Wired has an excellent profile on Andy Rubin and his latest ventures post-Google. As creator of the original Android operating system that Google would eventually acquire and later a long-time Google employee on various Internet efforts at the company, a lot of people are waiting to see what Rubin does next since leaving Google over a year ago.
In 2013, Rubin discussed his restlessness with Larry Page, and—as Rubin recounts it—the two men agreed it was time for a change. That March, Rubin stepped down from Android… For a year, Rubin spun up Google’s new robotics division, but he quickly realized that Google’s goals, which reportedly involve creating humanoid assistants, would take a decade of basic research.
We already knew that Rubin’s new company, Playground Global, would provide support and hands-on engineering assistance to hardware tech startups it’s investing in, but Rubin elaborated on the company’s plans, including describing what he hopes will eventually become an open platform for all companies building AI into their products:
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Playground’s ambitions extend far beyond building individual gadgets or even individual companies. Rubin wants Playground to become the factory that creates the standard building blocks—the basic quartermaster’s inventory of components—for the AI-infused future. And he wants to open up this platform of hardware and software tools so that anyone, not just the companies he works with directly, can create an intelligent device. If he’s successful, Playground stands to have the same kind of impact on smart machines that Android had on smartphones, providing the technological infrastructure for thousands of products and giving a generation of entrepreneurs the ability to build a smart drone. Or a house’s worth of intelligent appliances. Or, hell, a full-fledged robot.
And while Rubin didn’t actually announce any solid product plans, he did confirm that the company is working on a dashcam type product for vehicles that would be free in exchange for the data the device collects from drivers:
When pressed, he says he is in fact working on a dashcam, which he plans to give away in exchange for its data—potentially allowing Playground to build a real-time visual map of the world. And he has other ideas, he says, “that I’m not willing to talk about.” Those who’ve spoken with him about his plans walk away enraptured. “When you see the ideas they’re working on—they’re all high-quality, and many of them can be revolutionary,” says David Wallerstein, Tencent’s chief exploration officer. “Within three to five years, it’s impossible that Playground won’t release something that’ll just blow our minds.”
You can read the full profile on Rubin and his new company in Wired here.