Google is making a significant investment in the Internet of Things, with everything ranging from toy robots to programmable light bulbs. The news came at Google I/O today. Among other things, Google introduced Android@Home, which will turn Android devices into home controllers – to do everything from dimming the lights to managing an irrigation system.

Of particular note are the Android Open Accessory Development Kit and the Android Device Kit. Both are built on Arduino, a circuit board that can sense the environment by receiving input from a variety of sensors and can affect its surroundings by controlling lights, motors and other things in the home or elsewhere.

But now with Android@Home, developers can create a new degree of interactivity with toys, games, big machines – you name it.

On the third floor at Moscone West, Google dedicated a section of its floor space for companies that are integrating the Android technology.

Lighting Science Group is a maker of LED lighting instruments. It will use the Google technology to sell lighting, starting at the end of this year. it will feature a proprietary wireless data capability that will allow customers to use their Android tablets and smartphones to control lighting.

Hasbro is using the Android technology to create robotic toys that show a change in mood.

And a company called Willow Garage showed a robot that can be programmed to do various tasks.

Additionally, Google showed how a hub can be used to interact with things in the home. Google called these “tungstens,” and showed how they can be used. For instance with its new Music Beta, to power any audio device in the home.

The IoT initiative has taken many, even people inside Google, by surprise. It’s curious, too, as the wireless technology appears to be proprietary. Vint Cerf is a fierce proponent of open-source, so it is a puzzling why Google would be developing something proprietary here.

But overall it’s a fascinating new frontier to explore and demonstrated how smart devices are serving as a bridge for us to further explore how we interact with our surroundings.

alex williams