Thread (network protocol)

Last updated
Thread
Thread Group wordmark.svg
Developed byThread Group
Industry Home automation
Website threadgroup.org

Thread is an IPv6-based, low-power mesh networking technology for Internet of things (IoT) products. [1] Thread is reliable, secure and delivers fast response times, extended coverage and years of battery life to elevate smart home and building experiences. The Thread protocol specification is available at no cost; however, this requires agreement and continued adherence to an End-User License Agreement (EULA), which states that "Membership in Thread Group is necessary to implement, practice, and ship Thread technology and Thread Group specifications." [2]

Contents

Thread uses 6LoWPAN, which, in turn, uses the IEEE 802.15.4 wireless protocol with mesh communication (on the 2.4 GHz spectrum), as does Zigbee and other systems. However, Thread is IP-addressable, with cloud access and AES encryption. A BSD-licensed open-source implementation of Thread, called "OpenThread", is available from and managed by Google. [3]

In 2019, the Connected Home over IP project (later renamed "Matter"), led by Zigbee Alliance (now Connectivity Standards Alliance), Google, Amazon, and Apple, announced a broad collaboration to create a royalty-free standard and open-source code base to promote interoperability in home connectivity, leveraging Thread, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth Low Energy. [4] [5] In 2021, Thread was awarded the Smart Home Innovation of the Year from The Ambient's Smart Home Awards. [6]

Thread Group

In July 2014, the Thread Group alliance was formed as an industry group to develop, maintain and drive adoption of Thread as an industry networking standard for IoT applications. [7] Thread Group provides certification for components and products to ensure adherence the spec. Initial members were ARM Holdings, Big Ass Solutions, NXP Semiconductors/Freescale, Google-subsidiary Nest Labs, OSRAM, Samsung, Silicon Labs, Somfy, Tyco International, Qualcomm, and the Yale lock company. In August 2018 Apple Inc. joined the group [8] and released its first Thread product, the HomePod Mini, in late 2020. [9]

Thread Group offers five levels of membership: [10] Sponsor Membership, Contributor Membership, Implementer Membership, Affiliate Membership and Academic Membership. Membership is subject to an annual membership fee, except for the "Academic" tier. [11]

Selling points and key features

Thread is a low-power and low-latency wireless mesh networking protocol built using open and proven standards. It uses 6LoWPAN, which is based on the use of a connecting router, called an edge router. Thread calls their edge routers Border Routers. Thread solves the complexities of the IoT, addresses challenges such as interoperability, range, security, energy, and reliability. Thread networks don't have a single point of failure and include the ability to self-heal. [12] :8

Thread is based on existing technologies in all its layers: from routing, packeting, and security to its wireless radio technology. Similar to Wi-Fi, with its broad range of devices, Thread is an open standard that is not tied to a specific manufacturer, which minimizes the risk of incompatibilities.

Thread’s IP foundation is application agnostic, offering product manufacturers the flexibility to choose one (or multiple) app layers to connect devices across multiple networks. [12] :19–21 Developers can bring their apps, devices, systems, and services to market faster because they’re using the same set of tools available for the Internet.

IoT protocols landscape

Other Internet of things (IoT) protocols include Bluetooth Low Energy (including Bluetooth Mesh), Zigbee, [13] [14] Z-Wave, [13] Wi-Fi HaLow, Bluetooth 5, Wirepas, MiraOS and VEmesh.[ citation needed ] Thread is complementary to many of these protocols and addresses use cases with low data rate, low-power consumption, reliability and extended range requirements.

See also

Related Research Articles

IEEE 802.15 is a working group of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) IEEE 802 standards committee which specifies wireless personal area network (WPAN) standards. There are 10 major areas of development, not all of which are active.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Personal area network</span> Computer network centered on an individual persons workspace

A personal area network (PAN) is a computer network for interconnecting electronic devices within an individual person's workspace. A PAN provides data transmission among devices such as computers, smartphones, tablets and personal digital assistants. PANs can be used for communication among the personal devices themselves, or for connecting to a higher level network and the Internet where one master device takes up the role as gateway.

Zigbee is an IEEE 802.15.4-based specification for a suite of high-level communication protocols used to create personal area networks with small, low-power digital radios, such as for home automation, medical device data collection, and other low-power low-bandwidth needs, designed for small scale projects which need wireless connection. Hence, Zigbee is a low-power, low data rate, and close proximity wireless ad hoc network.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wireless mesh network</span> Radio nodes organized in a mesh topology

A wireless mesh network (WMN) is a communications network made up of radio nodes organized in a mesh topology. It can also be a form of wireless ad hoc network.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Z-Wave</span> Wireless standard for intelligent building networks

Z-Wave is a wireless communications protocol used primarily for residential and commercial building automation. It is a mesh network using low-energy radio waves to communicate from device to device, allowing for wireless control of smart home devices, such as smart lights, security systems, thermostats, sensors, smart door locks, and garage door openers. Like other protocols and systems aimed at the residential, commercial, MDU and building markets, a Z-Wave system can be controlled from a smart phone, tablet, or computer, and locally through a smart speaker, wireless keyfob, or wall-mounted panel with a Z-Wave gateway or central control device serving as both the hub or controller. Z-Wave provides the application layer interoperability between home control systems of different manufacturers that are a part of its alliance. There is a growing number of interoperable Z-Wave products; over 1,700 in 2017, over 2,600 by 2019, and over 4,000 by 2022.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Home network</span> Type of computer network

A home network or home area network (HAN) is a type of computer network that facilitates communication among devices within the close vicinity of a home. Devices capable of participating in this network, for example, smart devices such as network printers and handheld mobile computers, often gain enhanced emergent capabilities through their ability to interact. These additional capabilities can be used to increase the quality of life inside the home in a variety of ways, such as automation of repetitive tasks, increased personal productivity, enhanced home security, and easier access to entertainment.

