Sundar Pichai Highlights Search, Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality as Key Parts of Google’s Vision
The tradition where Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin shared the company’s progress and vision every year was broken this year with Google’s new CEO, Sundar Pichai updating the world with some of Google’s achievements and key highlights.
In a post on the official Google blog last week, Pichai restated Google’s aim “to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”.
Addressing artificial intelligence (AI), powerful computing platforms and cloud, he observed that the mobile phone has become a sort of remote control for daily lives and people are communicating, consuming information, educating and entertaining themselves on smartphones “in ways unimaginable just a few years ago”.
“Search – the very core of this company. It’s easy to take Search for granted after so many years, but it’s amazing to think just how far it has come and still has to go. I still remember the days when 10 bare blue links on a desktop page helped you navigate to different parts of the Internet. Contrast that to today, where the majority of our searches come from mobile, and an increasing number of them via voice. These queries get harder and harder with each passing year-people want more local, more context-specific information, and they want it at their fingertips. So we’ve made it possible for you to search for [Leonardo DiCaprio movies] or [Zika virus] and get a rich panel of facts and visuals. You can also get answers via Google Now-like the weather in your upcoming vacation spot, or when you should leave for the airport-without you even needing to ask the question,” he stated.
He also mentioned the launch of Google Photos to make it easier for people to organize their photos and videos, store them and be able to retrieve them whenever they want to, on whatever device they are using.
Pichai said all this was possible as a result of machine learning and artificial intelligence.
“It is what allows you to use your voice to search for information, to translate the web from one language to another, to filter the spam from your inbox, to search for ‘hugs’ in your photos and actually pull up pictures of people hugging,” he noted.
“… to solve many of the problems we encounter in daily life. It is what has allowed us to build products that get better over time, making them increasingly useful and helpful,” he added.
Android and Mobile
The migration to mobile has encouraged the company to work even harder in order to deliver great content from creators and developers to users.
“Google Play reaches more than 1 billion Android users. And YouTube is the number-one destination for video – over 1 billion users per month visit the site and ranks among the year’s most downloaded mobile apps,” Pichai said.
While discussing powerful computing platforms, Pichai noted that the reduction in size and cost of processors and sensors allowed the proliferation of smartphones and consequently, Android currently has more than 1.4 billion 30-day-active devices.
“Virtual reality is also showing incredible promise – Google Cardboard has introduced more than five million people to the incredible, immersive and educational possibilities of VR,” he added.
The search had giant has recently formed its own dedicated division for virtual reality computing, with CEO Sundar Pichai moving over a key deputy to run it. Clay Bavor, VP for product management, had run Google’s apps. He had also overseen Google Cardboard, the company’s thrifty virtual reality device, since its launch in 2014. Bavor dropped apps to concentrate on virtual reality products.
Cardboard, which was aimed at providing a mainstream introduction to VR, has seen a lot of success in getting out into the wild. It originally began distribution programs with schools and later saw a nice bump from a buzzy deal with the New York Times. The Cardboard team had also introduced an integration with GoPro cameras that brings virtual reality video to YouTube, a feature that Bavor introduced at Google I/O in May of last year.
However, many people in the industry have questioned Google’s dedication to the platform, noting that the company has probably moved on cautiously after its fumble with Google Glass.