Google’s smart contact lens one step closer to reality as licensing deal signed

Hand holding

Google’s vision (sorry) of smart contact lenses that monitor glucose levels in diabetics are one step closer to reality as it signed a commercial licensing deal with Alcon, the eyecare division of the pharmaceutical giant Novartis.

The lens uses sensors to measure the glucose content of tears and transmit that data to a smartphone app that automatically alerts users if their levels are too high or too low. Google reported back in January that it has completed several clinical trials, and that it would be partnering with other companies to manufacture the devices …  Read more

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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Live blog: Google co-founder, Google[X] leader Sergey Brin at Code Conference

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We’re live on the scene at the Code Conference, and now that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has finished up his interview and demonstration, Google co-founder and Google[X] leader Sergey Brin has entered the hot seat. Re/code’s Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher are interviewing Brin, and you can find our live updates from the interview below:

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100 billion searches a month, but a million miles to go, say Google founders

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In Google’s annual Founders Letter, Larry Page revealed that Google was handling more than 100 billion searches a month, but said that the service was still “a million miles” from the service he’d like to see Google become.

In many ways, we’re a million miles away from creating the search engine of my dreams, one that gets you just the right information at the exact moment you need it with almost no effort.  That’s partly because understanding information in a deep way is a hard problem to solve …

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Google rewarding three top executives with bonuses of more than $3 million

Googler Patric Pichette

Googler Patric Pichette

In a filing with the SEC today, Google has revealed that it will be giving three of its top executives bonuses of more than $3 million. Co-founder and CEO Larry Page will not be awarded a bonus, nor will co-founder Sergey Brin. The two co-founders also take a salary of $1 a year, as their wealth is tied almost entirely into Google stock.

Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora will be receiving a $3.5 million bonus, up from $2.8 million last year. Chief Legal Officer David C. Drummond will receive a bonus of $3 million, down slightly from the $3.3 million he was paid last year. Finally, Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette’s bonus increased to $3 million from $2.8 million.

Last month, Google announced that it had paid Eric Schmidt $6 million in cash and given him $100 million in restricted stock.

The bonuses issued to Arora, Drummond, and Pichette will be paid out on March 14th.

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Google will battle Amazon in Drone retail delivery war circa 2015-2020

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos shocked Charlie Rose on Cyber Monday Eve (great timing for the PR-savvy retail giant) by showing him the future of delivery services – autonomous drones that will pick up and deliver wares from fulfillment centers. From which we can conclude that Charlie Rose doesn’t read 9to5Google, where the concept is old news.

We mentioned way back in February that Google was already working on drone delivery services:

Along with Glass, Google will have an opportunity to demonstrate other upcoming and Google X projects like driverless cars and mini-drone delivery systems at its stores.

We reference it again when the company launched the trial of its ‘Google Shopping Express’ same-day delivery service to Bay Area residents:

Google, in the long run, plans to use self-driving cars and flying drones as means of delivery.

And again:

9to5Google also heard this service was coming, and we have some more somewhat wild information on the program. Google, in the long run, plans to use self-driving cars and flying drones as means of delivery. We also heard Google’s delivery project came from the Google X incubator headed by cofounder Sergey Brin.

Clearly there are a lot of hurdles to jump on the way to this vision (privacy, theft, accidents, visual pollution, etc, etc). but it’s equally clear that these two Silicon Valley heavy-weights are prepping to battle in the skies above.

Google might have gotten there first, but Amazon definitely wins the PR battle so far: a short concept video for a service which doesn’t yet exist, and which even optimistically it doesn’t expect to launch for a couple of years, got everyone talking about them. Including Charlie Rose. Video below …

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Leaving Google for Xiaomi nothing personal but “a dream job,” says Hugo Barra

barra

Hugo Barra, Google’s former VP of Android product development, says his move to Xiaomi was planned long before it emerged that Sergey Brin was romantically involved with his former girlfriend.

In an interview with AllThingsD, Barra said that the opportunity to play a key role in the global expansion of the company dubbed ‘the Apple of China’ was one he could not resist.

“To me, right away, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, truly a dream job, this idea of building a global company which could be as significant as Google from the ground up,” said Barra. “It was just something that I will never come across, with a team whom I know, with a company that has DNA similar to my own and, on top of that, to live in Asia for at least some period of time” …  Read more

Hugo Barra resigns from position at Google, will join China’s Xiaomi

Image: Wired.com

Image: Wired.com

According to a new report from AllThingsD, citing “sources in position to know”, one of Google’s top Android executives is leaving the company. The report states that Hugo Barra, who was the vice president of product management for Android, will soon be departing the company to join Chinese phone maker Xiaomi. Xiaomi produces its own high-end Android-based devices, though with a heavy custom skin on top. Barra originally joined Google in 2008 as a group product manager, having previously worked for speech firm Nuance, and has moved up the totem pole since then.