6LoWPAN was a working group of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). It was created with the intention of applying the Internet Protocol (IP) even to the smallest devices, enabling low-power devices with limited processing capabilities to participate in the Internet of Things.

A wide variety of different wireless data technologies exist, some in direct competition with one another, others designed for specific applications. Wireless technologies can be evaluated by a variety of different metrics of which some are described in this entry.

Bluetooth Low Energy is a wireless personal area network technology designed and marketed by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group aimed at novel applications in the healthcare, fitness, beacons, security, and home entertainment industries. It is independent of classic Bluetooth and has no compatibility, but Bluetooth Basic Rate/Enhanced Data Rate (BR/EDR) and LE can coexist. The original specification was developed by Nokia in 2006 under the name Wibree, which was integrated into Bluetooth 4.0 in December 2009 as Bluetooth Low Energy.

Wi-Fi Direct is a Wi-Fi standard for peer-to-peer wireless connections that allows two devices to establish a direct Wi-Fi connection without an intermediary wireless access point, router, or Internet connection. Wi-Fi Direct is single-hop communication, rather than multihop communication like wireless ad hoc networks.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Silicon Labs</span> Global technology company

Silicon Laboratories, Inc. is a fabless global technology company that designs and manufactures semiconductors, other silicon devices and software, which it sells to electronics design engineers and manufacturers in Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure worldwide.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Index of home automation articles</span>

This is a list of home automation topics on Wikipedia. Home automation is the residential extension of building automation. It is automation of the home, housework or household activity. Home automation may include centralized control of lighting, HVAC, appliances, security locks of gates and doors and other systems, to provide improved convenience, comfort, energy efficiency and security.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">HomeKit</span> Software framework by Apple for home automation

HomeKit, also known as Apple Home, is a software framework developed by Apple Inc., made available in iOS and iPadOS that lets users configure, communicate with and control smart-home appliances using Apple devices. It provides users with a way to automatically discover such devices and configure them. By designing rooms, items, and actions in HomeKit, users can enable automatic actions in the home through a simple voice command to Siri or through the Home app. With HomeKit, developers are able to create complex applications in order to manage accessories at a high level. HomeKit is simply a communication protocol, which integrates and operates several types of accessories within the home.

Smartphone ad hoc networks are wireless ad hoc networks that use smartphones. Once embedded with ad hoc networking technology, a group of smartphones in close proximity can together create an ad hoc network. Smart phone ad hoc networks use the existing hardware in commercially available smartphones to create peer-to-peer networks without relying on cellular carrier networks, wireless access points, or traditional network infrastructure. Wi-Fi SPANs use the mechanism behind Wi-Fi ad-hoc mode, which allows phones to talk directly among each other, through a transparent neighbor and route discovery mechanism. SPANs differ from traditional hub and spoke networks, such as Wi-Fi Direct, in that they support multi-hop routing and relays and there is no notion of a group leader, so peers can join and leave at will without destroying the network.

The IoTivity is an open source project. sponsored by the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF), a group of technology companies such as Samsung Electronics and Intel who together will develop standard specifications, promote a set of interoperability guidelines, and provide a certification program to enable the Internet of Things. Any individual or company can contribute to the project, and this may influence OCF standards indirectly. However, being a member of the OCF can benefit from patent cross-licensing protection.

Weave is a network application layer protocol and, in implementation, a comprehensive toolkit for building connected Internet of Things-class applications, with a primary and current focus on consumer and residential applications.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Matter (standard)</span> Smart-home connectivity standard

Matter, formerly Project Connected Home over IP (CHIP), is a proprietary standard for home automation that is royalty-free, with manufacturers only incurring certification costs. Announced on 18 December 2019, Matter aims to reduce fragmentation across different vendors, and achieve interoperability among smart home devices and Internet of things (IoT) platforms from different providers. The project group was launched and introduced by Amazon, Apple, Google, Comcast and the Zigbee Alliance, now Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA). Subsequent members include IKEA, Huawei, and Schneider. Matter-compatible products and software updates for existing products are expected to be released in late 2022.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Develco Products</span> Danish wireless technology producer

Develco Products is a B2B wireless technology producer, headquartered in Aarhus, Denmark. The company was established in 2007 and develops white label devices for B2C solution providers and has over 3,000,000 devices deployed worldwide... Their main business areas are home care, security, InsurTech, and smart energy. They are a member of the Connectivity Standards Alliance as their main technological expertise lies in Zigbee-based devices that communicate through a mesh network. The company claims their most popular product is the Squid.link gateway.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Connectivity Standards Alliance</span>

The Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA), formerly the Zigbee Alliance, is a group of companies that maintain and publish the Zigbee standard and the soon to be Matter standard. The name Zigbee is a registered trademark of this group, and is not a single technical standard. The organization publishes application profiles that allow multiple OEM vendors to create interoperable products. The relationship between IEEE 802.15.4 and Zigbee is similar to that between IEEE 802.11 and the Wi-Fi Alliance.

A smart home hub, sometimes also referred to as a "smart hub", "gateway'", "bridge", "controller" or "coordinator", is a control center/centre for a smart home, and enables the components of a smart home to communicate and respond to each other via communication through a central point. The smart home hub can consist of dedicated computer appliance, software appliance, or software running on computer hardware, and makes it possible to gather configuration, automation and monitoring of a smart house by communicating and controlling different smart devices that consist of for example home appliances, sensors and relays or robots, many of which are commonly categorized under Internet of things.

References

  1. "What is Thread - Overview". