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Google testing 'next generation personal communication device' on temporary FCC license

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A new FCC filing reveals that Google is testing around 100 "next generation personal communication devices" with employees in four cities.

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Google isn't typically known for its consumer hardware, but the company made a couple moves in the past few days that are kicking speculation into high gear. First it was revealed that Mountain View was trialling some sort of "entertainment device" in a few of its employees' homes, and now this: a "next generation personal communication device" for which Google has asked for the FCC's permission to use with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Some 102 units are going out in total, all in the hands of Google employees living in the Mountain View, LA, New York, and Cambridge, Massachusetts areas — close to Google offices, of course — and the company says that they're "in the prototyping phase and will be modified prior to final compliance testing."

It's possible that these units — whatever they may be — are somehow related to the other "entertainment device" filing, which in turn may be related to the Wall Street Journal's report of a branded entertainment center for launch later this year. Stories of HUD glasses with embedded displays and wireless connectivity in Google labs have been floating around for the past couple months, though, and this particular waiver matches pretty closely with what Google would need to start seeding these outside the lab. Whatever it may be, we'll keep you updated as we hear more.