Google has "top-secret lab" in the Bay Area dubbed 'Google X', staffed with roboticists and electrical engineers working over about 100 ideas, developing an elevator to outer space or robots that could go to work for you, New York Times reports.
In interviews, a dozen people discussed the list; some work at the lab or elsewhere at Google, and some have been briefed on the project. But none would speak for attribution because Google is so secretive about the effort that many employees do not even know the lab exists.
Although most of the ideas on the list are in the conceptual stage, nowhere near reality, two people briefed on the project said one product would be released by the end of the year, although they would not say what it was.
Among others, one such concept the "driverless cars" that the company unleashed on California's roads last year -- "Google now is considering manufacturing them in the United States, said a person briefed on the effort," reports NYT.
"Other ideas involve what Google referred to as the "Web of things" at its software developers conference in May -- a way of connecting objects to the Internet. Every time anyone uses the Web, it benefits Google, the company argued, so it could be good for Google if home accessories and wearable objects, not just computers, were connected.
Among the items that could be connected: a garden planter (so it could be watered from afar); a coffee pot (so it could be set to brew remotely); or a light bulb (so it could be turned off remotely). Google said in May that by the end of this year another team planned to introduce a Web-connected light bulb that could communicate wirelessly with Android devices," NYT reports.
According to the NYT, robots play a big part in Google X:
"Robots figure prominently in many of the ideas. They have long captured the imagination of Google engineers, including Mr. Brin, who has already attended a conference through robot instead of in the flesh.
Fleets of robots could assist Google with collecting information, replacing the humans that photograph streets for Google Maps, say people with knowledge of Google X. Robots born in the lab could be destined for homes and offices, where they could assist with mundane tasks or allow people to work remotely, they say."
A Google spokeswoman, Jill Hazelbaker, declined to comment on the lab, but said that investing in speculative projects was an important part of Google's DNA. "While the possibilities are incredibly exciting, please do keep in mind that the sums involved are very small by comparison to the investments we make in our core businesses," she said.
Sergey Brin, Google's co-founder, is deeply involved in the lab, said several people with knowledge of it, and came up with the list of ideas along with Larry Page, Google's other founder, who worked on Google X before becoming chief executive in April; Eric E. Schmidt, its chairman; and other top executives. "Where I spend my time is farther afield projects, which we hope will graduate to important key businesses in the future," Mr. Brin said recently, though he did not mention Google X.