If you go all the way back to Google I/O 2011, you may remember the announcement of the Android@Home project, a system that would allow you to use an Android device to control lights, appliances, and other devices in your home. Since that announcement we haven't seen anything materialize, but a recent FCC filing by Google may give us a reason to renew hope for the project.

The filing calls for testing of an "entertainment device" between January 17 and July 17 of this year, to be distributed to 252 Google employees. But it's what the device apparently does that is so interesting - it will allow users to "connect their device to home WiFi networks and use Bluetooth to connect to other home electronics equipment." Sounds an awful lot like Android@Home, but it's hard to be sure. Still, if it is, that means we are moving even closer to the release of Android-compatible appliances, and there's a good chance we may hear more concrete details about the project at I/O 2012.

Name of Applicant:

Google Inc.

Please explain in the area below why an STA is necessary:

Google is developing an entertainment device that requires testing outside the laboratory environment. The device is in the prototyping phase and will be modified prior to final compliance testing.

Please explain the purpose of operation:

Testing throughput and stability of home WiFi networks using an entertainment device. Testing will include functional testing of all subsystems, including WiFi and Bluetooth radio. Users will connect their device to home WiFi networks and use Bluetooth to connect to other home electronics equipment. This line of testing will reveal real world engineering issues and reliability of networks. The device utilizes a standard WiFi/Bluetooth module, and the planned testing is not directed at evaluating the radio frequency characteristics of the module (which are known), but rather at the throughput and stability of the home WiFi networks that will support the device, as well as the basic functionality of the device. From this testing we hope to modify the design in order to maximize product robustness and user experience. Utilizing the requested number of units will allow testing of real world network performance and its impact on applications running on the device, so that any problems can be discovered and addressed promptly. All devices will be used by and registered to specific individuals (all Google employees), and Google will maintain a record of each device, so that they can be easily recalled at any time during testing and when testing is complete. The devices will be tested at Google facilities and within employees residences in the following areas: Mountain View, CA: 37.421265 N, -122.085314 W; Los Angeles, CA: 33.995388 N, -118.477035 W; Cambridge, MA: 42.362754 N, -71.088023 W; and New York, NY: 40.741872 N, -74.004579 W.

Operation Start Date: 01/17/2012

Operation End Date: 07/17/2012

Source: FCC via The Verge

  • Alex Morgan

    They also filed for a next-generation personal communication device.

    While these could both be Android&Home, other sites are reporting it could be the Google Glasses(Wearable Computing) or Google Tv. Curious to hear other people's thoughts on this.

  • Ron Amadeo

    Speculation time!

    The fact that the FCC filing says "Manufacturer: Google" is extremely interesting. That rules out phones and Google TV devices, and I would think @home stuff would be manufactured by the normal companies. (Samsung, Sony, etc)

    Google has always partnered with hardware companies. The fact that Google has decided to manufacturer this themselves says that maybe this is a new type of product. A product with no "regular" manufacturer they could have teamed up with...

    Maybe it is the rumored HUD Goggles. =O

    It's also interesting that they have to test it in several major cities across America. That sounds like a product that relies heavily on location-based features. The same location-based features you would need in an set of augmented reality glasses...

    Also, Google states that the entire purpose of this is to is test "the throughput and stability of the home WiFi networks that will support the device." Is that normal? I would think WiFi would be a known quantity. Having to test "throughput and stability" sounds like the device is a serious data hog. Like something that would run Google Goggles 24/7 and try to process video frames...

    • Dan

      "relies heavily on location-based features"

      Huh? There's nothing to indicate that in any way. Google is doing their testing in the location where the Google facilities and the homes of their employees happen to be. The FCC requires that you give a physical location for an STA. You have to have an STA if you're going to be doing any transmitting which doesn't fall under one of the existing FCC regs. All this means is that they're testing something that's not "normal". If you're going to cause a wireless device to transmit in a manner that doesn't fall into the definitions of one of the standard profiles, you're going to need an STA from the FCC before you can let that transmission loose outside your R&D labs.

      As for "throughput and stability", that's because your wireless access point, and almost every wireless access point made by anyone, sucks a lot more than you realize. Regardless of the marketing BS that says "54 Mbps" for 802.11G or "300 Mbps" for 802.11N, the fact is that almost every consumer grade wireless access point will fall over dead if you hit it with even 5 Mbps of continuous data. Not a typo. That's FIVE Mbps. A very few will survive up to 10 or 12 Mbps. That's why commercial grade access points cost much more than the plastic box you buy at walmart.

      The underlying radio technology might be capable of 54 or 300 Mbps, but none of the manufacturers have bothered to make their devices actually capable of that throughput continuously. For most home users, that's totally irrelevant because even streaming an HD movie isn't "continuous" data. It still comes in dribs and drabs from the source and that leaves plenty of dead air time for the backplane of the access point to recover between bursts.

      Google is doing exactly what they say they're doing. They're testing a bunch of different, consumer grade access points in actual home use environments to see what happens when they smack them with their new toy.

  • Brian

    Google!!!! I am an IT student who loves new technology...If you need a willing, enthusiastic participant, count me in!!!!!! I have follow up comments set to go to my email.....(please, oh , please)

  • Spydie

    brian, you're a dreamer... google doesn't probably read these posts and I don't think they have ever responded to them! LOL "hope runs eternal" You need to go work for Google, then you will be on the cutting edge.

  • nerdshowandtell

    perhaps sageTV + GoogleTV related? http://forums.sagetv.com/forums/showthread.php?p=524462&postcount=20

    I could hope/wish/etc :D

  • Bas

    Android gaming console? :P

  • http://Google.com Larry Page

    @Brian, I believe we can have you do something with us, please follow up with these comments.
    -Larry P.

    • Brian

      IS this really you Larry Page? I hope so............I hope it's not someone trolling me
      I take enthusiasm for technology seriously

      • http://Google.com Larry Page

        Lolol nope but that was funny, if I was I would have seen the reply button the first time.

  • Sergy Brin

    @Brian, yes as Larry said we are actively seeking tester and are thrilled you want to be part of the team. We will in fact be in contact with you.
    I will need you to come by Google HQ to finalize some paperwork. I could meet you on thursday of next week. See uou there.

    -Sergy B.

  • Ryan

    I can speculate, too: Sounds to me like a hub of sorts. Each A@H item would have bluetooth connectivity. Someone could connect their phone directly to an individual item via BT or connect the phone to this hub through their wireless router to control multiple items simultaneously.

    Examples: Turn lights down, TV on. Or use this to stream music to multiple BT devices.

    PS: Larry and "Sergy" (sic, it's a shame you forgot how to spell your own name) I would like a job. I have no references nor IT experience. I do know how to root phones provided there is a 1-click-root option available. I like electronics, and also turtles.

  • Alex Morgan

    I would love to test some of these products, but I live in Florida, so I wouldn't be able to come in to any of your offices(I have experience testing with the Cr-48). I love your company, and am obsessed with all of your products, and it would be an honor to serve alongside a company as amazing as yours. Could I please join your testing team. I could fill in paperwork online, and do whatever you need. It would be a dream come true Larry.

    • TeeGee

      There there,everything is gonna be allright...

      Sad story bro :)

  • TeeGee

    A@H... so it will be called "Aah" ? Aah is cool when coming from a woman friend of myne and only when ... u get the picture

    Nintendo Wii (...moronic name)
    Sony Vita (facepalm...oh gawd)

    Google AAH ... but Google is still cool