With the latest Android 4.2.2 software update that was recently released to Nexus devices, Google made references to its Android @ Home project that was introduced nearly two years ago. Since the introduction of Android @ Home at the Google I/O 2011 conference, Google had been quiet on its home mesh network and home automation front, and now the clues introduced with the Android 4.2.2 firmware may suggest that Google will be reviving this project. One stage for a more robust re-introdction of Android @ Home could come as early as Google I/O this year in mid-May 2013.
Mentions of Android @ Home and home mesh networks were found on Android 4.2.2, according to Pocket-lint.
Android @ Home is a software and hardware platform where Google creates a hub–which it calls Project Tungsten–to communicate and enable wireless communications with various home appliances and accessories. Users can then use their Android OS-powered devices–like smartphones and tablets–to communicate and control those accessories in their home while they’re away or in their homes.
The reason for the re-introduction may be a matter of timing. The market for home automation is beginning to pick up momentum as prices for different accessories, like lighting switches and remote door locks, become more affordable. Various new players, both big and small, are entering this space. We saw a concept from Lowe’s at CES that we really liked that promises a similar experience with a hub that integrates with off-the-shelf components and can be controlled via an iPhone, iPad, or Android smartphone or tablet. Schlage also has its own hub that promises a similar experience. And wireless carrier AT&T Mobility may be entering the home space in a bigger way this year with its own Digital Life concept, which promises to digitize and integrate your home experience. AT&T will also be entering the home security and monitoring market as well, so we’ll definitely be keeping an eye out on how the carrier performs.
Google’s solution promises to be more open with APIs and codes that manufacturers and developers can readily implement in their offerings to create an interoperable system with parts from different manufacturers.
Whether any or all of this actually does happen this year is anyone’s guess, but the market seems to be more ready for home automation now than it was two years ago. We have faster 4G LTE and HSPA+ networks that can reliably and quickly deliver video feeds for home security and smartphone and tablet adoption has increased significantly to allow home automation and security to become an affordable part of people’s lives. Soon, these features will become more of necessity rather than a luxury, much like how smartphones have become in our lives.