Android 4.2.2 slides up skirt slightly, reveals a slip of fishnet
Android@Home and mesh networking - not dead, just sleeping
Obsessives crawling through the minutia of Android's latest changes have spotted evidence that Google's vapourware home-automation system might yet live, and mesh networking too.
The evidence is in an Android 4.2.2 diff of a system configuration file, which specifically mentions both mesh networking and Android@Home (as spotted by AndroidPolice). Android@Home is Google's home automation platform which was announced and demoed two years ago - and hasn't been heard of since aside from one reference to lighting control spotted in December. The platform was supposed to allow gadgets running Google's Linux-based operating system to control and talk to home gym equipment, heating, lights, speakers and other stuff.
The configuration file also contains the first direct reference to a mesh network, a radio-based technology in which each node is prepared to relay data to nearby nodes as well as deal with its own traffic. Android is more than capable of setting up such ad-hoc wireless networks; we've already covered experimental meshing with 'droid handsets. Last week an app popped into the Google Play store for anyone toting a recent Galaxy or Asus device who fancies building their own personal mobile network, but Google's mesh will be more domestic in nature.
Android@Home was announced at a developer conference in 2011, along with the Android Open Accessory API that links hardware to apps and an unnamed command-and-control radio network to turn your home into a network of accessories. Android, of course, is the operating system to bring them all together.
Details of that radio network never emerged, and since then Z Wave has gained market share in homes while Zigbee has dominated industrial deployments, reducing the need and the opportunity for a new mesh standard to enable home automation.
In wireless charging Google support has proven critical: in backing the Wireless Power Consortium and its technology, Google has put companies in the competing Alliance for Wireless Power on the back foot, and in a similar way a ringing endorsement of Zigbee or Z-Wave could swing that debate towards a single unifying device network standard.
Or perhaps Google will enthusiastically embrace Weightless, or come up with something entirely new, but the evidence does suggest that while many of the ad giant's more esoteric projects have been killed off, Android@Home and the domestic wireless mesh isn't as dead as one might think. Here's the 2011 launch as a reminder of what could have been: ®
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