Driverless Cars and Green Tech: What Google Is Doing Outside of Search

Driverless Cars and Green Tech: What Google Is Doing Outside of Search
Google, the Mobile Dominator
A New Sales Pitch for Notebook Technology
Watch Out, Microsoft Office
Is Anyone Driving That Car?
A Faster Google Fiber Network
Bringing WiFi to the World With Balloons
Contact Lenses for Better Health
Yep, That's a Google Drone
Google Glass for the Next Version of Eyewear
All of That Makani Work
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Driverless Cars and Green Tech: What Google Is Doing Outside of Search

By Don Reisinger

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Google, the Mobile Dominator

One area besides search that Google is a major player in is mobile. The company's Android platform is by far the most popular in the world and, according to researchers, will stay that way for the long haul. Plus, Google has several hardware products in its Nexus line that appeal to folks. Add that to the popular Google Play store, and it's a recipe for mobile success.

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A New Sales Pitch for Notebook Technology

One of the surprising things about 2014 is that the computer market saw a rebirth thanks in large part to notebooks. Google was a big reason for that. Devices running on Google's Chrome operating system were wildly popular, topping sales charts and putting competitors to shame. Chrome OS is becoming a worthwhile option for consumers and enterprise customers alike. Who would have predicted that?

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Watch Out, Microsoft Office

While Microsoft Office has little chance of losing significant market share anytime soon, the platform is seeing increasing competition from Google's Docs. From its document application to its spreadsheet program, Google's Office alternative is at least a compelling (and free) option for those who want to break away from Microsoft.

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Is Anyone Driving That Car?

Google made a splash several years ago with the announcement of a driverless car. The autonomous vehicle was designed so passengers could get around town without actually driving the car. Since then, Google has brought several improvements to the technology, which uses lasers to identify objects and react accordingly. In addition, it has a software algorithm that tells it how it should respond to different objects. Now it appears Google is looking to partner with automakers to bring its technology to cars.

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A Faster Google Fiber Network

Google is competing against cable and satellite companies in the form of Google Fiber. The company's service provides fiber connections to the home and high-speed networking. Google Fiber isn't anywhere near a national product, but the company expects to roll it out to more markets in the coming year. It should be interesting to see how that factors into a possible merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

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Bringing WiFi to the World With Balloons

Project Loon is arguably one of Google's most ambitious ventures. Google has devised a way to bring Internet connectivity to parts of the world that have poor or no Internet access via balloons. Those balloons fly high above the clouds—even higher than airplanes—and beam Internet access below. The technology could bring the next billion people online.

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Contact Lenses for Better Health

Like many other companies, Google is investing heavily in health technology. Last year, the company showed off a contact lens that can determine a person's blood sugar level to help in managing diabetes. Health care firm Novartis has since licensed the technology from Google, ostensibly finding value in what the company has built.

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Yep, That's a Google Drone

While Amazon made a splash with a drone delivery program it called Prime Air, it wasn't alone. Google is also working on a drone delivery service that the company is calling Project Wing. The drone is capable of carrying small products, like water bottles, candy bars and vaccine vials. Google's technology seems a bit broader in its scope than Amazon's as it will not solely focus on logistics with consumers, but rather getting goods from one place to another.

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Google Glass for the Next Version of Eyewear

While Google Glass isn't the hit that many thought it might be when it was first unveiled, the technology is still out there and being improved each day. Google Glass is smart eyewear that provides users with all kinds of relevant information about the world around them, including names of bridges, directions to particular areas and other data. Google Glass has some work to do to become popular, but it's unique, if nothing else.

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All of That Makani Work

Makani is one of the more interesting acquisitions Google has made in the last few years. By acquiring Makani, Google has put itself on the front line of renewable energy, building everything from kites that can generate energy to a new type of wind turbine. Google-owned Makani is also working on software that allows products to generate more power with fewer materials.

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