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Google's Android Ambitions Go Beyond Mobile

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the my-toaster-runs-gingerbread dept.

Android 174

PolygamousRanchKid writes "Android has become the top smartphone operating system in the United States, but Google's ambitions for it go well beyond tablet computers and smartphones, even beyond the mobile Web. Now Google says Android can also become the first mass-market bridge between the virtual world and the physical world, allowing smartphone apps to control light bulbs and home medical devices. Hoping to spark a wave of creativity similar to what Apple started when it opened the iPhone app store, Google distributed hundreds of circuitry kits to developers at last month's I/O conference. The Android Open Accessory Development Kit (ADK) allows Android's software to operate and communicate with motors, sensors, controllers and relays, allowing developers to create an interface in which a smartphone app could control or collect data from a thermostat, a lawn irrigation system or a group of lighting fixtures. 'The opportunity exists to dramatically change how you control your home,' said Tom Benton of Lighting Science. Over time, 'we're talking about the elimination of the wall switch.'"

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174 comments

X10 (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36428790)

Otherwise known as the X10 system...

Apple Will Be There (2, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#36428792)

Apple's not far behind. Plans are already in the works for the iDildo. Mobile orgasms... there's an app for that!

Re:Apple Will Be There (3, Funny)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#36428886)

you mean there's a fap for that.

Re:Apple Will Be There (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#36428924)

Sadly, a bunch of cheap 'Droid imitators will have poor touch sense and multitouch will cause the DroidDildo to rotate in unpredictable ways.

Re:Apple Will Be There (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36428898)

I thought is was the iAnalProbe?

Re:Apple Will Be There (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36429306)

No, Steve still prefers to handle those manually and not automating them.

Re:Apple Will Be There (1)

rsborg (111459) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429718)

Apple's not far behind. Plans are already in the works for the iDildo. Mobile orgasms... there's an app for that!

You speak as if this thing doesn't already exist [ohmibod.com]. When it comes to physical devices, the Apple ecosystem is a lot more mature (or teen if that's your thang).

No we are not. (4, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#36428804)

People will still want a way to turn on and off devices that do not require you to find a remote. Maybe the wall switch will be part of the network but they will still be there.
When I go to bed at night I put my cell on the charger. I do not want to have to take my cell or my remote with me to the bathroom to turn on the light. I do not want them to be automatic because I want to go into the bathroom and then turn on the light so I do not wake up my wife.

Re:No we are not. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36428868)

I want to go into the bathroom and then turn on the light so I do not wake up my wife.

And the tremendous splash of a 4 pound log hitting the water in the bowl doesn't wake her? Or the wallpaper-peeling, sulfurous stench of well digested eggs?

Re:No we are not. (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#36428928)

I do not want them to be automatic because I want to go into the bathroom and then turn on the light so I do not wake up my wife.

You can automate this with misterhouse using 90s technology. The 00s technology insteon is just like the ancient X10 stuff except its reliable, the address space is huge, and its about twice the cost. I found the upgrade from X10 to insteon some years ago to be worth it, your mileage may vary.

I don' t have the perl code handy but it boils down to when you get the trigger for door closing, turn the light up at 25% illumination if during "sleep hours" or 100% during the day. Also the fan. The door opening trigger is simpler, just turn off the light and the fan gets an off timer set to shut off the fan in a minute or whatever.. Depending on your definition of "lines of code" and your style, its about 4 to maybe 8 lines of code total and takes about 5 minutes to write and test. A wifi laptop is the ideal misterhouse development system...

This is a slight adaptation of the code I use on my front and back doors and garage door to auto-illuminate my lights at night. Open either the side door or the garage door and the path lights up. Easy easy easy.

Re:No we are not. (3, Funny)

MikeDirnt69 (1105185) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429172)

Are your doors Self-Satisfied?

Re:No we are not. (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429276)

Are your doors Self-Satisfied?

If you're thinking of threads that block, from what I remember misterhouse was always more of a "poll, then sleep awhile, repeat" kinda architecture.

Even in ye-olden-days PCs are just so darn fast compared to the X-10 or modern insteon commands that fancy RTOS and threaded designs just aren't necessary. A rather brutal and simplistic polling loop is the "best" way.

I suppose if every individual lightbulb on my future christmas tree gets its own ipv6 address, that architecture is going to have to change..

If you're thinking of what an EE would call dealing with edge vs level triggered events, or maybe handling interrupt signals while inside the interrupt handler, internally misterhouse has got code to deal with it, I level trigger on sunrise/sunset and edge trigger on doors and stuff, if you squint at it and look crosseyed, sorta.

