Nest, Samsung and AMD Back Thread For Home Automation

A week that has already been full of standards news for the Internet of Things added more with the unveiling of Thread, a proposed communications standard backed by Google’s NEST group that promises a “new and better way to connect products in the home.”

Google was joined by Samsung, Freescale Semiconductor, ARM, smart lock maker Yale Security and Big Ass Fans (favorite company name ever) in forming The Thread Group to promote Thread.

Thread Group Homepage
A group of companies including Google, AMD, Samsung and others launched The Thread Group to promote a new communications standard for IoT devices.

In a press release on Tuesday, the group said that the Internet of Things presents unique challenges that are not well met by existing wireless communications technologies such as Wi-Fi, ZigBee and Z-Wave.

In contrast to those technologies, Thread focuses exclusively on network connectivity, not application-layer exchanges and connection management. Thread Group says existing application protocols and IoT platforms can easily run on Thread networks.

Specifically, it uses 6LoWPAN (IPV6 over Low power Wireless Personal Area Networks) to create 802.15.4-standard mesh networks of smart devices. Currently, it can expand to support more than 250 devices in a low-power, wireless mesh networks.

The Thread Group argues that Thread is well suited to use in mission critical smart devices like door locks, because of its relatively low power consumption compared to WiFi. It says mesh networks are best suited for IoT environments, because they allow any device to serve as a management console for onboarding or removing other devices from the network, and don’t have a ‘single point of failure’ such as a management hub in order for devices to communicate with each other.

The standard is also secure. Thread Group says Thread uses “secure, banking-class encryption” and “closes identified security holes found in other wireless protocols.”

As Julie Jacobson over at notes in her piece on Thread, the technology is an adaptation of “Weave,” the technology that connects the Nest thermostat and Nest Protect smoke alarms to communicate and share information within a home network.

The Thread Group is being cagey about whether Thread is just “Weave” rebranded. But, as Jacobson notes, the fact that they claim “millions of devices” already use “a version of Thread” suggests that is what’s going on.

“Existing wireless networking approaches were introduced long before the Internet of Things gained ground,” said Vint Cerf, vice president and chief Internet evangelist, Google, and advisor to the Thread Group, said in a statement. “The Thread protocol takes existing technologies and combines the best parts of each to provide a better way to connect products in the home.”

The group is soliciting new members and said it will be issuing standards in the months ahead. Once those are issued and companies can start writing to them, Thread products will be tested to ensure that they work together effortlessly and securely right out of the box. Thread products will also sport a Thread logo, indicating they have been certified for quality, security and interoperability — and to help consumers identify them on the market. The Thread Group said it plans to have some presence at the next Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in early 2015.

Efforts to corral the fast-moving IoT space have gained momentum. In the past week, Dell, Intel, Samsung and Broadcom joined other firms in promoting the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) to develop interoperable connectivity requirements for the Internet of Things. That’s in addition to The AllSeen Alliance, a group started by Qualcomm with Microsoft, LG and others and tasked with (more or less) the same mandate.

Also this week, the group TRUSTe and other leading privacy advocacy organizations announced a working group to address privacy and data security concerns stemming from the Internet of Things.

Read more about Thread here: Led by Nest, ‘Thread’ for Home Automation is Most Promising IoT Standard Yet – Article from CE Pro.

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