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?