The creator of Android thinks the next big thing isn't in mobile

Andy Rubin, the “Father of Android,” announced on his 50th birthday in October 2014 that he was passing off the division and leaving Google.

“What am I going to do for the next 10 years of my life? Am I going to fight for one per cent market share or am I going to make 10 more Androids?” Rubin said of his decision to leave.

After taking a break to mow lawns, he joked, Rubin has returned to tech as a venture capitalist with a passion to look for the next frontier beyond the market-dominating Android operating system he created.

Rubin created Playground Global, a new venture capital fund and hardware incubator that closed a $US300 million round on Monday. Part of its mission is betting on the next big thing, “the thing beyond the mobile or the tablet,” Rubin explained.

“Mobile isn’t going away,” Rubin said, assuaging an audience gathered at a mobile conference. “There is a point in time — I have no idea when it is — it won’t be in the next ten years, or twenty years — where there is some form of AI, for lack of a better term, that will be the next computing platform.”

With the rise of connected devices like smart thermostats and door locks, the world generates even more data. Simultaneously, computers are getting better at absorbing that data, learning from it, and making decisions like whether to lower or raise the heat in your house.

“When you spend all your time interacting with a screen, you have to start thinking about things that don’t have screen,” he said.

Take ConnectedYard, a startup Rubin has already put money into. The company places its pHin device, a teardrop shaped floating pod, to measure PH in your pool. It may seem like a small idea, but the device isn’t just feeding data into your phone passively, Rubin explained.

Instead, the startup orders pellets and delivers them via FedEx so people can dump them in their pool to take corrective action without the owner needing to even know what’s wrong in the first place. It’s not easy, though, to get from sensing that a pool is out of balance or that the heat is on too high and knowing what steps to take in this particular environment to get it back to normal.

“The thing that’s going to be new is the part of the cloud that is forming the intelligence for all of the information that is coming back,” Rubin said.

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