Google's Home Entertainment System testing isn't the only prototype hardware the company is putting through its paces; filings with the FCC also reveal a "next generation personal communication device" in the pipeline. Details on the new Google gadget are sparse, though the FCC request does confirm both WiFi and Bluetooth, with the search company requesting permission to trial 102 units in different locations across the US.
Google is listed as the manufacturer of the devices, described as "in the prototyping phase", and says that they will be connected to home internet connections via WiFi. Staff in Mountain View, Los Angeles, Cambridge and New York will all be involved, using the gadgets at work and at home. It's also possible that the device is Google's HUD Smart Glasses project, being tested in the wild.
Although the Home Entertainment System was immediately connected with the Android@Home, there are other possibilities for these latest filings. Google has also requested permission to test a "fiber residential gateway" including WiFi and Bluetooth wireless options as part of its 1Gbps Google Fiber project that recently broke ground in Kansas City.
This next-gen personal communication device, therefore, could be related to Google Fiber - perhaps linking wirelessly to the residential gateway, as some sort of portable Google Voice or Google Talk comms gadget - or it could be an element of the home entertainment system. Although talk so far has positioned that system as a Sonos rival, Android@Home supports a broad range of functionality thanks to the underlying app support, and personal communications could easily be an aspect of that.
Google demonstrated Android@Home at Google I/O 2011 last year; it's entirely possible the new hardware could be prepared for the same show this year, which is expected to take place in late June 2012.