Google launches OnHub IoT router

Internet giant Google has teamed up with TP-Link to launch a new router that claims to simplify domestic wifi and is the first device to use Google’s Brillo and Weave IoT software protocols.

The key marketing message for the OnHub router, which will available to buy in the US for $200 soon, is that it takes the hassle out of domestic wifi. Google makes the point that most routers still run on antiquated software and can be a nightmare when it comes to trouble shooting. Furthermore they tend to be aesthetically jarring, meaning they’re typically stashed away in corners, which reduces the quality of the signal.

The OnHub, by contrast, is such a work of art that we would be proud to place it in the middle of the dinner table and the clever Google software will optimise your wifi experience, with an app offering even greater control.

“Many of us keep our router on the floor and out of sight, where it doesn’t work as well,” blogged Google’s Trond Wuellner. “We replaced unruly cords and blinking lights with internal antennas and subtle, useful lighting, so you’ll be happy placing OnHub out in the open, where your router performs its best.”

All the marketing photography is of a simple cylinder, unencumbered by wires or antenna, but the OnHub still needs wired power and Ethernet connections just like any other router, so the reality will fall somewhat short of the aesthetic utopia implied. But the OTA software updates do seem promising.

“OnHub automatically updates with new features and the latest security upgrades, without interrupting your connection,” said Wuellner. “In the future, OnHub can support smart devices that you bring into your home, whether they use Bluetooth Smart Ready, Weave, or 802.15.4. We also plan to design new OnHub devices with other hardware partners in the future. Stay tuned for news from our second partner, ASUS, later this year.”

This seems to be what the OnHub is really about – giving Google an IoT hub in the home based on the Brillo and Weave technologies announced earlier this year. The Google way is to offer people powerful internet tools – usually for free – and then monetise the subsequent traffic, mainly through advertising. It’s not clear how Google intends to monetise OnHub over and above its selling price, but positioning itself as the physical enabler of domestic internet connectivity would appear to create a lot of new possibilities.


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