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Thread-Certified Home Automation Products Seen In Late 2015

Group releases standard, readies certification program 7/14/2015 11:15:00 AM Eastern

San Ramon, Calif. – The Nest-led Thread Group expects the first Thread-certified home-automation products to be available to consumers late this year now that the organization has released the Thread specification.

The release enables member companies to access Thread’s technical specifications and documentation to build Thread-compliant products. Non-member companies and developers can access Thread technical white papers at www.threadgroup.org/downloads.aspx.

The group also said it will launch a Thread product certification program in September to test Thread-compliant products. Thread-compliant chips and software stacks will be available from ARM, Freescale and Silicon Labs to enable development of end products, the group added.

Thread’s wireless home-automation standard delivers interoperability at the physical and media access control (MAC) layers but leaves it up to individual suppliers to choose their own application layer with command protocols. If different vendors choose incompatible applications layers, Thread-enabled products from one vendor won’t interoperate with those of another vendor.

Nonetheless, the group is working with the ZigBee Alliance to spur interoperability among home-automation ZigBee products and products incorporating Thread’s planned wireless mesh-network standard.

The group also announced that it hired Thomas Sciorilli as director of product certification to oversee the testing program starting in September. He has more than 15 years of experience leading and growing technical organizations. Thread-certified products can bear the Thread logo, “indicating they have been certified for quality, security and interoperability – and to help consumers identify them on the market,” the organization said.

The group previously said products would be available in the early to middle second half.

The Thread protocol incorporates the physical and media access control (MAC) layers of the existing IEEE 802.15.4 wireless mesh-network standard, which also happens to form the basis of the existing ZigBee home automation technology. To that, Thread adds mandatory encryption and eliminates the need for a dedicated hub by distributing the network’s brains across all networked devices to improve reliability. It also adds self-healing capability so that if one device fails, the whole network doesn’t fail.

Thread also merges 802.15.4 technology with other existing technologies, such as 6LoWPAN, which enables the 802.15.4 radio to carry the latest form of the Internet protocol, called IPv6. That technology will simplify routing commands sent over Wi-Fi to a Thread network, the Thread Group said.

Thread also optimizes battery life because it has been designed for use with devices that are asleep most of the time, the group said. Thread supports more than 250 devices on a network.

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