Android Accessory Development Kit

It's another of those cool things from Google I/O that nobody is talking about enough -- Android Open Accessories.  Still in its geek-stage of development, Open Accessories have the potential to change the way we use and interact with our smartphones and tablets.  But what exactly are they?

Think of it as a new way to use the USB port.  It's different from the USB host support we've seen hackers and modders build in the past, and Google itself supports in Android 3.1.  Open Accessories are designed to be used on any Android device (2.3.4 or higher), because the accessory acts as the USB host.  A developer will build some hardware (using something like the Microchip PIC24F you see on the left in the picture above -- they'll get smaller, that's a dev board) that can set up a handshake with any Android device.  Once the handshake is complete, the correct app starts, or if it's not installed, it's market page opens so it can be.  Très cool.  After that, control is passed to the application that will use the accessory and everything is up to the great minds that develop Android applications.

We saw the demo using the excer-cycle at Google I/O, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.  I can see all sorts of gadgetry being possible -- IR transmitters, portable medical diagnostic equipment, multi-meters, and so on.  The tools are in place, both the reference hardware as well as the Open Accessory Development Kit (ADK), and the people I talked to at Google I/O seem pretty darn excited.  Hopefully the idea takes off, any bugs and kinks get worked out, and we start to see some offerings using this new technology.

Source: Android Developers Blog


Reader comments

About Android Open Accessories


While the tech is cool for other things, if more banks/processors don't get their acts together, Square is going to crush them in the smartphone processing market.

I really think Google Needs to step up and At least put out a couple real world fully working examples first or else this will be dead in the water I honestly think. They need to lead the way.

They demoed an exercise bike, but what about the Ant+ wireless protocol that was in the HTC Legend? Tons of exercise equipment already have this. My bike computer, heart rate monitor, and the stationary equipment at my local gym all use Ant+. I believe Texas Instruments has it built into their OMAP stack as well, but I don't know of any smartphone manufacturers that are actually utilizing it. (I thought I heard rumors that Sony Ericsson might spec the protocol) I would love to be able to use my phone to record workouts and upload them to sites like MapMyFitness instead of having to plug my bike computer into my pc.

I'm sure now that this accessory development kit is out, it will only be a short time before someone comes out with an Ant+ dongle for any Android phone.

I just noticed there's a magnetic strip card reader in the picture. Is that included with the accessory dev kit?

Possible way to add an user facing camera for video chat :),ofcourse the price can not exceed a new phone with the feature built in :)

Universal Android Media docks,speakers, etc :) awesome

Does the iphone have a app for that?? :) hahaha

I am by no means an apple fanboy and hate everything apple. I just don't understand this portion of the google i/o. Isn't this pretty much what has been going on with the iphone since day 1? Just having proprietary accessories that work in conjunction with the iphone to do things? Correct me if i'm wrong.

I would definitely consider buying a stereo external usb port microphone combined with high quality multi track audio recording software. Gingerbread is supposed to have new and improved high quality audio capability, but I haven't yet seen any developer exploit the new potential.

I'm going to buy one just because I used to work for Microchip and still own some of their stock. ;) I miss being in thier fab.