Google is moving full speed ahead into the world of hardware with plans to develop an Android-powered gaming console and wristwatch, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

While Google remains a software company at heart, making bucketloads of cash through online ad sales empowered by its search and other web products, it has aggressively begun to develop web-connected hardware in recent years. Beginning of course with its Android mobile operating system, Google has worked with handset makers to put out its own branded tablets and smartphones and went so far as to purchase Motorola Mobility two years ago.

Last year, Google stirred up quite a bit of buzz with the announcement of its Google Glass wearable augmented reality system, and the development of a gaming console and smartwatch would be in line with Google's strategy of making devices that allow for more seamless interaction with the web anywhere, anytime. (We also saw a Google patent for a smartwatch surface last year.)

The Journal's sources say the development of a new novel Android-powered hardware is also meant to pre-empt any similar moves form major competitors like Apple. The devices would be designed and marketed by Google itself, in an approach similar to that of the Google Glass roll-out.

A second version of Google's Nexus Q streaming media device is also mentioned as being under development. The Nexus Q was introduced at Google's I/O conference last year but never brought to market.

This news comes amid a flurry of related rumors and releases. Sony and Microsoft have just introduced their latest generation of gaming consoles after years of anticipation. Meanwhile, the Ouya Android-based budget gaming console has been flying off retail shelves and just today BlueStacks introduced a free version of the GamePop, its Android-based mobile gaming console powered by a Netflix-like subscription service.

On the smartwatch front, just about every major player in the tech world – including Apple and Microsoft – are rumored to be planning something similar.

At last month's Google I/O developer conference, the company introduced no new hardware (except for a pure Android version of Samsung's Galaxy S4), instead focusing on significant software improvements to popular products like Google Maps and Google Now. Now is Google's Siri-like voice-powered personal assistant that also powers Google Glass and seems likely to play a key role in any gaming console or other hardware that might soon be coming from the Mountain View monolith.

A Google spokesperson said the company does not comment on rumors.

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