How smart is your toaster? With Android it might be a genius

The rice cooker is a humble appliance. But what if it was powered by the Android operating system? And how about your refrigerator or dishwasher? Possibly even your toaster? It sounds ridiculous, but BusinessWeek recently ran an interesting story about the many products and appliances today that are coming with built-in Android software. Here’s the surprising part; these devices might actually be useful. And they might pay off big for Google, the force behind Android.

Android’s rise

Google’s Android operating system is already a remarkable success story. Just consider how the system dominates the smartphone world. According to the BusinessWeek story, citing numbers from research company Gartner, Android in the third quarter of 2012 had grabbed 72 percent of the smartphone market share. That dominates its nearest rival, Apple, which could only lay claim to 14 percent of this market share during the same quarter.

Android in your rice cooker: Lunacy or savvy move?

That still, though, leaves open the big question: Why in the world would Google want its Android software inside your rice cooker, microwave oven or washing machine? The simple answer? The more places in which Android appears, the more consumer data that Google can collect. And the more customer data that Google collects, the better it can tweak its already uber-powerful search engine. After all, Google still makes a ton of money from search. Anything that can help it refine and improve search, then, needs to be viewed as a key investment.

That’s one smart rice cooker

The next big question? Is it useful to people to have Android in the refrigerator? The surprising response is “yes”. Here’s an illustration provided by the BusinessWeek story: Say you’re watching your favorite TV show. And you also plan to head out later that night, and you’d prefer to wear your favorite jeans. As you’re watching TV, a message pops on your screen telling you that your jeans actually need 10 more minutes in your dryer downstairs. Then, rather than walking down the stairs to manually start your dryer, you just press a button on your TV remote to get the dryer humming again. To paraphrase, Android in your household appliances might be more useful than you’d think.

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