At South by Southwest (SXSW), Google SVP of Android, Chrome & Apps Sundar Pichai revealed that the company is going to release a software development kit (SDK) for wearable devices in the next two weeks to create a standard method for sensors to “talk” to the Android operating system. Google is focusing on wearables at a platform level. This means that Google’s goal is to make its technology accessible to a wide variety of wearable devices.
“We want to develop a set of common protocols by which they can work together,” said Pichai at SXSW, reported The Verge. The SDK will be used by developers to build apps for wearable devices such as games and fitness trackers. Wearable devices may include smart-watches, smart-glasses, fitness bands and smart-jackets.
Pichai did not hint at whether Google was building a new wearable device, but there are rumors of a collaboration with LG Electronics on a new smart-watch. The LG smart-watch is believed to have always-on access to Google Now so that you can speak commands any time and receive feedback right away. The new smartwatch is expected to be announced at the Google I/O developer event in June.
Google’s most well-known wearable device is Google Glass. Google Glass has an optical head-mounted display that shows information based on natural language commands. Google Glass also has a 5-megapixel camera and can record video at 720p.
Google competes with Apple under a number of a categories and the wearables market will likely not be an exception. This past December, Apple operations head Jeff Williams met with U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) executives Dr. Margaret Hamburg and Dr. Jeffrey Shuren to discuss “mobile medical applications.” Apple is rumored to be working on sensor technology that could predict heart attacks, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The Apple team working on the technology is led by Tomlinson Holman, who is known for inventing the Lucasfilm THX sound system and the first 10.2 sound system. Holman is studying ways to predict heart attacks by studying the sounds that blood makes as it flows through arteries. Recently, Apple has been hiring health and medical experts as it prepares to release new products. Apple may release smart-watches or fitness bands that have sophisticated health statistics like heart rate, calories and step counts within the next year or two.
During the interview at SXSW with John Battelle, Pichai was asked if Google is planning to put Android on devices made by Nest, which is a home automation company that Google acquired for $3.2 billion. Nest is known for designing and manufacturing thermostats and smoke detectors that are sensor-driven and self-learning. Pichai did not answer the question, but hinted that Nest could be a part of a “mesh layer” that Google is building, which would enable devices to work together.
Google Android is the most popular smartphone platform in the world with a 61.9% market share, according to Gartner. A version of Google Android is used on Google Glass and Google TV. The Google Chromecast also uses code from the Android operating system. Pichai said that over one million Chromecasts have been sold so far and it will be released internationally soon. Google Chromecast is used for mirroring mobile devices to TVs and streaming movies and TV shows. By providing an SDK for wearables, Android’s market share will continue to skyrocket.