Google Reveals Mystery Barge as Showcase for Technologies

Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A barge under construction is docked at a pier on Treasure Island on October 30, 2013 in San Francisco, California. Mystery barges with construction of shipping containers have appeared in San Francisco and Portland, Maine, prompting online rumors that the barges are affiliated with a Google project.

Google Inc., following days of speculation about what it’s doing with a floating vessel in the San Francisco Bay, said the barge is a project aimed at showing off new technologies.

“Google Barge ... A floating data center? A wild party boat? A barge housing the last remaining dinosaur?,” the company said in a statement today. “Sadly, none of the above. 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 operator of the world’s most-popular search engine is expanding into new areas, including wearable computers, driverless cars and broadband communications, pushing it beyond the core business of sifting and organizing information on the Web. While some of the new projects haven’t delivered much revenue, Chief Executive Officer Larry Page has underscored the importance of new research in driving future trends.

The giant floating barge at Treasure Island in the middle of the bay triggered chatter among local media and technology watchers when it was noticed last month.

KPIX 5, the CBS affiliate in San Francisco, reported that the vessel has luxury showrooms complete with a party deck to market Google Glass, the computerized eyewear the company has made available to some developers and early testers. The project has been in development for more than a year and was designed to upstage Apple Inc.’s product showrooms, the report said.

Earlier, CNet speculated the barge could be a giant floating data center. The report pointed to a patent for such a vessel by Google several years ago.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Womack in San Francisco at bwomack1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Pui-Wing Tam at ptam13@bloomberg.net

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