Google is remodeling its Mountain View headquarters – aka the Googleplex – and public records filed with the city government suggest the company is doing more than just upgrading its water coolers. Architects provided a surprising amount of detail about new technology in development at Google in the filings (which are sadly not available online), the San Jose Mercury news reported. Here’s a guess at what the real story is behind the hints about secret labs and a new Google-branded gadget that will take control of your home.
This is probably related to the Android@Home project that was shown off at Google’s IO conference last summer in the form of prototypes known as “Tungstens” (one is pictured above). Each was a black box connected to the Web intended to take control of your home electronics, such as lighting or music equipment. In a demo, a Tungsten flickered and dimmed the lights in a room to make playing a game on an Android tablet more immersive, and streamed music over the Internet. The Wall Street Journal ran an anonymously-sourced story late last week about Tungsten’s that stream music heading to stores.
This could be equipment needed to make prototype wearable displays built into eyeglasses, which the NYT reported Google was working on back in December. Optical coating technology would be used in the eyeglass lenses and the optical components that project images into the eye. Plasma cleaning is used in labs and workshops to get delicate components spotlessly clean without having to use solvents or physically rubbing stuff off them. It uses argon, and is used for chips and other components in electronics.
Rather than suggesting wild new projects, this seems to be a case of Google growing up. Many of Silicon Valley’s tech giants, such as Cisco, HP and Oracle, have built showrooms that preview homes, businesses and other environments centered on their products. Google needs its own corporate theme park to seek more business from governments and corporations – and to tempt them away from competitors.