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Have you heard of Google X? It’s a secret laboratory located within the vicinity of Google’s headquarters where a special team of scientists and entrepreneurs aim to make world-shattering advancements to technology — the kind of progress that’s so advanced that you may confuse it with science fiction.
That’s the hope, anyway. The reality is that while Google’s employees are some of the most brilliant in the field, they’re still human. We won’t be seeing interstellar spaceships and time travel machines any time soon, but that doesn’t mean that their discoveries aren’t impressive. They definitely are.
Here are a few Google projects that are going to change the way you live within the next few years.
On-Demand Package Delivery
Drones are on the forefront of today’s cutting edge technology. They’re so versatile and effective that they’re going to transform several worldwide industries. One of the more practical uses for a drone, at least on an individual level, is the ability to make on-demand package deliveries.
Instead of waiting on cargo planes and cross-country trucks, what if a single drone could bring an item from a local warehouse and drop it off right at your doorstep? You may have heard that Amazon is pursuing this kind of delivery system with their Prime Air project, but did you know that Google is also looking into it?
It’s called Project Wing and it looks awesome. Before you assume that Google is copying Amazon, do note that Project Wing was conceived and began development at least one year prior to the debut of Prime Air. If anything, this shows that drone-based deliveries may actually become a reality soon.
Full-scale testing of the project is currently happening in Australia. It works like this. The drones remain airborne the entire time, never coming down due to the possibility of compromised civilian safety. Instead, packages are lowered using a tether that releases the package once it touches ground. Once released, the tether retracts and the drone returns home.
The goal is to be able to make city-wide deliveries within 1 or 2 minutes. Read more about it in the exclusive Project Wing reveal by The Atlantic.
Modular Smartphone Hardware
One of the great things about PCs is that hardware components are interchangeable. If a hard drive, RAM stick, or graphics card malfunctions or underperforms, you can always replace it with something else. Unfortunately this isn’t true for smartphones, but that may soon change thanks to Google.
Enter Project Ara, an initiative that aims to produce modular smartphones that are both affordable and accessible to everyday folks.
The modular design is what you might expect. The phone itself is just a structural frame, also known as an endoskeleton, comprised of multiple modules that can be plugged in and out at will. When upgrades are released, you won’t need to get a whole new phone — just swap out the outdated module and you’ll be good to go.
According to Time, the first market-ready Project Ara device will debut in the first quarter of 2015. The cheapest model, called a “grayphone,” will be a barebones device with an estimated price tag of $50.
The Self-Driving Car
If you haven’t heard of Google’s driverless car yet, you’re in for a treat. This fascinating bit of technology, once it’s ready, will be an overall improvement for society as a whole but will also provide notable benefits for you on a personal level, with the most important point being that humans do not make safe drivers.
We’re prone to errors, lapses in judgment, emotional instability, substance impairment, and a slew of other obstacles that could hinder proper driving procedure. On the other hand, self-driving cars don’t fall asleep, can’t be distracted, obey traffic laws, and have near-instant reaction times.
Autonomous cars are also good for the environment. Imagine a near future when self-driving cars have become the majority of vehicles on the road. Imagine if all of those cars were networked together such that they could communicate, ultimately forming “flocks” where every car is in perfect tune with every other car. In other words, optimal navigation.
No more wasted gas due to driving in circles when you’re lost. No more traffic jams due to rubbernecking or stop-and-go driving patterns. As the rate of accidents decreases, cars can be manufactured with lighter materials that are more fuel efficient and cheaper to produce. Combine that with advancements in electric engines and you’ve got a recipe for success.
We’re still at least a few years away from this scenario being feasible, but the possibility is within sight. All we have to do is get over the technological and legal problems that currently stand in the way.
Revolution In Healthcare
Google isn’t afraid to reach its tendrils out into fields that don’t really have a direct connection to gadgets, advertisements, or the Internet. Last year they announced the establishment of a new company named Calico that’s dedicated to biotech research and development.
Calico has big dreams. When the company was first announced, it generated a lot of hype around their lofty intent to cure death itself. Calico has been somewhat more grounded since that first announcement; for now, they’re mainly focused on partnering with Big Pharma to produce new drugs for cancer, Alzheimer’s, and more.
Google is influencing healthcare in another way as well. Do you remember Google Glass? It may not have caught on very well amongst consumers, but there’s at least one profession where Google Glass is showing a lot of promise: doctors.
SAP SE, a German software corporation, has developed an app that can connect Google Glass to a hospital’s information system, allowing doctors to pull up a patient’s medical history on demand. Observations made while wearing the Glasses can also be stored back in the system.
The main benefits come from the fact that Google Glass is hands-free, portable, and voice-activated — qualities that are important for busy doctors.
And then there’s the Google Contact Lens, which is a lens with a built-in sensor that can measure glucose in the wearer’s tears. The purpose of the project is to provide diabetics with a non-invasive way to maintain blood sugar levels.
Are You Ready For Google?
Some people don’t like how pervasive Google has become, even going as far as refusing to use Google at all. For them, the above advancements are just further proof that Google is way too big and way too powerful. But as for me, I’m eager to see how various limits will continue to be pushed by this tech company.
How do you feel about these Google projects? Are you excited or do you wish Google would stop putting their hands in every cookie jar? Tell us what you think in the comments below!
Image Credits: Google On Tablet Via Shutterstock