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Google Wants To Automate Your Home

As Senator Al Franken (D., Minn.) conducted a Congressional hearing this week to investigate Google and Apple’s recent online privacy and tracking issues, Google was in San Francisco showcasing its new home automation plans: Android@Home. If the Internet Search giant has its way, it won’t only show you the way to go home on Google Maps, its Android software will remind you that the milk in your refrigerator is running low before you even get there.

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As one worried consumer wrote online: “Now Google can know what’s in my refrigerator and send me ads based on what I have in there.” Not quite. Its plans are in the early stages, but as Pay Dirt recently reported, the smart phone may ultimately be used to remote-control your domestic appliances as software and app developers jump on board. Google gave a glimpse of this future at its Google I/O software developers’ conference. Using Android@Home software, Google says these could remote-control your lights or lawn sprinkler system.

Google says there’s not timeline for the development of these remote-control apps, but it says its Android software was always designed to be used beyond the cell phone. “We want to think of every device in your home as a connection to Android apps,” according to Google Product Management Director Hugo Barr. The high-tech world seems more excited about Android@Home than what this means for your privacy. Thomas Ricker, a writer for Engadget.com, says, “It’s with open arms that I welcome Google into my home.”

Technology analyst Jeff Kagan believes we should take Google seriously. He tells Pay Dirt, “Typically, we look at these kinds of far-fetched visions of the future with a lot of restraint like when AT&T at the 1964 New York’s World Fair said video phones would soon be in everybody’s homes, but when it comes to Google we shouldn’t do that. Google wants to give you the ability to control your life from the palm of your hand. It’s a cool idea. Some people are very happy clicking on their lamps and opening their doors the traditional way, but there’s a new generation who can’t get enough of this stuff.”

Would you want Google to know what’s in your refrigerator?

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    • … and while you’re out, the neighborhood property and valuable retrieval and relocation boys will be round to take the easy pickings.
      They’ll monitor your activities and drop in for a look see.

    • @Arron: “It would be nice if going out in the evening, instead of leaving a light or two on, to be able to flick on the lights as I’m leaving the restaurant or theater.”

      You can do that now with X10 and some DIY homebrew. I don’t doubt that someone is selling a pre-packaged solution already.

    • Is Google becoming Skynet?

      It would be nice if going out in the evening, instead of leaving a light or two on, to be able to flick on the lights as I’m leaving the restaurant or theater. Saves electricity anyway. How much it will cost to do that might not make sence compared to a few watts through the meter.

      As for what’s in my fridge, I go shopping once a week thank you very much… Google doesn’t need to remind me to pick up milk.

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  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to quentin.fottrell@dowjones.com or tweet @SMPayDirt.

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