MADISON, Wis. — The Internet of Things (IoT) isn’t exactly a market thing yet, especially on the home front. The reason is the absence of a standardized platform both on the application and network protocol layers.
But the industry may have begun coalescing around Thread, when it comes to network protocols IoT vendors need to get their wireless products onto the mesh networks.
The Thread Group, which this summer completed its 1.0 technical specification based on the IPv6-based wireless network protocol technology, has just launched the first certification program.
The group’s efforts advance Thread from being a mere industry spec to Thread-certified products on the commercial market.
More than 30 products have been submitted to the first wave of Thread’s certification program, and “we are stuffing the pipeline with more products,” Chris Boross, president, Thread Group, told EE Times.
The first Thread-certified products will reach the commercial market by the second quarter of 2016, he added.
Included in this suite of products are IoT products that range from sensor-based end-node devices to border router hardware. Joining Thread in building its momentum are companies as diverse as Procter & Gamble, Jabil, an engineering manufacturing services provider, and Elarm, an IoT startup, according to Freescale Semiconductor. All three are Freescale’s partners for Thread-based development initiatives.
Jonathan Gaw, research manager at IDC, described Thread as offering “standardized networking protocols for devices that you want to be IP-based and capable of transmitting small amounts of data while consuming low amounts of energy.” In the home, “that might mean door locks or window sensors,” he explained.
Thread Group has also announced Wednesday that Osram has joined its board of directors.
Osram is a huge win for the Thread Group, considering that lighting has been a “key use case” for the mesh network, Boross said. “It’s very important that we get lighting right.” Munich, Germany-based Osram is also expected to expand the Thread Group’s footprint beyond the North America market to Europe and Asia, he added.
In conjunction with Thread’s announcements, Freescale unveiled the availability of a Thread pre-certified software stack optimized for Freescale products. The stack is moving through Thread’s certification program, and is expected to be among the first to receive official Thread certification “by the end of this month or early December,” said Sujata Neidig, business development lead for the Americas with Freescale’s MCU group.
Freescale, however, isn’t alone offering Thread protocol stacks. Thread-certified protocol stacks are also expected from two other companies — Silicon Labs and ARM.
To be clear, there are other wireless mesh network protocols similarly positioned for IoT – such as Z-Wave and Bluetooth Mesh. The IoT market looking for a single platform – using IP-based mesh network technology – is building support for Thread, if a slew of recent advancements announced by the Thread Group are any indication.
IDC’s Gaw pointed out, “What Thread brings to the table that other protocols in this space haven’t done previously is the IP part.” Thread builds it in “from the ground up to make it easy for someone to get a device onto the Internet so it can access cloud services, and can be reached remotely by someone who is away from home,” he explained.
P&G going for IoT
Alan Goldstein, associate director at P&G Ventures, acknowledged that P&G – a global supplier of personal care, household cleaning, laundry detergents and other household goods – isn’t exactly known as an IoT tech company. [Note: Kevin Ashton, a co-founder of the Auto-ID Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and widely known as a creator of “Internet of Things” coinage, was originally working at P&G.]
Goldstein explained in a phone interview with EE Times that the IoT trend at home isn’t something a consumer-focused company like P&G can afford to miss. Describing IoT’s potentials in “superior experience and benefits” offered to end users, he said, “We have to be a part of the consumer, residential IoT ecosystem.”
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