Nest and Friends Are Giving the Internet of Things a Fresh Start

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A consortium of companies just announced a new wireless networking protocol for the home called Thread. It's designed to help build low-power, wireless mesh networks so that devices can seamlessly connect to form a true internet of things. In a way, Thread promises to create little mini internet for your home.

Based on the players involved, Thread looks like a pretty aggressive play to establish a new standard that would compete with the big boys: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Nest, Samsung, and five other companies are working together to build the dream of true interoperability between smarthome devices. The protocol will work on existing 802.15.4 wireless devices with a simple software update. Unlike other smarthome platforms like Quirky's new Wink system, Thread doesn't require a central hub, even though it can connect a whopping 250 devices or more.

Again, Thread is going up against pretty widely used standards like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth but promises to be a better solution for the internet of things. The big difference is that where Wi-Fi is power hungry, Thread is low-power, and while Bluetooth doesn't yet support IPv6, Thread will. Thread also sounds a lot like the near two decade-old standard ZigBee (that never really took off) except Thread is designed to be a more simple standard.


"Existing wireless networking approaches were introduced long before the Internet of Things gained ground," Google's Vint Cerf, who's also a Thread advisor, said in a release. "The Thread protocol takes existing technologies and combines the best parts of each to provide a better way to connect products in the home."

All that said, you have to wonder how many standards we really need to connect our different devices. If Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (and ZigBee) are already battling it out to connect everything in your smartphone, does one more competitor really make anybody's life better? We'll see in mid-2015 when Thread-ready devices start hitting the market. [GigaOm]


Comic via XKCD, Image via Thread