Kodak’s Partnership With Google: The New Smart Home and the Older, Smarter Office

In early January, Kodak Alaris announced it was partnering with Google to allow users to connect to its scanning devices via Google’s new Internet of Things (IoT) platform. The announcement, made in conjunction with the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), noted that Google would feature the Kodak Scan Station networked printer in its “smart home” exhibit at the show.

The scanners work with Google’s Brillo operating system and Weave communication platform,  the pillars of Google’s IoT platform, to allow users to connect to devices from a variety of computing environments. At CES, Google presented Brillo and Weave in a number of devices ranging from ovens to printers, all of which theoretically work toward creating the connected home.

“The Internet of Things is allowing remote connectivity to devices such as thermostats, appliances, lights, and security systems,” said Susheel John, category director, distributed capture for Kodak Alaris’ Information Management division in a prepared statement. “Now, thanks to Google, an even greater set of capabilities is available for consumers and businesses alike. From home offices to global enterprises, helping users access devices to capture and share business critical information in a safe and secure way can result in major cost reductions and increased operational efficiency.”

Although the scanners were part of a connected home exhibit, in its announcement Kodak emphasizes the importance of connected scanning devices in the office and business environment. As an example, the firm cites insurance agents who need to capture claims forms and other customer information in the field. According to Kodak, development on Google’s Weave platform supported by TWAIN Direct makes it possible to provide agents with a “secure and consistent user experience across multiple connected devices — from the field, to the home office, to the work environment — integrating scanning into a web-connected world at the touch of a button.”

See the full press release here.

Our Take

The IoT has become so prevalent over the last year or two as to become nearly ubiquitous, with nearly everything that can be connected being connected and enabled as a “smart” device. At CES, Google demonstrated Brillo and Weave in an oven, light bulbs, door locks, and more; other manufacturers supporting Google’s platform include Kwikset, LG and ASUS.

Although the connected home is the latest and greatest use for the IoT (see Samsung’s Family Hub refrigerator, possibly the most-talked-about item at CES), it is in the office that the IoT has some of its deepest roots. We hear more about it as the mobile workforce becomes more mobile and smart devices become smarter and more prevalent, but the truth is that office devices have had a need to communicate for some time now, whether simply on an office  network or in a more robust, cloud-based environment. As processes like ERP and CRM drive the need for connectivity between front and back-end systems, cloud-based software grows increasingly common, and offices are ever more dispersed across the globe, the requirement for office devices to be “smart” is almost without compromise.

In its announcement of the Google partnership, Kodak cites a Gartner study that predicts the IoT will grow to 25 billion units sold by 2020 — a nearly sevenfold increase from 2014. A quick look at news stories on Workflow with the words “Internet of Things” in the headline shows the number tripling between the first and second half of 2015, demonstrating that even in the business world where it is old hat (in technology time, anyway) the IoT continues to grow exponentially.

Kodak’s partnership with Google is particularly interesting in that Brillo and Weave are relatively new — Google announced them last spring, although there has not been much evidence of them, particularly in the office space.  “Weave provides the building blocks to connect directly or through the cloud by providing a common language for apps or services to use across multiple devices,” said Kodak’s John in the company’s press announcement. “This leads to faster adoption of new technologies and lower implementation costs. It also makes document capture at the point of customer contact and onboarding information into a business process more efficient, ultimately improving responsiveness to customers.”

When it comes to office automation, the need to communicate between apps, devices and services is a powerful one for which demand increases regularly. We will be interested to see how the implementation of Google’s services proceeds and whether Kodak adds more Google-enabled devices to its lineup.

is BPO Media and Research’s editorial director. As a writer and editor, she has specialized in the office technology industry for more than 20 years, focusing on areas including print and imaging hardware and supplies, workflow automation, software, digital transformation, document management and cybersecurity.