Re:No we are not. (1)

AlienIntelligence (1184493) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429514)

Are your doors Self-Satisfied?

If you're thinking of threads that block, from what I remember misterhouse was always more of a "poll, then sleep awhile, repeat" kinda architecture.

Whoosh?

I think Marvin would shake his head.

-AI

Re:No we are not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36429698)

I think the previous post was asking whether they had the new GPP feature. What was that whooshing noise?

much can be automated (1)

Chirs (87576) | more than 2 years ago | (#36428930)

While there may always be a desire for manual override, you could conceivably program a lot of this sort of thing. You could have rules like "when someone detected entering ensuite bathroom, if bedroom lights are out and it's after sunset then slowly ramp up lights to 20% else bring up lights to 100%"

Re:No we are not. (1)

Timmmm (636430) | more than 2 years ago | (#36428948)

I'm pretty sure they aren't planning on removing standard light switches. Only an idiot would think that.

Re:No we are not. (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429006)

Oh?

Have you had a count of the number of switches on modern TV's or set-top boxes?

Re:No we are not. (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 2 years ago | (#36428954)

No one says you can't get up and say "lights on" or have a proximity sensor light your way as you stumble through the house.

I think that Google needs more revenue, so their shiny new hammer needs fresh nails. OTOH, someone needs to get the methodology evolved sufficiently so that others will think of intelligent ways to compete with it for fun and profit.

As far as the hacks go, well, maybe pico networks with tiny or captive transmission systems can do bluetooth-like things to a house net for those that want or need the control. I'm not sure what sustainable methods would work, but it's worth investing time to see what might be effective.

Re:No we are not. (1)

Korveck (1145695) | more than 2 years ago | (#36428992)

You are assuming that Google is trying to get Android phones to replace light switches. This is, however, only one of many possible applications. With a smart phone you can do much more complicated tasks than flipping a switch.

Keep in mind that your phone is linked to a network. You can control things at home while you are miles away. You can turn off home heating when you are at work, then turn it on half an hour before going home. You can fill your bathtub up with hot water that you can jump right in after work. I am sure some bright minds out there will think of more interesting ideas.

Essentially this technology allows you to control multiple things with a single remote controller. And with a touch screen, the interface can be much easier than what is available now.

Re:No we are not. (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429174)

You can turn off home heating when you are at work, then turn it on half an hour before going home. You can fill your bathtub up with hot water that you can jump right in after work. I am sure some bright minds out there will think of more interesting ideas.

Hmmm... Much more likely... Turn off someones heating system during the blizzard until they email their CC number to a .ru address, and the local water company now refuses to "permit" me to turn my bathtub valve off if they need to meet their quarterly profit numbers.

Your grocery store loyalty card detects you visited a competitor's store? I wonder what alternative settings will be uploaded to your remotely controlled refrigerator to "encourage you" to buy better tasting food at the loyalty card store? Odd that ground beef from XYZ store goes rotten in a day but ABC store food stays nice and cool...

Forget to pay your house insurance premium? Ins co shuts down all electrical appliances (wouldn't want an electrical fire at an uninsured building)...

The assumption seems to be that the end user will be in control. Not so.

Re:No we are not. (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429312)

Yeah, that is what I want. An electric device that fills my bathtub while I am not there, because I can't wait 10 minutes to get into the bath.

I have looked into it. http://plutohome.com/ [plutohome.com] is one of the options.

All of the things that are possible are things I have no need for to do remotely. I have no need to be able to control my coffeemaker from another country. I can walk up to it and press the button. I do not need my fridge to tell me what I need, as that is something that is so variable, it will never learn.

The only thing I might want is a big off button at the door that I can press and set the house in 'away' or 'home'.

Also I do not want my airco or heating to start when I am not home, as it could very well be that I get home hours later then expected and no, I do not want to be able to control those settings when I am not home, but sitting in a bar.

As I said, I have looked into it a few years ago and found nothing of interest, except the interest of being able to do it.

Re:No we are not. (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429916)

"...because I can't wait 10 minutes to get into the bath."

Really? I can't tell if you're serious or not. Electricity and bathtubs sounds like a bad combination. Also I can't imagine getting home and having nothing else to do but immediately jump in the bathtub. Or having such an urgent need to.

Being able to turn lights on or off while away from home sounds like a good idea, OTOH.

Re:No we are not. (1)

Alarash (746254) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429026)

Additionally to the valid points raised by the parent, I also don't want to have to leave my lights on because I ran out of battery or simply lost my phone.

