Gecko Design, acquired by Google on Aug. 22, 2014, helped design the cheap computer distributed by the One Laptop per Child initiative. The laptop is shown here being used by a child in Uruguay.
Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Google isn’t just a software company anymore. And as it moves deeper into cars, eyewear and other products, it needs design help.
Google added some design talent Friday by acquiring Gecko Design, a mechanical engineering and product design company. No price was disclosed.
Jacques Gagné, president of Gecko Design, said on the firm’s website that he and Gecko’s four other employees are joining Google X, the Internet company’s research lab to work on “a variety of cutting edge projects.”
In an interview, he added, “People come to Gecko because they don’t know how to turn ideas into real products, especially when it’s something that hasn’t been done before. That’s what attracted Google X.”
Google X projects include Google Glass, the connected eyewear; Iris, the smart contact lens; and Loon, the high altitude balloons that provide Internet access to remote locations.
Gecko, based in Los Gatos, Calif., and founded in 1996, specializes in developing consumer-electronic products, working with engineers early in the process before manufacturing begins. Gecko’s clients have included FitBit, Logitech LOGN.EB 0.00%, Sonos and H-P HPQ -0.43%, according to the company’s website.
Gecko worked on the One Laptop per Child project, helping design the cheap computer for kids in developing countries. The challenge there was to create a laptop that could survive being dropped on the ground by children and keep the price at $100, Gagné said.
In 2013, Gecko started working with Google X on a project that Gagné wouldn’t disclose. He said he started talking with Google X chief Astro Teller about joining the research lab at the end of 2013.
Acquisition talks “started gelling” in early 2014, although it took a while to complete the deal. “I was stubborn because I have had this business for years,” Gagné said.
Google X has already added some design expertise. In May, it named Ivy Ross, a veteran of Mattel MAT -0.82%Disney DIS +0.12% and Calvin Klein, the head of Google Glass. Mitchell Heinrich, who previously designed biomedical devices, human-powered electricity generators and even cocktail-serving robots, runs the Google X Design Kitchen, which builds many of the products the research lab dreams up and contributes new ideas.