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DIY smartphone thermostat has us wondering what happened to Android@Home


After showing off such novelties as Android-controlled light bulbs at Google I/O 2012, many of us have been waiting for the day that we could automate our homes through a smartphone interface. That day is getting closer, but it is not so much thanks to Android@Home. Instead it comes in the form of a DIY open source project called Android Thermostat, which allows you to repurpose any old Android device into a fully functional means of home climate control.

The project isn’t nearly as advanced as the likes of the Nest thermostat — a device that could be given credit for single-handidly making the thermostat hip again (if it was ever hip in the first place) — but as an open source project there is plenty of room for tinkering. And you will need to have some tinkering skills if you plan on tackling the Android Thermostat project. The app is a free download, but building the thermostat interface requires some basic knowledge of electronics, circuit building, and soldering. The necessary parts, including an Android-specific IOIO board, run around $100 (not including the smartphone or tablet necessary to run the show).

Once installed, the Android Thermostat can be used to adjust temperatures in your home, set up a schedule for automated heating and cooling, as well as provide reports on usage when linked to other free resources. This is all a mere shade of Nest, which can adapt and learn new heating and cooling programs based on the habits of homeowners, but the possibilities are nearly endless if a strong open source community develops around the innovative idea.

Which brings us back to Android@Home. It certainly was an innovative concept, but since its debut in 2011 Google has done very little to move the initiative forward. The most we got was the promise of retail versions of their Android-controlled LED bulbs, which still have not launched, opening up the opportunity for another third party to capitalize on the concept with the LIFX bulb Kickstarter project. We see the potential of Android@Home in projects such as Android Thermostat and LIFX, but Google isn’t the company behind it. We’re not sure if that’s a good thing or bad in the grander scheme of home automation.

Ultimately, Android@Home is admittedly a bit ahead of its time. With all the advances in mobile and home computing, the idea of trusting our comfort and security to such technology has been catching on bit by bit, as evidenced by the emergence of new smart thermostat technologies. Android@Home is a means of certifying that certain hardware (lights, security systems, thermostats, etc.) will play nice with the Android ecosystem, but if Google would rather spend their time developing overpriced media orbs, then the Android community (and third party vendors) will have to take things into their own hands.

If you, too, are tired of waiting for Android@Home and want to have a go at the Android Thermostat, full instructions can be found at the project’s homesite.

Kevin Krause
Pretty soon you'll know a lot about Kevin because his biography will actually be filled in!

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  1. I’m not sure I think Android@Home is ahead of it’s time per se seeing as X10 and others have been doing home automation for many years; I just think we need a big company like google to champion inter-operable standards and devices. If a small group can make this up for a thermostat and it really doesn’t look all that hard to build if you have some electronics skills then I would think it shouldn’t be too hard to package devices like this up to install all over the house.

    I had been really really excited for Android@Home when it was talked about and have been very disappointed that google isn’t pushing this.

    1. Agreed — standards are critical, especially for young technologies. There is no promise of adoption or interop….which leads to no development or products. :(

  2. This Nest owner isn’t going to stray, but seeing this is very promising for the future of Android home automation, IMO- and for that, I’m happy to see this.

    I am also waiting to see what else Nest has up their sleeve, though. The thing is ZigBee compliant, so I expect that the thermostat is but a small piece of the total energy package.

  3. love to see some of this stuff hit the marketplace soon as we’re upgrading our HVAC system soon.

  4. Unless you’re living in a cardboard box, don’t MOST homes already come with a thermostat? Yeah no, I don’t see this going very far. Being that most auto manufacturers have integrated Apple (connection wise) into their vehicles, I suppose Android just wants to be first into the home. Yeah, let me hang my old Droid X on the wall and use it as a thermostat. Oy! lol

    1. Did you even read the article?

      1. I was being facetious.

  5. what type of torture chamber is this house with the temperature indoors at 79.6? Open a window!!!

    1. Heat from the phone and the IO board, LOL.

      Can’t measure something without affecting it, at least a bit.

  6. Thermostat? No thanks. All homes already have those. A system like JARVIS? Yes, please. Why aren’t we talking to our houses, yet?

  7. i would love to try to make this is I had the money to blow.

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