Thursday, February 21, 2013

Why do we need washing machines that talk to us?

Would you purchase a rice cooker with the Android operating system built into it? What about a dryer or refrigerator? Would you ever consider installing a microwave oven that was partially operated by Android? You might soon get the option, according to a recent story by BusinessWeek. According to that story, Google is installing its Android operating system in many of the wierder places you can imagine. But here’s what’s especially interesting: This move actually makes financial sense for Google.


Android’s rise

The Android operating system has already dominated the smartphone world, conquering out its rivals easily. The BusinessWeek story quotes numbers from research firm Gartner showing that smartphones running the Android operating system accounted for 72 percent of the market share in the third quarter of last year. How impressive is that? The nearest competition, Apple, could only claim 14 percent of this market.

Why the refrigerator?

That still, though, leaves open the big question: Why on Earth would Google want its Android operating system in your rice cooker, microwave oven or washing machine? The easy answer? The more places where Android appears, the greater amount of customer data that Google can collect. And the more customer data that Google collects, the more it can tune its already uber-powerful search engine. Google still makes a ton of money from search. Anything that can help it refine and improve search, then, needs to be viewed as a key investment.

What would it do?


But just how could having Android in your household appliances make your life easier? BusinessWeek covers that, too, in their story. Say you cook lots of rice. And say you cook a lot of different kinds of rice, from jasmine to white to brown. It can be a pain to remember how long to cook each one of these kinds of rice. A smart rice cooker programmed with Android, though, could make this easier. Simply put in your rice for the evening, tell your rice cooker which kind of rice you’ve poured in and sit back. The rice cooker, thanks to Android, will automatically cook your rice for the right amount of time. That might look like a relatively minor benefit. But if all of your household appliances were as smart, imagine the time you’d shave off your everyday chores.

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