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Google Plans Research Facilities To Expand Into Hardware Market

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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New laboratories and a Google exhibition centre are in the development plan for the company’s Californian headquarters

Google is investing more than $120 million (£76.6m) into new hardware facilities at its “Googleplex” headquarters located in Mountain View, California, according to public records unearthed by Silicon Valley newspaper The Mercury News.

New buildings at the Googleplex will include two hardware laboratories and something called the “Google Experience Center”. This could be seen as a sign that the Internet software company is finally ready to manufacture its own devices.

Hardware and Project X

One of the labs will test new consumer products under the brand name “Android @home”. The first mysterious entertainment device will stream music and data through Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and should finish its testing phase by July.

The second lab will house the mysterious “Project X”, headed by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, which might involve high-precision optics. Mercury News journalist Mike Swift describes the facility as “a space with blacked-out windows at a central location of the Googleplex”, and says that city records show it will enable working with rare gases like argon, facilitate a plasma cleanser that can scrub materials of contaminants, and accommodate arcane optical-coating technology.

The 120,000 square-foot Google Experience Centre is probably the most interesting Googleplex addition. It will be a private exhibition for Google’s most important clients and partners, perhaps similar to Microsoft’s Home of the Future. The centre will not be generally open to the public.

With the company getting the go-ahead from the US Department of Justice and the European Commission on its purchase of Motorola Mobility for an estimated $12.5 billion (£8bn), the prospect of Google making its own devices seems inevitable. However, the deal still needs approval from regulators in China, Taiwan and Israel.