There is a very famous saying, “Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing towards what will be.” This is indeed true. There are millions of companies going ahead and out of the league to get ideas for innovation, change, and betterment and only some have been able to crack it. After all, it’s not a piece of cake.
X Development LLC, an American semi-secret research and development organization and facility. It was founded by Google in January 2010. It now operates as a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. They say that we create radical new technologies to solve some of the world’s hardest problems.
X is a diverse group of inventors and entrepreneurs. Who build and launch jaw-dropping technologies. Technologies that aim to improve the lives of billions of people. Their goal is a 10x impact on the world’s most intractable problems, not just a 10% improvement. They approach projects that have the aspiration and riskiness of research with the speed and ambition of a startup.
The Story of X
Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page always believed in investing some of the company’s resources in hard, long-term problems. In the year 2010, a new division forms to work on moonshots: Sci-fi sounding technologies.
Journey and Projects
2010 IMPACT, NOT JUST RESEARCH
This new division gets a placeholder name: X. It has a first project: self-driving cars. Is it a research centre? An incubator? Is it philanthropic? No. It’s a Moonshot Factory. Looking 9-10 years into the future. Aiming to invent new fascinating technologies and launch them into the world.
2010 AN EARLY FLURRY OF INVENTION – Google Glass
The first batch of projects begins, which included wearable computer Google Glass. Along with the Google Brain, which proves while at X that AI is ready to make everyday products useful. Their teams tackle indoor maps (Insight) and improving photography on mobile devices (GCam). To develop Glass Enterprise Edition was both an advanced technology challenge and a big design challenge.
A useful computer you’d comfortably wear on your face. From giving hands-on workers information where and when they need it to provide extra expertise with a “you-see-what-I-see” video feature, Glass is helping many businesses work better, safer, faster. After two years of development at the moonshot factory, the Glass team moved from X back to Google to scale their efforts and make the newest version of their device available to hands-on workers everywhere.
2012 HARDEST THINGS FIRST
Audacious idea: deliver the Internet from huge balloons flying on the stratospheric winds. A strong and dedicated team sets out to prove this was impossible — the opposite of what most people do. By tackling the most difficult problems one by one, they get Loon flying and cement a mindset that becomes a cornerstone of X’s culture.
2013 A FIRST IN NEW ZEALAND – GOOGLE LOON
30 lighter-than-air solar-powered Loon balloons launch in the Canterbury, region of New Zealand. Sheep farmer Charles Nimmo is the first person in the entire world to connect to balloon-powered Internet. Sounds amazing no? Loon has delivered connectivity to various communities. Where the communications infrastructure has been damaged or wiped out.
It partnered with Telefonica over many months in 2017. With the target of providing Internet connectivity to tens of thousands of humans across Peru who were displaced due to extreme rains and flooding. The fantabulous Loon team also worked very closely with AT&T and T-Mobile to bring the Internet to more than 200,00 people in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria made landfall.
2013 MOONSHOT MILESTONES – Makani Energy Kite
Harnessing wind energy with kites to create renewable electricity. Makani’s 20kw prototype energy kite successfully achieves a special kind of flight called “crosswind flight.” If we talk about today it is Clean, affordable power from the wind.
Makani evolved from a proof-of-concept kite to a commercial-scale prototype. The team is now an independent business within Alphabet working towards accelerating access to new and different offshore wind areas. It has partnered with Shell to bring energy kites to offshore environments. While remaining focused on testing and refining the system to scale commercially. Just so that more people around the globe can have access to clean, affordable wind power.
2014 MOONSHOT MILESTONES – Project Wing
Transforming the way goods are transported. Project Wing delivers candy and dog treats to sheep farmers in Australia. Mainly to put to test its drone technology and how efficiently it works. And if we talk about the current scenario, in July 2018, the team graduated from X to become “Wing.” A fully independent Alphabet business.
They are building a drone delivery system for improving the speed, cost, and environmental impact of transporting goods. And an unmanned-traffic management platform to safely route drones through the skies. The wing will continue to collaborate closely with industry partners, regulators, and the broader aviation community to develop a common approach to safely and scalably managing drone traffic in the skies, so the potential of low-altitude airspace can be unlocked.
2015 LIFE SCIENCES CONVERGE
Inventing new technologies and services to help people live healthier lives.
Health professionals have always aimed to shift treatment from largely reactive to proactive. A collection of advanced technologies developed at X, including a smart contact lens, etc come together around this mission. And finally, graduate from X to form Alphabet company Verily. Today they Tackle the biggest problems in healthcare.
The team at Verily wants to help address some of the most daunting challenges in healthcare. They combine expertise in science, engineering, and medicine with a startup spirit, and they collaborate closely with partners across the healthcare and life sciences industries who are as eager as they are to challenge convention and relentlessly pursue fresh breakthroughs against common diseases and other global health problems.
The Self-Driving Car project develops the “Firefly” prototype. Built from the ground up for fully autonomous operation.
In 2015, the Self-Driving Car team completes the world’s first fully self-driving ride on public roads in Austin TX — no steering wheel, pedals, or test drivers involved. Steve Mahan, the former CEO of the Santa Clara Valley Blind Center was the inaugural passenger.
The Self-Driving Car team, X’s first moonshot project, graduates to become its own Alphabet company with the mission of building a better driver and making it safe and easy for everyone to get around. Observing their journey we see Improving road safety for everyone.
In December 2016, with over two million miles of self-driving experience on the roads — the equivalent of 300 years of human driving — the Self-Driving Car project graduated from X. Today it’s Waymo, a self-driving technology company with a clear mission: to make it safe and easy for people and things to move around. Waymo’s first public trial is currently underway in Phoenix, AZ where the team continues to deliver on their quest to improve road safety and mobility for everyone.
2017 MOONSHOT MILESTONES – GOOGLE
Makani generates electricity with the M600 prototype. This version of the kite has the potential to power around 300 houses
Project Wing begins delivering food and other goods to families in rural areas around Canberra, Australia.
Dozens of organizations adopt Glass Enterprise Edition so workers can keep their hands and attention on their tasks while getting easy access to all the info they need.
2017 RECENT GOOGLE X GRADUATES
Dandelion graduates from X. Company mainly reduce carbon emissions from home heating and cooling. By using abundant geothermal energy from under people’s homes.
Helping companies find and stop Cyber-attacks
Lists of top global threats now include cybersecurity next to usual suspects like climate change. Chronicle graduates from X and becomes an Alphabet company to help companies detect and deflect cyber crimes against them. Chronicle is currently working with customers and partners to turn the tide against a widening array of vulnerabilities and attackers. The reality for most companies today is still reactive: find and clean up the damage.