The secret behind Google’s strange mystery barges in the San Francisco Bay and Portland, ME has been revealed: They are promotional party boats.
According to the local KPIX 5 CBS station, multiple sources have confirmed to the outlet that the vast majority of the barges will be composed of showrooms to promote the launch of Google Glass, the search giant’s upcoming entry into a burgeoning wearable computing field.
The barges are about four stories high, with the first three floors featuring numerous rooms designed to highlight various features of Google’s new high-tech glasses. The top floor is an invitation-only party deck, reserved for upscale customers and other high-profile guests.
Comprised of 40-foot shipping containers, the barges have been constructed with interchangeable parts so that they can be easily put together and taken down at will. Google plans to move these showrooms up and down America’s coast as it promotes the launch of Google Glass, and they’ve been designed in an attempt to upstage the retail efforts of competitors like Apple.
Although the sea-faring showrooms have been in the works for over a year, completion has been delayed by the U.S. Coast Guard, which considers them to be “floating vessels,” and, thus, subject to maritime regulations and safety measures.
“Coast Guard personnel have been onboard to conduct routine inspections and ensure compliance with…regulations,” Coast Guard Lt. Anna Dixon said in a statement to KPIX.
When reports originally surfaced regarding the barges, some outlets speculated that Google was constructing floating, water-based data centers. That was deemed unlikely by some sources, like former Pacific Gas & Electric executive Mark Bramfitt, who went on to speculate that they could actually be intended for promotional purposes.
“There is no power capacity … to serve a data center of this size,” said Bramfitt to the website Data Center Knowledge. “I’m guessing, but this might be an ‘immersive’ experience site for Google Glass. You go in and are presented with a variety of scenarios that show the tech to high advantage.”
Google Glass, which is worn like a regular pair of glasses, features a high-resolution display and camera that allows users to surf the Internet, record videos, take photographs, send text messages with voice commands, and more. It was originally scheduled for release late this year, but Google has pushed the date further into 2014, when many expect an improved, second-generation model to be the first public release.