This year at Google I/O the Android team showed off anew Android feature called Android@Home that was created for home automation. How does it work?
Well, it doesn't yet. "Any technology, sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from a rigged demo." But I don't doubt they're close.
From the keynote video, there's a few things involved.
An Arduino which connects to the Android, now via USB but soon via Bluetooth, which connects to the devices such as the Labyrinth game and the exercise bike, which gives data from the device to the Android so that you can use the exercise bike as a game controller (or otherwise track your exercise), or data from the Android to the device, such as the the output of accelerometers controlling the Labyrinth game.
The other part, the smart light bulbs and the stereo thing, are different, and I don't know that either will ever ship. The stereo thing involves chips (either RFID or NFC chips, I think) that the stereo vase will read, download and play by the information on the chips. This connects to physical items in ways that current trends in music sales say makes no sense.
The light bulbs have their own intelligence and listen over some wireless protocol or other -- they mentioned Bluetooth but the range seems off for houses -- and determine on/off and brightness based upon the instructions sent. There are many existing Home Automation protocols, and it seems that Google is working with none of them. That could be taken both ways.
Remember that Google I/O is a developers conference, which means they're telling third-party developers "Hey, you can do this". It takes some time for the developers to develop and release based on what they announce, so honestly I wouldn't expect to see much of anything based on Android@Home until Christmas 2011 or later.
Android at home is not anything you can buy right now, is a project aiming to enable the user to control and monitor as many parts of the house as possible from an Android device.
The whole idea behind android at home is that Google defined a communication protocol that works wirelessly and enables anything supporting it to publish functions and interact with other devices. The idea is that if you have for example a refrigerator supporting the protocol, you can connect to the refrigerator using your phone or your tablet and then interact with it. Or maybe you have some lamps using the protocol, so you can increase or decrease the light in your saloon.
To say it very simply, Android at Home proposes a wireless network for your house that will enable any connected device to interact with the other devices in order to share information or work together to accomplish some objective.
Except for the highly promotional demo Google Android@Home team has not released any specs regarding which technologies will Android@Home use and how open will it actually be.
There is a way to make it "open source" but to have no actual practical benefit versus closed proprietary protocol.
Ideally Android@Home team will make all protocol layers open for 3rd party developers.
Most likely technology that they are using IEEE_802.15.4 and 6LoWPAN with some additional high bandwidth profiles. This is just my speculation but highly likely one, but we will not know what exactly they have done until Android@Home actually release some facts and not just propaganda info.
Ordinarily it doesn’t make sense to combine low-rate automation protocols with higher-rate protocols for streaming media. Devices like thermostats and light bulbs generally cannot support the extra cost and physically larger chipsets required of streaming technology.
So a hub is usually used to bridge the two different types of devices/protocols. It looks that something like that appears to be in Android@Home team's radar.