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New Wireless Networking Protocol Developed for Home Devices
Jul 17, 2014
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A coalition of parties has formed Thread Group and coordinated to develop Thread, a new protocol for connecting home devices.

The companies developed the new IP-based networking specification to be a simple, secure, low-power network for the home and its connected products. The charter of the Thread Group is to guide the adoption of the Thread protocol.

Thread Group said available 802.15.4 networking technologies have their own advantages, but each also has critical issues that prevent the promise of the Internet of Things (IoT) from being realized. These include lack of interoperability, inability to carry IPv6 communications, high power requirements that drain batteries quickly, and “hub and spoke” models dependent on one device (if that device fails, the whole network goes down).

Thread enables consumers to connect more than 250 devices into a low-power, wireless mesh network that gives direct Internet and cloud access to every device.

Thread Group members are ARM, Big Ass Fans, Freescale Semiconductor, Nest Labs, Samsung, Silicon Labs, and Yale Security.

"Existing wireless networking approaches were introduced long before the Internet of Things gained ground,” said Vint Cerf, vice president and chief Internet evangelist, Google, and advisor to the Thread Group. “The Thread protocol takes existing technologies and combines the best parts of each to provide a better way to connect products in the home.”

“A number of networking solutions and platforms have been introduced to address the growing demand for connected products in the home,” said Lisa Arrowsmith, associate director, connectivity, smart homes and smart cities, IHS Technology. “Built on well-proven standards, including IEEE 802.15.4, IETF IPv6 and 6LoWPAN, Thread represents a resilient, IP-based solution for the rapidly growing Internet of Things.”

Thread is not an application protocol or a connectivity platform for many types of disparate networks. It is an IPv6 networking protocol built on open standards, designed for low-power 802.15.4 mesh networks. Existing popular application protocols and IoT platforms can run over Thread networks. A version of Thread is already being used successfully in Nest products.

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