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Revealed: Inside Google's research labs

Google rumours, are they fact or fiction?

As one of the biggest players in the tech industry, its hard to keep track of every new venture Google announces. Here we've put together a round-up of its current projects and aimed to sift out the rumours from the truths.

Energy initiatives

Bill Weihl is the energy czar at Google charged with making the company a leading example of energy efficiency. Most buildings at Google's headquarters have a solar array that provides 30 percent of peak power usage at the campus.

The company also lends employees hybrid cars for occasional short-term use, they are located in a garage that is itself powered by a solar array.

"In the last year, we have been working with companies in the industry in and outside of technology to drive energy efficiency in PCs and servers," Weihl says.

"We started an initiative with Intel and HP and others called the Climate Savers Initiative. Also Starbucks, who provides a lot of the fuel that drives the tech industry. It is not a technology issue, it is a demand issue."

"It costs more to get a PC or server that is energy-efficient; components have not been efficient," Weihl says.

"It is a cost that pays beck within a year or two. For years, we talked about price performance and features. We really need to educate the industry and consumers that they should think about energy when they buy them."

Universal search

Anytime you search on Google, you are performing a 'universal search', where the results are not just text links but a mix of websites, images, videos, blog entries and even audio. The underlying technology is how Google determines which results it presents and how it presents them.

With universal search, Google continues to tweak algorithms and experiment with the search results. The goal, says Bailey, is to present balanced results based on the search term and move away from the heavy emphasis on only textual web links that existed prior to the switch to universal search in May 2007.

"If you search for Martin Luther King, you might be thinking text, but we present relevant video results," says David Bailey, a Google senior software engineer for universal search.

"We can look at the results and compare and contrast. Someone might be speculatively searching, but we put the 'non-web' results at the top of the page. There might be blog posts or video podcasts.

"It is a good diversity play when we search everything speculatively. We know about the video, we have the thumbnails, we know the star rating, so we should present those results."

NEXT PAGE: Google's comments on just some of the many rumours

  1. Sift out Google truths from Google rumours
  2. Facial recognition search
  3. Energy initiatives and universal search
  4. Google's comments on just some of the many rumours

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