After facing initial doubt, Google’s Android platform has become widely accepted by the masses. This open operating system broke barriers and ensured that tech-imbued devices reach every budget segment. Android phones may be used by more than 50 percent of smartphones across the world, but the open operating system hasn't restricted itself to phones and tablets. The openness of Android allows it to serve as much more than a mobile OS. You might be pleasantly surprised to learn about the various types of devices that Android is making its presence felt in. We have listed a few, so read on.
NASA’s smartphone nanosatellite – PhoneSat
Android in space
Android is all set to go to outer space. If you own either an HTC Nexus One or a Samsung Nexus S then you will be stoked to know that they will be the onboard computers for NASA’s PhoneSats, which are currently under development. These nanosatellites are being developed at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California. It’s planning to launch two variants of this satellite: PhoneSat 1.0 to be powered by the HTC Nexus One will send back digital imagery alongwith the records of its position, and PhoneSat 2.0 powered by a Nexus S will include a two-way radio, solar panels and a GPS receiver. These PhoneSats are roughly 4 cubic inches in size, which is roughly the volume of a coffee mug. They are expected to be launched in 2013.
On a clicking spree with Android
Digital cameras have made the whole process of taking pictures a casual affair. What took it one step further and added a whole new spin, were smartphones equipped with cameras. It didn’t matter if the resolution was bad, what clicked, so to speak, was the ability to click pictures anywhere at any time and instantaneously upload them to social networking sites. Now with even smartphone cameras getting better, the onus is on digital camera manufacturers to up their game. The result is cameras powered by Android. Nikon became the first known brand to make a splash with the Nikon Coolpix S800c 16MP camera powered by Android 2.3 and featuring a EXPEED C2 processing engine for smooth performance. The latest brand to jump on this bandwagon is Samsung, who recently demonstrated its smart camera and simply named it Samsung Galaxy Camera. This 16MP camera is quite a powerhouse, considering that it runs on Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) and is powered by a 1.4 GHz quad-core processor. Additionally, it also has voice-based control for certain camera functions. These cameras not only make sharing on social networks easy, but with the Google Play store available on the camera itself, you can simply install your favorite imaging app and use it to snap pictures, add effects and finally share them!
Android on your wrist
For socially connected folk who are practically glued to their smartphones, it can get tiresome to carry a phone around at all times and fish it out of the pocket with every notification or call. Android-based watches are the perfect solution. These funkily designed watches aren't just cool looking, but are also highly functional. Pair them with a compatible Android device and you can control several features of your phone like answering calls, reading text messages, managing playlists, controlling volume, checking the calendar and of course keeping a track of social networks. Two such devices that have been creating a buzz are the Sony Ericsson LiveView and i’mWatch. The latest product to join the foray is the WiMM One, which however is meant only for OEM partners who can develop their own modules using the WiMM Labs platform. The Sony Ericsson LiveView is priced at Rs. 2,890 and is available at various e-stores, while the i’mWatch is priced at Rs. 19,999 onwards and can be purchased from the merchant's own site.
Coffee and music, says Android (Image Credit: Yanko Design)
No one might have imagined that a mobile operating system can be used to operate a coffee machine. Android-based Coffee Brewery or Appresso is only still a concept, but quite an interesting one, we must say. Appresso is infused with Android technology that provides information about the taste and also the scent of the coffee. Basically, each coffee capsule has a QR code that Appresso scans and surprisingly also plays a specific song based on the coffee that one has chosen. It serves as a docking station for your devices too, not only capable of charging your phone but also playing music from your device. The machine also recommends coffee and recognizes your device the next time you dock it.
Cook it up with Android
Out of all the products featured here, the MAID (short for Microwave Android Integrated Device) takes the cake for being the least expected one to feature Android. What’s more it has been developed by Kerala-based SectorQube Technolabs. What exactly does it do? You can connect it to the Internet and download recipes and you also have the option to upload your own recipes. Further, it features a voice assistant to read out the ingredients and generally guide you through the cooking process. Currently only a prototype, the company plans to launch it in the market by the year end, priced at around Rs. 7,000 or Rs. 8,000.
