Thread: And Then There Were Three…

By Mike Krell - July 15, 2014




Yesterday a group of companies including Samsung and Nest Labs banded together to create Thread Group, the latest in IoT consortium “Start-ups”.  Joining the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) announced last week and the AllSeen Alliance announced in December we now have 3 different groups proving how important IoT will be, and just how confusing it’s going to be for a while.

Thread Group currently consists of ARM, Big Ass Fans, Freescale, Nest Labs, Samsung, Silicon Labs, and Yale Security. Organizers say Thread provides “a wireless network protocol”, not an IoT platform like OIC and AllSeen.  One of the Thread founding members, Nest, produces a connected thermostat, carbon monoxide and smoke alarm, already using the Thread protocol, making it one of the few “standards” already in production and being used in the market today.

Most of us quickly noticed that Samsung was a member of both of the recently announced consortium, and Thread’s leaders were quick to point out that the AllSeen and OIC platforms could work atop its protocol. Thread says its offering allows for low-power connections to reduce energy consumption on battery-operated devices such as thermostats and lighting controls, as well as security functions and a robust network that doesn’t rely on just one device — such as a router — to provide connections.

So given we now have 3 consortium’s formed since December to “standardize” IoT, as well as Apple’s recent HomeKit announcement what can we glean from all this activity?

  1. People really, really care about IoT, whatever it may happen to be
  2. Home Automation platforms are becoming front and center in the battle for IoT positioning and market share
  3. As I noted in my recent research report, “Wireless Technologies for Home Automation” [published July 10 and updated July 16], all three of these industry consortiums [four if you consider Apple separate] will have an effect on the home automation market long-term. However, the effect will be mostly in terms of software layers and security rather than dealing with the actual transport mechanism.  Thread itself has noted that it will focus on IPv6 running over 802.15.4 giving ZigBee a nice boost for the future.  Given Wi-Fi currently has a lock on the internet connectivity making it a sure thing for home implementations, Z-Wave and BlueTooth need to move quickly to solidify their current base if they want to continue to remain relevant in the home.
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