Google Lifestyle?

Earlier today I had to cancel a dentist appointment. I looked in the file where I normally keep my contact info, but didn’t see the dentist’s phone number. So I searched for [mydentistsname cupertino] and up popped a Onebox with his business address, phone number, and a little Google map:

The dentist in a Onebox

Then a bit later, someone asked me, “Which is bigger, a square pan that’s 8 inches on each side, or a round pan that’s 9 inches across?” I was on the computer, so I opened up a tab on the browser and typed into Google’s search box: pi*(4.5*4.5) as I’m mouthing the words “Let’s see, pi r squared, r is 9 divided by 2 so r is 4.5″. And Google says

63 square inches and change

which means that the square 8″ by 8″ pan is a little bigger at 64 square inches.

Every search engine can do some tricks like this. It’s just interesting that 5-6 years ago, I wouldn’t even think of hitting a search engine for stuff like this. 2-3 years ago, I didn’t realize what a difference it made to have all my email easily searchable. Six months ago, I didn’t know how handy it was to keep my Firefox bookmarks in sync. I suspect that in a few months, I won’t believe how handy it is to have a desktop search that lets me securely search for any webpage I’ve read in the past with just a couple keywords.

So the question is, what is waiting a few more years down the line? Maybe I won’t be able to imagine life before my documents sat in a magic Writely cloud where I could get to them from anywhere? Will cell phones evolve straight to internet-connected computers with an always-on broadband connection? Will people record their whole lives, because storage for audio and video will be so cheap?

What do you think will be the must-have gadgets in five years? What will the killer services be?

65 Responses to Google Lifestyle? (Leave a comment)

  1. McMohan

    A search tool for books? So many times when I read a thick book, I wish if I had a search tool that lets me know which page, which paragraph a person’s name was first mentioned, or an event occured or a sentence spoken. An embedded system that has the whole book digitised and organised into pages will do the job, perhaps?

  2. Hi, Matt,

    If you’re talking about existing services, i think the ability to store photos (Picasaweb), documents (Writely) and spreadsheets online is great. I didn’t think it would be so easy for me to ever access my pictures or my documents so easily and no matter where i am (and not having to carry around my USB stick to do this). Now maybe you can do something about my hard-disk too? It’s getting heavier :)

  3. With all the technology today, human memory weaken alot compare to the old days. I think a Search Engine with the ability to search by characteristic of a place or people would be good.

    For example, I’m now holding a picture from a trip to Korea 5 years ago, try to remember the name of this church in a small town, but all I remember is the St Mary portrait at the door entrance and a pet shop near by that I also forgotten it’s name. If I go to a search engine and type in, [Korea Church St Mary Portrait Pet Shop], I wish one day the search engine could read maps, buildings in bird eyes view, business directory, and display results on maps related to the place characteristic I entered. It would be even better if the search engine provide pictures of the related results, which will be another big piece of work, to read images index by the search engine.

    As Matt mentioned in the previous post, M >> N, the above should help alot of M including me. :P

  4. varun mahajan

    Well, I feel soon google must do something like finding a matching photograph from the photo I submit..May be I’ll be able to see one of my duplicates( any person on this earth resembling my face). And believe me I am writing a sci-fi based on this concept only. Well, Matt, if it makes you think in this way or rather inspire to make a team of 3-4 googlers to go in this direction, don’t forget to give me my credit..

  5. I remember the first time I discovered that Google could add and thought that was really cool.
    I have been using Google as an advanced calculator for quite some time now.

    What perplexes me is the amount of cell phone voice mail spam I have been receiving lately…Yup, unsolicited voice mail spam…Lots of it too…

  6. Well, I’m a little bit in communitybuilding etc. so I think the way people will digitaly interact with each other will further evolve in ways not thinkable for the moment.

    Last year I’ve read an article on ‘the love bear’ or whatever it’s called. It’s a USB connected fluffy little bear you and your partner each have to connect to the internet. When you logon to you computer and touch the bear on his tummy, your partner has to put her/his hand on the tummy of his/her bear and feels you stroking the bear… Very handy if your partner is on the other side of the world. Combine this with a decent webcam en voice and you could obtain a high level of interactivity. Hope this explanation is a little clear (native Dutch speaking, so :) )

    Now further on the communities… two years ago Colin Moock release a Flash App. that allows visitors of a webpage to communicate with the mousemovement real-time, combined with sounds and paiting… really funny feeling… hard to explain…

    BTW: good morning to you all from sunny belgium ;)

  7. A while back, my wife was trying to find the phone number of a restaurant but it apparently didn’t exist. She said she tried everything. She was very frustrated that she couldn’t find any kind of listing anywhere.

