Apart from the debut of a new music service and details of the next Android version, Google’s I/O conference today brought news of an initiative called Android@Home that aims to let the smartphone operating system double as a remote control for appliances and devices in the home.

An intelligent LED bulb at Google I/O today. (Credit: Lighting Science Group)

Exhibit A: An upcoming line of intelligent LED bulbs from Lighting Science Group.

So how do they work? Each bulb will contain a small, wireless chip allowing the bulbs to communicate with one another, establishing a wireless mesh network that communicates with a wireless router in the home, which in turn can communicate with the phone.

The Android@Home app will allow people to turn the lights on and off from the phone, adjust the brightness using a built-in dimmer control, and set up various automation scenarios — including the ability for the system to sense when a person comes and goes, based on the presence or absence of a phone, and adjust the lights accordingly.

Lighting Science expects to have the omnidirectional 60-watt equivalent bulbs on store shelves by Christmas, at prices comparable to existing light bulbs, said a representative of the Satellite Beach, Fla., company when we reached him via phone.

Google says that will be just the start, as it attempts to turn Android into a control system for a variety of home devices and a hub for automation. During a press briefing after the conference keynote, Google executives were asked how their push into the digital home would differ from Microsoft’s longstanding efforts in that area. This was the response, according to Boy Genius Report

We look at it a little differently. We’re not trying to invent the next killer application, we’re trying to turn everything in your home into an I/O device at an extremely low cost. We’re counting on the imagination of the developers to really develop this ecosystem.

Larry Dignan of ZDNet offers this reality check: “Everyone is gunning to be the living room OS. Google’s demonstrations were highly conceptual, but there’s a lot of promise. It’s important that Google is aiming to connect devices and appliances that are not Wi-Fi enabled. Android at Home will be overlooked today, but very important in a few years.”

In the meantime, that light bulb is sounding pretty cool.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to GeekWire's free newsletters to catch every headline


  • Guest

    Q: How many Googlers does it take to change a light bulb?

    A: One. Android.

    Thank you, Google. The Earth thanks you.

  • Gail Klockner

    What a joke. My monthly electric bill is .5% of my monthly take home pay. There is no ROI. This is a hobby not a business. This just exemplifies Google desperate need to diversify their search business and the immaturity of their leadership.

    • http://twitter.com/daaain Daniel Demmel

      @ba5b72a510fc08d851ca7a0c85e0a67a:disqus, so your electricity bill vs income ratio represents the entire humanity you think or Google is only ever allowed to launch products with personally you in mind? :)

    • Guest

      Oh, Gail. Imagine you live in India and you have to spend 95% of your income on basic utilities and food. Imagine then how vital it would be to control your home with your Android smartphone.

      I strongly recommend you read “first world problems” to gain a better perspective about these issues. Visit tinyurl dot com slash ykkjrut for more information.

  • Jill Heckman

    Gail is absolutely right. There is no viable business case to use a phone to dim or cycle your home lighting.

    To the comment, if 95% of your income is spent on food and utilities, I really doubt controlling your in home lights with premium priced light bulbs and an Android phone will be where you spend your discretionary income.

    Wow, it is amazing how stupid some tech geeks (google mgmt) are about basic socio economics. Real energy convservation is much more complex then getting people to use an Android phone to turn their lights off remotely (from the couch!!)

    This is only a feel good app from Google. I am sure the light bulb company will be bankrupt in short order.

    But hey, if it sells a few more Androids to the gullible Technorati, why not. The can dim their lights from their Android while they sit on their couches, flicking through the cable channels from their Android phones too !!

    And we wonder why the rest of the world hates our rich, lazy, and stupid selfs.

    • Guest

      Imagine a man who owns a large apartment block. Now, he can manage all of the lights in the block using one device. No longer is he at the mercy of tenants using lights excessively. This is a real cost savings that will also benefit the Earth.

    • Guest

      Haha… Stupid “selves” not “selfs”, stupid.

  • Anonymous

    I actually like the idea. Never mind if the energy-consumption play is not the primary benefit. I see more of a home-security functionality. Will this technology allow one to operate the bulbs from a remote computer? Programming lights to come on and off at random times when one is away.- turning on/off appliances, etc. would be slick. Maybe this is the first step towards that.

  • http://twitter.com/DarrenGAustin Darren G. Austin

    AndroidCE. Anybody feeling me on this? Also, do I really want Google collecting metrics on how efficiently I use electricity in my home? Cool product but these guys creep me out.

Job Listings on GeekWork