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Google? In my lightbulbs? It’s more likely than you think

led_lighting_by_google

With the recent announcement and release of their ADK, it was only a matter of time before Google started invading your home in a big way. From the looks of it, Google will be jumping into the home lighting market very shortly, which could prove to be quite interesting.

Partnering with Florida-based Lighting Sciences, Google is planning on developing consumer-grade 60W equivalent smart LED light bulbs. The bulbs will be able to wirelessly communicate using Google’s new open-source home networking protocol. The lights will be controllable using any Android device allowing users to dim, brighten and toggle the lights on and off without ever touching a wall switch.

We think it’s an interesting idea, and we’re all for getting quality LED lighting in the home. That said, some of Google’s other utility-centric endeavors such as PowerMeter have met only mediocre success, so it remains to be seen if this concept takes off. If it does however, we can’t wait to see the flood of ADK-based hacks the community puts together. Since their new wireless protocol will likely be extended to all sorts of other household systems, the possibilities are endless.

Official android open accessory development kit – it’s an Arduino

A new development kit for android was unveiled at the Google I/O 2011 developer conference that officially supports the Arduino.

It looks like Google took a cue from Circuits@Home, because the interesting part of this dev kit is the fact that the shield can be put into USB Host mode. That’s great for phones and tablets that can’t act as a USB host themselves. Google will also release the APIs for this Android/Arduino mashup for 3.1, but it will thankfully be backported to Gingerbread.

We covered the IOIO breakout board for Android last month, but the Google board will be based off of the Arduino Mega 2560, a far more capable device. Interestingly, it appears this board is available now for about $400 USD. We’re not so sure a hobbyist will be buying it at that price.

While this board doesn’t do anything you couldn’t do before with a bluetooth shield, it’s great to see a company supporting all the builders out there.

GSM tracking without GPS

If you use the Google Maps Mobile function then the big G knows where you are even if your phone doesn’t have a GPS module in it. So the next time you want geolocation capabilities in a project consider building around GSM functionality which can also be used for Internet connectivity. That’s exactly what this module does and luckily the hard work has already been done for you.

The method really hinges on a couple of things. First of all, any GSM capable device knows the information about the cell it is currently communicating with. Secondly, Google knows the coordinates of radio towers used in the cellular mobile network. A little bit of data sniffing on Google Maps Mobile app communications confirms how and when cell information is transferred between the device and the maps server. Take a look at this series of write-ups which go into detail about hardware, software, cell network location data, and communication protocols which Google hasn’t publicly documented. Sure you’re not going to have the accuracy we’ve come to enjoy with GPS, but this can get you pretty close.

[Thanks Boris]

Autonomous cars already drive the roads among us

Google’s showing off this autonomous car at the TED convention right now, but the hardware has already made automated trips from San Fransisco to Los Angeles. According to the commentary in the video after the break, the scene above shows the car “hauling Prius ass” on a closed course. The car learned this route while being driven by a person and now the vehicle is set to take riders through an aggressively driven loop in the cone-adorned parking ramp. But on the open road you do not need to teach it anything. It has no problem taking a GPS route and following the rules of the road while traveling from one waypoint to another.

The link above doesn’t include hardware information but they did point to a Times article which includes an infographic. The spinning box on the top of the car is 3D-mapping LIDAR with a 200 foot radius. There’s a rotary encoder on one of the wheels for precise movement data, radar sensors on the front and back bumpers, and a rear-view-mirror-mounted camera for image processing. It makes us wonder how the system performs when the car is coated in road-muck? Maybe you just add a dedicated wiper for each sensor.

[Read more...]

Google two-factor authentication in a wristwatch

chronos_two_factor_authentication

The Chronos watch from Texas Instruments is a handy little piece of hardware if placed in the right hands. If you are not familiar with the platform, it is marketed as a “wearable wireless development system that comes in a sports watch”. In plain English, it’s a wearable wireless MCU mated with a 96 segment LCD, that boasts an integrated pressure sensor and 3-axis accelerometer. It is capable of running custom firmware, which allows it to do just about anything you would like.

[Huan Trong] wanted to take advantage of Google’s new two-factor authentication, and decided his Chronos would make a great fob, since he would likely be wearing the watch most of the time anyhow. He put together some custom firmware that allows the watch to function as an authentication fob, providing the user with a valid Google passcode on command.

He does warn that the software is alpha code at best, stating that it doesn’t even allow the watch to keep time at the moment. We are definitely looking forward to seeing more code in the near future, keep up the great work!

Be sure to stick around to see a video of his watch in action.

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Chrome in the Pwn2Own Contest

Google has announced that it will be sponsoring a $20,000 prize at the 2011 CanSecWest Pwn2Own Contest. $20,ooo will be given to the first person to escape Chrome’s sandbox through Google-written code in the first day. If researchers are unsuccessful on the first day, then days two and three will be opened up to non-Google-written code. In addition to the cash, there is also a Google CR-48 running ChromeOS offered as a prize, but it will not be the actual platform used to hack Chrome. We look forward to seeing what comes out of this contest.

[via GearLog]

Google takes Science Fairs global

Teen hackers get ready to compete for cash and prizes. Google, the big G itself, is sponsoring a Science Fair but it’s not in a town near you, it’s online (no surprise there). Project entries will populate the content of a new corner of the Googleverse, with contestants 13-18 competing alone or as a team. The grand prize is a trip to the Galapagos Islands for ten days, but there are also cash scholarships for all of the winners. Check out their promo video for the event after the break.

If you’re a college student who’s too old to be eligible don’t forget to keep your eyes open for details about 2011 Google Summer of Code. Last year’s information is still up, but they usually release the details sometime in the first quarter.

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