    “How could they not be listed anywhere?” (My wife asked)
    “Are you sure?”…
    “Yes… I tried everything”
    “Did you look in the phone book and call information?”
    “Uh… No… I completely forgot about the phone book and Information”

    I couldn’t believe it! My wife is not a very technical person and she certainly isn’t obsessed with search like I am. By “tried everything”, she meant that she had tried every relevant query that she could think of on both Google and Yahoo! but couldn’t find the restaurant website.

    After that happened… I knew I was in the right business.

  8. Matt Cutts (required)

    I dream of the day I can type
    “200 gms flour in cups” into a search engine

    and get a result
    1.2 cups all purpose flour, or 1.5 cups corn flour

    …. oh and flying cars, and floating cities inhabited by aliens. But mostly the flour thing. :)

  9. ASchmitt, I wish you and everyone in Belgium well. :)

    Hawaii SEO, that’s a pretty funny story. “I’ve tried everything!” :)

  10. Hi Matt,

    must-have gadgets in five years is Mobile devices
    and the killer services would be advertisements on them.

  11. Well personally I, as an SEO, am looking forward to the point where search has become so personal that everybody is logged in, making it much more easy to make market segmentations for our customers, i.e.”only advertising for 20-25 year old men with interests such as cars, motors, do-it-yourself” – i know this is on the rise, but im not really feeling it yet.

    Also, i think (not in a 5 year perspective – probably more 10 years) there will be maps (maybe to be found on maps.google.com) from a streetlevel perspective – and little flying robots will have collected hi-res images of every street and space around big cities – making it possible to search even better and more accurate for adresses – also using these images in gyms (when running or using a stepmachine etc. with a VR) – in games and much much more.

    And finally – I think this Internet thing is only just a fashion trend – dont think we will see much more of that in 5 years ;)

  12. >> I opened up a tab on the browser and typed into Google’s search box: pi*(4.5*4.5) as I’m mouthing the words “Let’s see, pi r squared, r is 9 divided by 2 so r is 4.5″. And Google says…>The squaw on the hippopotamus is equal to the sum of the squaws on the other two hides.

  13. Dang, the whole comment got truncated, I give up! :(

  14. Keep on doing what youre doing now at Google and everything comes good. Time goes fast. I like that idea of Google Vision: Point and Aim.. : a system that will have tag and name exactly what your staring at?

  15. I think everything will be based around Wi-Fi for a long time to come. For example, having a server in under your staircase, that contains any necessary personal stuff. Then, there can be things like Wi-Fi alarm clocks, stereos, TVs (or whatever), around the house, not actually storing the information itself.

    But the best thing will be, in my eyes, Google TV. Imagine having your digital tv content streamed and presented in a similar way as an aerial (i.e. not like Download.com’s “TV” cos it’s not really TV). Then you can choose which programs to watch, download etc. Then, Google AdTV is another story.

  16. I forsee the invention of a a chip for women that will make them wash my clothes, cook my dinner, and service me in any which way, without the need to nag nag nag ;)

  17. Recording our lives would be pretty fun… but only if we could have theme music following us around.. Haven’t you always wanted your own theme music?

  18. Voice…as in the ability to speak and hear things correctly (as opposed to something that sounds like the Dr. Sbaitso app from the old Sound Blaster cards of the mid-90s.)

  19. Taylor

    One great tool that I absolutely love right now is FolderShare. FolderShare syncs your files, folders, and they have FolderShare Mobil which allows you to access your computer from any web browser. I think it is better than Writely.

  20. Ron

    I have found the “convert” searches to be very helpful. Recently I won a bet that Google could convert hectares to acres.

    For the future, I’d like to see better translation of non-English pages. I think it would be ideal if they even got translated without having to click a “translate” link. If my IP is obviously in USA, and I’m doing an English search, chances are good that I want to see results in English. Show me the .ru or .pl domain name and go ahead and translate it for me.

  21. Hmm

    converting a weight (or is it mass) into a volume wouldn’t Google need to know stuff like temprature preasure and density.

    Just change the algo to ingore any imperial measurements then evryone will have to use SI ;-)

  22. great comments Amit & Cutts(required)

    What a great post

    re: Ryan post #73=> and a laugh track. I’d be WAY funnier with a laugh track.

    http://www.chemicaldynamics.adelaide.edu.au/karlstuff/calvin.html

  23. JoeSinkwitz

    I’m still waiting for the database of intentions for when my daughter starts dating and I can make her suitors type in their name and find out what they’re intending to do.

