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Tuesday, 04 August 2009 11:27

Get ready for the Android home invasion

A series of recent developments point to the Android software platform, developed for mobile devices, finding its way into a whole range of smart household appliances by the end of this year.

Last month Forbes Magazine reported San Francisco-based start-up Touch Revolution predicting that "a string of well-known companies" would introduce a variety of Android-powered household gadgets before the end of 2009.

Now MIPS Technologies, a company which claims to be "a leading provider of industry-standard processor architectures and cores that power some of the world's most popular products for the home entertainment, communications, networking and portable multimedia markets," has ported the Android platform to the MIPS architecture and made the source code publicly available. Also, last month, LG-Nortel announced what it claimed to be the world's first residential multimedia terminal based on the Android platform.

Touch Revolution produces touch screens bundled with a processor module that runs Android and which is designed to be incorporated into a variety of devices. It also produces a software development kit and a server side application delivery platform that can be customised and used to control any one device or any set of devices, updating software, gathering usage statistics, or limiting functionality.

Forbes reported Bill Brown, Touch Revolution's vice president of marketing, saying that Android devices for the home based on his company's technology would fall into three basic categories: home control devices, media control devices and home phones. All will feature touch-screens in sizes ranging from 4.3 to 10 inches and connect to the Web through WiFi or ethernet.

Home control devices will talk to household systems such as lights, locks, security and heating/ventilation/air conditioning. The media devices will allow users to programme their digital video recorders, remotely control their stereo systems, and view TV listings directly on the gadget's screen, the report said.

The latest company pushing Android in the home, MIPS Technologies, said that with the release of its Android source code it was "bringing the power of the Android platform to the vast MIPS development community across the world. MIPS developers can now begin using this revolutionary platform for consumer devices such as set-top boxes, digital TVs, mobile Internet devices (MIDs), home media players and VoIP systems."

The company added: "With MIPS Technologies' leadership position in the digital home, this lays the groundwork to enable Android for a vast number of devices beyond the mobile handset. Together with our ecosystem partners, silicon partners and working groups of the Open Embedded Software Foundation (OESF), an organisation focused on driving Android beyond mobile handsets, MIPS Technologies is working to define standardised Android-based platforms for consumer devices.

According to MIPS Technologies its silicon partners RMI Corporation and Sigma Designs have already demonstrated Android running on their silicon platforms - a home media player and a DTV reference design, and long time partner D2 Technologies has demonstrated its mCUE converged communications client for Android-based devices.

OESF was formed in Japan in February to take Android beyond mobile devices. Google was reported saying of it "We give our all-out support to the aim of the OESF. We are holding high expectations for the OESF's activities, as our activities are concentrating on the mobile phone market. We hope the OESF will cooperate with the Open Handset Alliance (OHA) and promote developments that do not overlap with the OHA's projects."

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