May 10, 2011

Android at Home for Home Automation Or Z-wave, Zigbee Devices?

Would you choose Google’s Android at Home for Home Automation or Z-wave, Zigbee devices which are currently in use by the industry?

Google Android at Home for home automation was announced today. The Android at Home’s stated goal is that using an Android phone or tablet (the Android controller) you can control every single device at your home, from anywhere. Every light and appliance in the house can become Android-controlled.

Lighting Sciences, a maker of expensive LED lights, and a demo partner for Google and will deliver Android controlled LED light bulbs later this year.

A grand vision for sure and if it is realized it will be incredibly useful. But, what does it take to upgrade the entire house with Android-controlled devices?

And, would you pick an Android-controlled device or the Z-wave, Zigbee devices for home automation?

Per the talk above, Android-controlled devices will communicate with the Android controller using
  1. WiFi
  2. a new (undisclosed) wireless protocol that presumably can be built into any electrical device.

That is perhaps the biggest flaw of this approach. There are hardly any home devices using either of these protocols. And, building new devices using the, as yet, undisclosed protocol will take a long time. Acceptance of new devices by homeowners will be longer still and also because of the big expense that homeowners have to incur to upgrade their home with the new devices.

As compared to the announcements for Android at Home, Z-wave products are already available from a range of manufacturers including the popular Vera controller from micasaverde. And, service providers such as ADT Pulse, Vivint etc are actively pushing Z-wave products for home automation including providing installation and monitoring services. And, iPhone and Android apps to control your home are available. So, if you really wanted to automate your home, you can start right now.

The home automation market moves slowly and Android at Home has big hurdles ahead of it.