Damn It Google, Where Are My Magic Android Lightbulbs?

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Back at Google I/O in May, members of Google’s Android team unveiled a new initiative that’s going to extend the mobile OS beyond smartphones and tablets — and take us one step closer to Back to the Future II.

Dubbed Android@Home, the project aims to bake special hardware and software into a variety of gadgets, which will allow users to control these devices from their Android phones. Think alarm clocks that fade in with your favorite music, lighting systems that blink based on events in the game you’re playing, and more. Eventually the @Home project will include everything from home stereos to dishwashers, but the first planned device was something a bit more modest: the lightbulb.

At the event, Google said that it had partnered with LightingScience to launch Android@Home LED lightbulbs by the end of 2011. I’ve been waiting patiently since then, scowling each time I had to get up out of bed to flick off one of my ‘dumb’ lightbulbs when I should have been able to simply tap a button on my phone. I may have even boasted to my iPhone-toting friends about my impending luminescence superiority.

Alas, LightingScience and Google have failed to keep their promise. We are now at the end of 2011, and there are no such lightbulbs in sight. Nor, for that matter, is anything else Android@Home-related. At I/O, Google said we’d be hearing more about the project in the next few months (we didn’t).

Given the amount of stage-time Google gave to the project and the huge potential here, I strongly doubt that @Home has gotten the axe. But it’s disappointing all the same. Google seems to have fallen into the nasty habit of showcasing impressive technology at I/O that’s still a long ways off (Google Music first made its debut at I/O 2010, and didn’t launch in beta until a year later).

Google declined to comment on the current status of the lightbulbs.

Photo by Richard Rutter