irobot….Massive ones. The Android@Home SDK was announced an released tentatively at the Google IO conference. The interesting thing is that the IO device is based on a Adruino platform. The platform that is the hackers dream field for turning thought into physicality –

For Google, the Android@Home project is a first step into “the internet of things,” a term used to describe the growing trend of manufacturers producing intelligent, connected objects. Major tech companies like ARM Holdings and Hewlett-Packard have long since been involved in this space, from providing cheap microcontrollers and toolkits to hobbyists and engineers, to creating wireless sensor systems that measure seismic activity. In essence, projects like these ultimately aim to turn “dumb” or unconnected objects into “smart” (connected) ones.

“We want to think of every appliance in your home as a potential I/O device,” Britt said during the keynote presentation.

This type of wireless communication between devices already exists — commonly networked “smart buildings” often involve temperature monitors and lighting fixtures.

And from the same piece –

Android Open Accessory is built in to Android 3.1 “Honeycomb” — which was released to Xoom tablet owners this morning — as well as Android 2.3.4 “Gingerbread.”

To spur the development of further peripherals able to interact with Android devices, Google handed out hundreds of Accessory Developer Kits (ADKs), which included hardware based on the highly popular Arduino platform.

Google’s Arduino hardware can be found inside of the Accessory Developer Kit, handed out to attendees of its I/O conference. Photo courtesy of Google

The Arduino hardware platform is an ideal choice for Google’s extension of Android into physical computing. It’s very popular in the open-source hardware modification community due to its relative inexpensiveness, ease of use for beginners, and most importantly, its freely available software tools.


For device choice they could not have picked a better design. Adruino has passed 100k sales. Its the tool of choice by most hackers for prototyping. It has a massive community around it and several companies own their good fortunes to the existence of this bit of kit. So when the ADK as it is called is finally released it will have an instant following and implementation as many ideas will be ports with software updates to utilize the tool chain.

That’s the tactical side. Lets talk strategy which is where I think the real news is here. Both Intel (VIIV) and Microsoft (MS@home) has tried to crack into being a big player in your living room. Its an attractive market placement. A successful player would have the inside scoop into the consumer’s buying research. Their device(s) would be listening. But both firms made some decisions that doomed their designs. First they designed the architecture to be a closed loop with a gaggle of partners tagging along. Second, the concept was content – entertainment centric lacking the idea that data (video, voice, words, blogs) could be entertainment in and of itself. Due to the universe envisioned it was pretty top heavy in who may do what and the user was treated like a patient in an oncology ward, to be plugged in and drained off.

Now look at Google’s approach — its unbridled for the most part. The one restricting tech will probably be the honeycomb – ADK interlink. But if Google releases honeycomb come icecream into th open like they have promised that too will drop away. The key is, the architecture is open. Got an idea? Cobble it together on the hardware side. Code it up on honeycomb for the controller and have at it. Garage door opener, done. Fly a quadcopter? why not? Manage the coffee pot? Sure. With the Adruino concept as the base there is all the possibilities you can think of.

Could Google fail? Hey nothing is certain. But since this is a bottom up approach there won’t be one or two companies working on this but maybe 10-15 hackers doing it on ANY SINGLE IDEA. The odds are that one of those guys or gals will be successful. That will be the case on every idea space one can envision.

“There is a certain quality in quantity” — Stalin.

The second strategic move here is related to Place. The Microsoft and Intel approaches looked at Data as separate from Place. However humans do not view Place in those terms. We think of Place holistically as domicile, home, residence, rooted in the physical reality not devoid of it. The MS and Intel ideas viewed it as sterile, neat, groomed. The Google approach will end up grubby, disheveled and untidy. Oh and one other addition — functioning. The coolest tech ain’t worth didly if it is not implemented on a wide scale. VIIV never was. ADK most likely will be.

Keep your eyes open on this one. ADK will be a launchpad for a whole new genera of ideas and lifestyle changes.

“Now if we point the Kinect to the aquarium and ….”

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Has Google Dissed Itself?
Worse Has FOSS Lost It?

teletypeThe fine folks over at Linux Action Show had a very animated segment yesterday on the horror that Google has wrought in the HTML5 spec space. Specifically on the video tags element. Google has the desire to utilize a Flash intra H.264 approach. Microsoft and Apple desiring to start clean and implement a HTML5 video tag sans Flash.

The irony of all this discussion is that Google itself is doing a left hand right hand spoof right out of a Laurel and Hardy piece. On itself no less. The fact is Google’s own Android is H.264 yet Google wants people to use Flash or WebM for display. Ain’t gonna fly there Google. If you look at the embedded base of video recording tech, H.264 dominates. Fact I can’t find any other market successful recording unit using a different technology.

See the LAS episode here.

But that begs, what the heck is going on here FOSS? In the presence of a decision vacuum, enter the fray. It might get bloody trying. But quite honestly filling a niche seems to be what FOSS does best.

A solution? X.264. Yes FOSS has a 264 codec available. It has warts and the speed needs to be improved to make it viable for a production line codec. Another words it needs some polish. Now the FFMpeg folks are doing some of that. Fact is we need a big donor like say a media company, NBC or a CSPAN to pay for a lightening round of coding to finish it. Put that in front of W3 stds body for inclusion.

