Execs predict next Google-like tech

On eve of company's 10-year anniversary, researchers and business pundits speculate about what technologies might someday have as much impact as Google.


You could easily forget a business birthday, but Google wields more star power than most. It was officially incorporated 10 years ago this Sunday while co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were still working from a garage.

To celebrate, the journal Nature has asked researchers and business pundits to postulate on which young technologies might have as much impact on the world as Google 10 years down the road. After all, in the last 10, Google has grown from running a few loaner servers to a vast network of data centers that can not only deliver a map to a local store but also could have major effects on scientists' understanding of nature.

According to Nature, the common theme of their projections is the integration of "the worlds of matter and information." Here is a selection of responses.

Sam Schillace, engineering director at Google: better browsers. (Oddly enough, Google just introduced its own browser, Chrome.)

"The next generation of browsers...will make communication and collaboration even more transparent and let me focus on what I really want to do--connect with the person at the other end and get work done together. It will turn the web into a superconductor for interactions with other people and change the way we work pretty radically."

Bill Buxton, principal researcher at Microsoft: electronic paper.

"The history of communication technologies over the past century tells me that anything that's going to impact on the next ten years is going to be ten years old already. (The components that made Google possible 10 years ago were already there 10 years earlier, with the creation of the Web.)

"One prime candidate is electronic paper, displays that are as easy to view in ambient light conditions as paper and that consume hardly any power. It started with E Ink a decade ago; now we are seeing it in devices such as Amazon's Kindle."

Investor Esther Dyson, board member of DNA start-up 23andMe (which was co-founded by the wife of Google co-founder Brin): the mining of genetic information.

"Everyone dies of something; your genome gives you hints of which causes are most likely for you. But it doesn't predict precisely or with certainty, or tell you when. People's level of understanding of statistics in relation to soccer or gambling always amazes me, so there is hope that people can likewise understand the difference between correlation and causation in genetics."

Ian Pearson, a futurist with the U.K.-based Futurizon group: video visors.

"We're crying out for technology that will allow us to combine what we can do on the Internet with what we do in the physical world. One technology that springs to mind is the video visor, which gives you a computer image superimposed over the world around you."

And in the really out-there category...

Vincent Hayward, professor of engineering, Pierre and Marie Curie University: haptic, or tactile, computer interfaces, e.g., for mobile phones.

"A dry, flat screen will be able to simulate the feel of fur or wetness."

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