Google X Stories October 10, 2016

robot

Google has been using AI and neural networks to help robotic arms to learn for quite some time now. Back in March the company published a report detailing how its software-enabled robotic arms were being taught to learn how to pick up objects by themselves, and the Mountain View company further detailed this research just last week in a blog post showing off a few more different approaches for general-purpose skill learning — like opening doors.

It’s impressive tech, but as with many of Google’s other impressive tech experiments, it seems like this one is never going to actually become a source of revenue for the company — at least not directly. The Google robotics group wanted to sell the arms to manufacturers, but that plan ultimately got turned down by Alphabet executives because they failed the “toothbrush test” (via Bloomberg)…

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Google X Stories September 28, 2016

verily-alphabet

While Google is rumored to be prepping up to two new in-house made Android Wear smartwatches — which may or may not be featured in next week’s event — a spinoff of Alphabet‘s former Google X named Verily is still actively working on its health-tracking watch (via MIT Technology Review), which is slowly advancing towards being a finished product…

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Google X Stories September 8, 2016

project-wing-burrito

Project Wing, a unit of Alphabet, the holding company formerly known as Google, announced today that it will begin delivering Chipotle via Drones to Virginia Tech college students in Blacksburg. You aren’t dreaming. This is real.

My first reaction was checking the calendar (not April 1st) and then lamenting that I grew up in the wrong era. But immediately after that I began wondering if even Google is going to be able to scale this to meet demand…

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Google X Stories July 8, 2016

Google’s X division hires top SFMTA executive to help shape the future of automation

X, Google’s special division previously known as “Google X“, is on to big things. It’s not called a “moonshot factory” without reason; from crazy stuff like Project Wing to giant internet-delivering hot-air balloons and self-driving cars, you can tell that there’s some not-so-hidden ambition there.

And speaking of autonomous vehicles, it looks like the Mountain View firm is working hard to make sure that talent is always being looked after…

Google X Stories June 22, 2016

google-robot

Any SF fan will be familiar with Asimov’s famous Three Laws of Robotics, designed to ensure that robots were safe to be around. Scientists at Google, OpenAI, Stanford and Berkeley have just published a paper proposing the real-life equivalent for AI systems.

In a blog post summarising the proposal, Google Research’s Chris Olah says that while the team believes that AI will greatly benefit humanity, the risks do also need to be considered …

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Google X Stories May 24, 2016

In this June 10, 2013 photo released by Jon Shenk, a Google balloon sails through the air with the Southern Alps mountains in the background, in Tekapo, New Zealand. Google is testing the balloons which sail in the stratosphere and beam the Internet to Earth. (AP Photo/Jon Shenk) EDITORIAL USE ONLY
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In this June 10, 2013 photo released by Jon Shenk, a Google balloon sails through the air with the Southern Alps mountains in the background, in Tekapo, New Zealand. Google is testing the balloons which sail in the stratosphere and beam the Internet to Earth. (AP Photo/Jon Shenk) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Google is finally about to get the go ahead from the Indian government to run a pilot of Project Loon in India according to a report from the Economic Times. According to the sites source, an anonymous “top government official”, the nation is keen to test as many alternative methods of providing internet connectivity as possible. One of which is Google’s high-altitude balloons.

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Google X Stories April 29, 2016

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Google has in the past explored more than one type of electronic contact lens, but a patent published yesterday takes eye-based electronics to a whole new level. The company believes it can cure short-sightedness by removing the inferior biological lenses from your eyes and replacing them with motorized ones controlled by tiny computers.

The planned device […] contains a number of tiny components: storage, sensors, radio, battery and an electronic lens. The eyeball device gets power wirelessly from an “energy harvesting antenna.” The patent describes what looks like an external device to interface with the eyeball computer. The two will communicate through a radio and the ”interface device” contains the processor to do the necessary computing.

The description is not for the squeamish, especially when it comes to the insertion process …

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Google X Stories April 8, 2016

schaft

Update: Google has said that the robot is designed to be a ‘low-cost, low-power, compact device.’

While Alphabet is rumored to sell Boston Dynamics due to a lack of “marketable products”, it still owns quite a few robot companies. This morning one of them called SCHAFT showcased a bipedal robot that is capable of climbing stairs, balancing, and walking on difficult terrain.

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Google X Stories March 17, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 9.19.36 PM

Before former Android head Andy Rubin left Google, he headed up Google’s robotics efforts. In 2013, Google acquired numerous companies and added 300 robotics engineers. The crown jewel was Boston Dynamics, already known for their animal- and human-like robots. However, Bloomberg is now reporting that Alphabet is selling Boston Dynamics.

