How smart is your toaster? With Android it might be a genius

It’s turning into a strange world once your rice cooker is smarter than your laptop. Then when your washing machine and dryer start telling you when you need an added spin cycle or extra 10 minutes drying time? That’s beyond weird. But this world is becoming a reality thanks to the Android operating system. A current story by BusinessWeek highlighted a variety of strange places in which Google’s operating system Android is appearing. And the strangest news of all? Having Android inside your rice cooker might actually make sense.

Here comes Android

Google’s Android operating system is a rather remarkable success, at least when it comes to powering the smartphone world. The BusinessWeek story quoted numbers by research firm Gartner showing that Android powered 72 percent of the smartphone market during the third quarter of 2012. That’s especially impressive considering that rival Apple could only claim 14 percent of that market share during the same period.

Why appliances?

So why would Google, which developed Android, want its software in microwave ovens, refrigerators or rice cookers? It’s very simple: Having Android power these appliances can help Google acquire even more data for its main business, search. Google’s search business, no matter its dominance in the smartphone business, is still its biggest moneymaker. Google can learn more about customer preferences, and gain the cabability to more directly tailor its search engine to best serve these needs, by collecting more information from U.S. consumers.

Is it useful?

That leaves an additional question: What can Android in a clothes dryer or rice cooker really do? Fortunately, BusinessWeek answers this. Suppose you’re watching TV and a pop-up message appears letting you know the jeans tumbling in your dryer aren’t completely dry. You’ll be able to press a button telling your dryer to dry those pants for an additional 10 minutes. Or what if you could tell your rice cooker what type of rice you are cooking – brown, white or jasmine, say – and your device would then auto-magically cook that rice for the appropriate time. That’s useful, right? And if it’s all rather unnecessary? So what?