringing the beauty of Okinawa’s oceans to many more people around the world, raising awareness of the challenges the reefs are facing, and creating a scientific record that helps marine biologists track the changes in these marine habitats.

Dive into Okinawa’s stunning—but endangered—underwater world

Editor’s note: We’ve invited Christophe Bailhache of The Ocean Agency, a nonprofit working to preserve our oceans, to tell us about its collaboration with Google. Together, we’ve brought imagery of the waters around Okinawa, Japan online for the world to discover on Street View.

Google Street View doesn’t just offer a way to explore the world—it can also help conservation efforts by documenting landscapes threatened by environmental change. This is why The Ocean Agency is working with Google to capture underwater landscapes around Okinawa, making 360˚ panoramic imagery of the marine habitat in Japan’s southernmost region available on Street View.

The oceans off Okinawa are home to a stunning underwater world, with beautiful reefs, unique coral landscapes, and a rich variety of fish and other marine life.

While dive sites like the mysterious rock formations of Yonaguni have captured the imagination of divers and marine biologists for many years, part of the marine habitat has sadly come under stress of coral bleaching and terrestrial changes. And the 99% of people in the world who don’t dive will never get to know this environment first hand, which makes finding ways to show and explain what’s happening here even more important for ocean conservationists like us.

Explore the ocean in Okinawa with underwater Street View

Explore the ocean in Okinawa with underwater Street View

A rise in seawater temperatures is the main culprit behind the reefs’ deterioration. Okinawans have undertaken a number of initiatives to save the reefs. For example, the community in Onna has come together to transplant corals, creating the largest man-made coral field at over 2.5 hectares (that’s about the size of 4 football fields).

Yamada Point

The coral plantation at Yamada Point was built by local fishermen, who nurtured broken corals, creating this unique site of tens of thousands of corals planted on metal sticks

We built a series of unique underwater camera systems to document marine landscapes in 360° panoramic vision, and we’ve trained local divers to use one of these systems in order to monitor the changes to Okinawa’s marine environment. These divers will now be able to collect more imagery, expanding the Street View collection over time.

With this new Street View collection, we look forward to bringing the beauty of Okinawa’s oceans to many more people around the world, raising awareness of the challenges the reefs are facing, and creating a scientific record that helps marine biologists track the changes in these marine habitats.

Celebrating Penpan Sittitrai, Thailand’s master of fruit carving

Today’s Doodle in Thailand celebrates national artist Penpan Sittitrai and the delicate art of fruit carving, which she mastered, skillfully turning every fruit and vegetable she touched into something truly exquisite.

Penpan Sittitrai doodle

The tradition of fruit carving has been around for centuries, initially carried out to decorate the tables of the Thai royal family. Over time, it has turned into a staple at most cultural events — something would be amiss at a Thai wedding without one of these as a centerpiece. But it’s at Songkran, the Thai New Year festival, when this custom is especially popular.

Penpan Sittitrai

Penpai carving a mango (Image source: the family’s private photo collection)

Penpan Sittitrai is Thailand’s most famous fruit carving artist. Using nothing but a simple carving knife, she shaped watermelons into delicate leaves and mangoes into elegant swans. Nature was Sittitrai’s favorite theme, and from girlhood through her golden years, Sittitrai practiced her craft, elevating it to a form of fine art.

Penpan left behind many legacies, including her book “The Art of Thai Vegetable and Fruit Carving,” so anyone, anywhere can learn how to turn their apple-a-day into a work of art.

Celebrating Penpan Sittitrai, Thailand’s master of fruit carving

Today’s Doodle in Thailand celebrates national artist Penpan Sittitrai and the delicate art of fruit carving, which she mastered, skillfully turning every fruit and vegetable she touched into something truly exquisite.

Penpan Sittitrai doodle

The tradition of fruit carving has been around for centuries, initially carried out to decorate the tables of the Thai royal family. Over time, it has turned into a staple at most cultural events — something would be amiss at a Thai wedding without one of these as a centerpiece. But it’s at Songkran, the Thai New Year festival, when this custom is especially popular.

Penpan Sittitrai

Penpai carving a mango (Image source: the family’s private photo collection)

Penpan Sittitrai is Thailand’s most famous fruit carving artist. Using nothing but a simple carving knife, she shaped watermelons into delicate leaves and mangoes into elegant swans. Nature was Sittitrai’s favorite theme, and from girlhood through her golden years, Sittitrai practiced her craft, elevating it to a form of fine art.

Penpan left behind many legacies, including her book “The Art of Thai Vegetable and Fruit Carving,” so anyone, anywhere can learn how to turn their apple-a-day into a work of art.

Celebrating Penpan Sittitrai, Thailand’s master of fruit carving

Today’s Doodle in Thailand celebrates national artist Penpan Sittitrai and the delicate art of fruit carving, which she mastered, skillfully turning every fruit and vegetable she touched into something truly exquisite.

