The name Google X denotes a research department of Google which goes far beyond the work of a search engine provider. The partly secret labs of the group probably work on a variety of projects, which include the fields of robotics and artificial intelligence. There is neither an official address nor an official website for the institution. A famous result from the laboratories of Google X is Google Glass. This research laboratory is supposed to release further technological milestones in the coming years.
Ever since the New York Times reported on it in November 2013, it is known that Google has its own research institute and is believed to conduct more than 100 projects there. The X in name Google X stand for unknown factor. The institution was created to search for previously unknown possibilities. Google’s co-founder, Sergey Brin, is believed to be the main person responsible for it.
One of the key members of staff in a leading position at Google X, is German robotics expert Sebastian Thrun. Since its inception, Google has been continuously promoting to add highly specialized experts to its research team. The objectives of Google X include the development of promising technologies and products, which act as a kind of “moonshot,” in other words similarly spectacular and pioneering as the first man on the moon.
The laboratory building of Google X is believed to be located on Google’s premises in Mountain View, but they are not marked as such on the outside.
Even if it is mostly about progress, Google still wants to make money. So the background for many projects is to be the market leader in hitherto untapped, scientific and economic fields. The project “Google Loon” is a very good example. If Google manages to provide developing countries with cheap coverage of Internet connections, the group creates new outlets for its advertising programs such as Google AdWords. Through the enormous revenue from search engine advertising, the Group has the necessary funds to support extraordinary research departments. Exactly what the budget of Google X is, remains unknown.
Many different projects are realized as part of Google X. Those which have already become known and publicly debated are outlined here briefly.
With the data glasses, Google Glass, Google engineers and scientists have delivered a first masterpiece, which is now also available on the US market. With the help of Google Glass, the virtual world is directly linked up to the real world. The market launch in the USA was, however, also accompanied by strong criticism.
This project is concerned with promoting the spread of the Internet in developing countries without strong infrastructure. The idea is to establish Internet connections via balloons that float high above the respective countries. In addition, these can also be supported by unmanned drones. Google acquired drone manufacturer Titan Aerospace in early 2014 for this purpose. Facebook pursues similar interests with respect to the expansion of the Internet in developing countries.
In 2014, Google has unveiled a contact lens that will not only improve the vision of the person wearing it, but will also help diabetics. This special contact lens measures the sugar content in the blood and could replace the painful measurement method via the blood.
Since 2010, Google has been testing cars that can move without a driver and repeatedly sends driverless cars on the road in the U.S. in cooperation with the respective authorities. The company collaborates with various car manufacturers on this project.
With Google X, the search engine company shows what technology could look like in the future, and promotes technical progress. Self-driving cars or smart contact lenses are only the beginning. Just looking at how fast Google has been advancing search engine technology, it will be interesting to see what ideas Google will implement in the future. In an increasingly networked world, the company from Mountain View will play an even more prominent role than today and is no longer solely a search engine giant, but a global technology giant. If you count the recent developments and acquisitions, (its own operating system, the world’s leading search engine, its own smartphone, Google Chromecast, etc.), you will get an idea of Google’s potential.