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Google ‘open sources’ its Thread home networking protocol

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via Flickr © opensourceway (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The smart city is in dire need of some strong standards in all parts of the stack to make the concept really fly (see - Not so Smart Cities might squander billions on non-standard IoT).

And it’s a similar story over at the smart home with big vendors such as Amazon, Google, Apple and Samsung all trying to secure a place by getting in early with their own ‘things’ in the hope that they can tempt users to add other ‘things’ of the same species and thus make their smart home protocols the standard, or one of the standards, and help the home market take off.

Google has just intensified this battle by ‘open sourcing’ - always a sign of serious intent - its Thread home networking protocol.

It’s called OpenThread. It has been posted on GitHub and is free for device manufacturers to build into their products although they will need to get their products certified and to join the ‘Thread Group’.

Google isn’t the only open source play in this space, the Allseen Alliance and the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF), got there before it, but if you were a betting person you’d have to give Google the edge. Android, for instance, was open sourced against open source mobile OS competitors and - despite much learned industry trash talk - wiped the floor with them.

The Thread Group, by the way, already has an impressive membership, including chip-maker ARM and over 200 vendors, retailers and developers all signed up and raring to go.

The protocol itself is billed as being built on IPv6 running over standard 802.15.4 radios and is arranged in a mesh (once a home has a number of them) to make it all robust without a single point of failure. The architecture is designed to support things like appliances, access control, climate control, energy management, lighting, safety, and security.

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