Google ATAP Wants You To Control Your Smart Home With A "House Mouse"

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Google smart home components could soon be controllable with a hand wave and a few "house mouse" clicks. That's based on recent reports detailing a new device bearing the above branding and in the works from Google's ATAP research lab. As its branding implies, the gadget would function similarly to its namesake PC accessory.

Detailed by ATAP head Dan Kaufman and Dan Marks, the device brings 'spatial input and easy selection' concepts to a smart home. It effectively removes the need to use voice commands for control and delivers intuitive mouse-like controls instead. One example that's been provided is the ability to point the mouse at a smart lamp. Then, a simple click turns it on.

That would move smart home control beyond limitations in smartphone-based or on-device accessibility settings. But it would also make the plethora of available gadgets more intuitive for a wider audience.

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This smart home-controlling mouse would work just like a traditional PC accessory

Of course, Google's ATAP team didn't stop at the light toggle features above. In terms of further examples highlighting just how future-forward this gadget could be, the examples are extensive. Almost as extensive as the growing number of devices supported by Google's smart home ecosystem.

For instance, the team indicates that users could pull up a YouTube video, a song, or some other media on a computer or another device. Using the Google-built smart home mouse, users could then effectively click-and-drag the media from that gadget to a smart speaker. Or potentially to a smart TV.

The click and drag motion would work just like on a PC desktop. But the user would point the mouse at the computer and then click. While holding, they'd move to point at the desired playback device.

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Taking matters further still, the company reportedly touted how a song could also be moved via a click-and-drag motion to a lamp. The lamp, if capable, takes on a dimming and brightening cycle that flows in tandem with the rhythm of the song.

Similarly, the team indicated that users could point at a more traditional form of media — such as a CD — and then perform a dragging motion to a smart speaker. That speaker would then play the album selected.

…and it could feasibly be brought to the real world

Now, it would be easy to dismiss the smart home house mouse as a one-off experiment from Google. ATAP is an extremely secretive division of the company and explicitly responsible for just that type of off-the-wall idea. But that doesn't mean it couldn't ever land on shelves for consumers to buy.

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Historically, at least a few ATAP-built projects have ultimately made it into the real world as Google products. That group actually includes Google-made IoT and smart home-related products too. One example in the former category is Google's Jacquard Product line.

But a more pertinent example of ATAP experiments in real-world products is its Soli sensors. Those gesture-reading sensors are found in the Google Pixel lineup of phones. And that means that an eventual release isn't entirely out of the question. Of course, since that isn't the case just yet, exactly when, where, or at what cost the latest ATAP technology could appear is still anybody's guess.