Re:No we are not. (1)

westyvw (653833) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429156)

I dont want to wake anyone either, nor do I want to lose night vision, so I reach for my cell and it lights the way. No need to turn on lights.

Re:No we are not. (4, Funny)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429178)

The evening is getting intimate, and you want to dim the lights

You: One moment honey *tap* *tap* *tap* *click* *tap* *tap* *tap* *tap* *tap* *tap*
Her: What are you doing?
You: Just a minute *tap* *tap* *click* *tap* *tap* *tap* *tap* *click* *tap* *tap* *tap*
Her: Who are you texting?
You: I'm just trying to ... tap* *click* *tap* tap* *click* *tap*
Her: Well, I hope you're happier with her than you are with me. *slam*
You: tap* *tap* *click* *tap* *tap* *tap* *tap* *click* *tap* *tap*
Lights dim.
You: Ok, where were we ....

Usurper (3, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#36428812)

Is this Google trying to usurp the successes had by the Arduino community and tie access to these peripherals to Android or something?

'The opportunity exists to dramatically change how you control your home,' said Tom Benton of Lighting Science. Over time, 'we're talking about the elimination of the wall switch.'

But I don't want to have to buy an Android device just to turn the lights on in my house :(

Re:Usurper (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 2 years ago | (#36428880)

I think the ADK is shield-compatible with the Arduino platforms, am I right?

Although I would still want a physical kill-switch for most of my stuff too. Maybe I don't feel like reaching over my head for my phone on the desk from my bed, and would rather lob a slipper at the switch to turn off the light :)
Seriously, though: don't oversimplify, a wall switch will be perfectly fine along the remote-controlled AC relays. I think someone on hackaday already presented a system like this, except home-brewed. And maybe for iPhone, but I really don't remember the details...

Re:Usurper (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429056)

But I don't want to have to buy an Android device just to turn the lights on in my house :(

Don't worry, you won't have to. In spite of the selective scope the author chose, iOS vastly outnumbers Android. There already exist X10 and Insteon apps for iOS, and even if there weren't, there's no way the masses are going to accept a future where turning on a light requires a personal Android device.

The only story here (which is by no means new) is that Google has an expensive Arduino kit available as an official add-on to Android. I'm sure there will be thousands of tinkerers who will be quite happy about this, and good for them! But the idea that this will have any noticeable impact on the average person is laughable.

Re:Usurper (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429352)

Don't worry, you won't have to. In spite of the selective scope the author chose, iOS vastly outnumbers Android.

Wrong. Android officially passed iOS up this year.

There already exist X10 and Insteon apps for iOS

Doesn't matter which remote you use, X10 sucks. I don't know enough about Insteon to have an opinion but since its fully backward compatible with X10, it suggests it may also suck.

I honestly can't get excited about this, regardless of which platform you're using to drive your Arduino project.

Re:Usurper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36429442)

The masses accepted no multitasking for 3 years. A shitty notification system for 4. Most said Android wouldn't catch on either, but it's now owning the mobile phone scene. Most people don't even know what X10 and Insteon are, so nobody cares about those either.

Factor in that the specifications and interface code are all available for free to anyone else who wants to implement this (like Blackberry has done with Dalvik on their Playbook). I think this will largely depend on OEMs shoving things into peoples faces as an upsell. Like these guys:
http://www.lifefitness.com/pressreleases/lifefitnesscorporate/life-fitness-stars-at-google-io-2011.html

The idea that you think that this definitely won't have any impact at all on the average person is laughable (considering 35%+ US smartphone owners are rocking Android).

If a friend walks into their house and the lights automatically come on, the thermostat is auto-adjusted, and welcomes them home... or the lights and blinds close when you're starting a movie? They'll be "OMG COOL, CAN I HAZ?", and then they'll say "sure". There won't be any additional licensing costs, so they'll likely be cheaper than an i* equivalent for exactly the same thing (since, they'll want their own technology / standard so you can pay 30% more for it for no other reason than partying in their ecosystem).

Re:Usurper (1)

AlienIntelligence (1184493) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429656)

Don't worry, you won't have to. In spite of the selective scope the author chose, iOS vastly outnumbers Android.

In your head? Using special math? Different definition of 'vastly outnumbers'?

Sigh, crap like that is insanely funny.

Especially considering from Jan to this month, Android doubled the growth seen by iOS.
http://www.bgr.com/2011/06/04/android-ios-see-continued-growth-in-u-s-at-cost-of-rim/ [bgr.com]

You DO realize this is why fanboys get picked on?

