….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.
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