Google’s new device: making the router smarter?

Google launched what seemed like a new wi-fi router called ‘OnHub’. This looks like an elegantly designed trashcan with a speaker on top.  Yes really! Many have compared it to Amazon’s listening gadget Amazon Echo.

This is marketed as a superior router eliminating a lot of the frustrations caused by current routers. It is controlled by a smartphone app and router passwords can easily be shared with friends and monitored remotely.

Some of its stand out features include

  • It can support upto a whooping 128 devices !
  • It has a great smartphone app – making the router smarter
  • It’s 13 antennas arranged in a circular pattern greatly reduces buffering and supports high speed wi-fi

You might look at these features and say that these are good features but not necessary ones. Why is Google suddenly interested in making routers better? Well this is not just a router. This is targeted as a future IoT hub. (Read here for the article explaining IoT). In very simple terms, I view Internet of things (IoT) as the child born to high speed internet and low cost sensors that will dramatically change the way we interact with the physical world around us.

In the future expect to see smart thermostat (Google purchased the popular Nest smart thermostat last year), smart kitchen appliances, smart bulbs, security systems including other connected gadgets yet to be released in a majority of homes. Research firm International Data corporation estimates this industry will be $1.7 trillion business by 2020 and Google wants to dominate this by building a Hub and an ecosystem around it. Other companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Apple are building their own ecosystems and gadgets for this next big ecosystem fight. It will be interesting to watch how this plays out. Stay tuned for more.

Swathi Jay

Tech Blogger, Georgia Tech Engineer, Microsoft Program Manager

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