Having apparently accomplished its initial goal of organizing the world's information, Google has now turned its sights to the real world. Several announcements at the ongoing Google I/O conference in San Francisco envision a world where the Android operating system can control, and communicate with, virtually any electronic device.
For the home, the company unveiled Android@Home, in which electronic devices in the home -- TVs, the dishwasher, home stereo systems -- could be controlled by an Android device acting as a remote control.
Bulbs, Music, Exercise Bikes
As an example, the conference featured an on-stage demonstration of a cooperative lightbulb. A company called Lighting Science Group, which makes wireless lighting products such as bulbs and switches, demonstrated how an Android phone can remotely turn a lightbulb on or off. The company's lightbulbs have wireless transponders that communicate with a wireless hub. Lighting Science said its Android-friendly products will be out before the end of the year.
An Android@Home system from Google is a new home-theater setup called Project Tungsten. It can play music wirelessly to speakers anywhere in a house, is controllable by an Android device, and can stream from Google's new, cloud -based music service, Music Beta. No release date was given.
Google said Android@Home standards will be released later this year, and it will be an open protocol that can talk to closed standards, such as Apple's iOS mobile devices and Microsoft 's Windows computers. The company is also releasing software developer tools for connecting Android devices to peripherals via USB, with Bluetooth connections to peripherals coming soon. In one example shown at I/O, an Android device downloaded data from an exercise bike.
'The Right Way'
There are already ways to control equipment using an Android device, but they require user initiative, such as downloading and testing an app, and they aren't widely supported by home appliances or consumer electronics. Other companies, including Microsoft and Sony, have also issued their own protocols and some products using technology to connect them, but their standards haven't really caught on. (continued...)