-AI

Hey bitch!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36429892)

here comes Jobs' bitch.

Jumped the shark (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36428814)

See subject.

misterhouse (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#36428824)

allowing developers to create an interface in which a smartphone app could control or collect data from a thermostat, a lawn irrigation system or a group of lighting fixtures.

Welcome to misterhouse from the 90s? Everything old is new again!

http://misterhouse.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

I have set this up, I can control my lights and stuff from my ipod touch web browser, and it is in fact a completely useless cool hack.

I DO use misterhouse to automate the heck out of timing and some simple virtual timers (outside light shuts off X minutes after I turn it on) and also some virtual relay logic (basement stairs light controlled by position of basement door using the most hardware and software possible instead of a simple relay). Useful as that has been, "control the lights using the ipod" has been quite useless.

Re:misterhouse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36429534)

Considering that you were limited without multitasking (and still are, depending on the model) for the first 3-5 years of it's life (and that you're just using a browser and not an "always-running" app), you're missing out on the fact that you can automate things with proximity sensors (not the one that shuts off the screen on a call =P).

You say "outside light shuts off X minutes after I turn it on"... well... What happens if you turn on the light outside BECAUSE YOU'RE USING IT? Won't it turn off?

With an app, it could report to the house that you're out there, and will not shut off the light.

Or it could hook into your agenda, automatically "hibernating" your house when it knows nobody will be home (but automatically come out once it detects someone has returned early). Perhaps it can automatically open your garage if it senses you're going there and you're scheduled to leave?

Couple it with NFC (1)

semi-extrinsic (1997002) | more than 2 years ago | (#36428832)

... and I'd say you've got a pretty good idea. Sure, a simple light switch may not be obsolete, but the stupid thermocontroller on my wall that took significant google-fu to figure out would be a great thing to replace. The last time I checked, a device which could e.g. turn the heat back on remotely (or even at a predetermined time) cost at least $400...

Re:Couple it with NFC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36429042)

On the upside, the current device probably doesn't track when you use the heat so that it can properly target ice cream ads.

Not bloody likely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36428840)

we're talking about the elimination of the wall switch

Forget it. It's more likely that the wall switch will run Android.

Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36428856)

To insure privacy the android app will simply turn off lights of random phone owners, not necessarily the phone's owners lights, thereby preserving the phone owner's privacy.

Re:Irony (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429284)

Unless the Google van drives by, then all lights will be turned up to maximum illumination. Of course if you do not which to use this feature you can turn it off by registering with Google so they can "ensure your privacy."

Google should begin courting important industry... (2)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 2 years ago | (#36428860)

In the automotive industry, look at Ford. They are 'cooperating' [microsoft.com] with Microsoft. Given a choice, I'd rather have Android in my car as compared to any offers from Microsoft.

Re:Google should begin courting important industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36429210)

Reminds me of this Microsoft News item from 2003:
http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=43493

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Security guards smashed their way into an official limousine with sledgehammers on Monday to rescue Thailand's finance minister after his car's [Windows] computer failed.

Suchart Jaovisidha and his driver were trapped inside the BMW for more than 10 minutes before guards broke a window. All doors and windows had locked automatically when the computer crashed, and the air-conditioning stopped, officials said.

'We could hardly breathe for over 10 minutes,' Suchart told reporters. 'It took my guard a long time to realize that we really wanted the window smashed so that we could crawl out. It was a harrowing experience.'

Re:Google should begin courting important industry (1)

mspohr (589790) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429272)

My new car (not a Ford) came with Microsoft software which controls radio, cell phone and a bunch of other stuff like lights. It has voice input as well as a buttons (which are confusing). I haven't figured out exactly everything it is controlling but seems to be pervasive.

As you would expect, it doesn't work very well or reliably.

Re:Google should begin courting important industry (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429316)

My new car (not a Ford) came with Microsoft software ... As you would expect, it doesn't work very well or reliably.

When is crashes, do you collect under "comprehensive" or "collision" car insurance?

Re:Google should begin courting important industry (1)

mspohr (589790) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429378)

As you know, Microsoft will admit no liability and will not "insure" anything. All Microsoft crashes are your fault and you bear all expenses in cleaning up. Furthermore, no insurance company would dare to insure Microsoft software. My blue screen of death is orange.

Re:Google should begin courting important industry (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429412)

More automotive engineers need to meet with the computer industry. Cars have always been "behind the times" when it comes to technology. Just look how long it took for AUX inputs to be come commonplace. We still don't have USB charging ports.

Oops, forgot my phone (3, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | more than 2 years ago | (#36428862)

"We're talking about the elimination of the wall switch."

