Did you know, that every second, 500 hours of YouTube video are watched? I didn’t this morning, but I do now, thanks to the time I’ve spent today with a some Google employees. I don’t think they were aware that I’m such a Google fan boy. Maybe by the time they said “OK, Who’s heard of Project Loon” and I said “yup”, they did. Project Loon was only made known a few days ago, and it’s in some ways one of their most incredible creations. A network of recyclable, solar and wind powered self leveling helium balloons will live in the stratosphere, 10 miles up and transceive teh internetz. They steer by using a solar powered pump / valve system to take on or release air to make themselves denser or lighter, thus going up or down to hitch a ride on a wind current that’s going the way they need to go. The project – still in ‘experiment’, Google X status is currently being piloted (ha!) over a patch of New Zealand, but the dream is that a network of these will cover the globe giving the entire planet internet – from the remotest deserts to the deepest canyons, internet access.
The Google pitch for this was around helping doctors find information, children find education, farmers find weather info, but it’ll also enable a whole bunch of new people to see cats doing funny things videos. lol.
If this gets off the ground (ha! mk II) I imagine it’ll sit somewhere inside Google.org. I didn’t know of the .org arm of Google until today – the philanthropic “technology for social impact” side of google. One of the amazing bi products of all that data google has it’s hands on is spotting trends. There’s a project at the moment that’s looking out for flu trends. They’ve found that certain search terms are good indicators of flu activity. Cross reference these with a high propensity around a place, and it’s more likely that there’s some flu action about to go down around there. Incredible stuff.
Admittedly, a lot of this stuff, a cynical eye would say “yea, but that’s just good PR”. I don’t think they’re doing it for that reason. The Google moto, as painted on walls deep inside the mother-ship states “Don’t be Evil”. They may do some things that are harsh on competing business from time to time, but I honestly think they’re still the good guys. They’re chucking millions of dollars at projects that highly possibly won’t turn a profit – ever. Projects that benefit everyone, not just shareholders. Projects that cross borders and make a difference. Waaaaaaaaay more, than just a search engine
They were up telling the company I work with a bunch of stuff on Google in business. Google ‘get’ business. A lot of people ‘get’ ecommerce, thanks to one of Google’s flagship business products – Analytics. It helps ecommerce people like me understand where customers are finding problems on our websites. The following video went down particularly well…
As well as the ecommerce thread, they hammering home how important mobile is. One fo the internal do-as-we-do phrases at the moment is apparently “Put mobile first”. 65% of people now typically start a search on a mobile before switching to desktop. People use their smartphones on average, 150 times a day and there’s a big hike in an emerging demographic – the “3 screeners”. 25% of us are now people who routinely use a smartphone, a desktop and a tablet. I’m one of them and I imagine a lot of my readers are, also. The next biggy is likely to be the 4 screeners, with the emergence of more internet native TVs.
Another big business tool is Google Trends – and like so much of Google, this is brilliant and free. You can use it to see how popular things are over time by graphing search terms and comparing them to other terms, whilst overlaying things like relevant news headline detail, over the top. Here’s one I prepared earlier, comparing Harrogate to Knaresborough – just for something to compare…
…but you can see this being useful for concepts such as for films, celebrities and brands. Who would win, Batman, Superman or Spiderman? (Batman all the way. Fact.).
A lot of the day was largely around social and Google plus. – which has just undergone a huge overhaul. This has inspired me to give my personal ‘brand’ (this Not For Profit, just for the fun of it, experimental sandbox of my own) website a leg up on Google Plus by giving it it’s own page and identity. I’m thinking about eventually segmenting it into different categories that I write about – art, photography, music technology, etc. but for now, I’m just going to start sharing stuff with the world via that page and relevant communities, and see what happens. If you’ve liked this post – or anything else that I’ve written about for that matter – do me a one time special fave – hit some of the buttons here – particularly the follow, preferably the +1 as well. Thanks!
As a footnote / aide memoir for me as much as anything else (I’d like to trawl this site) there’s an info site called Solve For X, which details a lot of the ‘moonshot’ projects that Google are currently engaging on. Check it out.