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Google X Stories February 26, 2016

project-loon-chicken-little

Project Loon is undoubtedly one of Google’s most inventive and ambitious projects to date. Formerly part of the Google X group, now under the ‘X’ Alphabet sub-division, these airborne signal boosters will provide high speed LTE coverage to rural areas in a number of developing markets. Sri Lanka and Indonesia are set to be among the first regions to get these stratospheric floating towers. In a G+ post, the team showed off how they get the balloons off the ground…

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Google X Stories February 16, 2016

loon

Google’s parent company Alphabet told a TED conference in Vancouver that its Project Loon Internet-delivery balloons had successfully delivered speeds of 15Mbps – fast enough for streaming video. It is preparing for carrier tests in Indonesia and elsewhere this year.

Alphabet X head Astro Teller said that the company tried a lot of unsuccessful balloon designs before finally finding one that was up to the job, reports Re/code.

There were shiny balloons and round balloons and balloons that looked like giant pillows. But eventually the company found a design that could be made cheaply and still navigate precisely. That balloon, Teller said, last year travelled around the world 19 times over 187 days last year.

Teller also shared a key part of the company’s approach to Alphabet X projects, along with details of two which the company has abandoned …

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Google X Stories February 9, 2016

self-driving car

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, has announced today that it will recognize Google’s self-driving car system as a legal driver. The announcement comes after Chris Urmson, the head of Google’s self-driving car project, petitioned that the government treat the initiative the same as it does normal driver cars.

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Google X Stories February 6, 2016

self-driving car

While Google has expanded its US-based autonomous vehicle trials to include both Texas and Kirkland, WA since its launch in Mountain View, it seems the company is being courted by another city across the pond. London transport officials are said to be in “active discussions” with Google to convince the tech giant to test its driverless cars in England’s capital…

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Google X Stories January 29, 2016

X – The Moonshot Factory 2016-01-29 10-10-58

We told you a couple of weeks ago about how Google[x] recently got a new coat of paint (now under the Alphabet umbrella and simply known as “X”), and now that coat of paint has hit the web. The site has a brand new design, a new logo, and within you’ll find a rundown the group’s newly refocused mission. Additionally, the new Graduated Projects page seems to mention some projects we’re familiar with and some that we haven’t heard of previously… expand full story

Google X Stories January 13, 2016

Google-X-logo-2016

Google’s secretive Google X division is getting a new focus at the company that includes rebranding and a new logo, Recode reports.

Among the changes for Google X, according to the report, is a rebranding to simply “X” and the new butter-like yellow logo pictured above. But perhaps more importantly, behind the scenes there will also be a renewed focus including a team put in place specifically to “steer moonshots through the life-or-death throes.” expand full story

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Update: The first business card for a Project Aura team member has popped up on Instagram.

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We know that Project Aura is the successor to Glass — or at least a project that’s being built by some of the same people that built Glass — but now we have our first look at the logo that Google designed for this new venture. A person familiar with the project tells us that the logo is meant to resemble a new wearable device that wraps around the head…

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Google X Stories December 21, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 8.39.17 PM

Flux Factory Inc. was founded back in 2010 in the Google X Labs. Shortly thereafter, the moonshot candidate was spun out into a private company. For those unfamiliar with it, Flux Factory provides collaborative design software for the architecture design and construction industry. Now, 5 years after being founded as a moonshot in Google X, Flux has raised $29 million in Series B funding.

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Google X Stories December 18, 2015

google

The Alphabet re-org is still ongoing and we likely won’t get official confirmation of what the spin-off companies are until the next financial earnings report in the new year. According to a report by Re/Code, Google’s robotic division and one of their internet projects is being moved to Google X.

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Google X Stories December 1, 2015

project loon google x

If you don’t follow Google as closely as we do here at 9to5Google (chances are you probably don’t), Nat & Lo’s videos are a great way to get yourself acquainted with the happenings in and around the Mountain View company. This couple of Googlers use their 20% time to make videos about the inner workings of Google itself, and the end product is an easy-to-understand look at some of Google’s most obscure (and not-so-obscure) projects.

This week, Nat & Lo are taking us on a tour of Project Loon, one of Google’s efforts to bring internet to the entire world… expand full story

Google X Stories November 25, 2015

project-loon

According to a recent filing with the FCC, Google is looking to test something with experimental radios that use a wireless spectrum in all 50 states and in Puerto Rico. The details on these tests are incredibly sparse at this point, but Google wants to start the process on January 1st and test for 24 months (via BI).