So if I forget my phone at work, I can't turn the lights on in my apartment? Brilliant!

The idea of interfaces using the new Android stuff is interesting, but it seems like we'll get into another one of those situations where everyone defines their own standard (which they change when convenient) and nothing works well. The light bulbs in one room are GE bulbs which can't be controlled the by same software as the Sylvania bulbs, but that's OK because the new bulb uses different software than the old ones so I need a patch to the software for that. Look in a book for any home receiver or DVR and look at the HUNDREDS of codes used to control various AV equipment, even from a single manufacturer.

I'll wait for some good standards to be ironed out and become dominant before jumping on this bandwagon. It never really happened in the TV space. Being able to look up a TV show on my iPhone in a guide program and push a button to tune to it would be nice, but that only works right now with some company's cable boxes and their app.

Of course, do I really care if I can individually adjust every light (or anything else) in my house? I doubt I need that kind of control. We're going to go through that phase where people find out what's useful... and I'm not interested in being someone stuck with an something like the Android fridge Samsung has started advertising [engadget.com].

Re:Oops, forgot my phone (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429018)

So if I forget my phone at work, I can't turn the lights on in my apartment? Brilliant!

Even worse, dead battery means you can't turn on the lights to find the charger.

Simple is good (1)

ChaoticCoyote (195677) | more than 2 years ago | (#36428892)

Yawn. Won't work. It's a complicated solution to a simple problem. If I want to turn the light on in a room, why make it more complicated than flipping a switch on the wall? I suppose they could allow you to program all sorts of schedules and such... which can be done far easier with simple on/off/dim/brighten sensors.

So the question is: What does this tech bring to the table that makes my life better or easier? Sounds to me like more tech for tech's sake, which is only good if you're selling the tech.

Re:Simple is good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36429022)

Yawn. Won't work. It's a complicated solution to a simple problem. If I want to have light in a room, why make it more complicated than lighting a candle? I suppose they could allow you to have one bright source of light... which can be done far easier with adding or removing candles.

So the question is: What does this tech bring to the table that makes my life better or easier? Sounds to me like more tech for tech's sake, which is only good if you're selling the tech.

Re:Simple is good (1)

ChaoticCoyote (195677) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429158)

Electric lights were better than candles because they lasted longer and didn't set the house on fire (usually) and didn't need to be changed as often. Vast difference between that and "let's get rid of light switches because we can" bullcrap."

Instead of being a snarky fool, why not explain how using my Android phone to turn on and off my light is better than a simple light switch?

Re:Simple is good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36429342)

How about light switches that are just thin boxes with a switch on them? You can hang them wherever you want and program your house to know which switch should control which power fixture(s). The switches are powered for about a year on a couple of watch batteries. If you don't like where a light switch is, you can easily move it. Some nifty remote control, automation, timers, etc. are all possible then.

Well, that's the ideal system I'd like to see. There are numerous emerging standards to support this kind of stuff, so it might actually happen.

Re:Simple is good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36429450)

If I want to turn the light on in a room, why make it more complicated than flipping a switch on the wall?

Who says it has to be more complicated? If you want to get up and walk over, then you get up, walk over to where a wall switch used to be, and press the button or touchscreen that's mounted on the wall.

What does this tech bring to the table that makes my life better or easier?

The ability to turn it off without getting up and walking over, without ever having to visit x10's atrocious website. ;-)

It also offers excitement. The malware possibilities are endless.

Unwritten Addendum: (3, Insightful)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 2 years ago | (#36428896)

"We're also hard at work bugging the Hell out of the ADK, so that your Android device phones us to deliver vitally handy information that we can use to make educated guesses about your lifestyle habits. Thermostats, duration and frequency of lights going on, and all of the other things that worry people about so-called smart utility meters add up to tons of demographic data that nobody will ever dream that they're divulging!"

Re:Unwritten Addendum: (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429108)

Indeed, think of the bathroom switch, you know what's going to happen once Google finds out how long you stay in there?

you'll get all kinds of targeted ads for air fresheners and toilet rolls!

Re:Unwritten Addendum: (1)

city (1189205) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429548)

If it's a free service and saves me $ on the heat bill, I'll gladly divulge whatever utility meter data they want.

Re:Unwritten Addendum: (1)

daemonc (145175) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429582)

so that your Android device phones us to deliver vitally handy information that we can use to make educated guesses about your lifestyle habits

If only there were some way to look at the source code [android.com] for this Android operating system, so we could know for certain what information is being sent back to Google...

