Wifi and Bluetooth may work fine for today’s limited number of smart home devices, but neither is ideal for future homes in which every switch, socket and lightbulb may be a connected device – that’s the claim of a consortium of companies that includes Samsung, Nest and ARM.
GigaOM reports that the companies have jointly created a new radio system which they believe is more suited to smart home networks than existing systems.
Dubbed Thread, it is a low-power, mesh network protocol that also supports IPv6. The standard is built on the existing radio hardware used by ZigBee devices (802.15.4), which means that a company could update their ZigBee devices to support Thread with software if they chose …
The companies say that wifi is too power-hungry, and Bluetooth has too short a range and doesn’t allow for true mesh networks – in which any device can relay signals to any other device. Thread is a mesh network that can support hundreds of devices.
If you’re concerned that you might have to replace your existing smart home devices, fear not – the company plans to make hubs available that can talk to existing wifi and Bluetooth devices.
Whether it will take off is anyone’s guess, but with Samsung and Nest on board, and adopting a system compatible with at least one existing standard – ZigBee – it at least stands some chance. The consortium plans to certify Thread devices, and says that we should start seeing the first ones on the market in around a year’s time.