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Google X Stories November 23, 2015

Get a closer look at Alphabet Life Sciences’ ‘capicola’ health tracker in FCC photos [Gallery]

The then-under-Google X Life Sciences team made its “capicola” health tracker official in an interview with Bloomberg earlier this year, but until now we’ve only seen one stock image of the device. Andy Conrad, head of the life sciences team, was quoted at the time as saying that this device is to be used primarily for medical purposes, such as prescribed to patients or used in clinical trials. Now, we have another look at the device — which has the FCC ID A4R-CAP1 — in a little more detail…

Google X Stories October 28, 2015

project-loon

Google X’s incredibly ambitious Project Loon is expanding into another country soon. Parent company Alphabet today announced that it is teaming up with the three largest wireless carriers in Indonesia to test its Project Loon in Indonesia beginning next year. Google is targeting Indonesia because it is the fourth most populous country in the world, but two-thirds of its citizens lack access to Internet.

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Google X Stories October 13, 2015

google-x-project-wing-prototypes

Update: A report out of Re/code says that these drones aren’t actually Project Wing drones. They’re rather being registered for the company’s other drone project, Project Titan, which intends to provide internet access to remote or disaster-stricken locations. Google’s Project Titan is not to be confused with Apple’s Project Titan.

A couple of months ago, a report surfaced suggesting that Google was sidestepping FAA regulations by getting special approval from NASA to test its Project Wing delivery drones in the US. Now, it looks like the company (via Engadget) is actually getting approval for at least a couple of drones, as evidenced by a couple of entries in the FAA’s official registry… expand full story

Google X Stories August 21, 2015

Google’s X lab is famous for its ambitious undertakings building self-driving cars and balloons that beam Internet to the furthest reaches of the planet. Now all of its life sciences projects are moving on to greener pastures.

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Google X Stories August 17, 2015

google-x

If we want to understand why the percentage of women in working in the tech sector has dropped from 35% in 1990 to just 26% today, asking some women in tech for their thoughts on the issue seems like a smart thing to do. Re/code is doing just that, in a new video series entitled The 26%: Women Speak Out on Tech’s Diversity Crisis, and a Google X robotics expert was first in line …  expand full story

Google X Stories August 12, 2015

The Life Sciences group at Google, previously under the umbrella of the company’s experimental X lab, seems to now be holding its own under the newly-formed Alphabet parent company. It’s something that somehow went under the radar with Larry Page’s announcement of Alphabet, but it’s definitely notable. It’s yet another graduation from the skunkworks lab, and it’s recognition that the group is worthy of being its own company… expand full story

Google X Stories August 10, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 5.27.03 PMWith the announcement that Google has completely reorganized its entire business under a new parent company called Alphabet, there are still many questions floating around about what products belong with what companies now.

Thanks to Google’s SEC filing, we’ve got some answers on that front.

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Google X Stories June 25, 2015

Adam Savage of MythBusters fame gave an interesting interview with Google X’s Astro Teller back in October and you can now view the full video thanks to Tested. In the 25-minute video interview, which can be seen above, the two talk about a variety topics, ranging from Astro Teller’s childhood to Google’s self-driving cars. Another interesting topic discussed are the smart contact lenses the company is developing, as well as its goal to bring internet connectivity to everywhere.

Adam Savage welcomes Astro Teller to The Talking Room! Astro is Google’s ‘Captain of Moonshots’, directing the Google X lab where self-driving cars, smart contact lenses, and other futuristic projects are conceived and made real. Adam sat down with Astro at the Tested Live Show this past October to chat about the benefits of thinking big and failing quickly.

You can view the full video interview above.

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Google X Stories June 23, 2015

1200x-1

Every so often, Google officially comes out and tells the world about a project they’ve been working on inside Google X. In recent years we’ve heard about the glucose contact lens for diabetes patients, Google Glass, the self-driving car, and more. Now, Google has debuted (via Bloomberg), a new health-tracking wristband capable of monitoring heart rate, heart rhythm, skin temperature, and other useful information such as light exposure and noise levels… expand full story

Google X Stories April 10, 2015

Google-self-driving-car-01

According to a report today out of the Wall Street Journal, there’s a small team now working on battery tech within Google[x]—and it’s being spearheaded by former Apple battery expert Dr. Ramesh Bhardwaj. The group was originally started in 2012 with an intention of researching how other companies’ tech could be integrated into Google’s products, but “people familiar with the matter” say that the four person group has expanded to research technology that Google might “develop itself.” expand full story

