updated 09:35 am EDT, Tue July 15, 2014
Big names team to build on existing 802.15.4 wireless networking protocol
Samsung Electronics, Nest Labs, and Freescale Semiconductor have teamed to form the Thread Group. The seven company-strong group has been formed to generate and develop Thread, another IP-based wireless networking protocol for home automation and control of the burgeoning "Internet of Things" market.
The group joins at least three other organizations competing in the same space, including one other backed by Samsung as well. In the market are Apple's HomeKit, the 50-company AllSeen Alliance, and the Samsung-hosted Open Interconnect Consortium.
The group believes that the new protocol fixes problems with the existing 802.15.4 network topography used by the current batch of devices. Claiming that the old protocol has issues including "lack of interoperability, inability to carry IPv6 communications, high power requirements that drain batteries quickly, and "hub and spoke" models dependent on one device," the Thread protocol can reputedly "connect more than 250 devices into a low-power, wireless mesh network that also includes direct Internet and cloud access for every device."
Notably, the group says that the Nest smart thermometer, now owned by Google, uses an early version of Thread. The company claims that "millions of existing 802.15.4 wireless devices already on the market can run Thread with just a software enhancement -- no new hardware required."
The seven companies involved in the alliance are chip manufacturers ARM, Silicon Labs and Freescale Semiconductor; home ventilation company Big Ass Fans; smart thermometer designer Nest Labs; electronics giant Samsung; and Yale Security.