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Project Tungsten  (Source: ZDNet)
Google's Android@Home turns your Android device into a remote control for your home

Google's quest for world domination continues as it announced a number of major product launches yesterday at its annual I/O developers conference. While much of the initial buzz was over Google Music, the company also a demonstrated a product that hits closer to home for all.

With Android@Home, Google aims to make your home as smart as your phone (at least that's been the prevailing headline among various media reports). 

The scenario laid out is like this: Imagine that your Android-based smartphone or tablet can communicate with your home's major appliances and light bulbs, making it something like a universal remote. Run out of milk and your Android-enabled refrigerator can send you a message the next time it's told through your phone's GPS that you are at the grocery store.

"We want to think of every device in your home as a connection to Android apps," Google Product Management Director Hugo Barra said in the conference's first-day keynote.

A company named Lighting Science Group is currently working with Google to build wireless LED light bulbs and switches that can communicate with Android. The products are expected to hit the market by the end of the year. 

"Google reached out to us, but we were already working on something similar," Eric Holland, vice president of electrical engineering at Lighting Science, told PCMag. 

Google demonstrated the product because it wants developers to begin building applications to automate houses. As an example of a creative way Android could be applied to home use, Google demoed a home theater system called Tungsten. A user holds up a CD case equipped with Near Field Communications technology and taps it against the non-descript white sphere at the center of the system. Immediately, all the music is ripped to the device. Another tap of the CD begins playing the music. "It was pure magic," writes Gloria Sin at ZDNet.

As for appliances that don't have Wi-Fi connectivity, such as a refrigerator, Google said that it's working on a new protocol that will connect any device that uses electricity, but no further details were given.

According to PCMag, the Android@Home network will be "a low-power wireless network used for short-range home automation," similar to ZigBee. The low-cost network will have enough power to wirelessly transfer video -- as in surveillance-camera applications -- but will use less than the typical 12 watts a lamp consumes.

"At Home is going to be huge," DisplaySearch Analyst Richard Shim told PCMag. "I think it's something that's very ambitious. It's what I like to call the next level. Everyone now has this synchronization of data, where you put it in one place with multiple devices. The next step is controlling these different devices, and no one has been able to crack that nut." 

Shim also noted that Android@Home differs from DLNA because DLNA companies integrated the technology on appliances, but left the other side of the spectrum -- client software and devices -- wide open. The new offering by Google addresses both sides. 

Protocols for Android@Home are set to be released later this year.

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By Aikouka on 5/11/2011 11:12:53 AM , Rating: 2
I wonder why they just don't use X10 ( )? I don't know too terribly much about it and I couldn't stand looking at their page with the flashing graphics for too long, but there are already apps for iOS and Android for controlling X10 devices.

RE: X10
By theapparition on 5/11/2011 11:55:57 AM , Rating: 2
My thoughts exactly.

I have X10 controlled lighting and some appliances in my home, and have had for several years.

You can even do video over X10, although it certainly doesn't have the bandwidth that Zigbee does. I think most of the parts that you need are already available with X10.

However, X10 stuff isn't the easiest to set up, and if Google can implement a system that is cheaper and easier to use, then I think you'll start seeing home automation become more mainstream.

RE: X10
By Cullinaire on 5/11/2011 3:06:30 PM , Rating: 2
You know if there's one thing I don't miss about the internet from years back - it's the stupid X10 banner ads everywhere you looked.

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