How Google Brillo Might Just Be the Best Thing That has Happened to IoT

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Looks like Google’s $3.2 billion acquisition of Nest Labs wasn’t the only serious play in the company’s IoT strategy. Last night at Google I/O conference, the company officially unveiled ‘Brillo’ an operating system for Internet of Things. This Android based OS is meant to empower all devices having a potential to get connected to smart homes and IoT setups.

Internet of Things is going to be huge globally, according to several firms involved in figuring out its scope, there will be 40-50 billion devices connected to the Internet by by 2020. Cisco predicts that the Internet of Everything  Value at Stake will be $14.4 trillion for companies and industries worldwide by 2025. And evidently enough, tech firms are bullish about strengthening their IoT strategies.

In January this year, Samsung Electronics’ CEO B.K. Yoon announced that IoT will be its big mission for the next five years to interconnect all its products from home appliances to mobile phones. Google’s Brillo might just play a major role in making this happen.

Brillo and Weave

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Brillo is essentially a toned down version of Android, that supports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Low Energy, and other functionalities that small devices like smartlocks, lightbulbs, fans etc. can support. This is the first OS created for IoT, and with Android as its base, it will enable easy connectivity with Android smartphones for control.

However, Brillo alone isn’t a big enough innovation by Google for IoT, the company’s Senior VP, Sundar Pichai, also announced a communication layer for the Internet of Things devices called ‘Weave’. As the name suggests, this communication language, based on JSON, for IoT will not only allow the devices to be controlled by a smartphone, but will also allow them to interact with one another, which has been the concept of IoT all along.

Google Weave

Shown Above: Diagrammatic Representation of Weave Network

While the IoT system has been growing till now even without a dedicated OS and a common language for the concerned devices. Google, Samsung and other tech companies had gotten together in July last year, to launch a protocol for IoT called the Thread Group, but no further updates were made regarding this. In any case, Google seems to be moving forward with full force, and this is why its new initiative could be a game changer.

  • Brillo is Android based, and Google aims for developers to create a single app which can control all the devices a user connects to. Android dominates the smartphone OS market because Google open sourced it to OEMs, the same could happen for IoT devices as well.
  • Weave is a cross platform language, this means that it could connect to those devices which aren’t even running on Brillo, thus allowing non Android devices to enjoy the same network as well.
  • IoT market is fragmented at present, there is no code, no standard protocol for development and usage. Brillo and Weave could solve that problem.
  • Like Android, Google will itself roll out updates and development guidelines for Brillo and Weave as well, so the IoT enthusiast developers would have an easy platform to work on.
  • The end users can expect that their connected devices will work with each other, and work their phone. The interface is expected to be easy, and there will also be a functionality to have multiple admins for individual IoT networks.
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Brillo will be made available for developers in the Q3 2015, and Weave documentation will be rolled out throughout the year. Apple had released its own IoT protocol last year in June, and had released a Nest like smart thermostat Ecobee in November, the company might lose out this bit to its competitor if it doesn’t step up its game and opens up its solutions to OEMs. Samsung had revealed its ARTIK processors a couple of weeks back to power IoT devices, clubbed with Brillo, Samsung and Android could re-do for IoT what it did for smartphones for masses.

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