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Google Gets Its Game Together on Connected Devices

There is money to be made out of data generated by billions of connected devices—the so-called Internet of things.

In this scenario, gizmos from fitness trackers to kitchen appliances to jet engines are geared up to collect and transmit data about their performance. That data is then used to track how they are working and predict when they might fail so preventive maintenance can be performed. Amazon (AMZN) and Microsoft have been very vocal about their plans to capitalize on the Internet of things.

Google? Not so much.

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This week that changed as Google is launching its first comprehensive attempt to bundle its various technologies to make aggregation and analysis of device data easier. The new Google IoT Core, disclosed in a blog post Tuesday, is now available in preview form and aims to make IoT deployments more manageable. Google (GOOG) also said that Spanner, its previously announced distributed database, is now broadly available.

Google IoT Core, which is roughly analogous to the Microsoft (MSFT) Azure IoT Suite, will help companies set up connected devices more easily and securely, and then take in, aggregate, and analyze the data they generate.

The idea is to take products Google already offers, like its natural language processing (NLP) and image recognition technologies and make them applicable to a broad range of applications using all that device data.

A transportation company, for example, could use Google tech to deploy the right vehicles to the right jobs at the right time, and then monitor their loads and performance.

Related: How Traditional Companies Can Tap the Internet of Things

Hardware partners supporting this effort include chip makers ARM, Intel (INTC), and Marvel (MRVL).

There is a great deal of opportunity here as companies ranging from industrial giants like General Electric (GE) to fishing fleets use connected devices to streamline their operations, cut costs, and make people more productive. But there is also plenty of competition as tech companies flood the zone with their own products.

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“Amazon Web Services and Microsoft have been aggressive promoting their IoT wares for a few years, but Google has not,” says Mark Hung, Gartner (IT) research vice president and lead analyst for IoT. Google has a lot of key parts of the puzzle but to date no real cohesive story about how they fit together.

“This week it looks like they’re starting to provide that,” Hung says.

Google’s secret weapon here, he adds, is its leadership in machine learning especially in image classification and natural language processing.