November 7, 2013
Google has issued a statement (finally?) about its months-long mystery barge project. The barges, which are anchored in both Portland, Maine and San Francisco, have been the topic of intense interest since multiple reports surfaced last month.
A Google spokesperson told TechCrunch that the barges are ‘an interactive space’ to teach people about its technology:
Google Barge … A floating data center? A wild party boat? A barge housing the last remaining dinosaur? 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 statement matches up with sources we spoke to last week, who were still uncertain about the exact uses that all of the barges would be put to in the end. A report by The Los Angeles Times’ Chris O’Brien last week noted that most of the reporters going after this barge story had been looking at the wrong San Francisco lease. O’Brien noted that the correct lease’s purpose is the “fabrication of a special event structure and art exhibit only and for no other purpose.”
A story from CBS KPIX outlined a luxury showroom with a ‘party deck’ up top and spaces below for retail stores that could showcase Glass and other Google products.
The barges, four discovered in all (going by registration numbers) at this point, are floating structures that comprise shipping containers, which Google has a history of using in its data centers. The current structures are said to have large windows cut in them, which could form a presentation space. As we mentioned last week, having a physical demonstration location for products like Google’s head-mounted Glass computer would make sense. Effectively demonstrating their capabilities is key to getting any widespread adoption rolling.
The construction of the barges is said to be designed with portability in mind, allowing the components to be moved on land or sea. The project is supposedly a product of the experimental Google[x] labs headed by company founder Sergey Brin.
The story was broken widely by Cnet, which speculated that they could be water-borne data centers. But, the LA Times report noted that the report was actually chasing the wrong lease, one that was signed on August 1st, while work on the Google barge began last year. A report from The Verge last week noted that the Treasure Island barge will likely be towed across to Fort Mason for display once it’s completed.