Big Tech Companies Collaborate on Smart Home Standard

The ordinary home is increasingly connected to the Internet, via cameras, doggy doors, lights, locks, sensors, switches and thermostats. But lack of an industry-wide connectivity standard can make these devices frustrating to use and manage. For that reason, Google joined with Amazon, Apple and other big tech companies to create Connected Home over IP. The independent working group, managed by Zigbee Alliance, aims to create a new, open smart home connectivity standard based on Internet Protocol (IP).

Google announced that its “use of IP in in-home products dates back to the launch of Nest Learning Thermostat in 2011.” It noted, “IP also enables end-to-end, private and secure communication among smart devices, mobile apps, and cloud services.”

For use by the Connected Home over IP working group, Google is “contributing two of [its] market-tested and open-source smart home technologies, Weave and Thread,” both of which are built on IP and already integrated into “millions of homes around the world.” Weave is an application protocol that works over Thread, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy, and “even cellular,” and allows devices to work even when they’re on different networks.

Engadget reports that, due to the lack of a standard, “some products work with others while others only work in specific ecosystems, so even deciding which devices to go for in the first place can be a hassle.”

The work of the Connected Home over IP working group will have an upside for consumers and developers. For the former, various devices will work together seamlessly. For the latter, a universal standard “streamlines product development and reduces costs by giving them a blueprint for their products.”

In addition to Amazon, Apple and Google, “the other Zigbee Alliance board member companies include IKEA, Samsung SmartThings and Signify (the new name for Philips Lighting).” The resulting standard will be royalty-free. So far, the group hasn’t spelled out “any roadmaps or timelines.”