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Brief Published: 16 Jun 2015

Google's Innovation Drive

Sidewalk Labs will develop technology to improve city life

Google has announced a flurry of new innovation projects in recent weeks, including the launch of Sidewalk Labs – a new company that aims to improve city life through technological advances.

Key announcements include:

  • Sidewalk Labs: Last week, Google announced the formation of Sidewalk Labs, an urban innovation company that will develop technology to improve city life for residents, businesses and governments. "With Sidewalk, we want to supercharge existing efforts in areas such as housing, energy, transportation and government to solve real problems that city dwellers face every day," said Google co-founder Larry Page. To discover how new technologies are already reshaping the city landscape, read Re.Work Future Cities Summit 2014.

  • Project Soli: At Google's I/O developer's conference in San Francisco last month, Google revealed details about Project Soli – an initiative that aims to bring a gesture-based interface to wearable devices. Google has been working with German chipmaker Infineon to create Soli, which uses radar to track hand movements. The movements are translated into instructions for wearable devices such as smart watches – creating a less fiddly, more intuitive user experience. For more on the potential of gesture-based technology, see The New User Interface.

  • Project Jacquard: Google is also experimenting with weaving conductive fabrics into threads to create smart clothing capable of recognising simple gestures. Project Jacquard, which was also revealed at the I/O conference, aims to enable users to unlock their phones, answer calls or scroll through articles via a smart panel embedded into their clothing. US denim brand Levi Jeans is the project's first launch partner, with the first "smart jeans" expected to ship in 2016. Read more about Project Jacquard and other material innovations in our Materials Focus 2017.

To find out how Google nurtures a culture of innovation internally, take a look at our recent blog post on Google: Innovation Culture.