Google has an operating system for smartphones, tablets, wearables, and TVs. It also has one for laptops and desktops. Soon Google may also have an operating system for refrigerators, light bulbs, locks, and other smart devices that make up the “Internet of Things.”

The company may launch its new IoT operating system at the Google I/O conference later this month.

https://nest.com/
Nest smart thermostat

According to The Information, Google’s new operating system is code-named “Brillo” and it’s being developed by a team at Google that’s related to the Android team. In other words, it might be a stripped-down version of Android, or possibly just something designed to integrate with Android devices.

Either way, if the report is accurate, Brillo is designed to run on devices with as little as 32MB of RAM, which would make it a lot more light-weight than the full version of Android which is generally aimed at devices with at least 512MB of memory.

There are a growing number of smart connected devices hitting the market. Smart thermostats can learn from your behavior to adjust the temperature automatically, or be controlled from your smartphone. Smart refrigerators can let you know when you’re out of milk. And Smart door locks can be opened using your phone, just to name a few examples.

While there are a variety of companies working on IoT software to power these experiences, there’s not exactly an industry standard yet… which could be a problem if you’re not sure which smart bulbs, smart bulbs, and smart cameras will work with your smartphone.

Apple is attempting to create a unified platform through its HomeKit platform, while Samsung hopes to use Tizen. Microsoft has Windows 10 IoT core in the works. And Huawei recently unveiled a solution called Lite OS. And now it looks like Google is getting ready to join the fray.

The company could have a few things going for it as it wades into this crowded space though. First, Google’s Android software is already the most widely adopted smartphone platform. Second, The Information reports that Google plans to offer Brillo to device makers free of charge, must the way it does with Android.

Finally, Google’s got some experts on staff. Over the past few years the company has acquired the companies that make the Nest smart thermostat, the Dropcam connected camera, and Revolv, the maker of a smart home automation solution.

 

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7 replies on “Google to launch “Brillo” OS for Internet of Things (maybe)”

  1. I laughed when I read “as little as 32MB of RAM” Windows 3.1 ran in 4 MB of RAM and that was OS and GUI. An IoT OS should be much smaller as it is doing less and does not need the user interface.

    1. Windows 3.1 also had no native tcp/ip stack, could only deal with a single processor, and used the pagefile fairly extensively. The gui requirements are not mainly what separates today from 25 years ago. You might as well talk about how C64 ran in 64k of RAM, or how my TRS-80 got by with a mere 4k.

        1. Everything I’ve been able to find about Huawei’s LiteOS mentions that it is “10KB in size”, but does not mention how much RAM is actually required to run it. Those two “sizes” are not necessarily the same thing. I’ve also been unable to find mention of what toolset (or even language) is used for application development. It will be interesting to compare these various IoT OSes as more details come out.

  2. Doesn’t this seem more like an extension of “android at home” (I think that was the name never really followed it that closely) that they came out with a few years ago?

  3. Some of these things are different things though. Homekit is something devices can communicate with, not an OS or platform for the devices themselves.
    This is the first I’ve heard of Brillo though so who knows what it will turn out to be.

  4. I would really like to have access to the “activity” sensors on my nest protect smoke detector. If Brillo is on my nest protect, hopefully I can use their APIs to send notifications to my email. I am expecting to see a nest security system in the future.

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