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November 14, 2011

A Peek Into Google's Secret Development Lab

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

If you're into secrets and conspiracy theories, you'll love this one, which involves one of the world's most innovative and prosperous technology companies.

The New York Times today is reporting for the first time on the existence of Google (News - Alert)-X, a top-secret lab where clandestine products and services are undergoing development and testing. So not only is it mysterious and shadowy (its exact location is unknown, though it's thought to be in the California Bay Area) it even has a mysterious and shadowy name.

Cool, yes?

So what goes on at the Google-X lab? The New York Times theorizes that it may be developing projects such as smart appliances (a refrigerator that is intelligent to know when it's running low on certain groceries and ordering them from online grocery delivery services, for example), robots and space elevators (a concept often used by late science fiction Grandmaster Arthur C. Clarke as a less expensive alternative to costly rocket launches of payload into space).

Although most of the ideas on the list are in the conceptual stage, says the New York Times, sources told the paper that one of the products in development at the lab would be released by the end of the year – though they couldn't say what it was. (Supposedly many Google employees were unaware of the lab's work).

“They’re pretty far out in front right now,” Rodney Brooks, a professor emeritus at M.I.T.’s computer science and artificial intelligence lab and founder of Heartland Robotics, told the Times. “But Google’s not an ordinary company, so almost nothing applies.”

Personally, I'm waiting for the robot who will clean my house. Any progress on that, Google?

Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell
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