Portable Media Player
PMP running on Android OS
Though smartphones can replace a music player these days, there are music fiends who would still vouch for the latter. Today, Android phone makers often bundle a slew of music apps and even tie up with big names to bring exceptional audio technology to their handsets. However, some music companies have been doing otherwise by bringing the Android operating system to their music players. Philips has launched the GoGear Connect that runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread with a neat 3.2-inch display, microSD card slot for expandable storage and Wi-Fi, features that you usually see on your phone. It isn't just Philips that has came out with Android PMPs; Cowon has the power-packed Z2 Plenue. It is fuelled by a CPU with 1GHz horsepower and a video processor that supports full HD and 3D graphics, which helps increase processing power for apps and other multimedia content. The Z2 Plenue is priced at Rs. 18,500, Rs. 20,500 and Rs. 23,500, for storage capacities of 8GB, 16GB and 32GB, respectively.
Chilling with Android
Just like the microwave, this one will leave you wondering. Do you really need a refrigerator powered by Android? Samsung thinks you do. This has prompted them to launch Samsung RF4289HARS four door refrigerator featuring an 8-inch LCD and WiFi connectivity. It includes apps for weather forecast, news, calendar, notes, Twitter, Pandora, Epicurious, Picasa photos, etc. It works more like sticking a tablet onto the refrigerator and doesn’t seem to serve any real purpose. Of course, it would have been a different story if it could at a simple tap provide you with a list of ingredients that you are running out of, reprimand you for leaving the door ajar or alert you if the food items were going bad. However, if we were to ignore the LCD part, then the fridge itself is drool-worthy.
Entertainment on-the-go (Image Credit: Paultan)
We know there are several standalone GPS devices and many also prefer using their advanced smartphones as tools for navigation. The Clarion Mirage has tried to bridge the gap and is the first OEM-grade car stereo to run Android. The device has cleared all standards required for sale to car manufacturers and is all set to serve as an navigation plus entertainment hub of your car. According to The Verge, the company is working on producing trial units for Southeast Asian automakers but there aren't any plans to bring Mirage to other markets yet. The navigation engine is provided by Navigon AG, and with Android it brings in a plethora of apps. It also serves as an AVN style double-DIN player that accepts SD cards, USB devices and Bluetooth connect.
Turns your idiot box into a smart TV
An Android-based TV isn’t a far fetched thought and we have seen manufacturers launching these lately. It spruces up the capabilities of your gigantic HDTV turning it into an entertainment hub capable of doing much more than watching shows/movies. We got our hands on one such device lately, the Portronics Limebox. With Android on board, a range of connectivity options, 1080p video playback out of the box and the ability to download a range of Apps from the Android store, the Limebox makes for an entertainment powerhouse for your TV. The Portronics Limebox is priced at Rs. 8,499 (MRP). Android has been making its presence felt in several device categories, but don’t be surprised to see many more such Android-based set-top boxes.
Not an ordinary mascot
This isn’t just another Android mascot. BERO is a Google Android-inspired robot that is controlled by an app on your Android phone or tablet. It is inspired by the Google Bug Droid, an open-source robot that can be programmed to do virtually anything. The BERO has two integrated infrared transmitters for navigation. These enable it to detect obstacles up to five inches away (left, right and front). Moreover, BERO also interacts with users. Though in an early stage of design, this could take off pretty well, paving a way to robotics using smartphone applications. BERO is expected to start shipping in late November next year. Currently, it can be controlled only with Android devices, but apparently, the future may see iOS apps controlling it too.
These are but a few, and many of them actually have tremendous potential. Tell us which other devices would you like to see powered by Google’s Android platform. Do let us know in the comments section below.
Main Image Credit: Jagdish Limbachiya
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