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Zigbee & Thread Alliance seeks to bridge the HA controller standards gap


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This year keeps rolling in the HA changes.


Zigbee and Thread have formed an alliance to run Zigbee over Thread. Thread is a technology company, interoperability standards group and a framework that uses the same IEEE 802.15.4 wireless radio as Zigbee. Unlike Zigbee, it creates an IPV6 network layer across this 802.15.4 wireless standard. In other words, a real TCP/IP LAN network. What's interesting about this approach is that it opens the door for mixing mixing different types of devices, device data, your house IP network, and the internet. Does it have a lot of direct smarts and control? No. Does it provide lot of flexibility and capability across many HA solutions..maybe.


This alliance points to Translation Gateways as a means to integrate disparate HA devices and solutions like Homekit. Ideally, Translation Gateways with an Ethernet port or WiFi. The dreamy picture in the link implies their desire to ultimately reach destinations like Homekit, Open Interconnect and Alljoyn. Zigbee will potentially get a ride on this train. Will big players like Amazon and Apply play along? Its too soon to tell either way.


I think integrating with the Translation Gateway approach is better than looking for controller companies like UDI to chase down each one of the big player standards (Homekit, etc). I could see Translation Gateways having some ability to configure and translate between controllers. For example, the ISY can present its devices and variables to REST already, the door is already open on one side.


So in addition to a pile of HA hubs in your house in the coming year, maybe look for a Translation Gateway or two. I could find a way to live with a Translation Gateway or two, if true cross platform inter-connectivity comes with them.  I think this kind of approach will someday help controllers like the ISY deal with the onslaught of HA solution providers like Amazon, Google and Apple. Its not about directly integrating with the big players, rather focus on the ability to get to them.


NEST is already investing in Thread, as are Samsung, Silocon Labs, ARM and Yale locks. Zigbee just bolstered their legitimacy, it's not to be taken lightly.


Any of this is hard to say for sure.  What's not hard to say is that the HA landscape is changing, right now. And rapidly.






Press release from Zigbee:


SAN RAMON, Calif. – Apr. 2, 2015 – The ZigBee Alliance (www.ZigBee.org) and the Thread Group (www.threadgroup.org) today announced they are collaborating to enable the ZigBee Cluster Library to run over Thread networks. By working together, ZigBee and Thread can jointly provide an interoperable solution to help streamline product development and ultimately improve the consumer’s experience in the connected home.


The ZigBee Cluster Library standardizes application level functionality for a wide variety of devices used in smart homes and other markets. Thread is a wireless networking protocol that can support multiple low-bandwidth, IP-based application protocols to provide secure and reliable networks, simple connectivity and low power in the home. Both organizations remain committed to their independence while cooperating to benefit their respective members.


“Application level standardization is necessary to provide truly interoperable products to consumers,” said Tobin Richardson, president and CEO of the ZigBee Alliance. “We believe this agreement will deliver value to product developers searching for another solution for connectivity in the smart home.”


The ZigBee Alliance is a global association of companies working together to enable reliable, cost-effective, low-power and wirelessly networked monitoring and control products. ZigBee is a wireless standard used to connect a wide variety of everyday devices to improve comfort, security and convenience in homes and businesses.


“By agreeing to work together, ZigBee and Thread are taking a big step towards reducing fragmentation in the industry,” said Chris Boross, president of the Thread Group and technical product marketing manager, Nest. “Thread is designed to work with and support many different application layer protocols, and we look forward to working with ZigBee to create a combined solution for the connected home.”


Thread enables product developers to create, and consumers to enjoy, products that easily and securely connect to a low-power wireless mesh network, with direct Internet and cloud access for every device. Using proven standards including IPv6 technology with 6LoWPAN and standard 802.15.4 radios as its foundation, Thread gives product developers a reliable low-power, self-healing, and secure network over existing wireless standards.


About ZigBee
ZigBee offers the only open, global wireless standard enabling everyday simple and smart objects to work together and help you control your world. ZigBee is the leading standard for monitoring and control used in consumer, commercial and industrial markets around the world. The Alliance is an open, non-profit ecosystem of approximately 400 organizations developing and promoting standards defining the Internet of Things for use in homes and businesses. For more information, visit www.ZigBee.org.


About Thread
Designed for consumers and devices in and around the home, Thread easily and securely connects hundreds of devices to each other and directly to the cloud using real Internet Protocols in a low-power, wireless mesh network. The non-profit Thread Group is focused on making Thread the foundation for the Internet of Things in the home, educating product developers and consumers on the unique features and benefits of Thread and ensuring a great user experience through rigorous, meaningful product certification. Thread is backed by industry-leading companies including ARM, Big *** Fans, Freescale Semiconductor, Nest Labs, Samsung Electronics, Silicon Labs and Yale Security. For more information, please visit www.threadgroup.org.



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Hi Paul,


We did try to join the Thread group but the price tag was way too high. No wonder it's only big companies behind it for now including our chip manufacturer/partner Freescale.


With the introduction of virtual nodes, I think having translation gateways are going to be the way to go (as you suggested). This is especially important since ISY's virtual nodes do not really care what the other end is as long as it's described properly. Furthermore, there is also IPSO and AllJoyn/AllSeen ... so I really do not see anyway out of translation gateways because we simply cannot support all different protocols and standards out there.


The beauty is that none of these standards talk about automation. They only talk about discovery and communications. You still need a brain and that's where ISY shines especially with virtual nodes.


With kind regards,


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