Not much has been heard about IoT from Google after it acquired Nest (and its thermostat, smoke detector and Dropcam connected security cameras) but that came to an end in May. At the Google I/O developer’s conference, the company announced the Android-based Brillo operating system and the protocol Weave that will let Brillo-enabled devices communicate with each other. A developer preview of Brillo is coming in the third quarter and Wave in the fourth quarter. In case you’re wondering, Google chose the name Brillo as it’s a “scrubbed” version of Android. As Google always thinks big, the idea is that your “smart home” will be controlled by Android devices that talk to each other and have access to servers in the cloud.
Brillo is basically a very stripped-down, low-overhead version of Android designed for use with the battery-powered devices used in IoT applications in which the 500+ Mbyte required by “full-up” Android would be too large. It supports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy, and most things Android.
Weave is a common protocol for connected devices and is cross-platform, which means that Brillo and Weave can used together or Weave can run atop an existing protocol stack. So any Brillo-enabled smartphone, tablet, or other device can control devices from any manufacturer that chooses to use Weave. There is also a voice interface so you can talk to your Brillo-connected devices.
Weave was actually developed by Nest (where it is called Nest Weave) and is very similar (or identical) to the Thread protocol used by the latest Nest devices. However, although Nest is a collaborator in the program, Brillo and Weave development is being conducted by Google.
Mentions of security are prominent in Google’s descriptions of both Brillo and Weave, as it will be essential in every IoT scenario. So too, is the simplicity of the approach as Brillo eliminates many of the issues developers have to deal with such as updates and lower-level hardware functions. Just add IP and stir. Similarities to Apple’s HomeKit, which was introduced as part of iOS 8 are obvious. HomeKit uses Siri to let you control various devices in your home, and is only beginning to be adopted by manufacturers of products like home controllers, light bulbs, and dimmers.
Barry Manz is president of Manz Communications, Inc., a technical media relations agency he founded in 1987. He has since worked with more than 100 companies in the RF and microwave, defense, test and measurement, semiconductor, embedded systems, lightwave, and other markets. Barry writes articles for print and online trade publications, as well as white papers, application notes, symposium papers, technical references guides, and Web content. He is also a contributing editor for the Journal of Electronic Defense, editor of Military Microwave Digest, co-founder of MilCOTS Digest magazine, and was editor in chief of Microwaves & RF magazine.
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