    Joking aside, the feature I want the most is a list of the most possibly relevant results…seriously, as an industry, we still have a far way to go on that, so I try to be patient.

  24. Hi Matt,

    We are becoming more and more tech.

    But every office I visit there is still the same amout of paper as in the 80′s.

    It seems that humans have not found a way to simplify paper with tech.

    I would like to have a paper replacer gadget

  25. jeff

    Recording your entire life and instantly converting everything you say or hear into searchable text – so you go to google, think of something you heard yesterday, tap in a couple of keywords and get the full speech. – oh and the ability to control-z things you didn’t mean to say..

  26. Next up, querying phone numbers to make calls, grocery shopping, and everyone’s favorite star trek gimmick, “hot chocolate, hot, one marshmallow”.. Yes the sky, i mean star trek, is the limit.

  27. if the future internet is anything like the current one then its gonna be a whole lot of ugly people having sex…just a bit higher resolution and with 5.1 surround sound.

  28. Trogdor

    Not to be a wet blanket or anything, but in 5 years I’d be thrilled if western civilization is still around.

  29. I regularly use the calculator and address functions. Very handy and quick.

    The future? There are a few start-ups working on it now, and I think the concept will grow and become the norm: remote backups for your computers. Never loose anything in a hard drive crash again, because everything will be backed-up automatically to remote servers via an application that runs quietly in the background.

    I am a little annoyed that in my late 20′s we don’t even have flying cars or teleportation devices.

  30. Next feature that’s needed is an option in search engines which can differentiate between a genuine site and site for ads without much content but have higher PR.

  31. I think that if Google could send out ninjas to attack my enemies for me, that’d be a must have technology. It could even be a simple command like ninja:John Doe, New York, NY

  32. Hi Matt,
    I keep reading your blog with great interest, but this is my first post. I am not a webmaster (yet?) I am just trying to optimize my own site.
    Regarding the recording of people lives, I suggest you rent and see (if you have not done so already) “Final Cut” with Robin Williams. There you can see an intersting scenario about a not too distant future where some peoples’s lives are recorded from day one. A chip is implanted in the head and voila’ everything gets recorded.
    Maybe that will be the next gadget, but I sure do not want it in my head.

  33. Two words… monkey butler

  34. Well,.. watch some startrek episodes and you’ll know,. :)

  35. Seems to me that we want to *completely* erase the physical distinction between the gadget and ourselves. In fact I think most sci fi really misses this inevitability in our tech future.
    I’m Hoping to see more human/gadget interfaces so we can directly access computerized info with our non-computerized brains. This would really enhance creativity, and I’d even suggest we’ll see a lot of spin off benefits. For example if a world leader can instantly access extensive, encyclopedic treatment of history and other topics their ability to make wise decisions will be elevated.

  36. As awesome as some of the Google Solutions may be, my money is on the future being personal sites on shared servers with the equivalent power, but infinitely more flexibility. They’ll never supplant the search engines, but then again, personal sites won’t be running more than 1000 queries a day so they can just hook up to your webservice.

  37. Type “Pizza” in Google and you have list of all Pizza Dine-in, Take-out and Delivery within your 5 mile radius. That would be sleek!!!

  38. Matt Z

    For at least the past week I’ve been thinking about the technology we have now and what we would have in the future. I thought about how things like Blogs aren’t really new technologies, they’re just ideas. New technologies would be like a tiny computer hooked up to someone’s belt or something that connects to their brain. Like with the eyes and ears, they send information with the nerve cells to the brain, and thats what the computer would do, so then it would be a truly portable PC. The great thing about that is that if you’re in this super-boring class and you don’t want to pay attention, you can just press the “On” button and there, you’ve got a wireless broadband internet connection right in your vision, but no one will know. And I was also thinking of maybe some huge MySQL or something database where all you have to do is “SELECT `answer` FROM `knowledge` WHERE question=’what is the future like?’” and you’ll know. I think that by not too long from now Google will actually access all of the world’s information. Maybe not things like “how much did john pay for his cup of coffee two months and three days ago?” but maybe things like really returning the answer to any question asked on Google. I know they already have things from Wikipedia asnd stuff like “what is Google” or “who is Tom Cruise”, but maybe getting information from an official site like Starbucks and answering “how much is a small mocha at starbucks?”. I also think there would be things like an ultimate washing machine where you just give it a cold and hot water line, electricity, and enough of the washing detergent, and you put in a load and type in black cotton or something and it’ll wash the clothes just like a human would wash black cotton clothes. Some things are completely possible, so sometimes I wonder why they don’t make them.

