CASE STUDY 13
ManagementInformation Systems: Google Technologies
ManagementInformation Systems: Google Technologies
Technologyhas impacted all aspects of the life of human beings from providingways of global communication to providing a means for people to finddirections to a destination that is unknown through using digitalmaps in smartphones, such as Google Maps. Google is among the leadingtechnology companies that have made a significant breakthrough byproviding technological innovations. With a mission to “organizethe world’s information and make it universally accessible anduseful” (Google, 2016), the company has introduced fivetechnologies that are under research or development that can make useof information to deliver useful inventions that enhance the lives ofpeople. The five discoveries include self-driving automobiles, whicheliminate human error on the road Project Jacquard, which makes itpossible to weave gesture and touch interactivity into textileProject Wing, which is an autonomous Google drone-based deliverysystem for packages to customers smart contact lens, that providespeoplewith diabetes with a painless way of assessing the level of sugar intheir tears and FlyingWind Turbine Project, which taps wind in high levels from suspendedturbines and kites in the air to generate electricity. As such, thispaper analyzes the five technologies by looking at the description ofthe innovations, challenges that Google could face in implementingthe inventions, suggestions for overcoming some of the potentialproblems, and positive and adverse impacts of the discoveries onsociety.
TheFive Google Projects under Research or Development
GoogleSelf-Driving Automobile is a self-directed vehicle developed byGoogle X as a technology primarily for electric cars with thecapacity to navigate safely in an autonomous manner through the useof numerous complex scenarios on city streets (Google, 2016). Theself-directed automobile drives safely by answering four questions asshown below in Figure 1.
Figure1: Google Self-Driving Automobile
Thefirst question is “where am I?” The automobile processesinformation from a sensor as shown above in Figure 1 and map todetermine where it is located in the world, such as the position in astreet and lane. The second question is “what is around me? Thevehicle processes information from a sensor as shown above in Figure1 to help it detect objects around it. The software in the cardetects objects and classifies them based on their movement patterns,shapes, and sizes, such as sensing a pedestrian and a cyclist. Thethird question is “What will happen next?” The software in theautomobile predicts what the objects around it may do next, such asforeseeing that a pedestrian will cross a road. The fourth questionis “What should I do?” The software in the auto chooses the safespeed to drive, and when a cyclist is approaching, it nudges away.
Eventhough the self-driving automobile has enjoyed successful testing onthe road with cars that include Audi TT, three Lexus RX450h, and sixToyota Prius, it has been involved in fourteen minor collisions onpublic roads and one major crash (Lavrinc, 2012). For instance, onthe 14thof February, 2016, while attempting to avoid sandbags on its path,the self-directed vehicle maneuvered and crashed on a bus (Serna,2016). Google attributed the collision to a misunderstanding betweenhuman drivers on the road (McFarland, 2016). As such, Google couldface numerous challenges in implementing the self-driving technologyin automobiles. One challenge could be having an auto device thatdoes not work as intended. For example, since the vehicle technologywas not able to detect an oncoming car in order to avoid crashing,its adoption may reduce. However, some suggestions that can be madeto overcome the challenge. One suggestion is for Google to improvethe sensor that helps it in processing information to detect objectsaround it in order to avoid a collision. Another suggestion is forGoogle to develop the software that predicts what the objects aroundit may do next to prevent an accident.
Althoughthe self-driving automobile has crashed on a bus, it has negative andpositive impacts on the society. On the one hand, the negative impacton the society is its inability to operate in a safe manner becausein some instances, as shown above, it causes accidents by crashing onother vehicles. On the other hand, one positive impact on the societyis its ability to reduce accidents that Bailey states are caused byhumans “relying on just our own reflexes to keep us safe”(Bailey, 2014, par. 19). Another positive impact on the society isits capacity to provide managers with the ability to increase profitsby eliminating human drivers who have errors. While removing humandrivers may result in unemployment, the self-directed automobile willensure many people are not killed on the road. As Bailey puts it,“more than 90 percent of all traffic accidents are the result ofhuman error” (Bailey, 2014, par. 19). This further supports theidea that removing human drivers from vehicles will reduce thepercentage of traffic accidents. As a result, I believe thateliminating drivers who have human error will help managers avoidunnecessary accidents, and thereby, delivering products in goodconditions to customers on time, leading to increased companyprofits.
