Samsung, ARM and Google’s Nest Labs are among the companies launching a new, low-powered smart home protocol aiming to solve issues with interoperability and reliability in the sector.
The non-profit Thread Group is looking beyond existing 802.15.4 networking technology, which it said has several “critical” issues holding it back. As well as interoperability, it said the technology has an inability to carry communications via IPv6, it has high power requirements and the “hub and spoke” model the technology is built upon means that if one device fails, the entire network crashes.
Internet pioneer Vint Cerf, who is advising the group, said: “Existing wireless networking approaches were introduced long before the Internet of Things gained ground. The Thread protocol takes existing technologies and combines the best parts of each to provide a better way to connect products in the home.”
Thread said its solution is a wireless mesh network running on low-power that can connect more than 250 devices, with access to both the internet and the cloud. The Thread protocol is based on the 6LoWPAN (IPv6 over low power wireless personal area networks) specification.
The group said its advantages are reliability, secure “banking-class” encryption, and the ability to install devices by using a smartphone, tablet or computer. According to Thread, there are millions of existing 802.15.4 devices that can run on its mesh network after a software upgrade. Nest’s smoke alarms and thermostats are currently running a version of Thread.
Other members of the group include Yale Security, Silicon Labs, Freescale Semiconductor and ceiling fan manufacturer Big Ass Fans.
Lisa Arrowsmith, Associate Director, Connectivity, Smart Homes and Smart Cities at IHS Technology, said: “A number of networking solutions and platforms have been introduced to address the growing demand for connected products in the home. Built on well-proven standards, including IEEE 802.15.4, IETF IPv6 and 6LoWPAN, Thread represents a resilient, IP-based solution for the rapidly growing Internet of Things.”
Research issued this week from Strategy Analytics said the involvement of the likes of Samsung or Apple, which announced its smart home plans last month, which would drive the connected home market. Revenues in the smart home sector are set to hit €37.1bn.
Bill Ablondi, Strategy Analytics’ Director, Smart Home Strategies advisory service, said: “Annual revenues from smart home related hardware, services and installation fees will grow by just under 20% each year to nearly £70 billion [€88.5bn] worldwide in 2019 when 224 million homes, or nearly 1 in every 8.5 globally, will have at least one type of smart system installed.”