Boris Smus

interaction engineering


Conversational Translation

In-person multilingual conversations mediated by novel hardware

2018 — now

Our work on enabling live translation in everyday glasses was the closing feature at the Google I/O 2022 keynote: Let's see what happens when we take our advances in translation and transcription, and deliver them in your line-of-sight. — Sundar Pichai, CEO (video)

Extensive coverage on The Verge, Endadget, etc.

WebXR (née WebVR)

Open-source design and development

2015 — 2017

When the web's VR ecosystem was still nascent, I helped to bootstrap it and make the WebVR API available even on low end devices like Google Cardboard. I built and maintained libraries like the WebVR Polyfill to provide head tracking and lens distortion in vanilla JavaScript. I created VR View to help webmasters embed interactive stereo 360 imagery. WebVR Boilerplate helped me build numerous creative VR experiences to inspire and help novices get started with VR on the web.

Google Tone

Transmit the URL of the current browser tab to computers within earshot, over audio.

2015 - 2019

When you press the blue megaphone button in your browser bar, the computer's speakers emit a combination of audible and inaudible sounds that any nearby machine with a microphone can pick up. The signal triggers a Chrome notification. Clicking it opens the transmitted URL in a new browser tab.

Covered on the Google Research blog & Techcrunch.

  • US9,882,658 Communicating Data with Audible Harmonies. Smus B., Getreuer P. T. 2017
  • US9,811,311 Using Ultrasound to Improve IMU-based Gesture Detection. Smus B., Plagemann C., Mohan A., Rifkin R. M. 2014
  • US 2018/0063572 Methods Systems and Media for Synchronizing Media Content with Audio Timecodes. Smus B. 2016

Try Google Tone

Google Cardboard

An award-winning, inexpensive virtual reality viewer for smartphones.

2014 - 2017

I invented, prototyped, and built the magnetic input method for the Cardboard headset. The initial run was 10,000 units. There are now more than 20 million viewers out there.

Try Cardboard

Web Audio

Open-source development and writing

2011 — now

I could write an ode to the web platform and to the power of the web Audio API. When I worked with Chrome Developer Relations, I had the opportunity to write a number of articles on the Web Audio API, which came together in an O'Reilly Book. Since then, I have been an avid user of the API, which came together in a number of open source projects.

Physical Computing

Reality is underrated

2011 — now

I like creating things with my hands. It's a nice remedy to staring at screens all day long. Here are some projects that require more than fingers typing on a keyboard.


iWeb and

2007 — 2009

Developed software architecture for significant portions of and implemented new features for iWeb and the iWork suite in Objective-C. Also:

  • Created a text and object selection engine in JavaScript.
  • Built a cross-browser graphics library using SVG, Canvas and VML.
  • Prototyped new product ideas using JavaScript and Ruby on Rails.
  • Wrote parts of the Microsoft Office document viewer for iPhone Mail.

  • US2010/0095198 Shared comments for online document collaboration. Bultrowicz M., Smus B. 2008

Social Computing

Crowdsourcing and visualization projects

2011 — now

My Crowdforge research at CMU showed that Microtask markets like MTurk can be used to accomplish complex tasks. I then got a taste for the wisdom of the crowds, as well as their foolishness. Could random people on the internet be corralled to create a tech tree? Could they be asked to tinker with an evolutionary origami art system? Could people with opposing viewpoints be brought together to participate in friendlier debates?