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Google I/O swag suggests something fun is happening at 4 p.m. PT today

No idea what it is, but I appreciated the puzzle from Google.

- 01:51
Google I/O Sweater

Can you see the hidden characters?

Russell Holly/CNET

Like many folks eager to see what Google is going to announce at its I/O developer conference this week, I got a box with the big friendly logo stamped on the top yesterday. Google's swag offerings for its conferences typically range from cute collectable pins to new Google hardware. This year's event definitely leans more on the side of the former, albeit with a twist.

Contained within was a small ceramic mug with the I/O logo stamped on it, a set of pins like the ones we'd be able to collect if this were happening in-person, and a fairly plain gray sweater with the same blue and white logo. Once I put the sweater on, a puzzle appeared that consumed my morning. 


This has to mean something, right?

Russell Holly/CNET

Hidden on the left sleeve of this gray sweater was a set of characters stamped onto the fabric. The stamp uses the exact same shade of gray as the rest of the sweater, so I didn't even notice it until I ran my fingers across it after wearing it for a few hours. The characters run down the full length of the left sleeve, containing the following information:


Google has a history of hiding puzzles in plain sight, especially during its annual conference, so I started digging. Everyone I know who also got this box of goodies had the same sweater, with the same characters stamped on the sleeve. A quick search revealed the numbers on the sleeve form the Unix timestamp for Tuesday, May 18, 2021, 4:00:00 p.m. PT. 

The rest of the characters, I'll admit, are still a mystery. But that timestamp, for just a few hours after Google delivers its keynote presentation, surely means something. Is this when Android 12 will be available to download? Maybe this is when the new Pixel Buds will go on sale? Could this be a marker for when this sweater will wake up and demand to be placed on the "nice" side of my closet? I have no idea, but I know I will absolutely be keeping an eye on Google's activity around 4 p.m. PT (that's 7 p.m. ET, midnight UK and 9 a.m. AEST) to see what surprises the company has in store.