7 unexpected places you'll find Android under the hood

Android isn't just limited to your phone or tablet—or that smart watch on your wrist. It's being used in other realms, too.

Moto360
Credit: Florence Ion
Android's on your wrist now, but what's next?

Google wants its Android mobile platform to be absolutely everywhere: your home, your car, your living room, your wrist, and especially, the palm of your hand. At this year's Google I/O Developer’s Conference, the company made all sorts of declarations and launch announcements new places to find Android, but really, it was already featured in some pretty peculiar places.

There are some places where Android makes sense: a point-and-shoot camera, for instance, would benefit from the vast photo editing and social networking applications available in the Google Play Store. But there are several uses of Android in past and present tech that are real head scratchers. Here’s just a smattering of the ones we found interesting, or downright absurd.

Samsung T9000 Fridge
Credit: Samsung
Not what we had in mind with Android in the kitchen...

A quick Google search will conjure up an alarming number of Android-powered kitchen appliances and gadgets, though I personally haven't seen any in the wild.

Panasonic long ago developed a cloud-based, Android-powered microwave to help you find recipes and defrost food, as well as an Android-powered Rice Cooker that was capable of exchanging recipes with an Android app via RFID. And at last year's CES in Vegas, Samsung showed off a prototype of its T9000 refridgerator running a version of Evernote for Android. Smart appliances really are a smart idea for the masses, especially those who spend a lot of time making magic in the kitchen, but the price tag on these things seems a bit steep for that extra bit of functionality they offer.

Kia Soul
Credit: IDGNS
"Kind-of Android" in the car

Android Auto will do wonders for the next generation of connected cars, as it’ll allow you to simply connect your Android phone and effectively turn it into a “smart” car without any hackery.

But before it was announced, Android was already in use as an embedded system in the dashboards of cars like the 2014 Kia Soul. It doesn't really act anything like the Android you know on your phone and tablet, but maybe that's why Google was so eager to get out a unified version of Android for your car. 

HP Photosmart eStation c510
Credit: Amazon
Android-powered printer, anyone? Anyone?

A while ago, HP introduced the Photosmart eStation c510, a printer with a 3.45-inch Android-powered touchscreen that could launch apps, play games, and scan documents. 

Oddly, devices like this still exist in some capacity, though they’re not as outlandish, nor do they feature a tablet device slapped on a printer body. Polaroid announced something similar earlier this year, but it's an Android-powered camer-and-printer-in-one.

Anyway, with Android KitKat's built-in printing abilities, there's no real need for these type of Frankstein's-monster gadgets to exist. Not that there really was before.

Smart Basin
Credit: Android Headlines
Look in the mirror. What do you see? It's Android.

Japan-based Seraku Corporation once demonstrated a bathroom mirror called the Smart Basin that doubled as an “information terminal.” The gadget-cum-bathroom fixture features a water meter function, apps to help with weight management, and an embedded “health care” function—whatever that is.

The mirror is actually a reflective display that’s powered by a hidden Android tablet. Either way, it’s an interesting take on the “smart bathroom."

Sony NWS ZX-1
Credit: Sony
"Android touch"

I’ve had several people ask me why there are no iPod touch-type devices available in the Android world, but there have been several throughout the years and they're still making them.

Companies like Creative and Archos offered Android-powered music players in the past, and even Samsung offered its own line of music players based on its Galaxy brand. Lately, Sony's the one with all the press for its NWS ZX-1 Walkman, a pricey music player that plays back high quality, 192kHz FLAC audio files and runs Android 4.1. 

Android NASA Project Tango
Credit: Florence Ion
Android in spaaaaaaaaace

Perhaps the coolest and most worthy implementation of Android is how NASA is using it to power its SmartSPHERES project. You can read all about how Google's Project Tango, arguably one of the most fascinating smartphones in existence right now, is being used to help astronauts do some housekeeping up in space. 

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2
Credit: Samsung
For better Instagram photos, put Android on a camera

As mentioned, Android is a great choice as the operating system for a point-and-shoot camera if only because of the plethora of photo-editing applications available for it. Samsung already makes the Galaxy Camera series, the latest of which boasts a 16.3-megapixel camera sensor, optical image stabilization, a 4.8-inch LCD display, Wi-Fi, and Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, and coupled with apps like Instagram and VSCO Cam it’ll make it easier for you to trump your friends in the heavily-filtered digital photography department.