(Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO -- Google is not happy just organizing the world's information. The Internet search giant wants to help you live longer now too.
Google unveiled Calico Wednesday, a new health technology business focused on aging and related diseases.
It will be run as a separate company and operated independently, however, Google is an investor alongside Arthur Levinson, the chairman of Apple and biotech company Genentech, who will be Calico's CEO.
This is the latest project that takes Google away from its Internet search origins. The company is already developing driver-less cars and giant hot-air balloons that bring Wi-Fi to remote corners of the world.
Wall Street sometimes gets unnerved by such projects because investors worry that Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are not concentrating fully on the main, money-making parts of the company.
However, some side projects, such as Google Glass, are beginning to show commercial potential, and Page reminded investors Wednesday that this is what they signed up for when they bought stock.
"OK ... so you're probably thinking, 'Wow! That's a lot different from what Google does today,' " Page wrote on his Google+ page. "And you're right. But as we explained in our first letter to shareholders, there's tremendous potential for technology more generally to improve people's lives."
"So don't be surprised if we invest in projects that seem strange or speculative compared with our existing Internet businesses," he added, while noting that new projects like Calico are very small compared with Google's main operations.
Google Glass and driver-less cars came out of the company's Google X research lab, while Calico will be a separate company. It is starting out with a small number of employees in the San Francisco Bay Area and will likely use large, computer-powered data crunching to research ailments related to aging.
The idea grew out of conversations between Page and Levinson - although Page also thanked Bill Maris, head of Google Ventures, for helping bring the idea to life and for getting Levinson involved. The venture-capital arm of Google is not backing Calico, though.
Page hinted at some areas that may be targeted by Calico in his Google+ post, which mentioned decreased mobility and mental agility that comes with age and "life-threatening diseases."
"While this is clearly a longer-term bet, we believe we can make good progress within reasonable timescales," Page added.