Report: Google testing mysterious new entertainment device

GigaOm today uncovered a pretty interesting tidbit about Google’s plans to test a new Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-enabled entertainment device in the homes of Google employees through July 17. The tests are to take place in Mountain View, California; New York, Cambridge, Massachusetts and Los Angeles.

Reporter Stacey Higginbotham wonders if the application with the Federal Communications Commission means that the search giant will start manufacturing its own devices.

A Google tablet? A Google phone? A Google set-top box?

Expanding into hardware would be a huge leap for the search giant, but one that would be timely given the rise of Apple and Amazon.com.

Details are pretty sparse at the moment. Here’s the FCC application that GigaOm discovered, and some of the description of what’s going on.

Testing throughput and stability of home WiFi networks using an entertainment device. Testing will include functional testing of all subsystems, including WiFi and Bluetooth radio. Users will connect their device to home WiFi networks and use Bluetooth to connect to other home electronics equipment. This line of testing will reveal real world engineering issues and reliability of networks.

The device utilizes a standard WiFi/Bluetooth module, and the planned testing is not directed at evaluating the radio frequency characteristics of the module (which are known), but rather at the throughput and stability of the home WiFi networks that will support the device, as well as the basic functionality of the device. From this testing we hope to modify the design in order to maximize product robustness and user experience.

Utilizing the requested number of units will allow testing of real world network performance and its impact on applications running on the device, so that any problems can be discovered and addressed promptly. All devices will be used by and registered to specific individuals (all Google employees), and Google will maintain a record of each device, so that they can be easily recalled at any time during testing and when testing is complete.