Google nest egg projects show its ambition in personalised medicine, smart homes and robotics

Posted on January 22, 2014


Google’s development and horizontal expansion into markets not associated with internet search continues unabated. Fanfares come so thick and fast that you could be jaded by the constant din. Except a lot of what the big G does is future now, from Glass to the driverless car. Prepare yourself for jetpacks and teleportation at this rate.

Google smart contact

Making contacts
Personalised medicine is a new one for them as far as I am aware, but once the company started tinkering with wearable devices it was only a matter of time. Concepts for technology such as Google’s smart contact lens have been around for years. This particular lens measures blood sugar levels and could offer diabetics a level of comfort and control not offered by even the most convenient needle stick testers.

One in 19 people globally suffers from diabetes, says Google. We could have a discussion about the diet choices people make, but that kind of cultural change is beyond even Google’s massive influence. Using a tiny wireless chip inside a contact lens to measure glucose is still a novel thought. Sandwiched between two layers of soft transparent polymer, the chip could generate a reading every second and alert the user to low blood sugar using tiny inlaid LEDs. Prototypes are being refined in clinical trials and the company says it will look to develop apps that both patient and doctor can use to regulate the disease.

Nest thermostat

Meter men
Control your heating by app, email, or thought (not really) sir? Nest Labs is a smart home appliance manufacturer that just hit the jackpot when Google snapped it up for a bargain $3.2 billion in cash. The company will retain its brand name but acquire a lot of fancy R&D spend from the mega-corp’s coffers. It was perhaps inevitable as Google had already invested in the maker through its Ventures arm.

Connected homes are a hot topic following the CES Show in Las Vegas. Android@Home did not set the smart market alight with compatible devices when it launched a couple of years ago but the hope is that Nest will provide users with a warm fuzzy feeling in the bedroom and the bathroom and the lounge and… etc.

Robotic mayhem
It could be lucky seven for Google as the company added to its intellectual property warehouse by purchasing no less than seven robotics companies. Who needs luck when you’ve got megabucks eh? Seriously though, it must be so much fun turning up to work there to find out what they’ve bought next. Buys include design and engineering studio Bot N Dolly who provided the robotic arms used in Alfonso Cuaron’s ‘Gravity’, cute pixie robotics makers Meka and soldier droid specialists Boston Dynamics. Cue cool videos…

Completing the set are Schaft, whose robot was a DARPA challenge trial winner, joint venture Redwood and Industrial Perception. Ranging from creepy killers to cutesy carers, not forgetting the kind of industrial pickers and packers that will take all of your Amazon jobs relieve humans of their most menial tasks, big G has got a full house. Just for fun go to either Redwood or Meka to see the notice about ‘building the robot revolution’. Watch this space.