After creating Android, Andy Rubin is returning to hardware with a new incubator

Andy Rubin_by Joi Ito

Android creator Andy Rubin is shifting gears after building the OS at Google for nearly a decade, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Rubin is now launching Playground, an incubator for hardware innovators. The company has raised $48 million from Google, HP, Foxconn, Redpoint Ventures, Tencent Holdings and others. Instead of investing in the startups it fosters, Playground will accept equity in return for its support.

The incubator will help inventors focus on building new products without worrying about other functions, like manufacturing, distribution and financing, before going to market.

Rubin, who previously worked at Apple and also developed the T-Mobile Sidekick, believes that tech ecosystems — like the Web and mobile — emerge roughly once every 20 years, and working with hardware entrepreneurs will help him find the next one.

He chose the investors for Playground based on the value they could bring to the table to realize this vision. For example, Foxconn will help startups manufacture products at scale, and have engineers on hand to guide production processes.

Meanwhile, HP will help with reaching a global audience via its distribution channels, and Redpoint will assist in securing financing and may even invest in some of the startups.

Android Creator Andy Rubin Launching Playground Global [The Wall Street Journal]

Image credit: Joi Ito

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