New Thread wireless standard in the works for home automation

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Nest, ARM, Samsung and some other companies have joined forces to try to create a new wireless standard dubbed Thread that is aimed at smart home devices. According to the newly formed group, existing wireless technologies like Wi-Fi are too “power hungry” and are aimed at moving large amounts of data. Smart home devices typically demand much less power and data. The new Thread standard will also be built using mesh network technologies to handle the growing number of devices that may be deployed in a typical home in the future.

Rather than start completely from scratch, the Thread group plans to base the new standard on ZigBee devices (802.15.4). Already some devices on the market have ZigBee radios built in, like some Comcast set-top boxes. Until manufacturers start adding ZigBee radios to their devices, it is likely some kind of gateway or hub will be needed, especially for consumers’ smartphones or tablets to connect and control devices since mobile devices usually don’t have a ZigBee radio built in. That could change though as several manufacturers are considering the addition of ZigBee radios, including Samsung which is part of the new Thread Group.

In addition to the hardware, the Thread Group will also have to create the standard and convince manufacturers to comply with it. They plan to follow a path similar to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi certifying groups in providing testing and certification services. The group will be fighting some negative momentum as even ZigBee allowed its own standard to become fragmented, so there might be some suspicion about interoperability and whether Thread is a true standard.

Currently Nest is already running a version of Thread. The new group hopes that their new standard will be ready later this year for manufacturers to start incorporating it into their designs, with the first devices hitting the market in 2015.

Do you think the Thread Group will succeed in getting the industry to adopt a new standard for for smart home devices or will it face too much manufacturer resistance and consumer confusion to succeed?

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source: Gigaom


About the Author: Jeff Causey

Raised in North Carolina, Jeff Causey is a licensed CPA in North Carolina. Jeff's past Android devices include an HTC EVO, a Samsung Note II, and an LG G3, and a Motorola Moto X Pure Edition along with a Samsung Galaxy Tablet 10.1. He currently uses a Samsung Galaxy S8 and (very rarely) a Nexus 7 (2013). He is also using a Verizon-branded Motorola Moto Z Play Droid supplied by his job. Jeff used to have a pair of Google Glass and a Moto 360 Sport in his stable of gadgets. Unfortunately, his wife and kids have all drunk the Apple Kool-Aid and have i-devices. Life at home often includes demonstrations of the superiority of his Android based devices. In his free time, Jeff is active in his church, a local MINI Cooper car club, and his daughter's soccer club. Jeff is married, has three kids, and a golden retriever.


  • HectorPA

    Do we really want wi-fi home automation? Easily hacked? Really want outsiders controlling our lights, doors, alarms, etc.? REALLY???

    • Nick Huynh

      if you haven’t noticed… home automation in the past decades isn’t a growing business because people just don’t want all that wiring (which translate to hiring people and costing more)… the only path is wireless… and now that wireless is not so easily hacked as the past it’s pretty interesting technology.
      Many people have wireless garage door openers and not have much problems with that… so why not wifi the rest of the home with wifi that is even tougher to hack?
      Heck… with kids opening front doors with easy to get bump keys and we don’t have much issues compared to wifi security that is much harder to hack why are you so afraid?

  • BillBasham

    Why are they not going with Bluetooth LE? It seems to fit all the desired parameters and it doesn’t have the ZigBee licensing problems.