How smart is your toaster? With Android it might be a genius

February 22nd, 2013


The rice cooker is a simple appliance. But imagine if it was powered by the Android operating system? And how about your refrigerator or dishwasher? Maybe even your toaster? It sounds ridiculous, but BusinessWeek recently ran a fascinating story about the many gadgets and appliances today that are coming with built-in Android software, known currently as Android@Home. Here’s the surprising part; these products might actually be useful. So they might pay off big for Google, the force behind Android.

Android’s rise

Google’s Android operating system is already a remarkable success story. Just consider how the system dominates the smartphone world. As reported by the BusinessWeek story, citing numbers from research company Gartner, Android during the third quarter of 2012 had grabbed 72 percent of the smartphone market share. That dominates its nearest rival, Apple, which could only lay claim to 14 percent of this market during the same quarter.

Why the refrigerator?

But Google, not surprisingly, wants to see Android’s reach extend even further. That’s why the company’s researchers have created a host of uses for Android in everything from your home refrigerator, to your dishwasher, to your dryer. And this move could pay off for Google in other ways, too. For instance, it might help them collect details about customer choices. Google could then use this to help tailor its money-making search feature. After all, Google makes tons of money with search, an industry it still dominates. Anything that may help Google cement its grip in the realm of online search, then, must be considered an intelligent move.

That’s one smart rice cooker

The next big question? Is it useful to people to have Android in the refrigerator? The unexpected answer is “yes”. If your smartphone is told by communication with your GPS that you're at the grocery store and your Android powered refrigerator detects you're low on milk, it'd be really helpful to receive a quick text reminder to pickup milk while you're right there!  An example offered by the BusinessWeek story: Say you’re watching your favorite TV show. But you also plan to go out later that night, and you’d like to wear your favorite jeans. As you’re watching TV, a message pops on your screen telling you that your jeans actually need 10 more minutes in your dryer downstairs. Then, instead of walking down the stairs to manually start your dryer, you just press a button on your TV remote to get the dryer humming again. To paraphrase, Android in your household appliances might be more useful than you’d think.

Go here for more info from ZDNet on Android@Home and let your brain wander!  What kinds of communication between your home and mobile devices would you find most helpful?