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Unread 2015-08-18, 01:11 PM   #7
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Google’s new OnHub is a $200 Wi-Fi router and smart home hub

Google's take on a Wi-Fi router makes it the communication hub for your home.

This is OnHub. It's a cylinder.

Google today revealed a new smart home hub in the form of the OnHub, a $200 cylindrical router that promises a "new way to Wi-Fi." Users can control it via an app, and Google has promised frequent software updates for the device. The device supports not only 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, but also Bluetooth 4.0 and a few smart home protocols. One such protocol is Weave, the Android team's Internet of Things (IoT) communications layer that it announced at Google I/O alongside Brillo, its Android-derived OS for IoT. It also supports Thread, an IoT wireless protocol created by Google's Nest Labs and Samsung. OnHub also offers IEEE 802.15.4, the basis for Zigbee, another IoT protocol that is popular in many devices.
Smart home communications are kind of a mess right now, so Google appears to be future-proofing the OnHub with its kitchen sink of protocol support.
The device supports 2.4 and 5GHz Wi-Fi with some pretty beefy specs, including a dual-core, 1.4GHz Qualcomm Atheros IPQ8064 with 1GB of RAM and 4GB of storage. With specs like this, we wouldn't be surprised to hear that this runs the Android-based Brillo OS. Surprisingly, there's also a speaker. The big downside is the port selection. There's a single USB 3.0 port, one Ethernet port for your modem, one Ethernet port for a computer, and that's it. All other devices need to connect wirelessly.

A light ring on the top of the black (or blue) device serves as a status indicator for your connection. A green light means your Internet is up and running, while orange means there's a problem. The speaker is used for ultrasonic communication during setup, just like a Chromecast. Inaudible tones are picked up by the app, which identifies your specific OnHub router and ties it to the app.
Google's Nest division bought the smart home hub company Revolv a few years ago, which took a similar "support every IoT protocol out there" approach as OnHub. This product doesn't seem to be from Nest, though. According to a report from The Financial Times, this was built by the Chrome and Google Access (the unit responsible for Google Fiber) teams.
The Financial Times also has the details on what data Google will be collecting. The report says that "12 antennas can regularly scan the local environment to adjust for interference from other wireless networks, based in part on analysis of data samples done in Google’s cloud," so some data is making its way to Google HQ. Google told FT that none of the data will be used to tailor online advertising to the household: "Only information relating to device and network performance will be collected."
The device is controlled from an app called "Google On," which is available for Android and iOS. For now ,the app lets you prioritize traffic to a specific device, monitor Internet usage, and helps with setup and troubleshooting. That doesn't sound like a lot of functionality, but this whole system has the look of a trojan horse Google will expand upon in the future.
It doesn't look like the OnHub name will be exclusive to Google. The hardware announced today is built by TP-Link, but a report from Wired says another OnHub device from Asus is in the works.

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OnHub is up for preorder today for $200, and, according to Amazon, will start shipping August 31.

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