ProjectJacquard is an innovation developed by Google in partnership withLevi’s that makes it possible to weave gesture and touchinteractivity into textile using traditional looms (Atap Google,2016). The core of the technology is a piece of fabric that is wovenwith a thread that is conductive, which allows it to act as atouchpad that is interactive. Levi’s Jacquard jacket contains thismaterial on the edge of the sleeve as shown below in Figure 2.
Figure2: Levi’s Jacquard Jacket
Thetouchpad is powered by a tag that connects to the cuff of the sleeveas shown above in Figure 2. The label, which uses USB to charge, isdesigned to resemble the buttons and snaps on the rest of the jacket.The device is also fitted with an LED light that changes the colorsbased on what the person wearing it is doing. The captured gestureand touch data from the touchpad is transmitted wirelessly to asmartphone to control an extensive range of functions, such asconnecting the user to an application to play music and Google Mapsto find directions while riding a bicycle.
Whilethe invention makes it possible to weave gesture and touchinteractivity into textile using traditional looms, there arechallenges that Google could face in implementing this technology.The first challenge is executing an innovation that is still in itsinfancy on textile. The implementation has the problem of offeringcustomers equipment that they do not understand very well to operatesuccessfully. For example, while the technology is expected to helpthe client play music wirelessly without using the smartphone byusing touch and gestures on the textile, such as the Levi’sJacquard jacket, the customer may find it difficult. The secondchallenge is implementing a device that is unaffordable at the momenton textile. Therefore, there is the challenge of reaching only a fewcustomers who can afford the high prices. Consequently, thetechnology may not be adopted by those who find it unaffordablethus, its benefits may not be realized. However, somesuggestions can be made to overcome the above challenges. Onesuggestion is for Google to provide customers with adequateinformation in a manual on how the invention works on textile so thatthey can be able to understand it without too much effort. Anothersuggestion is for Google to make the technology affordable to manypeople, especially those who have a low income so that they can enjoythe benefits of gesture and touch on their textile, such as jackets.Conversely, even with the advantages of gesture and touch on thetextile, such as jackets of customers, the technology has potentialnegative and positive impacts on the society. One potential negativeconsequence is customers, especially those who cycle, getting intoaccidents because of focusing on touching their jackets rather thanfocusing on riding the bicycle safely on the road. A possiblepositive effect on the society is its ability to provide customerswith direction using Google maps application. As such, I believe thatmanagers will benefit from this innovation because they will be ableto know the shopping schedules of customers, and thereby, providespecific products when there are many customers in order to increaseprofits.
ProjectWing is an autonomous Google drone-based delivery system thatperforms a number of important tasks, such as delivering and droppingpackages to customers, helping farmers fertilize their crops, andaerial inspections of refineries as well as taking over dangerousactivities, therefore, reducing risk to humans (Levin, 2016). Thedrone-based delivery system works in a simple manner. It flies with apackage that has been ordered by a customer, and drops it where theclient has specified as shown below in Figure 3.
Figure3: Project Wing Delivering a Package
Thedrone flies preplanned routes using software and sensors. While thesoftware provides the drone with a preplanned route that it can useto navigate the airspace safely without colliding with others, thesensors provide it with the ability to detect and avoid other dronesand airplanes. Therefore, the drone navigates the airspace safely.
Thoughthe Project Wing drone-based delivery system technology makesdelivering products to customers easier as shown above in Figure 3,there are challenges that Google could face in implementing thistechnology. While Google promises that the drones will identify asecure location from where customers can pick their packages in goodcondition and within a short period of time, one challenge inimplementation is dealing with the issue of privacy. Customers mayfeel that their privacy is invaded by Google because the drone, whichhas a camera, may be watching all their activities without theauthorization of the clients. The challenge, thus, makes it difficultfor Google to convince customers to adopt the technology. Anotherchallenge in effecting this innovation is dealing with the issue ofsecurity. With the current attacks from terrorists in France that ledto the death of many innocent people, customers may feel that thedrones may be used to commit acts of terrorism. Similarly, this hasthe challenge of making it difficult for Google to convince customersto adopt the technology because of the fear that terrorists may usethe drones to deliver bombs to their homes with the intention ofkilling them.
