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Google I/O 2015: Google's smart home blueprint is still in the drafting stage

Google's dream of a smarter home (not to mention that self-driving car in the garage) is closer to reality than we all might expect.
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By Rachel King, Staff Writer on
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1 of 12 Rachel King/ZDNet

Google I/O 2015

SAN FRANCISCO---With the debut of Brillo at I/O on Thursday, the smart home is poised to be Google's next major space to remodel.

However, despite introducing a new operating system designated solely for the Internet of Things movement, smart home products weren't actually as prevalent on the show floor at the annual developer summit this week.

The Android-based Brillo will undoubtedly be unwrapped more as the connected devices vertical continues to take shape.

Until Google sheds more light on its plans for our futuristic digs, here's a glance at the blueprint of a Google-built smart home.

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Nest Thermostat

Predictably after a multi-billion dollar (and very buzzed about) acquisition, Nest's small but growing catalog of smart home meters and appliances were allotted a solid-sized chunk of real estate.

Not much to learn here (if you know about Nest already), but a handy reminder/use of product placement for developers, media and Google obsessives in attendance.

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Nest Protect

However, Nest's newer products might be served better thanks to the rather blank wall of display space, distributing equal attention to smart smoke detector Nest Protect and Wi-Fi video cam (and home surveillance aide) Dropcam.

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Nest Dropcam

To nail in all of the points, the Nest team pointed out how each of these products (and more) can work together on connected fabric. For example, the Dropcam can communicate with the Nest Theromostat to automatically turn on motion alerts when the thermostat is set to "Away." Dropcam can also record clips when Nest Protect detects smoke.

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Rachio

Rachio, a connected and automated sprinkler system, can also link up to the Nest family. Rachio can automatically turn on sprinklers in the house in response to commands from Nest Protect.

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Smarter Laundry

Everyone has a household chore they detest. For those who hate doing laundry, Whirlpool's connected washing machines and dryers strive to alleviate the pain points, from scheduling washes to suggesting alternate wash times when the align with high-energy demand rates.

However, residents must still load and unload their laundry. To remedy that one, you'll have to wait for Google's mythical army of drones and robots to come to market.

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Android TV

Then there is the living room, a community space that has proven to be a difficult realm to conquer for not just Google but everyone from high tech to Hollywood. Beyond Internet-connected HDTVs and a handful of dongles promising Netflix and HBO Go access, there have been a lot of missteps and failures in this market, including the original iteration of the Google TV.

Google has revised its approach for serving Wi-Fi enabled entertainment, with a revamped Android TV platform as well as the very wallet-friendly Chromecast.

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Google Cast

To connect even more dots in the Google ecosystem, Google Cast serves as the bridge between Android smartphones and tablets with these TVs. Googlers demonstrated this with some very animated rounds of the popular game Catch Phrase, nearly knocking over the Ikea-esque sofas trucked into Moscone West intending to make attendees feel right at home.

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ATAP: Advanced Technologies and Projects

Still, despite the promise of the smart home, many engineers and developers are still at the drawing board to figure out use cases that will actually garner mass-market interest and adoption.

Google's Advanced Technologies and Products (ATAP) unit was on hand, basically taking requests from attendees.

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ATAP Suggestions

A few of the connected device suggestions and dreams included pollution sensors, breathalyzers, and earthquake alarms -- presumably based on newer innovations that can detect the onset of earthquakes up to 10 seconds before they happen rather than an alarm during the actual event.

Nevertheless, by late Thursday afternoon, there weren't too many outlandish requests on the table -- perhaps either given the realistic mindset of the developer-strong demographic or everyone just wants to start small to get the ball rolling.

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Project Jacquard

Bridging the gap between smart appliances and wearable tech is ATAP's Project Jacquard.

An extra long table covered in what at first glance looked like an unraveled bolt of denim garnered a surprising amount of interest on Thursday.

But upon closer inspection, attendees noticed tiny sewn squares no bigger than an average bar code on a book etched in, hiding an embedded extra layer and gateway to the cloud underneath.

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Project Jacquard

Project Jacquard was introduced as the blueprint for equipping textiles with touch and gesture support.

The goal is to transform "everyday objects" from clothes to furniture into interactive surfaces while connecting with mobile apps and devices.

Given the tiny form factor and openness to multitudes of use cases, Jacquard could offer a much more practical application of wearable technology into the fashion market than the typical smart watches or flashy Google Glass strives to achieve.

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