Connected home leaders pitch device protocol

Building on growing momentum in the connected home space, several big name vendors including Yale Security, Silicon Labs, Samsung Electronics, Nest Labs, Freescale Semiconductor, Big Ass Fans and ARM, have joined forces to develop a new IP-based wireless networking protocol to connect devices.

While currently available 802.15.4 networking technologies have their own advantages, each also has critical issues that prevent the promise of the Internet of Things (IoT) from being realised. This is according to the newly created Thread Group, which claims lack of interoperability, inability to carry IPv6 communications, high power requirements that drain batteries quickly, and “hub and spoke” models dependent on one device (if that device fails, the whole network goes down) are holding the IoT dream back.

But with the Thread protocol, product developers and consumers can easily and securely connect more than 250 devices into a low-power, wireless mesh network that also includes direct internet and cloud access for every device, the group claims.

Thread is an IPv6 networking protocol built on open standards, designed for low-power 802.15.4 mesh networks. A version of Thread is already being used successfully in Nest products today – the thermostat and smart home company owned by Google.

With 6LoWPAN as its foundation, Thread offers robust self-healing mesh networks that scale to hundreds of devices with no single point of failure; secure, banking-class encryption; and support for battery-operated devices including thermostats, lighting controls, safety and security products.

Millions of existing 802.15.4 wireless devices already on the market can run Thread with just a software enhancement , the organisation said.

“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. “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 Broadband World Forum is taking place on the 21st – 23rd October 2014 at the RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre, Amsterdam. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

In related news, Samsung is understood to be in talks to acquire SmartThings, a connected home specialist that enables customers to add internet connected lights and doorlocks, among other devices, to their home. The deal is thought to be worth $200m.

Also, Telefónica is to join CGI Group in the UK to bring greater choice for connectivity provision to energy firms that are rolling out smart meters. To date over 600,000 smart meters have been deployed by the UK’s energy companies and CGI is supporting seven of the eight energy firms that have undertaken initial roll-outs.

Under the terms of the agreement CGI will integrate Telefónica UK’s communication network with its Smart Data Service meaning it will be able to offer its energy company customers Telefónica’s communication services, increasing the range of communication options available to them.

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