  39. Russell

    Some Gadget which will enable Voice Search Recognition so I can scream to see where my listings are.

  40. Hoverboards.
    Where are they?

  41. The Biggest Next Thing Will Be the Solution to the Biggest Current Problem

    “Everyone of us is part of a greater living entity. “

    Everybody needs some kind of vision or religion to give some meaning and understanding to the miracle of life. To me it’s the fact that our society has grown above us. Let me explain …

    “In biology class we all learn that life as we know it started with single-celled organisms. These reproduced endlessly, but once in a while an irregularity occurred and variations formed. Some of these variations joined together in symbiosis. In time this activity produced multi cellular organisms. Life evolved to a higher level.

    This went on and on and still does today. We are no longer just a collection of individuals; we’re all part of a bigger picture. Life has grown to the next level, without most people knowing it.

    Our society has become a living entity itself, with the roads as veins, factories as organs, telecommunication as the nervs and the goverment as the brains. we are all part of it.

    So, the next big thing will be the awerness of this evolutionary step that life has taken.

  42. I look forward to the day I can Google my Google to the Google to Google some Google for my Google.

  43. I just thought of this one and I’m surprised it hasn’t been said sooner.

    Wireless Internet…as in wifi Internet accessible from places other than areas of high population density and major corridors. I mean absolutely [b]everywhere[/b]. You could be sitting with your laptop in the woods in Alaska and still be able to pick up a 3 Mbps wifi signal from somewhere.

    In other words, we eliminate phone companies messing with the lines, inconsistent cable signals, dedicated signals (e.g. T1, T3, E10) that cost a buttload, and we just use good ol’ fashioned satellites and antennae.

  44. I’d like to see wireless electricity. That way, my wireless laptop is powered by more surfing. Since Google has wireless access points, they could also be a distributor of the power also. But that might be getting into some Anti-trust charges, so they may have to break off that part of google.

  45. We under utilize the power of computers in our everyday life. We as a society get stuck in a rutt and then make a major advancement then get stuck in another rutt. We have been stuck in the computer rutt for about 7 years now. Sure, internet has gotten better. But it is still the internet.

    Here is an idea that I don’t have the money to fund so someone please run with it just so I can say, “Yeah I thought of that.”

    Please someone build a video game, web application, whatever that allows you to be in a virtual mall. You can go from store to store just like in a mall. The interface is similiar to a Halo 2 game or something but with social networking options. For example, you build your own little character (lots of different options) and then you can go shopping at the mall. Along the way you will pass by other virtual characters (again, 3-D gamer type interface) and you can stop and chat with them (yes, voice chat) and then carry on your way. As you go to different stores and shop, you can see merchandise that is actually for sale. You could even ‘try things on’, etc. When you buy the product you actually are purchasing the product. And the item will show up at your ‘real world doorstep’ the next day, same day, whatever is logistically reasonable. Why do all of this? Because shopping is a fun activity for most women (no, I am not a woman and no I am not even ‘metro’) and the whole next generation of people are all completely plugged in so why not give them a better interface. You can still have the online advertising. You would just do it via billboards in the virtual mall. You can still personalize things by having window displays show items that they feel that particular user’s history reflects should show some interest. There are a million things you could do with this concept. One other thing you could do is integrate online dating to the program. While to virtual people are chatting with each other in the mall (could even setup filtering by IP address to only show people within x miles from each other in the mall) the couple could exchange ‘real world’ contact information. Or they could just go on a virtual date to the virtual restaurant (good restaurant advertising, they could even charge a small fee for the experience).

    Today it may sound complicated and it would be expensive to do it right. However, we need a leap forward regarding the internet because it is getting pretty stale in layout and experience.

    That’s what I hope the internet becomes. More virtual, more 3-D, more intensive, more lifelike. I get tired of looking into a 2-D world 15+ hours per day. Don’t you?

  46. Matt, you can as easily type pi*4.5^2, and Google will produce the same result (But I bet you already know that :) )

  47. Hey David, you know what would be a better idea than having a 3-D virtual mall with virtual social networking? Going to the real mall and doing some real social networking. ;)

    Matt, I actually just thought of a killer service that will be around for 5 years and is already here right now…

    MATT CUTTS GRAB BAG FRIDAYS! (Or Saturdays since it’s almost too late now.)

