Google is rumored to be releasing a "Nexus TV" Android-powered set-top box this year, and the search giant has recently acquired parts of a gaming company that might provide some hints at what’s on the way. PandoDaily reports that Matt Crowley and Karl Townsend, of Green Throttle Games, have both joined Google thanks to a recent deal. Green Throttle Games started shipping an Android Bluetooth gaming controller last year, allowing Kindle Fire HD users to turn Amazons’s tablet into a gaming console that connects to a TV via HDMI.

It’s not clear how much of the technology behind Green Throttle Games’ Android controller has been acquired, and the company is still selling the device at retailers. Two of the co-founders are joining Google, but the third, Charles Huang, reportedly retains rights over the Green Throttle business. The device itself hasn’t been popular with gamers, and Green Throttle removed its Android app in November, rendering the hardware useless. Despite this, Google’s acqui-hire could be related to its rumored Nexus TV project. The Information recently reported that Google is preparing a new set-top box that would support streaming video services and a selection of video games. Previous reports have also suggested the set-top box could also have a Kinect-like motion sensor, and be controlled with an Android smartphone.

Google's acqui-hires point to larger ambitions

Regardless of any rumored Nexus TV hardware, Google’s interest in a small hardware company is also likely related to the names behind Green Throttle. Karl Townsend joins Google having worked on the original Palm Pilot, and Matt Crowley has previously worked at both Nokia and Palm. Combined with Google’s recent purchase of Nest and Boston Dynamics, it's clear the company is looking at bringing in hardware talent in areas outside of smartphones and web services.