Google today greets you with an exuberant blue G, blowing up a green balloon and twisting it to form the word 'Google'. The Google doodle celebrates the company's 18th birthday. It all started in 1995 when Larry Page and Sergey Brin met up at Stanford University. Page was considering joining Stanford and Brin was assigned to show him around the campus. By 1996, they began collaborating on a search engine named, ahem, BackRub. When the search engine began to gather steam, the duo registered the Google.com domain name in 1997. There's been no looking back since then.
From the humble search engine to Gmail, from smartphones to driverless cars, Google has touched our lives, both online and offline. Here's a look at some of Google's coolest projects that could change your lives forever.
1. Driverless cars:
As the name suggests, Google's self-driven cars attempt to take humans out of the equation. The autonomous cars use laser technology to map the roads and surroundings. The car's sensors also work with software to predict movement of pedestrians and other vehicles on the road. The car will then automatically adjust its speed and trajectory to navigate safely. Driverless cars will also significantly help those who do not have the capacity to drive, either because of health reasons, disabilities or old age. These autonomous cars have been permitted for test drives in a few cities in the US, provided they come with test drivers at the wheel in case of an emergency. In 2014, Google unveiled plans to design these cars with no steering wheel and pedals, and hope to make these self-driving cars available to the public by 2020.
2. Contact lens:
Smart contact lenses are coming, and they could change your life, if you happen to be diabetic. The main purpose of Google's smart contact lens is to help monitor sugar levels in diabetic persons. So, what's the big deal you may wonder. But, if you were a diabetic, you would know that you have to keep a regular check on your sugar levels. Now, that means a lot of finger pricking. Smart contact lens spare you the hassle by measuring the glucose levels in your tears. What makes it amazing is that these lenses will be embedded with extremely thin microchips and an antenna, which enable round-the-clock monitoring. The smart lens will also warn the wearer when blood glucose levels deviate from the normal range.
3. Space elevator:
Yes, you read it right, an elevator to space. Haven't you ever wondered why invest all that money and time building rockets, why not just catch a lift to outer space? Google had been working on this project that would consist of a cable with one end attached to surface of Earth, and the other in space beyond the geostationary orbit. The project, however, has been but on the back burner until we manage to find a substance strong enough to withstand all the weight. According to the team's researchers, this would require a material ' which is stronger than the strongest of steel that we have'. So, that means, an elevator to space is a long way from here. But that said, this is probably the most ambitious of Google projects.
4. Project Loon:
This is literally internet in a balloon. The number of people connected to internet is growing by the minute. As more and more people get connected, a major part of the world still has no access to internet connectivity. Google's Project Loon hopes to fix this with a network of high-flying helium balloons that broadcast internet signals. The project involves fitting transmitters to balloons, which will fly in the stratosphere, latching on to layers of wind as directed by software algorithms. It was first tested in New Zealand in 2013. In case you didn't know, Loon is set for pilot tests in Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh.
5. Cancer-detecting pill:
Google is on our phones and in our cars and now it might soon be inside our bodies, too. In an attempt to tame the emperor of all maladies—cancer—Google is said to be developing a pill that can identify cancer and other diseases. The pill will be filled with nanoparticles that enter the bloodstream and can detect cancer cells and stick to them. Cancerous tumour cells are said to release early biochemical signals when they contract the disease. A wrist sensor creates a magnetic field which draws these magnetic particles. These particles are then studied for signs of cancer.