Google X Stories March 17, 2015

astro teller

Google’s head of Google[x] Astro Teller took the stage today at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, to talk about the Mountain View company’s secretive experimental lab and the things that the team has learned over years of showing its ambitious projects to the world (via The Verge). Teller spent a lot of time talking about Google Glass—which is definitely one the better known projects to come out of Google[x]—and how this fame was actually part of where Google failed…

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Google X Stories February 16, 2015

Astro-teller

Google X boss Astro Teller spoke with the New York Times on the topic of the experimental lab and the value it produces for the company, saying that the X lab’s goal is to find new technology markets that the Mountain View company can jump into and problems it can solve.

According to Teller, Google gives X projects a longer period of time in which to prove they can become profitable. He specifically highlights the “Neural Network Project” (previously known as Google Brain) as one project that has turned a serious profit. In fact, Brain is now bringing in enough “value” to offset the costs of running the entire X lab, Teller says:

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Google X Stories January 30, 2015

Nest loses two executives as Dropcam co-founder and technology VP exit

Two Nest executives have flown the coop, The Verge reported today. Dropcam co-founder Greg Duffy has decided to leave the company, according to sources at the comany cited by the Verge. Yoky Matsuoka, vice president of technology for Nest, has also decided to bow out after what the report describes as a “culture clash” between the two companies threatened to drain Dropcam of its creative spirit.

Matsuoka, who helped create Google’s X division, will reportedly be heading to Twitter, though it’s not clear what role she will play. Duffy joined forces with Google when Dropcam was purchased by Nest last year for $555 million. Nest, of course, was already owned by Google at that point. Where Duffy will go next is unknown.

Google X Stories January 29, 2015

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dzI_azZEGI]

The Atlantic got to take an exclusive look inside Google’s medical sciences lab, where the company is developing crazy new technologies like a FitBit-style armband paired with a nanoparticle-laden pill that can detect cancer—a technology first noted as being in development by 9to5Google last June.

Also, they’re making fake arms out of real skin. Yes, real human skin.

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Google X Stories November 17, 2014

project-loon

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 …  expand full story

Google X Stories November 10, 2014

Kluft-photo-Moffett-Federal-Airfield-Oct-2008-Img_1911

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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Google X Stories October 31, 2014

larry-page

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 Stories October 28, 2014

red-blood-cells

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 Stories October 3, 2014

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. expand full story

Google X Stories September 23, 2014

Founder Sebastian Thrun left Google X in August, now serves solely as an advisor

Google X founder and Google VP Sebastian Thrun decided to leave his position last month, according to a change on his LinkedIn page picked up by TechCrunch. As confirmed by Google earlier today, Thrun will remain in an advisory role only at Google.

Thrun was a driving force behind the company’s efforts to build an automated car and also previously headed up the Google Glass project. However, both projects have since been passed to other leaders. The Google X division has also been the source of a variety of sometimes-outlandish technology, including smart contact lenses and balloon-powered Internet access.

Google X Stories September 18, 2014

airport

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 X Stories September 4, 2014

White House confirms Google VP Megan Smith as new Chief Technology Officer

As previously rumored, the White House confirmed today that Google executive Megan Smith will be its next Chief Technology Officer alongside former Twitter lawyer Alexander Macgillivray as its new Deputy U.S. CTO. President Obama said the following about the new hires in a statement (via The Washington Post):

“Megan has spent her career leading talented teams and taking cutting-edge technology and innovation initiatives from concept to design to deployment. I am confident that in her new role as America’s Chief Technology Officer, she will put her long record of leadership and exceptional skills to work on behalf of the American people. I am grateful for her commitment to serve, and I look forward to working with her and with our new Deputy U.S. CTO, Alexander Macgillivray, in the weeks and months ahead.”

Smith was previously a vice present at Google X, Google’s division for experimental projects like its self-driving cars and recently unveiled Project Wing drone project.

Google X Stories August 22, 2014

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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 X Stories July 31, 2014

Jeff-Huber

Today, genetics research firm Illumina announced that Google Senior VP Jeff Huber of the search giant’s Google X lab has been appointed to its board of directors. After a year with eBay, Huber joined Google in 2003 and has worked on several different platforms like Maps, apps and ads.

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Google X Stories July 24, 2014

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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 X Stories July 7, 2014

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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Google X Stories May 27, 2014

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 Stories May 6, 2014

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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