A couple of months ago reports suggested that Android’s co-founder and ex-GooglerAndy Rubin is set to make a comeback in the smartphone segment. While there hasn’t been much of information on this since then, Rubin, who now runs Playground Global, an incubator for hardware startups, has confirmed he working on a dashcam with a very unique business model. 

Under this model, the company will provide users hardware for free but hand over the camera’s data in return. Rubin didn’t elaborate the thought process behind the model, but it is speculated Playground may use these data to build a real time visual map of the world. The concept is in line with Rubin’s vision that the data gathering devices will help make machine learning and AI smarter, and ultimately help build even smarter machines in the future.

So far there is no information when Rubin’s dashcam will see commercial roll out or will be trialed with select number of users. It remains to be seen will users be interested in free hardware in return of their data or privacy. Dashcams are believed to be highly popular in countries such as Russia where on the road insurance fraud is a serious problem. The dashcams can serve as evidence for the victims.

Apart from data gathering dashcams, Rubin is also working on several other ideas but he’s “not willing to talk about” them right now. But a few them are believed to be disruptive and revolutionary in many ways.

“When you see the ideas they’re working on—they’re all high-quality, and many of them can be revolutionary,” David Wallerstein, Tencent’s chief exploration officer told The Wired. “Within three to five years, it’s impossible that Playground won’t release something that’ll just blow our minds.”

So far companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and others are working on neural network artificial intelligence that gathers information from what users are putting on the Internet and it becomes smarter over a period of time. But according to Rubin, the real implementation would be to collect data from the physical world via smarter machines. And he wants to play a significant role in that.


Dashcams might just be the beginning of Rubin’s vision of the future. Playground would essentially work as an incubator for startups that want to build machines with artificial intelligence. The company would work on components that would make smarter machines. The plan is initially Playground would help startups associated with it but eventually give the tech away to everyone, not very different from how Android evolved.