22 December 2015

Time: “Google searches for its Future”

In Google’s idealized version of the future, we’ll be more dependent on the company than ever before. Already we’ve replaced memorization of basic facts with the search box, and knowledge of the layout of cities with Google Maps. As technology “fades into the background,” as Singhal puts it, the company’s presence in our lives could become both more pervasive and less overt, a series of continual, small interactions with Google rather than a transactional visit to its homepage. Many of Google’s competitors have the same aim.

Singhal says this can be liberating. Google converts data to information. You convert information to knowledge. And life converts knowledge to wisdom—for some, he says. If Google gives me the answer, that’s a good thing so that I can spend that extra five minutes or three minutes with our children. That enriches me in a different way. So that’s how I feel. We are kind of liberating humanity’s time from the mundane to the higher-order bits. I will never apologize for that.

Victor Luckerson

Interesting piece about Google’s long-term projects for search. The main challenge of course is precisely how technology tends to ‘fade into the background’, making the classic search box in a browser increasingly irrelevant. Google managed to stay ahead of the competition in the big shift to mobile thanks to the acquisition of Android. But the road ahead is much less clear for the current tech giants, Google included – that’s why you see them investing in seemingly unrelated directions, like cars, watches, glasses, drones and virtual reality. One of them has to be succesful, right?

Google searches for its Future

It’s no surprise that Singhal eventually combined his two passions in the form of a prototype wearable modeled after the communicator that Captain Picard and company use to interact with the Enterprise. The Bluetooth-enabled lapel pin, which Google has never before discussed publicly, is equipped with a microphone and is activated with a simple tap. The device, which could output sound through a speaker or accompanying headphones, allows users to talk to Google without having to fish out their cell phones.

I always wanted that pin, says Singhal. You just ask it anything and it works. That’s why we were like, Let’s go prototype that and see how it feels. The device has not made it past the testing phase, but it shows the extent to which Google engineers are willing to go to find a natural new way to search.

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