We think Google will be the most import company for cities. It is true that Google now has multiple products that serve more than 1B people. It is also true that 8 of 10 phones shipped in 2014 ran Android.
What is less clear is how much some of today’s most valuable companies, depend on Google – like Uber. Also acquisitions like Nest and Waze are being transformed into platforms to enable new innovation in connected homes and planning.
Google I/O sessions offer a peak into what developers will be using to create the next generation of Urbantech companies.
Mobility & Transportation Themes
Designing for Driving – Google will be a key player in self driving cars, but in the short and medium term solutions are going to augment the driving experience. Car brands like VW, Chevy, Hyundai and Ford etc are embracing Google. Like Android, these are “the people’s cars” and therefore likely to enable impact at scale.
Improving Urban mobility by connecting citizens (Waze) – traffic is one of the most challenging aspects of urban living. Google continues to build out their ability to understand how we move and how best to route us to minimize confusion and delay. As Google and Waze provide richer data, cities are exploring how best to benefit. And various self driving cars and trucks will eventually contribute to this data and benefit from it too.
Resources & The Physical Environment
Project Tango – Mobile 3D tracking & perception and The Earth in real time (Skybox) – just as Google indexed online content, so they are digitizing and then indexing the physical world so they can begin to analyze and respond to it. Tango and Skybox are dramatically reducing the cost of acquiring data about the physical world and we’re already seeing a growing number large applications that will benefit from these new data sets. Many will likely be influential in areas from policy to enforcement.
Working with Nest – the smart home used to involve $100k+ professionally installed systems. Nest is enabling simple, secure interconnection of devices that allow smart homes to be created for nearly 100x less. Like Android, the Nest ecosystem is one of the most promising candidates to help scale smart home deployments.
Make Believe – games are likely to be the first step in VR, but we expect immersive environments to impact areas ranging from training to planning. Google’s ability to acquire data about the real world, is going to position them well as a platform to build out applications that use virtual reality to impact reality.
Impacting The Private Spaces
A lot of smart city discussion focuses on the large firms that sell to local government. We’re certain this is only a part of the story. In fact, we believe most of the tech that will make cities better will be found in private spaces – at work, at home and in the devices and spaces we use to move ourselves (and products) around. Google is going to be a core player in all of these places as well as the virtual and digital spaces that power them.