Sunday, August 7, 2011

Android@Home LED Lights Suggest a Bright Future for Android

I will just come right out and admit that I was not one of the people lucky enough to attend the Google I/O 2011 event. In fact, I was kind of bummed about not being able to attend it (tickets "sold out" almost before they became available) and at the time I focused my attention on other projects to console myself.

However, I'm seeing more and more mentions of Google's new API called Android@Home. It's basically a way for Android devices to talk to and control other devices - even wirelessly.

Here is an LED light bulb from Lighting Science that has a built-in wireless transceiver. It operates in the 900Mhz spectrum (which is less crowded than WiFi in the USA) and it forms a mesh network that can ultimately connect to your cable or DSL modem.

The upshot of all this is that you could control all of the lights in your house (or any Web-connected building) using your Android device. From anywhere, as long as there's a working Internet connection.

Another, not insignificant fact is that wireless Internet connections are about to become a lot more common.

Pause a moment to let that sink in. This is huge. Why? LED bulbs use but a tiny fraction of the electricity consumed by incandescent bulbs. LED bulbs even consume a lot less energy than the compact fluorescent bulbs. LEDs produce very "natural," full-spectrum light - in contrast to the ghastly pallor of flourescent bulbs. And LEDs don't contain lead or mercury like flourescents do. Less energy, less toxic waste. Multiply that by the millions of light bulbs around the country, and you have something of an environmental revolution in the making. Perhaps we can even avoid building more nuclear or coal-burning power plants. Win.

Back to Android. The direction is clear: Android will become the hub, not just of your communications, but of your home. Garage door opener? Probably. Door key? Yep. TV remote? Check. Thermostat? Yes. Home surveillance/security camera? You name it, Android is going to do it. In spades, if Google has its way.

Kudos to Google (and Lighting Science) for a brilliant idea that is bound to bring a lot of benefits to society.

Now lets think about the other side of this. Privacy and security. Google is poised to make another invasion - this time into your home. The amount of personal data that could be had from this: truly staggering. Or, to put it another way, how do you feel about Google bugging every room in your house? Think it won't happen? What's to prevent it?

Given the demonstrated fact that the government can and does often obtain data from Google, through specially-designed backdoors, what's to stop Uncle Sam from spying on you as well?

And then, there's the vast network of third-party corporations that do business with Google. They already track your movements across the Web - what's to stop them from doing it in your home?

I'm not claiming ill intent on the part of Google. To the contrary; this is a work of staggering genius. What I am saying is, what safeguards will there be to protect us from abuse of the system?

I will go out on a limb here and speculate: there will be absolutely no meaningful safeguards. Other than the ones that will be devised by the hacker community. Therefore, I invite you to participate in such development or support those who do. If privacy matters to you.


  1. Excellent write up Brent... Love it!

  2. The security implications are staggering but so are the gains. It will require law to be reconstructed to match this digital age, which sadly, isn't likely to happen soon.

  3. as it is the laws are still outdated from like the 70/80's jhutson456, itll be a whole new set up theyd have to write up to make laws for something of that magnitude not to mention to determine how much/if any privacy the government will allow us in the making of those said laws, especially with the whole terrorism issues at hand. i love the idea of it myself, just fear the implications and abuse the government could use against us with it.

  4. Your so right. We have to stay on top of this stuff and watch or we will be victimized.

  5. Such a wonderful things..Thanks for sharing information..

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