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Google X Display Boss: Smartphones, Tablets, Apps Are "Mind-Numbing" 157

curtwoodward writes "Stop drooling over that new iPhone. Put away the fancy tablet. Because the real hardcore nerds find that stuff 'boring' and 'mind-numbing,' says Mary Lou Jepsen, head of the display division at secretive R&D lab Google X. At MIT's EmTech conference, Jepsen said the next generation of 'moonshot' tech is much more exciting and interesting. That includes Google X projects like the driverless car, Project Loon, a stratospheric balloon-based wireless network, and Google Glass."
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Google X Display Boss: Smartphones, Tablets, Apps Are "Mind-Numbing"

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  • Reener (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 11, 2013 @12:35AM (#45098629)

    You had me until Google Glass. Until talking to yourself without a cell phone to your ear is socially acceptable, it's a niche gadget.

  • This just in (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aaron5367 ( 1049126 ) <> on Friday October 11, 2013 @12:39AM (#45098649) Homepage
    Another manager says their product is really exciting and interesting and everything else boring.
  • Truth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @12:49AM (#45098673)
    I looked at a couple weeks ago and the whole site, almost every image on every story, was just a column of rectangle slabs, "mobile," "mobile," "mobile," and nothing else. All minor variations on the same thing. I'm sick of it.
  • by doctor woot ( 2779597 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @01:00AM (#45098709)

    I'm sure glad, as a nerd, that Ms. Jepsen took the time to inform me there are projects in the works that I can get really excited about without actually telling me what they are, just after making condescending remarks aimed at consumer electronics and just before extolling the genius of Google's new cell phone that holds itself up to your face. Because I am a nerd these things really appeal to me. Thank you Ms. Jepsen and Mr. Woodward, you guys are really nerds like me.

  • by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @01:20AM (#45098799)

    A laptop is a TOOL. A cellphone is a TOOL. When you need them to be the entertainment in themselves you have issues.

    “I interviewed a month ago a recent college graduate from Stanford—a mechanical engineering degree. She was already on her third cellphone or laptop and bored out of her mind,” Jepsen said. “She graduated in 2010. I think it gets depressing. It was so exciting three years ago.”

    Three years ago your cellphone and laptop were "exciting", but now they are "boring"? If you are talking about building them - maybe. But using them? If the form factor of your computers and communication devices are boring you "out of your mind", maybe that's your problem more than the devices'.

  • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @01:22AM (#45098803)
    Automated cars will be a big source of revenue for google. The cars will be in constant communication with google's datacenters to provide mapping data - not just GPS street coordinates, but detailed imagery and geometry from lidar captured previously by the Street View cars - plus road conditions gleaned in real time from tens of thousands of cars (down to the level of street light timing a few intersections ahead on your path). Google may or may not produce any cars themselves, but all the automakers will license their data streams. How many other companies have gathered street-level lidar and imagery on practically every street in the world and have the datacenters to process and serve it globally in real-time?
  • by epyT-R ( 613989 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @01:40AM (#45098873)

    Oh goody. I can't wait to purchase one of these things. It's got all the tracking and remote control the wannabe KGB types running this country would want, google selling my location and destination information to all interested private parties, and it participates in the privacy rapage of anyone it happens to drive by.

  • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @02:10AM (#45098975)
    Car automation will have a lot of utility to a lot of people long before it is able to handle the worst winter conditions. But sooner or later an automated car with radar, IR, and visible light sensors ought to be able to see better than a person who only has visible light. (People may get IR heads-up-displays and so forth, but those sensors will be usable by AI drivers, too...)
  • Driverless cars will not do very well in the winter.

    They'll drive better than people in the winter.

    Snow on the car image sensors will make the car blind.

    That's possible, but I suspect Google engineers would be able to rig up some sort of wiper system... Sarcasm aside, they'll be able to use far better snow clearing systems than we can now, with spinning lenses, lasers etc that would be impossible to implement with human drivers.

    Ice on the road will be nearly impossible for the car to distinguish.

    Road ice is clearly visible using infrared thermometry, but not in visible light. The car will see it more clearly than you will.

    I wish I could be more optimistic but driverless cars will be as useful as google glass appears to be.

    Both of these things are taking their first tottering steps down what looks like a very long path. They are enabling technologies that will change as our society works out how we want to use them.

  • Re:This just in (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 11, 2013 @02:31AM (#45099039)

    That's ok, download Dessert Bus for your phone

  • Re:Reener (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dr Max ( 1696200 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @04:17AM (#45099375)
    As much as i think google glass is just an old concept re-done (poorly in my opinion) by a new company with a lot of fans. I don't think the article is commenting about what is socially popular (that would be smartphones and tablets), more about what are cool gadgets to the tech elite and the future. Personally I agree, as i don't give a flying fuck that your smartphone has a slightly larger screen, and a 10% cpu power increase so all of your apps can load a bit quicker; Robots that can drive any where in the world, on their own, are much cooler (as with most robots/AI, heads up displays that aren't complete crap, wearable flexible tech, brain wave monitoring, solar powered drones that can loiter at 50 000 feet for 7 years, the list goes on).
  • Re:What's Missing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by minniger ( 32861 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @09:49AM (#45100809)


    The everlasting rant of one generation of tech to the n+1 generation. I'm with you buddy. But I suspect we could hit the usenet archive and find something very similar to this, but from 1986. And then again in 1995 and again in 2002.

    99% of people probably can't open the hood of their car without some help. Heck, it's been several years since I have.

    I don't think we're seeing the end of the hard core nerds that make things work. We're seeing the expansion of the pool of people who are building things. Not all care about low level stuff. But they can build some really nice high level stuff, stuff that us low level guys will never bother with.

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court