Google was not built in a day. To make Google, ‘Google’, required a man’s fierce and relentless ambition to tame technology for the benefit of humanity; a man’s dream to accommodate the future in the present, and a belief that the improbable is a given and the seemingly impossible is likely. The man is known as Larry Page, the Founder & CEO, Google, famous for being notoriously dissatisfied with ideas that fail to drive technology to at least 10x ahead.
Google as an internet company requires no prologue. The level of its accomplishment of has been such that it has left an unbelievably high watermark in the field of technology, thereby setting a towering benchmark for other companies. In fact, the company’s constant thirst to further innovate the innovated, and to evolve holistically are actually the reasons why Google is where it is today.
Page’s grand vision in its true sense, is represented by Google X, a semi-secret lab fostering technological experiments, situated in the premises of Googleplex. The latest buzz at Google is the “moonshot” factory where scientists and engineers are working on a myriad of projects like self-driving cars, Project Loon – to provide internet service via balloons in the stratosphere, high altitude wind turbines etc., along with the lab’s newest futuristic research—ingestible nanoparticles that would monitor people for diseases.
Two of the most ambitious technological bets of Google to watch out for, are:
1. Project Loon: Google is working on this project with a mission to provide the remote and rural areas with internet connection. The technology employs high-altitude balloons placed in the stratosphere at an altitude of about 32 km to create an aerial wireless network with up to 3G-like speeds. The balloons are maneuvered by adjusting their altitude to float to a wind layer after identifying the wind layer with the desired speed and direction using wind data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Google’s chief goal for Loon remains to blanket underserved areas of the world such as Africa, where only 10% of people have Internet access. Similarly, keeping this technology cost-effective is Google’s one major focus.
2. Nanoparticles: This is apparently the most secretive research being carried out by Google. The purpose of this research is to employ ingestible “painted” magnetic nanoparticles that can bind to cancerous cells and other biomarkers in our body and allow scientists to “read” what they find. If the research culminates into a success then cancer and other deadly diseases may be detected as soon as they manifest.
Commenting on Google’s new research, Chad Mirkin, who directs the International Institute for Nanotechnology at Northwestern University said, “It’s very exciting that a company with Google’s financial firepower is taking on this big challenge, but what Google is doing is an intent to do something, not a discovery or a pathway to get there. At this point, the technology is speculative: it’s basically a good Star Trek episode.”
Google acknowledges that the basic idea is nothing new, for researchers have been developing magnetic nanoparticle diagnostics and treatments for years. In fact, Andy Conrad, Head of the Life Sciences team at the Google X research lab, asserted, “essentially the idea is simple”, but executing it isn’t. The company is quite optimistic about its project, for when it comes to innovation, Google has always encouraged people to think big instead of incremental progress. It has been there, done that; dreamt and achieved, thereby putting criticism to rest. Google’s Self- Driving car is one of those inventions which was once considered nothing short of impossible. But it turned out to be a breakthrough.
The industry experts are of opinion that the culmination of the nanoparticles project into reality is likely to take more than five years as the research is still in its embryonic stage.
Last week, Conrad revealed that Google is soon to launch a health-tracking wristband, a medical device that can only be availed of if prescribed by the doctors or used for clinical trials.
The wearable can measure pulse, heart rhythm and skin temperature, as well as collect environmental information like light exposure and noise levels.The information collected would be seamlessly continuous, a feature Google believes will allow doctors to get a better idea of a patient’s health.
Despite embodying an extraordinary streak of innovation, Google has had its own share of failures. One of the biggest highlighters of Google’s futility has been the Google Glass. The product not only bombed in the market but also ignited a mockery parade, forcing Google to finally announce its discontinuation. Nonetheless, the product would always be considered as a seminal invention in the field of virtual reality.
The success of Google is unparalleled. What started in January 1996 as a research project on search engines by two Stanford PhD students (Larry Page and Sergey Brin) emerged to be one of the largest and the most powerful think tanks of the world. Upon being asked about the mantra of his success, Page maintained:
“If you ask an economist what has driven economic growth, it’s been major advances in things that mattered – the mechanization of farming, mass manufacturing, things like that. The problem is, our society is not organized around doing that. People are not working on things that could have that kind of influence. We forget that it really does matter that we don’t have to carry our water; it’s not that much fun to walk miles and miles to try to find water and then carry it back under human power. And our ability to generate clean, accessible water is based on basic technologies: Do we have energy? Can we make things? My argument is that people aren’t thinking that way.”
Page’s words encapsulate his passion to evolve incessantly in the pursuit of novelty with a systematic process of innovation. This is the reason why Google is so much more than just the biggest search engine in the world. In fact, if technology is snowballing today, Google has played an extremely pivotal role in it- from Android Os to Robots to Virtual Reality; from high-tech hot balloons to Nanotechnology; from Medicine to many more. It will be really interesting to see what lies on the platter next – immortality?