“Invention is the mother of necessity,” said US economist Thorstein Veblen, turning a famous proverb on its head.
Give us a technology, and we’ll use it to create something we couldn’t imagine living without.
Most smartphone users want longer battery life, improved cameras, and high-performance processors for gaming.
I’ve yet to hear anyone demanding indoor mapping capabilities.
But Google sees potential.
The smartphone’s hardware and software maps indoor spaces
It’s already recognised the obvious uses; mapping indoor spaces to help the visually-impaired to move around, immersive gaming experiences that use physical space and guiding us around unfamiliar buildings.
On top of that, it’s invited the world’s developers to submit ideas on how they’d use the new technology.
It’s open in recognising there are ideas “we haven’t thought of yet”.
“Tell us what you would build. Be creative. Be specific. Be bold,” it says on its website.
On technology forums, ideas are in abundance.
Some 200 devices are being distributed to developers
Imagine a robot entering a collapsed building after a natural disaster, using the device to send a 3D model of the interior to rescue teams.
Imagine an app that contractors could use before a remodelling project to map the interior of a house, and remodel it in 3D to see how everything will look before doing the work. The customer could then virtually explore their newly-remodelled home.
Imagine it combined with Google Glass, where a real-world CTRL+F function would allow you to find lost keys – or any other item – in an instant.
But above all, Google is an advertising company. It sells eyeballs to advertisers and helps companies to sell products.
Many analysts have already spotted the potentially lucrative uses in the advertising field.
Google Glass, due to be released this year, can see which direction you look when you’re shopping, for example. Combining it with a 3D-modelled interior of a store could give companies useful information on where to place products for maximum views and sales.
By March 14, the 200 prototype phones will have been distributed. A new wave of technological advances may follow.