Google bargePortland Press Herald

Use for mystery 'Google Barges' revealed -- yawn, they're product event centers

Are the mysterious Google barges floating data centers? Nope. Google’s version of the Apple Store? Most likely.

On Wednesday, Google finally acknowledged itself as the developer of the mysterious barges floating in San Francisco Bay and Maine, and partially confirmed what they’ll be used for.

“Google Barge … A floating data center? A wild party boat? A barge housing the last remaining dinosaur? Sadly, none of the above,” Google said in a statement emailed to TechHive. “Although it’s still early days and things may change, we’re exploring using the barge as an interactive space where people can learn about new technology.”

The path to discovery

The Google barges (now with their own Wikipedia entry, natch) were discovered by CNET, which tracked down their relationship to Google while speculating that they were actually a floating data center, cooled by seawater

A subsequent follow-up by the KPIX 5 TV news team in San Francisco revealed that they were in fact some sort of a mobile retail showcase, albeit with a party deck. Portland’s Press Herald reporters were able to take a boat right alongside, and take some great photos (one is shown above).

Google’s acknowledgement that the barges are an “interactive space” to learn about “new technology” certainly implies that they will in fact be a showcase for Google Glass and similar technologies from the GoogleX division within Google, which birthed the self-drving car and the Project Loon balloon-borne Internet routers, among others.

So far, government officials such as the Coast Guard have remained mum on the project, admitting that they signed non-disclosure agreements on the subject. Since Google has publicly acknowledged the purpose of the barges, it may be that we’ll hear more soon about what they’’re being used for.

At the present, it appears that Google’s barges are some time away from completion. However, Google Glass has been said to launch sometime early in 2014. It’s certainly possible that Glass will launch with a “Glass”-enclosed barge or two by the time it does.

We're still kind of hoping for a party boat.

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