Google's 10 Oddest, Most Intriguing Works in Progress

Google's 10 Oddest, Most Intriguing Works in Progress
Google Invests Heavily in Robots
Google Experimenting With Taxi Services
Google Joins Automakers in Developing Driverless Cars
Google Aims for the Moon
Google Fiber Growing Slowly
Project Loon Floats Trial Balloons
Smart Contact Lens Do More Than Sharpen Vision
Calico Tackling Health, Wellness Issues
Google Expands Renewable Wind Energy Resources
Google X Envisions Space Elevators
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Google's 10 Oddest, Most Intriguing Works in Progress

By Don Reisinger

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Google Invests Heavily in Robots

When it was announced that Google had acquired DeepMind, the first thought that came to any Google-watcher's mind was robots. In just the past year, Google has made nearly 10 robotics-related acquisitions and has invested heavily in places like Japan, where robotics is developing at a rapid pace. The company has also put Andy Rubin in charge of that effort. With the addition of DeepMind's technology, expect Google's hopes of creating a high-end robotic experience to come to fruition eventually.

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Google Experimenting With Taxi Services

Here's an odd one: Google was recently awarded a patent on a technology that would allow consumers to get free taxi rides. The impetus for the taxi company to offer such a service is that it would sell ads through Google's services and—according to the patent filing—potentially generate more revenue. Is Google bringing its digital-advertising strategy to the real world?

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Google Joins Automakers in Developing Driverless Cars

There's nothing more odd or interesting in Google's portfolio of test technologies than the company's driverless car. Although it's still years from actually getting on the road in large numbers and gaining regulatory approval, the concept works somewhat well. And now other carmakers, like Honda, are reportedly investing in a similar technology. The race is on for the driverless car.

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Google Aims for the Moon

Google wants to go back to the moon. But rather than do all the work itself, the company is holding a contest, called the Lunar X Prize, that rewards companies, organizations, groups, institutions and others interested in going galactic for the progress they make toward getting to the moon. To win the grand prize, a team must get a lunar rover onto the moon, drive it 500 meters and send back two "Mooncasts." Google is giving out $40 million in prizes, but participants must get to the moon by Dec. 31, 2015, so the clock is ticking.

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Google Fiber Growing Slowly

Google Fiber is the search giant's foray into bank end of the Internet business. Although Google Fiber has been slow to build out, the service is offering extremely fast Internet speeds. Google Fiber is supposed to be expanding as time goes on, but for now, it's up and running in Kansas City.

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Project Loon Floats Trial Balloons

Project Loon is a fascinating idea that could go a long way in improving the lives of those in rural or underdeveloped areas. The idea is simple: Google will float balloons over the designated areas and provide an Internet signal to those living there. Google plans to focus on areas in which the Internet isn't available or is hard to come by.

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Smart Contact Lens Do More Than Sharpen Vision

Google earlier this month introduced its "smart contact lens project." The contact lens will be worn on a person's eye and will measure glucose levels every second. The technology would act as an early warning system for those who have diabetes or are at risk of getting it. Google is already working with the Federal Drug Administration to see if it can bring the technology to the market.

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Calico Tackling Health, Wellness Issues

Google wants you to live longer. That's why the company announced that it has formed a subsidiary, known as Calico, that will tackle health and well-being. The company will try to use technology to make people healthier, reverse aging and ultimately live longer. Interesting fact: It's being run by Arthur D. Levinson, Apple's chairman.

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Google Expands Renewable Wind Energy Resources

Through its "green" efforts, Google has relied heavily upon wind farms to power its data centers and ultimately help it achieve its goal of powering its operation with 100 percent renewable energy. Google earlier this month bought a second wind farm in Texas and has invested in four new wind farms in Sweden. Don't be surprised if a Google wind farm pops up in a neighborhood near you.

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Google X Envisions Space Elevators

Google X is a semi-secret organization within the search giant that is charged with coming up with ideas that will change the way we live our lives in the future. Last year, the organization made waves when it was announced that Google X was looking into developing a space elevator to lift people and payloads into orbit. Such a technology is probably years away, but it's not as far-fetched as it sounds and NASA has been working on this idea for many years.

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