Love it or hate it, Google is one of the few companies in the world that can claim world-changing dominance. From their dynamo search engine to cutting-edge technologies, there is seemingly no tech space that Google doesn’t have their pixels in.
To prove it’s no exaggeration to call it the most powerful company in the digital space, ponder these stats: In August of 2013, Google suffered a five minute outage that caused global web traffic to plummet 40%. That is staggering. In 2006, the verb “to Google” hit the Oxford English dictionary. When your company name makes its way into common vernacular, you have most certainly made an indelible impact.
2014 saw a large myriad of updates and inventions from this tech giant; so much so it was hard to keep track. Below are the highlights of the year; some you will recognize, and some may be surprising revelations. Each contribution, however, has proven to be transformative and noteworthy. Now the real excitement is seeing what Google does next.
Google Contributor: Lose the Ads
Google gets a lot of flack for using web content without receiving permission from site owners. Yet they are responsible for more referral traffic than almost all other sites combined. In response to the outcries, Google is releasing Contributor, a new feature which will allow any web site user to pay a monthly fee to their favorite digital destinations, and in return all Google ads will disappear.
For starters, ten major URLs will launch with the feature. They include: Mashable, Imgur, WikiHow, and Science Daily. Fees will range from $1-$3 a month, and is handled through the user’s Google account. They are working to ensure that users can only support sites they visit frequently, and in replace of the normal ads, visitors will instead see a thank you note from the publisher. That’s a nice alternative to obnoxious ads.
A Genome Database for Medical Discoveries
Google is no stranger to the health and wellness space, with several huge advances in this industry during 2014. One of the biggest, and least talked about, is Google Genomics. What this faction of the tech company aims to do is create a central database for genomes so that scientists have a single location to go for millions of comparisons. Previously, as a rule, experts would study one to a few genomes at a time, without access to a large selection. Now, Google is going to hospitals and universities aplenty, asking if they can store their genomes for scientific research.
The implications are massive. David Glazer, Google’s software engineer that is leading the charge, states that, “The opportunity is how to apply breakthroughs in data technology to help with this transition.” The cloud-based system aims to enable scientists access to global DNA data that can hugely fortify their research capabilities. While they do still need to solve complex issues like who will ultimately store the data, the opportunity to study such a massive pool of information could vastly propel medical discoveries for the next several decades.
The Under the Sea Mega-Cable
Another amazing technology innovation from Google came in August of 2014, in the form of a game-changing undersea cable. This trans-Pacific cable will connect Japan and the US underwater, and Google has invested close to $300 million in development so far, plus an additional $60 million to connect the US to Brazil. Called FASTER, the cable will reach speeds of up to 60 terabytes per second, meaning that current telecom operators should be positively frightened. Comcast, for example, has a normal operational speed of 50 megabytes per second. FASTER, living up to its name, will be able to operate at a whopping 60,000 times faster than this Comcast average.
When complete, the cable will also connect to many major US cities, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle. Google hopes FASTER will officially launch in early 2016.
A Pill That Detects Cancer
Google X, the faction of Google responsible for their most out-of-the-box research and innovations, announced this year that they are developing nanoparticles that will be able to peruse bloodstreams and identify health issues; most specifically cancer. It will work like this: The nanoparticles will connect to cells and proteins in your bloodstream. A wearable device will then use magnetic properties to attract and decipher data from the particles.
According to the Google X head of Life Sciences, Dr. Andrew Conrad, “Every test you ever go to the doctor for will be done through this system.” You can therefore imagine the potential impact of this incredible device should it come to market. Google estimates they are at least 5 years out from an official launch, but this pill is proof that Google is in no way playing small. They intend to keep changing the world, one cancer-detecting pill at a time.
Sure, Google has also released scads of apps, features, and SEO plus search innovations this year, but it’s the most fringe floating R&D efforts that hold the most promise and intrigue.
What about in your world? What’s the single greatest Google innovation this year that has changed the way you do business – or even live?