Standardizing Home Automation with Thread

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WeMo Smart Light Bulb

It’s impossible to count just how many ways we can make our homes smart, from lighting and security cameras to HVAC systems and kitchen appliances. We can essentially make our entire home smart and remotely control it all at anytime of the day. As great as this is, it doesn’t make our lives simpler if we can’t connect them all and get them to talk to one another. While we may be able to control a million different things, it takes forever to do this if we can’t integrate them and develop IFTT protocols. Yet, it seems companies are too busy creating devices that they haven’t stopped to think about standardizing home automation and how they’ll all work together.

So, what do we currently have? The best we have right now are hubs (such as SmartThings, WeMo, and Wink) and devices that can work with multiple brands and products (such as Nest). What we need are standard protocols. What we need is Thread.

Thread understands how hard it is to get devices to talk to each other smoothly and efficiently. Thread is a mesh network created specifically to connect more than 250 devices into a single network supporting multiple hops. It can support dozens of different types of smart home products, including appliances, thermostats, lighting, security systems, security cameras, and more.

Thread is also incredibly secure. It uses smartphone-era authentication schemes and AES encryption, and only authorized devices can join the network. Despite the high level of security, Thread still offers very simple installation using your smartphone, computer, or tablet. Thanks to an intuitive installation, you can easily add, authorize, and remove devices onto the network through a few steps.

Despite the fact that Thread can connect more than 250 devices, it consumes very little power consumption. Thread runs on a single AA battery and can last for years. How does it accomplish all of this? First, Thread is based on the very power efficient IEEE 802.15.4 MAC/PHY. Second, it relies on short messaging to conserve bandwidth and power. Third, its streamlined routing protocol reduces network overhead. And fourth, Thread was designed to run on low power wireless system-on-chips.

Although Thread is fairly new to the market, it is shaping up to be a superstar in the realm of home automation. The whole goal of home automation is to make your everyday actions easier. The easiest way to manage dozens of different smart products is to simplify the communication between the devices. I expect great things from Thread in the future and wouldn’t doubt if some other variations of Thread are created in the next year.

Photo by: Jason Cipriani

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Julie is totally technology driven. She is an early adapter, getting the newest devices first and loves seeing how they work. She is the first one called when her friends need help setting up networks, new computer systems, printers and cool home automation devices. She loves being the token "dork" in her group of friends.

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