10 cool firms Google Ventures has backed

From miracle cures to magic cars

6. Pixazza

Pixazza turns pictures into sales opportunities and has been dubbed "AdSense for images", so it's not surprising that Google's taken an interest. Celeb snaps become "get the look!" sales opportunities; photos of beautiful beaches sprout adverts for boat trips; and time-lapse photos become equipment lists with shopping links.

Pixazza

PIXAZZA: If you've ever wished web pages had more things popping up in front of them, has Pixazza got the product for you!

7. Recorded Future

Remember the pre-cogs in Minority Report? Recorded Future is a bit like that, but without floating any bald people in tanks. The world's first "temporal analytics engine" analyses the past to predict the future, and immediate applications include financial trading, competitor analysis and national security. When Eric Schmidt told the Wall Street Journal that "I actually think most people don't want Google to answer their questions. They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next" we suspect that Recorded Future was part of what he had in mind.

8. SCVNGR

Life, the saying goes, is a game. SCVNGR took that literally and created a gaming platform where the real world is the game world. More than 550 organisations in 20 different countries have built applications using SCVNGR, encouraging users to carry out specific tasks - strike a pose, scan a code or just check in, Foursquare style - in order to earn points. Think of it as a high-tech treasure hunt and you've got the basic idea, but this is a system that scales: games can be as small as you like or encompass entire cities with thousands of simultaneous players.

SCVNGR

SCVNGR: This app turns the real world into a gaming platform, with locations setting challenges that you can take to earn points

9. Silver Spring Networks

Silver Spring creates hardware, software and services for Smart Grid systems, a more efficient way to deliver electricity. As the US department of energy notes, "if the grid were just 5 per cent more efficient, the energy savings would equate to permanently eliminating the fuel and greenhouse gas emissions from 53 million cars". Smart Grid technology also encompasses home automation, with appliances monitoring energy use and adjusting their behaviour to keep your utility bills low.

10. V-Vehicle

This is perhaps the most intriguing investment of all: V-Vehicle is a new car company that promises to "make green affordable for the masses". What kind of cars will it make? Nobody knows for sure, although reports suggest they'll have plastic, customisable bodies rather than traditional steel skins. What technologies will its vehicles adopt? Nobody's saying. The presence of former Mazda designer Tom Motano - the man behind the RX-7 and the MX-5 - bodes well, as does the presence of other heavyweight investors including famous VC firm Kleiner Perkins and former Texas oil boss T. Boone Pickens.

V Vehicle

V-VEHICLE: So far the only pictures of the V-Vehicle car are teaser shots in video clips. The firm promises affordable green motoring for the masses

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