Terminate the (excuse the language) pissing contest that is now underway between Google – Apple – Microsoft. The IT industry has long since grown out of the childish antics that the parties above are exhibiting.

Remember your motto Google.

Update: Ostatic has it and bought it, the whole thing. It does not change a thing.

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Google TV bombs

timebombIt may be possible that Google has become so big and full of itself that it’s management has lost touch with reality. Not to single Google out, its a pattern that seems to plague all tech giants. IBM, HP/Compaq and Yahoo are perfect examples of how market dominance can lead to the wilderness of stagnation. Microsoft is already teetering on the fringes and Apple could be next. The problem is the belief that your brand can trump poor product execution in real world marketplace. Google TV is perfect example of the wrong product at the wrong price point.  Competing with an established and  growing stable of cheap hardware solutions, open source software and uncooperative content owners is a tall hill to climb. Adding a $300 price tag to a set top box in a $99 and under universe adds to a formula for crash and burn no matter how feature rich or elegant the design.

Google TV might be in a bit of a pickle if a Best Buy and Sony sale is any indication. The platform launched a few weeks ago with the Logitech Revue and Sony Internet TV. Both are loaded with the same system and so both are suffering the fate of Big Media’s blockade. It’s a sad story, really.  Google TV aimed to bridge the span between subscription-based TV and Internet content, but so far said bridge is still held up by bureaucratic red tape nonsense.

Sony seems to be solving one of the platform’s biggest deal breakers: the price. Google TV units are crazy expensive. The Logitech Revue launched at $300 and that price is still holding strong even at retailers like Amazon amidst nearly site-wide Black Friday sales. It’s the Sony set-top box model that’s uncharacteristically on sale right now even though it’s less than a month old. This doesn’t look  so well for Google’s living room takeover plans.  (Tech Crunch)

Even as an embedded feature in TV screens, by design Google TV will add significantly to the retail price.  With Roku’s market leadership in price and content, along with video streams coming to gaming consoles, it’s looking bad for Google. Big G aren’t alone in arrogantly misunderstanding the market. Apple recently rolled out it’s refreshed  net TV box at the right price point, but almost completely limited it to being a gateway to iTunes, severely limiting it’s potential market.

Google could recover by doing a software and/or firmware Google TV and open sourcing it and not locking it so tightly to the company’s web presence. It will need to do that soon, or it could be distracted by its next big bomb. My guess is that will be Chrome OS.

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Google Command Line

retroarcade4Hey if you be a Linux Geek, well you know command line. Its the thing you do, and not that you have to either, its just easier at times. Well you can not extend that out to the Google web space. Google has released –

GoogleCL is a project that makes it easy to use Google services like Blogger, Picasa Web, YouTube, Google Docs ans Google Calendar from the command-line. It’s a wrapper for the Google Data APIs, so you first need to install Python 2.6 (or 2.5) and Google Data APIs Python Client Library.

It’s not very difficult to install a Python package. For example, in Windows you need to extract the archive, open the folder in Windows Explorer, shift + right-click in a blank space, select “Open command window here” and type: python install.

After installing Python, Google Data APIs Python Client Library and Google CL, you can type commands that let you upload photos to Picasa Web, upload videos to YouTube, publish Blogger posts, add events to Google Calendar, find Gmail contacts and more.

Whether you are using Linux or Windows it is pretty easy to install Python. Fact it is brain dead simple. Just download the installer and run it. Be sure you get the proper version 2.5 or higher. Then follow the instructions at the GoogleCL website for more details.

Why go to the command line? Well the Linux dudes and dudettes already know. But you Windows folks, look up what a .BAT file can do. Then get scripting some of your more common Google tasks in the background! A little sweat now can make your productivity soar with the right setup.


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Google TV: The demo

While the has been very much the year of media everywhere, with new portable devices and a functioning 4G network in many American cities,  the latter part of the year could see media coming full circle back to the living room. This could be the true beginning of viewer exodus from broadcast and cable to the web. Google’s Google TV  offering, to be embedded in TV units, is one of several TVoIP platforms that will be widely available. The demo shows few surprises, except it is to be embedded in a traditional big screen.

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Not to Be OutDone, Google Buys BumpTop

joojooFollowing on the Sony deal, Google buys BumpTop that also does a virtual surface desktop. Big doings? Possibly. The interesting thing about BumpTop is that it may prove to be easily integrated with Chrome another Google product. –

BumpTop is a fresh, innovative 3D desktop user interface that lets you stay organized and share your files and photos from your desktop naturally and easily. BumpTop has the look and feel of a real desktop, so it’s natural and intuitive. But unlike a real desk where stacks can become unruly, BumpTop lets you pile files intelligently — by project, by file type or any way you choose.

People organize their real-world desks in any number of different ways, to suit their own style. Research shows that everyone stacks and piles their documents, and almost a third of people indicate stacking and piling is their preferred way of organizing their desks. However, people have had to conform to the rigid, conventional desktop organization which is grid and folder based. BumpTop allows users to create a digital desktop that is intuitive and easy to use, just like their physical one but with the power and intelligence of the underlying computer to increase productivity in a fun and playful way.

Guess I am starting to show my age. There are times that I can still get more done at the command line interface. But the interesting piece will be watching the competition between Google and Sony in this space.


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