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Mysterious floating barge in San Francisco Bay could be secret new Google Glass facility

Eric Pfeiffer
The Sideshow

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Could this barge be home to Google's next big operation? (KPIX 5/CBS San Francisco)

A 250-foot long barge with four stories of shipping containers floating in the waters of the San Francisco Bay may actually be the home of Google’s next big marketing push.

KPIX 5 reports that several experts close to local government authorities that oversee such operations say that the barge is likely home to a major marketing effort, a “kind of giant Apple Store,” in support of Google Glass.

The barge itself is reportedly referred to as “the secret project” by locals, with the shipping containers largely concealed under a bed of black netting.

The theory goes that upon completion, Google will pull the barge up to San Francisco’s Fort Mason, where the floating data center would then become open to the public. For it’s part, Google has declined to comment on the speculation.

CNET agrees with the speculation, pointing out that Google obtained a patent for such an operation in 2009 . But why a floating data-center? They say the water provided a natural cooling center for a massive operation like this and that the water itself is also a sustainable power source.

The patent describes such a facility as a, “system [that] includes a floating platform-mounted computer data center comprising a plurality of computing units, a sea-based electrical generator in electrical connection with the plurality of computing units, and one or more sea-water cooling units for providing cooling to the...computing units."

There’s just one major problem: many of these same experts say Google hasn’t sought the proper permits to open any such operation.

“Google has spent millions on this,” one anonymous source close to the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) told the station. “But they can’t park this barge on the waterfront without a permit, and they don’t have one.”

A second source confirmed that Google has inquired about “hypothetical operations” that would be water-based but has not specified how or for what purpose any such enterprise would be employed.

Another challenging facing any such enterprise would be in justifying why Google would need the new operation to be water-based.

“The law is crystal clear in this case: The Bay is not to be used for something that can be built on land,” BCDC director Larry Goldzband told the station.

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A 2009 patent by Google shows what their prospective water-based operation would look like (Google)

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