    And I’m not just suggesting this because I have a really obscure Google-related question, either. Really. ;)

  48. Wireless electricity? haha

    you’re serious?

    What happens to somebody who walks between the sending and recieving devices?

  49. They trip over the invisible power cord.

  50. Wireless electricity is all over the place, but the kind you mean is here:
    Wireless Electricty: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SplashPower

    Tesla was working on ways to deliver large amounts of electricity without wires over long distances but failed.

    Maybe his heir apparent Larry Page can figure it out?

  51. BillyS

    It’s very possible to recharge things over the air – it’s called a big magnet and coil. Wearers of pacemakers beware!

  52. BillyS

    Matt -

    When you asked this question I happened to get what I thought was a cool idea. It’s a social networking concept with a twist – a good “hook.”

    The problem is I’m not going to post my idea here – it might actually be worth money someday. Now I cannot build this type of site myself, this space is already quite full, so maybe someone else will have the same idea in the future. But I do have the resource to explain the concept / work out the details into a presentation.

    But I thought to myself – Google could do this – easily. They’ve got the resources. So here is an idea I’m willing to share:

    Google should set up a venture capital system. This would give you virtually unlimited access to ideas. If done in a systematic way to screen things out, you might get some real gems.

  53. David

    Matt,

    Pi r round not square.

    You edumication is laking in the area of Pi.

    Me go hide now ;).

  54. Re: Real vs Virtual Thermometer – we broke our outdoor thermometer painting the house, forcing me just now to look online. Even here in rural Oregon there is a weather station less than a mile away reporting continuously. Thus I no longer need a thermometer at the house to know the temp to within 0.1 degrees AND that tool gives me other info I could only have with a weather station in my yard.

  55. Yeah since the first time I’ve discovered google calculator I use it all the time, very handy. I don’t even know where my regular calculator is :)

  56. What happens to somebody who walks between the sending and recieving devices? ryan said….

    The signal gets interuppted, and needs to get re-transmitted.
    It would involve some type of transducer, something that conducts one form of energy to another, like a microphone converting the air pressure waves that act on the diaphragm or ribbon in the mic and converts it to electrical impluses that travel through the wire, until it hits the speaker and then converts back to impulses that make the speakers respond accordingly displacing air which utltimately hits our ear drums and we get sound.

  57. Dude, you are hanging out with some big nerds if they are asking you those sort of questions. : )

  58. I must say you really need a book search. I agree with McMohan. In fact, a printed book search is what is required.
    I just get fed up of finding something in the books if I’d learned them some months ago but need a reference to it right now. It’s too hard to find something useful in the table of contents page.
    I suggest the best technology would be adding of search pad or something which would come handy with books.

  59. There are certainly some neat features nowadays. I like the currency conversion feature that Google now offers. Enter “100 gbp in dollars” and it throws back “100 British pounds = 190.27 U.S. dollars”.

    Now that IS neat!

    As to what’s next, goodness knows… but I look forward to it. :)

  60. “We all know pi R squared, but today pie R justice.”

  61. QUOTE:
    “I think that by not too long from now Google will actually access all of the world’s information. Maybe not things like ‘how much did john pay for his cup of coffee two months and three days ago?’ but maybe things like really returning the answer to any question asked on Google.”

    Don’t be so sure… you underestimate the G. Keep in mind that if a person uses GMail for all of his personal e-mail, GTalk for all of his Instant Messaging, consolidates his bookmarks with the Google FireFox extension, runs Google Desktop and Google Toolbar with a Personalized Home page, shops for everything through Google Checkout, inputs his personal journal on Blogger and does all of his business documents on Writely, maps out his driving destinations with Google Maps and inputs his telephone queries with Google Local…

    All things considered, I’d say Google knows more about that kind of person than the person knows about himself. I’m looking at you, Mr. Cutts. I bet if I walked into Google HQ and fought my way past the GNinjas to the Central Core, and input my query into Geep Thought, It could tell me what kind of pastry you prefer at three in the afternoon on a Wednesday in May.

  62. I’m glad to see that you could still remember the relevant formulae to work this out. My own pet project (www.calcResult.com) avoids that problem by combining the formula into a specific calculator, but it is a real problem doing much about SEO, as this means that each page of the site is about a different subject. What can I do about that?

  63. A nice little easter egg in Google calculator. Fans of hitchikers guide to the galaxy will appreciate this:-
    Do a Google for “the answer to life, the universe and everything” and the answer is….

  64. In the future you will go to a search engine and say: I want a peperoni pizza and a coke and next thing you know it will be at you door…

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