Director of Google's secret X lab that the lab's focus is now on Project Wing

Head of Google's secretive X lab defends Glass headset against privacy campaigners - and explains why engineers now wear fluffy socks to work

Dr Astro Teller described Google Glass as 'poster child' for privacy issues

Director of Google's secret X lab said it used cameras that already existed

Speaking at the South By Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas he insisted we'll 'be seeing a lot more' of the technology very soon

The 44-year-old added that the lab's focus is now on Project Wing 

By Mia De Graaf In Austin For

Published: 18:48 EST, 17 March 2015  | Updated: 09:30 EST, 18 March 2015 

Dr Astro Teller, director of Google's secret X lab, has described Google Glass as the 'poster child' for privacy issues - but insisted we'll 'be seeing a lot more' of the technology very soon.

Speaking at South By Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday, the 44-year-old defended the headset by saying it just used cameras that were already in existence.

He also slammed the way people use Google[x] to highlight privacy concerns.

Speaking to after the talk, Dr Teller also gave a rare glimpse into the workings of Google[x], and made a rallying call for diversity in every industry.

'Google Glass did not move the needle,' he explained.

'It was literally a rounding error on the number of cameras in your life.'

The 'smart glasses', which act as a computer screen in front of your eyes, sparked furious debate when they were rolled out to the general public - which Dr Teller concedes was a mistake.

In a bid to get feedback on the first prototype, 'we did things which encouraged people to think of this as a finished product'.


Project Wing's aircraft have a wingspan of approximately 1.5m (4.9ft) and have four electrically-driven propellers. 

The total weight, including the package to be delivered, is approximately 10kg (22lb).

The aircraft itself accounts for the bulk of that at 8.5kg (18.7lb).

The hybrid 'tail sitter' design has wings for fast forward flight, and rotors for hovering for delivery and vertical take-off and landing.

Dual mode operation gives the self-flying vehicle some of the benefits of both planes and helicopters.

It can take off or land without a runway, and can hold its position hovering in one spot to gently drop packages.

Packages are stored in the drone's 'belly' then dropped on a string before being gently lowered to the ground.

At the end of the tether, there's a little bundle of electronics the team call the 'egg,' which detects that the package has hit the ground, detaches from the delivery, and is pulled back up into the body of the vehicle.

And though it has disappeared from the market for further testing, he assured 'you'll be seeing a lot more of Google Glass very soon.'

Another source of controversy is the self-driving car, with fears that technical glitches - even by accident - could pose as a significant safety hazard.

Laughing, Dr Teller dismissed that theory.

'People text when they're meant to actually be driving. So imagine what they do when they think the car's got it under control.

'The assumption that humans can be a reliable back-up for the system is a total fallacy.'

For now, the focus is on Project Wing, autonomous drones which could deliver products across a city within minutes.

Dr Teller revealed the firm will make a major announcement on Project Wing's progress later this year.

Among the current crop of experiments, dubbed 'moonshots', is the self-driving car, a giant kite-style wind turbine that hangs from a string, autonomous drones, and Project Loon, which aims to bring internet signal to the four billion unconnected people in the world using balloons.

Dr Teller, the so-called Captain Of Moonshots, told South By Southwest Interactive Festival that the company has had to fly in helicopters to every end of the Earth - from the Arctic Circle to the South Pacific - to retrieve balloons which exploded during initial experiments for Project Loon.

'We designed our early balloons to fail,' he said.

'But what was not ideal was going to pick them up.'

And in their desperation to speed up the manufacturing process of the 60-foot balloons, they even tested the engineers' socks to see which made them more agile and therefore more efficient.

'We got the techies to wear thin cotton socks and do a line dance,' he laughed.

'Then we got them to put on the fluffy socks and line dance again… Now they all wear fluffy socks.'

A moonshot is something akin to JFK's mission to get a man on the moon by 1961, Dr Teller explained.

It has to tackle a problem that improves the state of the world, have a key technical obstacle that needs to be solved, and be environmentally friendly and efficient.

And no idea is off limits - if it fits the criteria.

'You'd be surprised the number of people that come up to me and say 'let's get rid of corruption!',' he said.

'I say, 'yeah sure but that's not a moonshot'.'

The key component, Dr Teller declared, is diversity in the company.

'People throw around the word 'diversity' like it's a tip at a restaurant.

'But really, having people who have different mental perspectives is what's important.

'If you want to explore things you haven't explored, having people who look just like you and think just like you is not the best way.'


Popular posts from this blog

Report: World’s 1st remote brain surgery via 5G network performed in China

Visualizing The Power Of The World's Supercomputers

BMW traps alleged thief by remotely locking him in car