Mystery of Google Barges Grips Media

Mystery of Google Barges Grips Media

Commercial News » Global Property Beat | By Kevin Brass | October 30, 2013 11:24 AM ET

The appearance of two mysterious barges on opposite coasts has sparked a flurry of rumors and speculation, primarily centered on their possible connection to Google.

According to one widely-reported account, the barges -one appeared in San Francisco Bay, the other in Portland, Maine -- are the first examples of floating data centers designed by the Internet giant. This theory make a certain amount of sense, since Google received a patent four years ago for floating data centers, using a design that appears to match elements of the barges.

But other reports say that's not true and Google is planning to use the barges as retail outlets for Google Glass.

At this point, no one knows for sure and Google isn't talking. But that hasn't stopped a wave of media reports speculating about the nature of the barges.

Online site CNET was apparently the first media outlet to link the barge in San Francisco Bay to Google, as well as the speculation about the data centers.

From afar, the 40-foot wide and 70- to 80-foot long barges fit many of the attributes described in Google's patent. The facility appears to be made of shipping containers, as described in the patent. The facility would be powered by machines that convert wave and tide motion into energy, according to media reports.

But there is no confirmation that the barges are data centers and, in fact, KPIX in San Francisco says the reports are not true. The barges will actually be floating retail outlets, the station says.

But KPIX said work on the mysterious barges stopped just as mysteriously a few days ago. And Google doesn't have permits for the facility, the station said. (See video below)

Computer World magazine contact the chief executive of Cianbro Co. the construction company working on the barge in Maine.

"I'm not allowed to make any comments on our involvement or what we're doing or what is happening at our facility," Pete Vigue told Computer World. "There is a very strict non-disclosure agreement."

Video: KPIX Report on Google Barge

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