Google announced that Austin, Tex., will become the second city to get its gigabit-speed fiber-optic Internet service, Google Fiber, with connections starting in mid 2014. (Kansas City, the first recipient, already has service.)
Aside from faster movie downloads, what will Austin residents do with all that bandwidth? Entrepreneurs and tinkerers already have ideas.
Ryan Brown, an electrical engineer and organizer of the Austin Hardware Startup Meetup, imagines collaborating on gadget designs with people hundreds or thousands of miles away.
"Developing hardware is bandwidth-intensive," Brown said. "You've got schematics, layouts, industrial designs, mechanical designs, thermal simulations ... and things like that can be painful to share online." With gigabit speeds, Austin engineers could trade and tweak designs in real time with collaborators around the world, such as factories in China, Brown said.
In fact, it will make it easier to use tools for designing and testing products entirely in the cloud, leveraging heavy-duty online computers to do the intensive number-crunching to predict how a product will function long before it's built. [See video of how Kansas City has been using Google Fiber]