Google has just announced that it their in-house startup incubator, Area 120, is now open to the public. You can visit the website to sign up for you to be able to test and access some of the experimental products that they come up with. The company has also announced a new project called Advr which they’re working on in Area 120.
Advr aims to bring advertising to virtual reality experiences through a cube-like ad format which allows video ads to run in a 3D/VR environment. I’ve actually signed up for Area 120 as I am really interested to see what Advr will be like. So if you have a VR headset and want to check it out too, just sign up.
Now Area 120 was launched in March 2016, at Google. It was a way to retain entrepreneurial-minded talent at the company, as well as give teams the ability to test new ideas that could eventually become Google products, or be integrated with existing products. So far, none of the projects that have been worked on have become a part of the Google products and they also say that most of them will actually fail.
As with any tech company, employees can sometimes lose their passion or creative juices by just doing the same old routine without allowing new adventures. Google saw this problem back in 2015 and then formed a ‘policy’ that encouraged Googlers to spend 20% of their time working 100% on side projects that excited them and helped them grow.
Any Googler can apply to be a part of the program but only a select few will be chosen by Google. When selected, a Googler will check out of their normal day job and check in to Area 120. Typically, each enrollment round consists of 15 teams. The teams are given 6 months to work on their ideas and prove that they are viable ones.
If the idea proves to be a success then they can keep working on it otherwise they are invited to come back to Google and work in a different role. Even-though two enrollments have already happened and their taking applications for the third, Google still isn’t clear about where Area 120 is going and whether it will worth the investment.
Some of the projects haven’t been seen on media as they were for internal use or just available to some invited testers. These are the ones that we know about: Uptime, YouTube’s experimental app for watching videos with friends; voice-based Supersonic Fun Voice Messenger; and an application that teaches how to code called Grasshopper.
I think that Google opening up the once secret Area 120 is a good thing as it allows more people to be involved in these projects even if they never become a part of our daily lives. The Area 120 website doesn’t really have much detail on what’s coming so let’s just hope for the best.