Google’s balloon-based Internet project moves into live testing with first carrier

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Project Loon, Google’s ambitious balloon-based project to bring Internet access to the two-thirds of the world’s population who don’t yet have it, is about to begin its first live tests with a real carrier, reports The Guardian.

Australian carrier Telstra is providing base stations and part of its radio spectrum to allow Google to carry out tests with 20 balloons. The base stations will provide a two-way radio link with the balloons, which will then broadcast an LTE signal back to the ground – each balloon providing a signal across up to 600 square miles …  Read more

Google to lease Moffett Airfield from NASA to use as home for its advanced research facilities

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Google has been using NASA’s Moffett Airfield as a home and launch pad for its private jets for several years now, but today, the company announced that it has singed a deal with NASA in which it will lease the airfield for the next 60 years. Google, via its real estate organization Planetary Ventures, will contribute $1.16 billion to the facilities over the lease, reducing NASA’s operation costs by $6.3 million annually.

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Larry Page talks mission statements, solving mankind’s problems, and more in wide-ranging interview

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Larry Page recently sat down for an interview with the Financial Times that covered a wide variety of topics regarding the past, present, and future of Google and Page’s vision for the company. The executive wastes no time in confessing that he believes Google may be expansive enough that it’s time to consider a new mission statement.

When Page and his co-founder Sergey Brin created Google, their mission statement was simple: “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Since then, the company has evolved into something beyond just a search engine, with a hand in everything from smartphones, to laptops, to robotics research, and even stuff that sounds like it came straight out of science fiction.

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Google X team is working on cancer sniffing blood bots

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Google is ready to take its obsession with search to a whole new level. The company’s super secret X division has been working on a new piece of tech that will help people sniff out signs of cancer and other nasty diseases. If it sounds like something from out of a sci-fi movie, it’s because it pretty much is. Today, Google revealed to The Wall Street Journal that it’s in the process of developing something that would use magnetic nanoparticles about one-thousandth the width of a red blood cell to check a person’s cells for trouble.

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Google X is reportedly developing seamless wall-sized screens using modular display tech

GoogleTV

The Wall Street Journal reports that the latest product under development at Google’s experimental Google X division are “giant TVs” made up of many smaller displays pieced together to create one seamless screen:

Google’s secretive advanced-projects lab is developing a display composed of smaller screens that plug together like Legos to create a seamless image, according to three people familiar with the project.

The various modular pieces that make up the display, according to the report, would allow for the ability to create large screens of varying sizes and shapes. WSJ notes that head of the Google X display division Mary Lou Jepsen, who previously founded various startups specializing in display technologies, is leading the project. Read more

Google X old hat, thinks Larry Page – proposes Google Y for even bigger challenges

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You might think Google’s ‘moonshot’ lab, Google X, is pretty out there, with autonomous cars, smart contact lenses and balloon-served Internet. But co-founder Larry Page seemingly thinks the company needs to look even further ahead: The Information (paywall) reports that he has proposed a second lab, Google Y, to look at even bigger issues.

The idea came out out of an initiative Page created called Google 2.0, designed to create a new set of goals for the company, an approach similar to that taken by the late Steve Jobs at Apple in 2010, where he created an off-site strategy-planning meeting for the top 100 people in the company.

A little over a year ago, Google CEO Larry Page convened his direct reports, the company’s dozen or so senior vice presidents, for a project that would take up two days a week for a couple of months. About 100 other employees below the SVP rank also participated in the effort, dubbed Google 2.0 …

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Google acquiring Gecko Design for help with X projects

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Google is acquiring Gecko Design, a firm that helps develop products for companies like Hewlett-Packard, Slingmedia, Dell, Fitbit and furniture maker Herman Miller. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed but the Los Gatos, California company will be rolled into Google’s X lab, which is responsible for items like Glass and the search giant’s driverless car.

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Google plans to create a ‘baseline’ of health from extensive data collected in new study

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Google is planning to collect data from 175 participants in a new study to attempt to create a statistical standard for what is considered a healthy person, the Wall Street Journal reported today. The data collected in this study, called Project Baseline, will presumably be used at some point in the future to monitor technology users for any signs of potential medical issues and alert them.

In the study, which will eventually be expanded to thousands of participants, Google X’s Dr. Andrew Conrad and a team of as many as 100 scientists in varying fields will collect anonymous molecular and genetic data in order to determine the idea traits of a healthy individual. These samples will come in the form of tissue, tears, urine, and more which will be collected this summer.

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Google’s co-founders on how they nearly sold the company, how they differ from Apple & more

In a ‘fireside chat’ with leading venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin talked about the moment they thought they’d sold the company to him for $1.6M.

There were four of us at the time – four grad students at Stanford. I remember, we fired off this note to Vinod. It was just a little e-mail that said, “We really don’t want to sell, but for $1.6 million, you got a deal.” And a few minutes later, we got a reply that said, “That’s a lot of dough, but ok we’ll do it.” That’s characteristic Vinod there. So then, ten minutes later, Scott – one of the four of us – comes running in, laughing. Huge grin on his face. He had faked the reply and back then, the ethics around faking emails weren’t quite the same. Anyway, so he had that big joke. The deal obviously never came to fruition, and we went our own way to build search …

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Sergey Brin: Google Glass will be a “commercial product” this year (give or take)

Sergey Brin, Google, Code Conference

While on stage at the Code Conference, Google co-founder Sergey Brin talked Google Glass with Re/Code editors Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. When asked about the commercial availability of the product, Brin said that he hopes it will be available to all consumers by the end of the year. He remarked that “Google Glass will be a commercial product this year…plus or minus.” The timeline for Glass has been a bit cloudy since its announcement, but hopefully Google finally follows through this time around.

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Google X says no to jetpacks, just not practical

Astro-teller

Google X, Google’s top-secret lab thought about creating a jetpack, but determined the idea wasn’t practical. The same R&D group that didn’t shy away from trying to build a space elevator felt that such a contraption might not fit in with Google’s eco-friendly projects.

Astro Teller, Google X’s “Captain of Moonshots,” is tasked with overseeing long-term projects that think outside of the box to solve serious world problems. We’ve seen some exciting things like Glass come out of Google X, but sometimes things just don’t work. One of the team’s abandoned ideas was a secure jetpack.

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