Alphabet’s annual meeting of stockholders took place yesterday when Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt took the stage to discuss various aspects of the company’s future. Interestingly enough, Eric Schmidt also discussed a variety of products and innovations that he believes could change the world in the next 5-to-10 years. Some of the tech advancements and products mentioned by Alphabet’s Executive Chairman are not being developed by Google, but they could provide a sneak preview into the future and into Alphabet’s / Google’s interests over the coming years. The products range from virtual reality / augmented reality headsets, to fake meat and 3D-printed buildings.
Over the past several years Google has been involved in virtual reality, self-driving cars, and machine learning advancements, and sure enough Eric Schmidt believes that these three product categories are likely to change the world in the upcoming years. Google’s involvement in VR led to the creation of Cardboard and more recently, Daydream, but Eric Schmidt also expects augmented reality technology to catch on in the workplace. The Executive Chairman added that “Google Glass was a first attempt at that [augmented reality], with much more coming”. Moving on to machine learning - or machine learning in education to be precise -, Schmidt expects that in the future, educators will start using machine learning to recognize patterns and create teaching plans tailored for individual students. As for self-driving cars, Google has been involved in developing autonomous car systems for years, and eventually, self-driving cars could become the norm. Reportedly, over 30,000 people die in the U.S. every year due to car accidents, and Eric Schmidt believes that “figuring out how to use this technology [self-driving cars] to save lives” has to be a “national priority”.
Although Google is directly involved in developing the technologies mentioned above, Eric Schmidt’s list of innovations that could change the world in the foreseeable future also includes products that are currently being developed by other companies or startups aside Google. To begin with, the Executive Chairman thinks there is great potential in fake “meat” produced from plants or cells grown in the laboratory. Impossible Foods is one of the companies working on creating fake meat and is also one of the companies Google tried to acquire in the summer of 2015. Evidently, the benefits of creating artificial meat could be plenty and could have positive effects on the environment, as the cattle industry has been proven to contribute to global warming. Another invention that might change our lives is 3D printing, specifically, 3D-printed buildings. 3D printers have already been used in architecture, but if the cost of 3D-printed buildings could "go down by a factor of 3 or 4 or 5", the technology could have a great impact on the way we build or improve our cities. Last but not least, Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt mentioned the use of smartphones for medical purposes. Smartphones have become widespread, and with several companies adding more health monitoring sensor to their mobile products, Schmidt believes that smartphones will become our “primary health monitoring device”.