Re:Unwritten Addendum: (1)

jojoba_oil (1071932) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429862)

That works pretty well for Chrome/Chromium, doesn't it? If you don't run the official Google build (Chrome), then you don't get a number of the features (and tracking) that's in the closed bits of the source...

It's the home of the future! (2)

boristdog (133725) | more than 2 years ago | (#36428912)

I can cook a meal, change TV channels, adjust the AC, let the dog out and turn on the porch light all while sitting on the couch!

I never have to move! This is truly the most wonderful thing. Standing up and walking around is so pre-21st century!

Wha?

Re:It's the home of the future! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36429160)

I can do all that already in my NYC apartment!

Although, to be fair, not because it's high tech. It's just that small.

Re:It's the home of the future! (1)

AlienIntelligence (1184493) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429838)

I can do all that already in my NYC apartment!

Although, to be fair, not because it's high tech. It's just that small.

Really? No one? cmon that even deserved a rimshot apart from a +1 Funny.

-AI

Hooray (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36428932)

Finally somebody wants to use smartphone capabilities to the full extent! Wohooooo!

Really? (1)

P. Legba (172072) | more than 2 years ago | (#36428984)

THAT'S what they'd do with the technology? Eliminate the wall switch?

Some solutions go looking for a problem, I suppose.

I don't think so (1, Funny)

slapout (93640) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429016)

"we're talking about the elimination of the wall switch"

I'm not going to have the lights on all night just because my tablet's battery is dead and I can't run the light app.

Re:I don't think so (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429536)

If all your other (wall-mounted, not battery-powered) control panels are dead because of lack of power, then your lights are going to be off anyway.

Unless they're skylights and it's daytime. Now that would suck: it's daytime and the power's out and it's too bright, and you can't send the command to the electric motors to close the skylight shutters, not that the electric motors would work anyway. You'll have to get your ladder and climb up there and handcrank them closed .. but then it'll be too dark and you'll fall off your ladder and die.

And it'll be Google's fault you're dead, because the reason the power's out is that their datacenter drew too much power trying to figure out to whom to show light bulb ads.

A decent Android based x86 desktop please. (2)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429044)

Why? Because it would be effective enough to get stuff done with. Also some x86 Android builds I've tried are something like a 90mb ISO and boot in about 5 seconds. Admittedly a proper desktop Android distro would be 100-150mb + because of drivers and additional apps. But it makes you wonder how we put up with bloated multi gigabyte OSes packed with decades of legacy cruft.

It is already there. (1)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429242)

There are plenty of fastbooting linux OS's. You can take chronium [hexxeh.net] or some minimal linux distro. However these will only do 80% of the things you need. You need a FAT OS to do the last 20%, which is different for everyone.

But try before you decide.

PS, with good power management a 1 Gig winOS can wake from sleep state very fast. which is in the same ballpark as hibrenation support on a droid [droiddog.com]

Been there, done that, no thanks. (2)

PhantomHarlock (189617) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429186)

There are definitely some advantages to home automation, but for now I don't think it's worth the hassle. I've done X-10 and Insteon, and with the Insteon stuff, unless you have perfect power to your house (or whole house UPS) most of the light and switch modules will go bad. I got so tired to fixing broken modules that I took all of it out and put the original switches back in.

things are getting better, but not cheap enough nor good enough to make it worth it for me.

Home automation enthusiasts need to admit that it's still in the hobby phase, much like early computing.

Solve the battery problem first.... (2)

westyvw (653833) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429194)

I can imagine a lot of cool things to do with a phone. But first I want one that lasts for at least a month without recharging. Otherwise, no deal.

How does it work? (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429244)

Has anyone seen any details on the actual connection between the phones and the devices or is it "just magic"? I perused a few other articles and all I got was "low cost radio link that is not a current standard, but we aren't telling you what"

Re:How does it work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36429658)

MicroUSB with plans for Bluetooth, as far as I know.

Whatever the "master" system uses to control the lights would be up to the manufacturer of said devices.

security nightmare (1)

datapharmer (1099455) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429262)

Let me be the first to say it: this is a security nightmare waiting to happen.

Re:security nightmare (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429800)

Actually, I think this is good for security. If not updating the AV or OS on your smartphone will mean you fridge thawing, your bath flooding and your light not working anymore, people may start to take mobile device security serious at last.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36429296)

I don't care where you put the light switch...on the wall or on their phones...kids still won't use it.

Wrong answer (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429298)

Home control has been around for a long time without catching on. I live in a house built in 1950, and it has "home control" - two rows of toggle switches in the kitchen and a large number of 3-way and 4-way toggle switches. There was even an override switch in the master bedroom that turned on all the outside lighting. (Those are now on motion detectors.)

