Google X Is Now Just X, Turns Serious About Business: Here Are The Moonshot Projects Worth Waiting For In 2016
It wasn't long ago when Google formed the parent company Alphabet, defining the branches of the numerous businesses that the company holds, which is also a benefit to investors.
To top it off, Alphabet renamed its semi-secretive research division Google X to simply "X" just recently, and it appears that the changes will keep on coming, as the Mountain View-based company also updated the logo: a 3D yellow X that seems to have taken design cues from modern art.
The robotics department is under X, which headlines innovations such as Google's self-driving cars, drones and many others. Google calls such projects "moonshots," so just to be clear, the company is not referring to a spacecraft on a mission to the moon – well, the Google Chrome experiment "A Spacecraft for All" comes pretty close to that.
On that note, here are some of the moonshot projects to be on the lookout for this 2016:
Using balloons as the name suggests, Project Loon is Alphabet's attempt to fill in the gaps and connect everyone online even in remote and rural areas. This technology will be especially useful to get people in disaster-stricken areas to provide updates about the goings-on to distant relatives or loved ones.
Project Wing is a drone-based delivery system that can get products to buyers' doorsteps efficiently, which is pretty similar to the Amazon Prime Air. If this takes off (no pun intended), Alphabet reportedly plans to license the service to multiple companies.
The company is producing something it calls "energy kites," where a wind turbine is positioned on them to gather energy in a higher atmosphere that an ordinary one can't reach. Even though it's an impressive source of clean energy, it's still unclear whether it's going to be a successful endeavor or not.
Alphabet is reportedly planning on launching a new fleet of driverless cars soon. More to the point, the company is said to have struck a deal with Ford, where a combination of the pair's technologies could prove to make reliable and tech-forward vehicles.
Internet of Things
At the Google I/O 2015 conference, the company unveiled Brillo, the Android-based OS for the Internet of Things. Thread is the "wire" that connects the devices, and Weave is the language they'll use to communicate.
What this entails is that compatible smart devices will become a whole system capable of making life simpler.
Technically, X isn't at the helm of Project Ara and Project Tango, but Alphabet considers the Google ATAP team, who are involved in the two smartphone projects, as its moonshot tech group outside of X.
Now, Project Ara is the modular smartphone took the world by storm in 2013, but it's still not released until now. This could be the year, though, as the team behind it announced in 2015 that it was looking for new locations in the United States to head off to.
Meanwhile, Google and Lenovo announced the first smartphone that'll feature Project Tango at CES 2016. The technology uses a combination of cameras and sensors to generate on-screen 3D objects, where it's estimated to take 250,000 3D measurements per second.
X has been hard at work to develop advanced lithium-ion batteries, which is expected to significantly last longer. Seeing as most of the devices under Alphabet will perform better with long-lasting energy sources, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the company has set its eye on this one. That includes Project Loon, which uses lithium-ion power packs to function.
Interestingly, Google Glass is no longer a part of X, where it's considered as a different Google product. It's along the lines of Maps, YouTube and Gmail, to name a few.
X has a ton of moonshot projects in store, ranging from AI and robotics to security and infrastructure. Assuming that the company will be able to proceed with things smoothly, we could see a lot more innovations in foreseeable future.