Google secretly testing pair of connected devices

Could Google be working on the "Project Tungsten" hardware first demonstrated at Google IO last year?

Is Google testing its "Project Tungsten" devices in the wild? Google

Google has asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for permission to use an undisclosed, mystery "entertainment device" across four major cities over the next six months.

Described as having both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, the FCC application was initially submitted in December and recently discovered by GigaOm.

Although the details of the device are unclear, it stands to reason that it could have both Google TV and Android implications. Indeed, reading through the description it sounds as if it would take video content from the the Internet and distribute it across multiple connected devices. So rather than each smartphone, tablet, or set-top box pulling down the same data, it would lessen the strain on broadband Internet connections.

After sniffing through various comments and digging around, there are a number of theories as to what we might expect. Some are suggesting that it could be an extension of the Android @Home unveiled at Google IO last year. Faithful Android followers might recall the "Project Tungsten" demonstration, which was described as a central, connected device that happens to run Android.

Although only a prototype at the time, we learned that the device could transmit and control songs from Google Music across multiple boxes that offered audio output. A second Tungsten device that featured NFC support allowed users to queue their music simply by tapping a CD to the connected device.

Jump to 43:00 into the presentation to see the Project Tungsten demonstrations.


Another possibility is that Google wants to offer streaming gaming much like OnLive or Stream do today. It's not hard to imagine a central device that would pull games and content before delivering it across multiple smartphones or tablets in the same house. And with quad-core devices set to hit the market in 2012, Google could be on the forefront of streaming, cloud-based games with console-like quality.

It would not surprise me to learn that Motorola is the manufacturer behind the hardware, given the company's experience in DVRs, set-top boxes, and Google's Motorola acquisition . I'm not sure about you, but I picture a standalone device that can be connected to any television, much like the Logitech Revue . What's more, I see it as something that is able to directly connect to any television and also beam content via Bluetooth.

The FCC application tells us that Google is testing more than 250 of these entertainment devices in Mountain View, Calif., New York City, Los Angeles, and Cambridge, Mass. If you've got a buddy who works at Google and lives in one of those markets, now might be a good time to catch a game or two at his or her place.

I wonder if this other FCC application for 100 "next-generation personal communications devices" has anything to do with the first filing. Could it be the additional hardware needed for the complete experience? Who is going to manufacture these devices? Why only test 100 of them? Yeah, I've got plenty of questions that could keep Android fanboys up at night.

I would welcome your perspective on either one of the FCC applications. What do you think Google is doing here and where do you think it's going with it?

 

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