In the 1960s, there was a fad for relay-controlled lighting and outlets, controlled through 24VAC relays. That never became popular, especially because the relays tended to burn out.

Then there was X10, the first major power-line based system, in the 1980s. Then Echelon, a better power-line system, in the 1990s. Then we had the "every light bulb gets an IPv6 address" crowd.

What's actually getting installed are non-networked wall switches with PIR motion detectors to turn off the lights when nobody is around. They do the job and take no user attention. Which is the whole point.

This sort of thing makes more sense in industrial, office, and commercial buildings. There, though, the trend is not towards hooking everything to a remote control. It's adding sensors to make it fully automatic. You can get commercial devices that go in a return air duct and sense temperature, humidity, CO2, CO, volatile organic compounds, and smoke. [intellisenc.com] Then the room just does the right thing.

When there's nobody in the room, CO2 is low, and humidity on the supply duct is no higher than intake air. The system can then cut airflow to very low levels, let the temperature drop or rise a bit to save energy, and recycle most of the air. As soon as someone enters the room (there's often a motion sensor for this) the temperature margins tighten up to comfort levels and the airflow goes up a bit. If a lot of people enter the room, the CO2 and humidity levels start to climb, and the HVAC system cranks up fan speeds, cuts in chillers, and opens and closes dampers to compensate. Detection of CO (probably smokers) or VOCs (probably someone painting) means input airflow has to go way up and air has to be exhausted to the outside, not recycled. Smoke detection activates emergency modes and alarms.

Now that's doing it right, not some dork trying to operate the system from a touch screen.

Re:Wrong answer (1)

bendodge (998616) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429404)

I would draw a bit of a parallel between your comments and economic planning. Which works better, a centralized planning system controlling every action and reaction, or a neural net of independent units making decisions at the smallest levels? Obviously, central economies tend to stagnate. However, a system where every room has it's own independent sensors and simple decision-makers may not fit Google's data-collection plans.

how about security risks? (1)

pszilard (1681120) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429308)

The first software bug that causes hell to break loose in people's apartments will cause quite a bit of headache, but a virus targeting home automation will surely be the real thing. I can imagine funny ones that keep flushing the toilet all night long, but also nasty ones that kill your pets by turning the apartment into a sauna while you're at work or knock you down with the garage door...

I hope the Android Market will be at least a bit more secure by the time the Android Home Automation Heaven arrives!

Already exists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36429340)

At my house, we've replaced our door locks with SchlageLink devices. We can unlock either via keypad PIN or via apps on our Android or IOS devices, see logs of entries, assign temporary PINs to guests and get SMS notification when people enter or exit. The underlying protocol is something they call Z-Wave, which looks to be a wireless successor to X10 and communicates to the outside world via a small gateway box we've plugged into our wireless router. A touch pricy, but very worthwhile for us. You can connect Z-Wave to light switches and thermostats, but we haven't really bothered, yet.

Re:Already exists (2)

AlienIntelligence (1184493) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429782)

At my house, we've replaced our door locks with SchlageLink devices.

You techies out there that haven't tried this system...
you're missing out.

My wife fought tooth and nail against it... it only took a
few times of not having to dig for keys for her to love it.

Of course I never mentioned to her that I expect it to
be hackable someday, lol.

-AI

Electric Monk (1)

gtall (79522) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429456)

This notion has all the wonder of an Electric Monk from Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams. Just as we have TV things that record stuff for us and cell phones that do stuff for us, and Electric Monk believes things for you. So maybe we all just need an Electric Monk to believe that this technology is good for us...at least as good as all the data mining dear Google will be doing on precisely when men of a certain age wander off to the loo for a bit of mid-night relief.

Niko (1)

dna_(c)(tm)(r) (618003) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429506)

Friend of mine is working on the smartphone part of Niko home control [nikohomecontrol.co.uk] (3rd section). Sadly, smartphone==iPhone in lots of peoples minds...

BTW a Belgian product - figured you lot prefer the Anglo-Saxon variant of the site

Already doable (1)

davegravy (1019182) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429586)

I can already control my home, and various media centers with my iPhone via LinuxMCE. Granted, the UI sucks, and there's major lag, and it's a major pain to set up, but it works and it's worked for a while now.

Not just an x-10 replacement... (1)

jasno (124830) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429606)

The craptastic interface on my home thermostat had me thinking of this a few months ago. There are all kinds of devices around us that are too cheap to embed a rich interface in, but with a simple microcontroller and a link to a device like an android phone, the device could present a rich interface with complex control possibilities.

