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Google X: The secret lab where robots run free

Welcome to Google X, the secret lab, where 100 beyond-your-imagination ideas are working their way towards realization; in the imaginary world of Google X, robots go to work instead of you, refrigerators order groceries, your car drives to your destination while you play games on your smartphone. If that’s not called ‘easy living’, then what is?

[in picture: Google’s driverless car]

These are just a few of the dreams being chased at Google X, the clandestine lab where Google is tackling a list of 100 shoot-for-the-stars ideas.Google is so secretive about the effort that many employees do not even know the lab exists.

Although most of the ideas on the list are in the conceptual stage, nowhere near reality, two people briefed on the project said one product would be released by the end of the year, although they would not say what it was.

A Google spokeswoman, Jill Hazelbaker, declined to comment on the lab, but said that investing in speculative projects was an important part of Google’ s DNA. “While the possibilities are incredibly exciting, please do keep in mind that the sums involved are very small by comparison to the investments we make in our core businesses,’ she said.

At Google, which uses artificial intelligence techniques and machine learning in its search algorithm, some of the outlandish projects may not be as much of a stretch as they first appear, even though they defy the bounds of the company’ s main Web search business.

For example, space elevators, a longtime fantasy of Google’ s founders and other Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, could collect information or haul things into space. (In theory, they involve rocketless space travel along a cable anchored to Earth.) “Google is collecting the world’ s data, so now it could be collecting the solar system’ s data,’ Mr. Brooks said.

Google may turn one of the ideas ‘” the driverless cars, unleashed on California’ s roads last year ‘” into a new business. […] Google could sell navigation or information technology for the cars, and theoretically could show location-based ads to passengers as they zoom by local businesses while playing Angry Birds in the driver’ s seat […].

Fleets of robots could assist Google with collecting information, replacing the humans that photograph streets for Google Maps, say people with knowledge of Google X. Robots born in the lab could be destined for homes and offices, where they could assist with mundane tasks or allow people to work remotely, they say.

Other ideas involve what Google referred to as the “Web of things’ at its software developers conference in May ‘” a way of connecting objects to the Internet. Every time anyone uses the Web, it benefits Google, the company argued, so it could be good for Google if home accessories and wearable objects, not just computers, were connected.

Among the items that could be connected: a garden planter (so it could be watered from afar); a coffee pot (so it could be set to brew remotely); or a light bulb (so it could be turned off remotely). Google said in May that by the end of this year another team planned to introduce a Web-connected light bulb that could communicate wirelessly with  Android devices.

Source: New York Times