Britt appealed to developers to create apps that take control of devices in the home. “You could make an alarm app that slowly ramps up the light in the room and plays your favorite music,” he said. “Imagine using Android@Home to control an irrigation system to create a real-world Farmville app. If you lose the game, your garden dies.”
Britt’s colleague Matt Hershenson, director of hardware for Android, introduced a new feature coming soon to the most recent release of Android, Honeycomb, due out later this year. The new feature is a software protocol that lets the operating system connect with many different devices.
“What if your Android devices could integrate more fully with your workout?” he asked as a colleague stripped down to cycling shorts, mounted an exercise bike, and plugged his Android phone into it.
The new software protocol allowed the bike to open an app that used the pedaling of the bike to control a simple game. “If the phone didn’t already have a compatible app, the bike would send the phone to the market to download it,” said Hershenson.
A second, larger-scale demo saw a tablet used to control a 5,000-pound wooden tilt table large enough to park a car on. The tilt of an Android tablet was fed to motors so that the table mirrored the tablet’s movement, allowing a user to steer a bowling ball around a maze.
The forthcoming Honeycomb refresh will also support all existing USB devices out of the box. One consequence, as demonstrated at the conference, is that game controllers can be used with Android devices, bringing tablets and connected TV devices running Android into competition with consoles and gaming PCs.