The first day of Google I/O centred around the Internet of Things, the next billion and Google Now on tap (read my overview here). However, day two dived deeper into some extremely difficult hardware and software problems Google is trying to solve.
Google’s ATAP (a division of Motorola that Google kept - and one of my personal favourites) is tackling some really interesting problems. This year they have made huge strides which will, I think, grab consumer attention - Project Soli and Jacquard - two advancements not just in technology but also material engineering and design...
Project Soli is truly amazing. It is a tiny sensor capable of 3D gesture recognition with sub-millimeter accuracy. As devices and screens are getting smaller it gets more difficult to accurately manipulate the content on them. This is where Soli comes in - it can detect your hand gestures and motion with startling accuracy allowing you to interact with a screen extremely precisely, without even touching the surface. Watch the demonstration below to see it in action:
This will revolutionise user interfaces, especially for wearables. In the picture below you can see the 10 month journey from the radio-sized prototype to the microchip device that can fit into a wearable.
This is the quite simply the future of clothing. ATAP has created a brand new conductive thread which can be weaved into clothing. The image below shows how the screen is mapping my touch on the fabric. The technology has many uses including, the ability to control the music on your phone by touching your sleeve.
This thread can be applied to any fabric, in any colour and is going to completely transform our clothing and how we interact with it. You want to dim the lights in your smart house? A simple gesture on your dressing gown can do that for you. [I feel like one more example would help here? Unlocking your front door using your coat perhaps?]
We all wear clothes all the time (well, most of us), and so this technology can easily slot into our lives, without us having to remember an additional device.
I played with Android Auto in the next Audi Q7 and it is a fantastic piece of technology and finally focuses the automakers on what they are good at - building cars - and not on the terrible software they create. And because it runs on your phone you can get OTA (over the air) updates without needing to get a new car to upgrade the software.
Virtual Reality (VR)
VR was a big part of the keynote and the footage from the new JUMP camera was very impressive, especially when you consider all you need is a phone, cardboard and headphones. Not to mention the camera that Google used will be open sourced so people can build their own rigs, and GoPro will be selling a fully rigged up version. I can honestly say that if Google get this right it will deliver incredible experiences for kids in school and for adults in gaming and entertainment.
How to innovate
I was also delighted to get the opportunity to chat to Astro Teller, Head of Google X, following his talk on how to innovate. Astro, is one of my favourite public speakers and I highly recommend you watch his Singularity University talks if you are interested in innovation. We discussed how crucial it is to silo an innovation team to allow them to truly innovate without interference from the rest of the business. He also suggested that you should try and fail as fast as possible. Any ideas you get signed off you should assign a team to try and disprove them throughout. It stops you wasting time and resources on projects that won’t succeed.
This year’s I/O provided a glimpse of the future for Google and computing, and I for one am super excited.