Penpan Sittitrai doodle

The tradition of fruit carving has been around for centuries, initially carried out to decorate the tables of the Thai royal family. Over time, it has turned into a staple at most cultural events — something would be amiss at a Thai wedding without one of these as a centerpiece. But it’s at Songkran, the Thai New Year festival, when this custom is especially popular.

Penpan Sittitrai

Penpai carving a mango (Image source: the family’s private photo collection)

Penpan Sittitrai is Thailand’s most famous fruit carving artist. Using nothing but a simple carving knife, she shaped watermelons into delicate leaves and mangoes into elegant swans. Nature was Sittitrai’s favorite theme, and from girlhood through her golden years, Sittitrai practiced her craft, elevating it to a form of fine art.

Penpan left behind many legacies, including her book “The Art of Thai Vegetable and Fruit Carving,” so anyone, anywhere can learn how to turn their apple-a-day into a work of art.

Bringing digital skills training to more classrooms in Korea

Recently a group of Googlers visited Ogeum Middle School in Seoul, where they joined a junior high school class that had some fun trying out machine learning based experiments. The students got to see neural nets in action, with experiments that have trained computers to guess what someone’s drawing, or that turn a picture taken with a smartphone into a song.

Ogeum School - Giorgio Cam

Students at Ogeum Middle School trying out Giorgio Cam, an experiment built with machine learning that lets you make music with the computer just by taking a picture. It uses image recognition to label what it sees, then it turns those labels into lyrics of a song.

We’re always excited to see kids develop a passion for technology, because it seeds an interest in using technology to solve challenges later in life.

The students at Ogeum Middle School are among the first of over 3,000 kids across Korea we hope to reach through “Digital Media Campus” (or 디지털 미디어 캠퍼스 in Korean), a new digital literacy education program. Through a Google.org grant to the Korea Federation of Science Culture and Education Studies (KOSCE), we plan to reach junior high school students in 120 schools across the country this year. Students in their ‘free semester’—a time when middle schoolers can take up electives to explore future career paths—will be able to enroll in this 32-hour course spanning 16 weeks beginning next month.

KOSCE-trained tutors will show kids how to better evaluate information online and assess the validity of online sources, teach them to use a range of digital tools so they can do things like edit videos and create infographics, and help them experience exciting technologies like AR and VR. By giving them a glimpse of how these technologies work, we hope to excite them about the endless possibilities offered by technology. Perhaps this will even encourage them to consider the world of careers that technology opens up to them.  

Helping kids to recognize these opportunities often starts with dismantling false perceptions at home. This is why we’re also offering a two-hour training session to 2,000 parents, who’ll pick up tips to help their kids use digital media.

We ran a pilot of the program last year, and have been heartened by the positive feedback we’ve received so far. Teachers and parents have told us that they appreciate the skills it teaches kids to be competitive in a digital age. And the students are excited to discover new digital tools and resources that are useful to them in their students.

While we might not be able to reach every high school student with this program, we hope to play a small role in helping to inspire Korea’s next generation of tech innovators.

Bringing digital skills training to more classrooms in Korea

Recently a group of Googlers visited Ogeum Middle School in Seoul, where they joined a junior high school class that had some fun trying out machine learning based experiments. The students got to see neural nets in action, with experiments that have trained computers to guess what someone’s drawing, or that turn a picture taken with a smartphone into a song.

Ogeum School - Giorgio Cam

Students at Ogeum Middle School trying out Giorgio Cam, an experiment built with machine learning that lets you make music with the computer just by taking a picture. It uses image recognition to label what it sees, then it turns those labels into lyrics of a song.

We’re always excited to see kids develop a passion for technology, because it seeds an interest in using technology to solve challenges later in life.

The students at Ogeum Middle School are among the first of over 3,000 kids across Korea we hope to reach through “Digital Media Campus” (or 디지털 미디어 캠퍼스 in Korean), a new digital literacy education program. Through a Google.org grant to the Korea Federation of Science Culture and Education Studies (KOSCE), we plan to reach junior high school students in 120 schools across the country this year. Students in their ‘free semester’—a time when middle schoolers can take up electives to explore future career paths—will be able to enroll in this 32-hour course spanning 16 weeks beginning next month.

KOSCE-trained tutors will show kids how to better evaluate information online and assess the validity of online sources, teach them to use a range of digital tools so they can do things like edit videos and create infographics, and help them experience exciting technologies like AR and VR. By giving them a glimpse of how these technologies work, we hope to excite them about the endless possibilities offered by technology. Perhaps this will even encourage them to consider the world of careers that technology opens up to them.  

Helping kids to recognize these opportunities often starts with dismantling false perceptions at home. This is why we’re also offering a two-hour training session to 2,000 parents, who’ll pick up tips to help their kids use digital media.

We ran a pilot of the program last year, and have been heartened by the positive feedback we’ve received so far. Teachers and parents have told us that they appreciate the skills it teaches kids to be competitive in a digital age. And the students are excited to discover new digital tools and resources that are useful to them in their students.

While we might not be able to reach every high school student with this program, we hope to play a small role in helping to inspire Korea’s next generation of tech innovators.