Android heads for the fridge

Design-tools company Mentor Graphics aims to take the Android operating system developed by Google for mobile phones and push it into a much broader range of appliances.

The move follows today’s acquisition of US software house Embedded Alley Solutions. Mentor will offer Android tools, services and - in the longer term - development kits aimed at different segments of the embedded systems market.

The Android handset and smartphone market is already crowded, but Mentor will instead target such areas as kitchen appliances, automotive, digital TV and medical. According to Glenn Perry, general manager of Mentor's embedded systems division, Android is well suited to the addition of complex and attractive information displays on a wide range of consumer and industrial products.

Embedded Alley also offers Linux development products similar to those offered by Wind River, which was recently acquired by microprocessor giant Intel. The Wind River-Intel deal has already raised questions as to whether other chip companies will willingly buy Linux-based and other embedded system technologies from one of their most aggressive rivals. Although Wind River has worked with Android, Intel has been a strong proponent of the Linux-based Moblin environment for embedded applications and has agreed to work with Nokia on a Moblin-based environment for mobile Internet devices.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

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