This time, however, the company won't be vacuuming personal information: At its Google I/O developer conference on Wednesday in San Francisco, Google plans to deploy a series of sensors to collect data about environmental conditions in the Moscone West conference center over the course of the event.
"Using software built with the Google Cloud Platform, we'll be collecting and visualizing ambient data about the conference, such as temperature, humidity, air quality, in real time," explained Michael Manoochehri, developer programs engineer at Google, in a blog post. "Altogether, the sensors network will provide over 4,000 continuous data streams over a ZigBee mesh network managed by Device Cloud by Etherios."
In addition, said Manoochehri, the sensors will detect noise-level fluctuations and count footsteps in certain locations to provide a picture of how attendees move about the conference area.
Conference attendees might have their own real-time biological systems to detect and respond to temperature, humidity, air quality, noise and crowds, but Google's goal isn't to graph the obvious; it's to promote the development of software and hardware for its Cloud Platform. Having constructed a set of cloud services, Google would like to see more tenants move in.
Google's approach to working with developers is notably different than Apple's. Apple, in keeping with its preference for control, requires third-party developers to join its MiFi program to develop authorized accessories for iOS hardware. In the context of Android, Google has opted for a more open road: It offers an open Accessory Development Kit, based on the Arduino open-source electronics prototyping platform, to help developers come up with Android-compatible hardware without the need for a license.
Google is taking a similarly open approach with its Cloud Platform: The Cloud Platform code for the sensor project, the Arduino sensor hardware designs, and the data collected will be open source and publicly available after the conference, according to Manoochehri.
Google is working with O'Reilly Media's Data Sensing Lab to deploy some 525 sensors at the conference. Although Google is pitching its Cloud Platform as a foundation for potential sensor-oriented innovation, Data Sensing Lab is participating to promote the sensor hardware on a broader level: Generating interest in the Internet of Things contributes to O'Reilly Media's publishing, events and DIY hardware businesses.
Google in the Enterprise SurveyThere's no doubt Google has made headway into businesses: Just 28 percent discourage or ban use of its productivity products, and 69 percent cite Google Apps' good or excellent mobility. But progress could still stall: 59 percent of nonusers distrust the security of Google's cloud. Its data privacy is an open question, and 37 percent worry about integration.