Evenwith the opposition that Google could face in implementing thistechnology, there are some suggestions for overcoming them. Oneproposition is for Google to make sure that the privacy of thecustomer is not invaded by not watching all the activities of aclient without authorization. Google can remove the camera and justuse the address of the customer to deliver packages. Anothersuggestion is for Google to make sure that the security of the clientis guaranteed by ensuring that the collection point of deliveredpackages is away from home. In an instance that the drone isdelivering a bomb, there will be a slight casualty because the othermembers of the family will not be near it. Even if the drone-deliverysystem offers quick delivery of packages to clients, it has potentialpositive and negative impacts. One probable positive impact to thesociety is the ability to deliver packages to customers to theirlocation, thereby, ensuring that they save money they would have usedto travel to collect the package. A likely adverse effect on thesociety as mentioned above is the possibility that terrorists may usethe drones to deliver bombs to people. Thus, there may be death ofinnocent customers. Thus, I believe that managers will benefit fromthis drone-delivery technology because they will be able to deliverpackages to consumers on time, thereby, increasing profits because ofnumerous deliveries.
SmartContact Lens is a technology developed by Google with the purpose ofassisting people with diabetes to assess the level of sugar in theirtears by using small sensors, wireless chips, and hair-thin antennas(Farandos et al., 2014). As shown below in Figure 4, the technologyis complicated and works in an intricate manner.
Figure4: Google Smart Contact Lens
Thelens has a pinhole that allows tears to flow into the sensor toassess the level of sugars. The hair-thin antennas act as acontroller to communicate measured level of sugars to the wirelesschip. The wireless chip then transmits the evaluated level of sugarsdata via Radio-frequencyidentification(RFID) wireless technology for the person with diabetes to knowwhether the amount of sugars has decreased or increased (CBS News,2014).
Whilethe technology seems to show that it provides people with diabeteswith an easy way to measure the level of their sugars, there are anumber of challenges that Google could face in implementing thisinnovation. Even though Google promises that the technology willprovide people with diabetes the ability to determine the sugarlevels without inflicting pain, one challenge that it could face inimplementing it is people’s disbeliefs, especially those withdiabetes who have to prick their fingers in order to know their sugarlevels. People with diabetes may think that even with the technology,they may still experience pain. The challenge, therefore, is forGoogle to persuade people with diabetes to adopt the invention.Another challenge in executing Smart Contact Lens is dealing with theissue of complexity of the technology, especially with individualswho have diabetes. Therefore, the problem is for Google to convincepeople with diabetes that the intricacy is not an issue.
Wherethere are challenges, there are suggestions that can be made toovercome some of the potential stands. One suggestion is for Googleto create awareness of the technology, in particular, to let peoplewith diabetes know that using the lens to assess the level of sugarsis not painful. Another proposition is for Google also to createawareness of the lens to let people with diabetes know that while thetechnology looks complicated, it is not an issue because all theyhave to know is that they will be able to assess the level of sugarswithout feeling any pain. While the smart contact lens providespeople with diabetes a way to determine the level of sugars withoutinflicting pain, it has potential negative and positive impacts onthe society. One probable adverse effect of the technology on thesociety is the possibility that when it does not function asexpected, it may cause blindness. The potential positive impact ofthe innovation to the society is that people with diabetes will beable to know their sugar levels without experiencing pain. The effectis a reduction in the number of people who are dying of low sugarlevels because of the pain of pricking their fingers to measure thelevel of sugars. Therefore, I believe that managers of companies willbenefit from this technology because they will be able to monitor thelevel of sugars of employees to ensure productivity, thereby,increasing profit because of reduced hospital visits to measure theamount of sugars.
TheFlying Wind Turbine Project
TheFlying Wind Turbine project, which is also known as Makani, is atechnology developed by Google to generateelectricity of up to 600 kW from suspended turbines and kites in theair (Google Makani, 2016). The technology consists of four parts asshown below in Figure 5.
Figure5: The Flying Wind Turbine Project
Thefirst part is the kite, which is the rotors, act like helicopterpropellers to launch it from the ground station. As soon as the kiteis in flight, the air that moves across the rotors makes them rotate,which drives a generator to produce electricity. The second part isthe tether, which is connected to the ground station to transferpower between the position and the kite. The third part is the groundstation, which holds the tether when it is not in use. The fourthpart is the computer system, which uses sensors and GPS as well asreal-time calculations to guide the kite to fly in a particularpattern with the steadiest and strongest winds for maximum generationof electric energy.