Why not combine the inductive, short range communication system coming soon on many mobile products(for contactless payment systems) with a 'vnc' like protocol for presenting user interfaces(or even just exchanging contact info so the communication can take place over IP)? That could allow me to pass my phone over my thermostat and be presented with a rich interface for controlling the device. You could enable your oven, so now instead of having a static temperature, you could define a temperature envelope to slow cook a roast better. Irrigation controllers are another example where a rich user interface would simplify setting up and programming the device.

Controlling tv, stereo, lights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36429648)

Read a few weeks ago about this coming standard from Google, looks great imo :)
Bought my first Android-anabled smartphone at the beginning of this year. Now all my IR-remotes are in the closet and I control all AV-equipment with my phone, as well as lights and stove (with X10-enabled items) , also got my front door and mailbox connected to the system. Lots of possibilities with this setup.

What I use if for right now:
- Turn everything off with a press of a btn.
- Turn on lights and music with alarm in the morning
- Automatictly turning on lights and music when coming home.
- Starting tv and tuning in the correct channel when my favorite shows start.
- Turning of all equipment when leaving home.
- Getting a notice when the mailbox been opend.
- Having different configurations I can change between with a press of a btn.
- Status of whats on in my home with a simple widget.
- Muting music and tv when my phone rings.

In a few years I think hope all homeelectronics will have wifi and be controllable with a simple protocol.

Android (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36429712)

Android Achilles heal is Java. Ditch that shit.

I say that as a owner of multiple Android devices. The iPhone/iPod Touch with a much slower processor runs rings around the Android devices.

More practically, awesome for small biz owners (2)

AlienIntelligence (1184493) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429762)

When I had a brick and mortar, I used X10.

Was much easier to control lights, switches, etc.

I think instead of homes, where even if things are
"routine" they are more likely to escape routine,
such control would be MUCH more helpful and a
benefit to the small business owner.

Imagine a program like Tasker, as you approach
your GPS locale, or your phone associates with
your wifi in your shop, it triggers the lights on, the
open sign... maybe even starts your brew.

Even with X10, it took a few precious seconds to
activate my "opening light scheme".

[Just to point out before I have detractors, the time
to start up the lights, was spread out. Not sure of
all municipalities/power co's but mine charged for
peak loads. If I was to turn on all the lights at the
same time, (fluorescent), I would get dinged pretty
mightily. This was the 90s... possibly this has now
changed?]

Instead, all automated, I drive up to the store and
by the time I open up, I won't have to tell a waiting
customer to hold on a minute as I do the opening
routine.

I can just say, c'mon in!

-AI

I am all for "home medical devices"! (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429774)

This will weed out the bad coders (of which there are a larger and growing number) quickly!

Seriously, unless you have extensive experience with secure and reliable coding and hardware, do not even think about touching that one.

Reading too much into the examples? (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429796)

This smells like another ARexx port, D-Bus, RMI/COM/CORBA, etc, just Android's version of it. My guess is that Google's trying to encourage people to think more broadly, to include hardware, rather than just talking to Amarok or a spreadsheet, because if hardware is involved, then more companies see the potential to make a buck.

I think toggling light bulbs is being mentioned just as an extremely simple example application, and people are taking it too seriously. OTOH at least there's someone out there to sell you the expens-- I mean -- nifty light bulbs. If people just keep thinking in terms of software, then we get more "Mythmote" type apps which are kind of "neat" but almost nobody's selling the other side of it, so no one is advertising that they sell products that talk the protocol. No money for Google and no buzz. Software is free, so it's not advertised much, thus Google wants people to think of hardware applications for this Yet-Another-Remote-Method-Call thing.

Any hardware that has "controls" on it, is something I think they're going to encourage you to make network-controllable. Honestly, I'm kind of drawing a blank on what all that might be, other than light bulbs and appliances that traditionally use remote controls (e.g. TVs), but I'm hardly the most creative person. Surely there are other possibilities and they're trying to get peoples' imaginations going. Whether or not they all end up being useful applications -- who cares?

Only a moron would want to replace the wall switch (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429880)

The wall switch is simple, cost-effective, secure, self-explanatory and reliable.
A wireless home-automation solution replacing the wall switch is complex, expensive, insecure, difficult to use, unreliable.

Only a complete moron could want to go from the first to the second. Sure, adding some remote management functionality, where it is not critical is just a waste of money for most people, and so acceptable. But removing that physical switch is about the most stupid idea possible.

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