Even to this day when one hears the word Google they immediately think of a search engine. Probably one of the most common misconceptions in my opinion. In actuality, Google is an experimental/experiential company with a ton of cash and plenty of fruitful ideas. Their employees are even allowed to spend 20% of their time working on personal projects and still being compensated for it. Crap, maybe I’m in the wrong business.
For many consumers the name Google represents the world’s largest search engine. One that currently captures approximately 67% of the search market share. The ton of cash Google has on hand is commonly used to fund public projects. Most of those are available to consumers and marketers to help us accomplish certain things on the internet more productively and efficiently. However, there is Google X which you may not have heard of before. A secret division within Google dedicated to pursuing some of the most secretive and top priority projects.
What is Google [x]?
Google [x] is a secret laboratory located a few miles from the Googleplex in Mountain View, California. Its major focus remains on technological advancements that help enhance certain daily functions of their users. Think teleportation, space elevators, driverless cars, and more. The Google driverless cars are actually set to hit the U.S. streets in Summer 2015. That is one longly anticipated mystery resolved. Other somewhat crazy and insane ideas consist of ability to teleport people from Earth to Mars and back. The entire aspect of teleportation has been in the works at Google [x] for some time now though.
Nobody really knows when Google [x] began or how long it has been a part of its company. As a matter of fact, even its employees remain questionable about the origins of this underground project. Judging by publicly available information it does appear that Google Research may in fact be the companion or perhaps the new entity behind Google [x]. Either that or Google got tired of all the ambiguous questions about it’s secretive project.
Google [x] Projects Currently in the Works
According to employees from Google [x] the entire operation is ran much like the C.I.A. (yikes!). The secretive project resides in two different locations – one at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California and the other in an undisclosed location. Its second location is solely designated for mysterious robotics endeavors. You may recall a recent acquisition of Boston Dynamics aimed to continue Google’s pursuit of curiosity in robotics. If you Google various queries of the robotics company there will be a plethora of information available at your disposable to learn more about a robotics division currently in operation within Google [x].
The discreet nature behind Google [x] stands mainly in play due to its secret investors. One of the last things that a private investor wants to hear is a public discussion regarding a Google [x] project that they’re currently funding. That wouldn’t be a good way to impress them so Google attempts to keep a lid on majority of its Google [x] projects. Unless an investor feels comfortable to publicize certain information about a particular project.
While there’s nearly a 100 different types of projects currently in the works at Google [x], the company has publicized a few of those that are perhaps deemed worthy of a public discussion.
Those projects including the following endeavors:
- Project Glass or also known as Google Glass
- Project Loon
- Self-driving cars
- Project Wing
- Google contact lenses
- Lift Labs
- Google’s Neural Network
There’s a few of these that are catching a lot of buzz so let’s chat a little about each one of these.
Project Glass/Google Glass
Google Glass was the first of its kind and also an intent to put a stronger push on wearable technologies. It was an attempt by Google to create a ubiquitous computer with intent of mass-market distribution. Google Glass is a type of optical head-mounted display (OHMD) intended to operation in a smartphone-type handsfree environment. It is driven through natural voice commands and powered by the internet to return information based on the user’s naturalistic query. A prototype of Google Glass became available to “Google Explorers” on April 15, 2013 at a hefty price tag of $1,500. One year later Google decided to offer Project Glass/Google Glass publicly at the same price in limited quantities.
Finally on January 15, 2015 Google decided to put a halt on its Google Glass project but chose to remain committed towards continued product development. So, for the time being Google Glass remains intact within the Google [x] program but unfortunately in an unknown state.
Project Loon is an endeavor launched inside the Google [x] program with intent of providing global internet connectivity to rural and remote areas. Google plans on accomplishing this by launching a series of balloons in the atmosphere. These millions of balloons will utilize satellite technology for signal but ultimately enable internet connectivity to consumers from anywhere in the world. Even if you’re in the middle of a Montana mountain or the Sahara desert, you will be able to buzz for rescue. I do not wish that either one of you get sick in any of these locations though. Presenting the other 5 billion people in the world with internet access options is something that Google [x] found quite intriguing.
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Project Loon seems to be gaining momentum. It started out with an experimental exercise of testing balloons in the stratosphere. These balloons at first would last several hours in the stratosphere but in recency some of its latest models are breaking the 100+ day mark. Initially Google [x] offered a 3G-type network access but due to evolution in technology they are focusing on implementing a 4G-type network for faster data transfer.
According to sources, one of these Project Loon balloons apparently landed unexpectedly near Bragg City, Missouri. The balloon had been up in the sky for nearly 14 months prior to losing control and crash landing in a field. It certainly ended up being the talk of a small town.
Google Self-Driving Cars
Google’s continued interest in autonomous technology has been known for several years. All the way back to when it first introduced its first self-driving Toyota Prius nearly five years ago. Another secretive project that falls within the Google [x] umbrella. Luxury car brands such as Audi or Mercedez strived for autonomous technology as well. Several online debates may indirectly imply that Google was technically the first company to coin the autonomous vehicle technology. From what we know though is that Google intends on eliminating human driving within the next five years.
I am not quite sure whether that is feasible given the variety of government regulations prohibiting cars on the road to be solely autonomously driven. Definitely a stride for Google [x] program though in leading with technological innovation.
Certainly by now you’ve heard about Amazon’s drone delivery system. Google is also working on a drove delivery service that will most likely be launching to the public in the near future. One of the differentiations though between Amazon’s drone delivery and Project Wing is the fact that Google’s drones are supposedly unmanned. Sounds a bit scary, right? Well, of course and hence why the government is having a field day with approval of such system. Project Wing is still undergoing significant amount of testing before it becomes available to the public.
Google’s Contact Lenses
One of the most interesting projects in the Google [x] program is the enhanced contact lenses. Apparently Google has broken a technology through contact lenses aimed towards diabetics. The new Google contact lenses are designed to detect the glucose levels of individuals and able to determine any potential for diabetes. This specific technology measures specifically the glucose in tears before determining whether or not a person is at risk of diabetes. These contact lenses, if approved can assist diabetics with measurement of their blood sugar levels.
In 2014 Google acquired a new company by the name of Lift Labs. It was later added to the life sciences division of Google [x] program. This is particular project stands especially close to me due to its Parkinson’s Disease focus because of a family member. Lift Lab’s ‘Liftware’ spoon product allows for counteraction of Parkin’s Disease effects and ultimately tremors resulting from it. The spoon’s built-in accelerometer creates stabilization and allows people with such disease to digest food with better comfort. This is a technology that will yet sophisticate but definitely on the verge of its full potential.
Google’s Neural Network
When I first heard about this project it was completely mind-blowing to me to fully understand its capabilities. The Google Neural Network is essentially an artificial intelligence piece that can learn, think, and react on its own. With such groundbreaking technology we may end up being used as robots after all. Once the network hit the web it was able to detect cats in YouTube videos on its own. Scary, right? In essence though Google’s Neural Network may in fact be an extension of Google Images. You know, dropping an image on Google Images and allowing the search giant to detect the object inside the image or able to recognize a certain public figure.
What will the Google [x] program add next to its list of projects? It is difficult to say but most definitely something to be on the lookout for in near future.