Project X at Googleplex hints at radical new product lines

Feb 13, 2012

Google's $120m refurbishment looks set to make it a hardware rival to Apple

A MYSTERIOUS laboratory space dubbed 'Project X' will be part of a $120 million refurbishment at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California. The plans will help to realise Google's ambitions to become a hardware giant to rival Apple.

The San Jose Mercury News reported its remarkable conclusions after rifling through the public records.

"Project X, which occupies a space with blacked-out windows at a central location of the Googleplex, includes the use of rare gases like argon, a plasma cleaner that can scrub materials of contaminants, and arcane optical-coating technology," the paper reports.

Given that Google is known to be developing both a driverless car and a 'space elevator' capable of taking objects into orbit without the use of a rocket, what the search giant has planned for its X Lab is anyone's guess.

Elsewhere, a division called 'Google/@home' will get a lab that screens out radio frequency signals enabling the testing of wireless consumer products. Thermal and anechoic chambers, which can test the radiation patterns of antennae, are also planned.

Google is waiting for regulatory approval for its recent $12.5bn purchase of smartphone and tablet maker Motorola Mobility - an acquisition that was seen as confirmation of the company's ambitions to use its supremacy in web-based products and its popular Android operating system to launch a suite of Google-branded hardware. Among products under development is a Google-branded home entertainment device.

The biggest addition to the Googleplex is a 120,000 square-feet private museum - the Experience Centre - where the company will be able to show off its wares to 900 VIPs.

As impressive as the plans seem, there is an element of Google playing catch-up with its rivals. Apple and Microsoft already have extensive hardware testing facilities on their campuses, Silicon Valley technology analyst Rob Enderle said.

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