Apple has joined the Thread Group, a non-profit organization that develops the Thread network protocol.
The Thread protocol uses mesh network, a technology adopted more and more by Google, Eero and Orbi, to stay connected without incurring a single point of failure. It’s secure as well. It requires product install codes to join the network, and uses AES encryption to eliminate security bugs and prevent authentication schemes.
Based on IPv6 technology with 6LoWPAN (IPv6 over Low-Power Wireless Personal Area Networks), Thread also ensures low power consumption and enables truly wireless devices.
Apple’s using the Thread may soon be reflected on products running on HomeKit, the company’s smart home platform.
Apple currently uses Wi-Fi and Bluetooth as its wireless protocols. The former consumes much power while the latter works in short distances only. Supporting Thread may improve HomeKit devices’ performance and free HomeKit products from always having to be plugged in for power.
Other advantages such as better inter-device Siri communications, more reliable continuity features and secure geo-fencing may also become available to Apple after joining The Thread Group.
Google and Nest already support Thread. Amazon is also a member of the group.
There are several connectivity standards supporting mesh networks in the smart home market, such as Zigbee and Z-Wave. Bluetooth has also been upgraded to start supporting mesh networks.
The technology is likely to keep expanding. The Wi-Fi Alliance, the organization that set up Wi-Fi standards, announced an “Easy Mesh” certification program recently, allowing users to build mesh networks in their homes using devices from different manufacturers.
Apple could soon support Thread with its HomeKit platform, to help it stay competitive in the smart home market.
The company joined the Qi Wireless Charging Consortium last year before the new iPhone’s releasement, and the new phone model directly supports the Qi wireless charging standard.