Robots, Androids And Developers: 15 Scenes From Google I/O

Google I/O Turns Up The Volume On Android, Chromebooks

More than 5,500 developers descended on San Francisco last week to take part in the fourth annual Google I/O conference, which ended up being a celebration of Android not just on mobile devices, but in household appliances, and even robots.

The exhibit hall was crawling with robots alright, but I/O wasn't all about Android. Google also unveiled its first Chromebooks from Samsung and Acer, along with a subscription business model the company will use to try to lure organizations away from Windows. Google is also teaming up with Citrix and VMware to build a virtualization bridge for enterprise apps on Chromebooks.

Following are 15 scenes from Google I/O that captured the wonderfully weird technology melange that defined this year's event.

Android Everywhere

Android has kicked up a big old fuss in the mobility market, but Google has far greater designs for the OS. In addition to powering several robots that roamed the exhibit floors, Google unveiled its Android Open Accessory Development Kit (ADK), which connects a virtually limitless array of hardware accessories with Android mobile devices using a new Google API.

In the ADK, Google is also giving developers an implementation of an Android USB accessory that's based on the Arduino open-source electronics prototyping platform.

Breaking It Down

Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Chrome (left) and Google co-founder Sergey Brin field Chromebook related questions during a Q&A at I/O. While Chromebooks bear many similarities with netbooks, Google is positioning them as a new class of computing device that's always connected and relies heavily on the cloud.

Mobile Application Feeding Frenzy

Google's ISV partners were on hand to show off their latest Android creations, and with more than 200,000 apps now listed on the Android Market, this space is expanding quickly. Google's green Androids watched over the proceedings and made sure no one got too carried away.

Chrome Experiments

One of several Google Chrome Experiments was on display at I/O, inside the comforting bubble of the cloud. Chrome Experiments are Google's showcase for creative Web experiments build with HTML5, Canvas, SVG, and WebGL, from artists and programmers around the world.

Treacherous Labyrinth

I/O attendees were invited to play an oversized labyrinth game in which contestants used a Motorola Xoom tablet to steer a bowling ball, to showcases the capabilities of the Android ADK. Google wants to get Android into virtually every home appliance and device imaginable, as well as accessories, and the Android ADK is its vehicle for achieving this vision.

Not Just Fun And Games

If you remember the good old days when toys were simple and didn't require silicon, you'd have been blown away by these contraptions, the product on an ongoing partnership between Google and Hasbro. These robots work in conjunction with a Samsung S Android smartphone, which uses the device's motion sensor and camera to navigate around obstacles and react to its surroundings.

Although most children will probably be afraid of them, these robots are an impressive technological achievement.

Army Assembled

A massive, eager and well-caffeinated crowd slowly shoves its way into the keynote hall of Moscone West on the morning of day two of I/O. While day one was all about Android, Google on day two unveiled its first two Chromebooks, from Samsung and Acer.

Angry Birds Comes To Chrome Web Store

During a keynote at Google I/O, Rovio CEO Peter Vesterbacka announced that Rovio's 'Angry Birds' game is now playable via the Web and offered as a free download from the Chrome Web Store. The crowd roared in approval at this news, and Google Chrome Senior Vice President Sundar Pichai later joked that this represented the culmination of Google's 4.5 year development journey with Chrome.

Android OEMs: Life Of The Party

Samsung, HTC, LG and Dell saw a steady stream of traffic from I/O attendees, and why not? Their Android devices are in hot demand at the moment, and there's a whole bunch of stunningly designed new ones on the way.

Android Ice Cream Sandwich

Keeping with tradition, Google announced at I/O that Android 2.4, its next major release, will be called "Ice Cream Sandwich." Previous dessert-related Android code names include Donut, Eclair, Froyo and Gingerbread. Honeycomb isn't really a dessert for people, but grizzly bears certainly seem to like it.

Android Cupcake

Android nostalgia was also on display at Google I/O, with this one commemorating the 2009 release of Android 1.5 "Cupcake."

Robot With A Tablet Brain

One of the many robots seen whirring around the I/O exhibit hall, the iRobot AVA comes with 2D and 3D cameras and an array of other sensors and motors that allow it to move around, seemingly of its own accord, in a creepily realistic fashion. The iRobot AVA is designed to run Android apps from a tablet that fits into a dock at the top. It definitely won the unofficial prize for most near-misses between humans and robots at the event.

TurtleBot In The House

TurtleBot, a creation of Menlo Park, Calif.-based Willow Garage, is part of the company's mission to bring personal robotics to the home and consists of a low cost, personal robot kit with open-source software. The idea is to allow people to build their own personal robots that can zoom around the house, take video, perform various simple functions and freak out nosy neighbors.

TurtleBot consists of iRobot Create, a mobile base that has been an effective platform for robotics in education; Microsoft Kinect camera and 3D sensor; an Asus Eee PC 1215N dual-core Atom notebook; and low-cost gyro that enhances the TurtleBot's ability to navigate around the home.

Sold Out Show

Google I/O was a hot ticket this year, attracting more than 5,500 attendees. The buzz in the keynote hall was reminiscent of Macworld when Apple and Steve Jobs were still going. OK, the fact that Google gave everyone a Samsung Galaxy Tab and Chromebook may have had something to do with this buzz, but one definitely got a sense of the Google fanboy/fangirl phenomenon starting to really crystallize.

See You Next Year

The inescapable Android was never too far from sight at I/O. But at this year's event, Google showed developers that Android is by no means its only iron in the fire.