Google is reportedly about to launch a new Android-based operating system, called Brillo, which could work on less-powerful devices like smart lightbulbs or security cameras.
The Information says Google is working on software that “could run on low-powered devices, possibly with as few as 64 or 32 megabytes of random-access memory”, citing sources that have been briefed on the project. Such software, which the report says would be released under the Android brand, would be a perfect operating system for the myriad of little devices that make up the Internet of Things (IoT).
Current versions of Android require at least 512 MB of RAM to run, which is perfect for devices like smartphones, tablets and wearables. It’s quite a step down to be able to run an operating system on devices with just 64 MB of memory.
The Brillo operating system could make it much easier for developers to build IoT devices. As yet there is no universal operating system for the Internet of Things and smart device designers must build their own software for each product they produce. Brillo could bring a range of different devices together and make it easy for them to communicate with each other on a single platform.
The report suggests that Brillo is aimed at connected devices in the home rather than the entire IoT market, which includes things like smart cars and outdoor sensors. This appears to make sense as Google owns Nest Labs, the market leader for smart thermostats, smoke alarms and security cameras for the home. It bought Nest for $3.2 billion in January 2013.
The benefits for Google would be clear. Millions of little connected devices running Brillo could provide even more information about user’s daily routines, such as what time they get home, or whether they use their oven more than their microwave, all of which would be very interesting to advertisers.
If Brillo is indeed close to a release, it could well be revealed at Google’s I/O developer conference, which starts in San Francisco on May 28.