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Google’s mystery barges said to be ‘dazzling,’ invite-only showrooms for Google X

The mysterious Google barges anchored in the waters off San Francisco, California, and Portland, Maine, are a mystery no more, according to sources who spoke with CBS San Francisco, who claim that the structures will be home to “dazzling showrooms” for Google X products, where the company plans to woo “invite-only” clientele.

Earlier reports indicated that the structures may be floating data centers that would use sea water to cool Google’s servers. If the CBS San Francisco report is accurate, however, that theory seems to have sunk.

The structures, each of which is built from 40 “interchangeable” shipping containers, can be outfitted with a slew of showy design features, like chrome highlights (the shiny stuff, not the browser or operating system) and in-floor lighting, says a source who has been inside the San Francisco facility. There will also be a “party deck” and other creature comforts where “upscale customers” can shmooze with fellow attendees, according to the report.

Thanks to the structures’ modular design, Google will reportedly be able to separate the shipping containers, truck them around the country or ship them around the world, and rebuild the luxury showrooms anywhere. Sources say the buildings are Google’s answer to Apple’s highly successful retail outlets, and will be used to display Google Glass and other company products.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Coast Guard visited the barges in San Francisco as part of an inspection to make sure the floating structures were in compliance with regulations. Coast Guard spokesmen have confirmed that Google is behind the barges’ construction, but signed a nondisclosure agreement with the company that prevents the military agency from revealing any more details about the project.

Google did not immediately respond to our request for comment on CBS San Francisco’s report.

While the barges are owned and operated by a company called By and Large, CBS San Francisco reports that they are one of the projects created out of Google X, the Internet giant’s secret lab run by Google co-founder Sergey Brin. Google X was behind the creation of Google’s self-driving cars, Google Glass augmented reality technology, and other futuristic creations.

[Image via Gizmodo Australia]