Google wants to bring smart tools to Raspberry Pi-like boards

Raspberry Pi says Google will release more smart tools this year for makers

Google has hinted that it is interested in bringing "smart tools" to users of board computers like Raspberry Pi 3 and Intel's Edison.

The company has launched a market research survey of the maker community, and the front page of the site states: "We at Google are interested in creating smart tools for makers, and want to hear from you about what would be most helpful."

The survey includes queries on preferred maker boards, proficiency in hardware and software, and projects users may want to pursue.

Google did not respond to request for comment.

But in a blog entry, Raspberry Pi noted that the smart tools will be available sometime this year.

Devices strapped together via maker boards will become more capable with Google's smart tools, Raspberry Pi said.

The smart tools could help Google grow in IoT market, which is expected to touch 30.7 billion by 2020, and 75.4 billion by 2025, according to research released by IHS in March last year.

Google is also trying to get into more smart devices via Android Things, which is the company's IoT OS. The OS is a lightweight version of Android for use with sensors and cameras.

Only three boards -- Raspberry Pi 3, Intel Edison and NXP's Pico i.MX6UL -- support Android Things.

The first Android Things developer preview of the OS was released in December, but many issues have yet to be resolved. The preview doesn't support hardware-based graphics acceleration on Raspberry Pi, and there are audio issues with the Edison board.

Google has released code to make a doorbell and a weather station with the OS. Only two Android Things projects are listed on Hackster.io, a resource website listing maker projects.

Bringing more tools to smart devices is also one way for Google to combat Amazon, whose Alexa virtual assistant was in cars, home appliances and numerous gizmos at this month's CES.

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