In order to demonstrate Thread technology’s growing market momentum in 2016, dozens of Thread-enabled consumer products using mesh networking technology have made their debut at CES 2016 in Las Vegas in January.
“Thread is at the forefront of IP-based mesh networking, and we intend to demonstrate how Thread provides solutions to the smart home at this year’s CES,” said Sujata Neidig, Vice President of Marketing Thread Group.
Developed for consumers and devices in and around the home, Thread is an IPv6 networking protocol built on open standards for low-power 802.15.4 mesh networks that can easily and securely connect hundreds of devices to each other and directly to the cloud.
“We address solutions to the networking layer, which means our service does not require a hub to function between devices,” she told SMAhome during the four-day exhibit at CES.
With 227 active member partners currently under its belt, the Thread Group has arisen with the stated goal of creating a wireless network stack based on open standards — largely meaning that there would be no licenses or royalty fees that developers would have to pay to use the software stack.
According to Neidig, the Thread Group and the ZigBee Alliance announced that protocols developed by ZigBee at the application layer will be able to run on the Thread network stack. This means that the ZigBee Home Automation protocol, which includes lighting controls and other home-automation controls, could someday run on devices that support either the Thread or ZigBee network layers.
“Under this agreement, we are bringing the industry’s most advanced, low-power networking layer experience to a complete end-to-end solution using ZigBee’s consolidated ZigBee Common Applications Library,” she explained.
The value with having a smart home is to have all these devices communicate with each other without having the user do everything themselves, she added.
“The partnership with ZigBee is a big stride towards reducing IoT industry fragmentation, allowing developers to market with a solution very quickly.”
According to the company, Thread-enabled devices will simplify product development and increase interoperability, encouraging the Thread ecosystem and the connected home to flourish.
With regard to its competition with Apple’s HomeKit, Neidig said the latter provides an application layer, which has to run on a networking protocol, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, adding that: “technically speaking, it can also run on top of Thread.”
“Contrary to Thread, HomeKit is a relatively closed ecosystem. There are already millions of Nest thermostats working under an early version of Thread, and it can be added to any existing 802.15.4 wireless device already on the market with just a software update.”
In retrospect, HomeKit and Thread are both promising solutions that possess their own advantages, and could open up a whole new world of possibilities for app developers and consumers.