Want to know what the future will be like? Look no further than Mountain View, Calif. In yesterday's New York Times, Claire Cain Miller and Nick Bilton offered a peek inside Google X -- a development lab for projects so secret even most Google employees aren't aware they exist.
Some of the projects at play: Driverless cars. Space elevators that can carry us to the post-ozone penthouse suite. Robots that go to the office for us while we stay home in our PJs. Dinner plates that post Facebook status updates on what we just ate. They're all part of the "Internet of Things" Google is working hard to enable (so it can sell ads against them).
[ Want to cash in on your IT experiences? InfoWorld is looking for stories of an amazing or amusing IT adventure, lesson learned, or tales from the trenches. Send your story to email@example.com. If we publish it, we'll keep you anonymous and send you a $50 American Express gift cheque. ]
Per the Times:
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.
Of course, that's just the stuff the Times reporters could dig up. According to my inside sources (that is, people I know who never leave their homes), that's just the tip of the Gberg.
Here are a few of the other projects Google is secretly working on -- or will be soon.
Google Solar System. The logical extension to Google Earth. Using high-res imagery from its fleet of secret interplanetary satellites, Google will offer detailed maps of Mars, Venus, Uranus, and so on, along with turn-by-turn directions. (Sorry Pluto, you didn't make the cut. Again.)
Google You View. Think Google Street View for your entire life. Tiny robotic vehicles follow you around everywhere, collecting data on what you do while displaying contextually relevant advertising. (Going to the loo? Please don't squeeze the Charmin.) Hey, if we're going to be paranoid about what Google knows about us, we might as well go all in.
Googlent Green. Seven billion people crowded onto a tiny planet, while nearly a billion go hungry? The solution seems pretty clear. Create an environmentally friendly snack food that's both delicious and nutritious, while simultaneously ensuring you'll always be able to find a parking spot when you really need one. I'll bet Google is already working on an algorithm to separate the eaters from the eaten. (Fat and stupid? Front and center, please.)
Gtime. A time machine -- duh! Employing faster-than-light neutrinos, Google engineers will be able to go back in time to alter history so that products like Google Buzz and Google Wave never happened. Fortunately, Googlers will be forbidden from going into the past to do evil (unless it involves Facebook).
The Germinator. Eventually, of course, Google will invent relentless robotic killing machines, which it will then send back through the Gtime machine to prevent Mark Zuckerberg's parents from ever meeting -- defeating the anti-Google revolution before it has a chance to begin.
If you had Google's money and talent, what would you invent? Post your wacky ideas below or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article, "Google: Bringing you the future today," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.