Home Android-Controlled Robots? Build Them Now With An Arduino-Based Development Kit

Android-Controlled Robots? Build Them Now With An Arduino-Based Development Kit

At Google IO today, Google announced the availability of the Android Open Accessory Development Kit, a new way to extend the Android platform so that other devices can be controlled via phones or tablets. Similar to the SDK, the ADK will allow hardware developers to take advantage of Android so that the OS can control or monitor external devices.

Android Open Accessory will allow an external USB hardware accessory to interact with an Android-powered device. This means that when an Android phone or tablet is in accessory mode, that connected accessory can be controlled. There have been some other external USB devices that can connect to Android, but until now their capabilities have been limited.

On stage today, Google demoed an exercise bicycle that was connected to an Android app, so that pedal-speed and calorie-burn was monitored and gamified. There was also a giant labrynth game in which the tilt was controlled by an Android tablet’s gyroscope. Those are just the beginning, Google hopes.

The ADK leverages the open-source electronics platform Arduino, and the ADK package download contains both hardware design files and the code that implements the accessory’s firmware.

At the press conference following this morning’s keynote, the Android team said that by opening up the ADK, they envision others will build the “killer applications” that utilize the new hardware and software capabilities. This is a huge opportunity for developers, they argued, to extend the Android platform into the home.

But to do that, particularly with some of the technologies hinted at on stage at Google IO today – namely Android@Home – Google says that it need to keep costs low for developers (and power and wireless costs low for the devices themselves). While details were still unclear about the Android@Home efforts, Google does say that this technology is set for release by the end of the year.

The Open Accessory Development Kit, however, is ready now and by utilizing the Arduino design, there are probably many tinkerers that are already set to build a number of apps and devices that can now be controlled by Android phones and tablets.

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