Secret shipping containers hidden under a web of black netting are being housed on a floating barge that has materialized in San Francisco Bay's Treasure Island. The barge is owned by Google. CNET, Yahoo News and KPIX 5 report that the massive structure may be a facility for an imminent Google Glass production, marketing and retail blitz.
Though the four-story structure is clearly visible, no statements are being made by authorities, including the Treasure Island Development Authority, the U.S. Coast Guard or the harbor office at Clipper Cove. “I don’t know anything about it. Honestly I don’t,” a voice on the intercom at the Clipper Cove told KPIX 5. “It’s a complete mystery to me.”
But KPIX 5 has learned that Google is building "a floating marketing center, a kind of giant Apple store, if you will — but for Google Glass, the cutting-edge wearable computer the company has under development." Google is planning to complete the structure and tow it from Treasure Island across San Francisco Bay to Fort Mason, anchor it there, and open it to the public, according to anonymous KPIX 5 sources close to the project.
Although the barge and containers began to materialize months ago, activity on the structure has stopped and the reason appears to be permit issues. KPIX 5 cites an official at the SF Bay Conservation and Development Commission as commenting, “Google has spent millions on this but they can’t park this barge on the waterfront without a permit, and they don’t have one.”
Any barge docked on the Bay for a significant length of time--whether at Treasure Island or Fort Mason--is legally defined as “bay fill,” according to a KPIX 5 source with "long experience in waterfront issues." Unless Google is able to win a permit, the millions of dollars and months spent on planning the project may be wasted.
In that respect, the project may mirror Google Glass itself, a fascinating technology that appears to have no significant advantage or application beyond handhelds and head-mounted cameras. Yes, Glass is an eyewearable, but it still works the same as handhelds--by using a fingerpad and voice commands.
On the Glass Collective site dedicated to funding innovation around Glass, Google Ventures General Partner Bill Maris was quoted as saying: “When you first see somebody wearing Glass, you might think “What can that thing do?' Well, quite honestly, we’re wondering the same thing." Unless Google can make its case to consumers that Glass is a revolutionary device, operating in an entirely new way, such as enabling eye gaze computing commands, no giant store or Google barge will be able to circumvent the "what can that thing do" problem.
Google knows that the most popular app of all is texting, or short message service (SMS). One company, TelepathEye Inc., has patented a method for using an eyewearable device, like Glass, to enable texting and other applications using eye gaze commands. If Google developed this technology, Glass would indeed be a revolutionary device.