Eventhough the technology generates electrical energy for consumptionwithout using fossil fuel, such as diesel and coal, there are severalchallenges that Google could face in applying this innovation. Onechallenge that it could face in implementing many kites to generatelots of electricity is finding unused land. With the land pricesgoing up, the problem is acquiring the needed unused land to operatethe kite. Another challenge that it could face in executing the kitesis finding land where the speed of the wind is extremely strong toturn the rotors to generate electricity.
Eventhough there are potential challenges, there are propositions thatcan be made to overcome them. One suggestion is for Google to findseveral unused lands where the price of land is affordable, such asthe Nevada Desert, to implement many kites in order to generateelectricity as per need. Another proposal is for Google to find aspecific location in the Nevada Desert where the speed of the wind isextremely strong in order for the rotors to turn faster and generateelectricity easily. Although the Flying Wind Turbine generates cleanelectricity from the wind that does not involve pollution, it haspotential negative and positive impacts on the society. The likelyundesirable effect on the society is when it malfunctions and fallson people. The result of the impact can be injury or even death. Aprobable positive impact on the society is its ability to generateclean electricity without polluting the environment. The influence isa reduction of pollution-related diseases, such as cancer. Therefore,I believe that managers of companies will benefit from thistechnology in a number of ways. The managers will benefit from thistechnology by gaining the ability to increase productivity in amanufacturing company that needs more electric energy, therefore, anincrease in profit because of reduced cost of electricity bills.Another way the managers of companies will benefit from thisinvention is the ability to get tax reduction from the government asa result of complying with the regulations and policies that want allfirms to use sustainable sources of energy, such as the wind to turnturbines to generate electricity.
Googlehas made a significant impact on people’s lives by providingtechnologies that resolve issues that the populace faces daily. Mostimportantly, Google is playing an essential role with itsself-driving automobiles that will change the lives of people morethan the other four technologies that have been discussed abovebecause of its potential to reduce accidents that are attributed tohuman error on the road. As such, more extensive research has to bedone on other innovations that save or prolong the lives of peoplesuffering from different diseases, in order to reduce deaths. Moreresearch should be conducted on how to use technologies to curecancer or manage it in a specific way that people with cancer mayhave pain medication delivered into their bodies only when the painof cancer materializes. Going forward, I think with conducting moreresearch, innovations such as Google technologies have the potentialto improve the lives of people, especially those who do not haveenough money to pay for unaffordable existing inventions.
ATAPGoogle (2006). Projectjacquard. Retrievedfrom https://atap.google.com/jacquard/
Bailey,R. (2014). Themoral case for self-driving cars. Retrievedfrom http://reason.com/archives/2014/07/28/the-moral-case-for-self-drivin/print
CBCNews (2014). ThisGoogle contact lens would read your tears. Retrievedfromhttp://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/google-contact-lens-could-help-diabetics-track-glucose-1.2500274
Farandos,N., Yetisen, A., Monteiro, M., Lowe, C., & Yun, S. (2014).Contact lens sensors in ocular diagnostics. AdvancedHealthcare Materials,4(6),792-810.
Google(2016). Companyoverview.Retrievedfrom https://www.google.com/about/company/
Google(2016). Navigatingcity streets. Retrievedfrom https://www.google.com/selfdrivingcar/how/
GoogleMakani (2016). Meetthe energy kite. Retrievedfrom https://www.google.com/makani/technology/
Lavrinc,D. (2012). Exclusive:Google expands its autonomous fleet with hybrid Lexus RX450h.Retrievedfrom http://www.wired.com/2012/04/google- autonomous-lexus-rx450h/
Levin(2016). Alphabet’sproject wing delivery drones to be tested in U.S. Bloomberg.Retrieved fromhttp://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2016-08-02/google-s-project-wing-delivery-drones-to-be-tested-at-u-s-site
McFarland,M. (2016). Forthe first time, Google’s self-driving car takes some blame for a crash. Retrievedfrom https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/innovations/wp/2016/02/29/for-the-first-time-googles-self-driving-car-takes-some-blame-for-a-crash/?hpid=hp_hp-cards_hp-card-technology%3Ahomepage%2Fcard
Serna,J. (2016). Passengerbus teaches Google robot car a lesson. Retrievedfromhttp://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-google-self-driving-car-bus-collision-20160229-story.html