Turn Your Android Phone Into a Remote Control for Your Home


androidhome-Google wants people to use its Android software to operate a lot more than just phones and tablets. And at Google I/O, the company’s conference for developers in San Francisco this week, the company showed off a future where someone could use an Android phone to turn on and off the lights, the dishwasher, a lamp or a sprinkler system — or anything else they want to.

The technology, which Google calls Android@Home, would be built into appliances or light bulbs so they could wirelessly communicate with Android devices, similar to the way a Bluetooth headset communicates with a cellphone.

This vision of an Android-powered home is still futuristic, and one that other companies have tried without getting very far. But this year, a company called LightingScience will release LED light bulbs that communicate with Android devices so if you are feeling particularly lazy, you can turn off the lights without getting out of bed.

“Everything should be Android-ified,” said Andy Rubin, head of Android, during a conversation with reporters. “We should just take it to new levels. It’s no longer something that people will go to the store to buy and then bring to their home or bring to their office. It’s something that will actually bridge those things.”

Google also introduced the Open Accessory toolkit, which may help hobbyist developers who don’t make washing machines or light bulbs make other things that work with Android. The kit has tools for developers to build hardware accessories — like headsets, game controllers or exercise gadgets — that work with Android devices.

This has already been possible, but there has not been a simple, standard way for hardware and software developers to make their devices work together.

“This is a standard way for Android applications to talk to accessories,” said Hiroshi Lockheimer, director of engineering for Android, in an interview.

Google showed an Android device plugged into an exercise bike, and said the tools could be used for as-yet-unimaginable other things, like building robots.

Developers were excited; of the dozens of conference sessions for developers, the session about the Open Accessory toolkit had a line down the hall and around the corner and Google had to turn people away because the room wasn’t big enough.

As Mr. Rubin put it during a news conference: “You let these Androids out of their cage, you give them autonomy, they have feet and stuff, and you have no idea where they go. This is the great thing about open source.”