Moments ago at Google IO, the Android open Accessory Development Kit (ADK) was announced. This is a great move to open up the Android ecosystem and allow developers to build android compatibility in to their devices. One of the commercial examples shown was an exercise bike by LifeFitness. Using the ADK, they were able to interact with a game on the Android phone by cycling. the controls were simply the speed and difficulty of cycling effort. Another example was switching on/off lights in a room. Well, they actually played with the lights in the conference centre itself.
Android @ Home
Another feature of the Android OS shown was Android @ Home . This is a framework primarily for home automation. It is completely open, free and requires no registration or validation for use and development. Project Tungsten is an initiative which shows an example of application of Android @ Home. The Android Hub as it was called is reference hardware running the Android OS along with the Android @ Home framework. Any Android device is able to interact with this hub. The example use demonstrated was streaming music directly from Music Beta by Google to this Android Hub controlled by the Xoom tablet. The process was described as the Hub receiving track information from the tablet and then independently retrieving the music from the cloud.
There are some home automation solutions already but they do not integrate well with out mobile devices. Google’s ADK and Android @ Home is a way for Google to enter this space and also expanding its ecosystem. Where I see this going is, there will be a Tungsten Hub or similar capabilities built in to consumer devices such as AV receivers, TVs, Digital Photo Frames, etc. Google already has Google TV which might be phased out once Android @ Home matures. This will definitely rival AirPlay, however, its implementation will be closely monitored to look for quality of applications and hardware. Apple has AirPlay integration with third party hardware manufacturers so it will be interesting to see how fast the same hardware manufacturers take up Android @ Home framework and how Google will control this.
Apple or Microsoft do NOT yet have a ADK present for their OSes currently. Apple currently approves 3rd party devices with AirPlay meaning quality control but does not allow any independent developer to develop hardware with AirPlay capabilities. Microsoft has its own Media sharing in the Windows platform but not on Windows Phone 7 yet.