Google barges mystery uncovered: interactive learning centers

A barge floating off San Francisco is where A barge floating off San Francisco is where Google is erecting a four-story structure surrounded by secrecy. Construction became obvious a few weeks ago. (Oct. 29, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

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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.

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