This news comes on the heels of Andy Rubin, the creator Android, stepping down from his position earlier this year. Given that Android is Google’s top product right now, Barra’s decision, especially when coupled with Rubin’s departure, will undoubtedly cause some tension within the company. Barra often appeared on stage at Google events, most recently at the second-generation Nexus 7 unveil.

AllThingsD also says that Barra tendered his resignation only recently, but that it was before he ended a romantic relationship with another Google employe. It is now believed that Sergey Brin, who recently split from his wife, is currently involved with Barra’s ex.  Sticky.

Update: Barra’s G+ statement:

A new Android chapter

After nearly 5½ years at Google and almost 3 years as a member of the Android team — the most amazing group of people I’ve ever worked with in my life — I have decided to start a new career chapter.

In a few weeks, I’ll be joining the Xiaomi team in China to help them expand their incredible product portfolio and business globally — as Vice President, Xiaomi Global.  I’m really looking forward to this new challenge, and am particularly excited about the opportunity to continue to help drive the Android ecosystem.

It has been an amazing ride and true honor to be part of the Android team at Google, and I especially want to thank +Andy Rubin , +Hiroshi Lockheimer , +Sundar Pichai and +Vic Gundotra for their phenomenal support and mentorship over the years.

+Android team, I will truly miss you all!

Sundar Pinchai’s statement:
Congratulations to Hugo on his exciting new adventure. We’ll miss him at Google but we’re thrilled that he’s sticking with Android. Best wishes Hugo!

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Tesla’s Elon Musk in talks with Google over self driving vehicle tech, says sensor system still too expensive

Sergey-Brin-Pink-Model-S-Tesla

(Googlers turned Sergey Brin’s Tesla Model S into a pink Batmobile for April Fool’s Day)

According to a report from Bloomberg, Tesla’s Elon Musk has discussed with Google the possibility of adding self driving vehicle technology to its fleet of all-electric cars. The problem, says Musk, is that Google’s approach to the technology is currently too expensive compared to camera-based systems:

“The problem with Google’s current approach is that the sensor system is too expensive,” Musk said. “It’s better to have an optical system, basically cameras with software that is able to figure out what’s going on just by looking at things… “We’ve had some technical discussions with Google” about its Light Detection and Ranging, or Lidar, laser tracking system, Musk said last week, noting that it’s an expensive approach that may not prove feasible, Musk said.

While it’s possible Google could contribute to bringing the driverless features to future Tesla vehicles, Musk told Bloomberg it’s more likely the company will develop its own “autopilot system”. That’s something that other automakers are already doing with Toyota, Lexus, and Audi all showing off self-driving car technology at CES back in January: Read more

Googlers turn Sergey Brin’s Tesla Model S into a pink Batmobile for April Fool’s Day (Photos)

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Google’s Nathan Johns posted a picture of an all-pink Tesla Model S yesterday complete with the official bat signal on its hood, bat wings as a spoiler, and Chrome’s logo embedded in the middle of its alloys.

This candy-coated Tesla apparently belongs to Google cofounder Sergey Brin. According to Search Engine Round Table, Brin’s beloved and spirited Googlers played an elaborate April Fool’s Day prank last Monday and transformed his zero-emissions car into a cute flashy Batmobile.

Brin—seen driving his Tesla around LinkedIn’s headquarters in the image above (via Brian Li)—is sometimes called “Batman” around Google because of his Batcave-like Google X repository.

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On eve of US elections, Google’s Sergey Brin makes plea to end political parties

Late last night, Google’s Sergey Brin took to his Google+ account to post his thoughts on the eve of the U.S. elections and offer a plea to the winner. Brin explained he is “dreading today’s elections,” while describing government as “a giant bonfire of partisanship”:

I must confess, I am dreading today’s elections…Not because of who might win or lose…Not because as a Californian, my vote for President will count 1/3 as much as an Alaskan (actually it won’t matter at all — I’m not in a swing state)…Not because my vote for Senate will count 1/50 as much as an Alaskan…But because no matter what the outcome, our government will still be a giant bonfire of partisanship

His request for the winner? Withdraw from any political party and govern independently:  Read more