On Friday, Google announced it’s taking a big step into its future: By buying Gecko Design, an 18-year-old product design and mechanical engineering studio, to be part of Google X. What could Google want with a smaller engineering company like Gecko? Its ability to build real-world products, that’s what. Google X a little bit like the New York Yankees of the tech world. It has all the money, all the backing, it could possibly need—and yet it still doesn’t always seal the deal. In Google’s case, that’s often intentional, since Google X is devoted to the so-called “moonshots,” big ideals that are intended to fail, from space elevators to hoverboards. But increasingly, Google X is dealing with technology that very well could become commonplace, like self-driving cars and Google Glass.

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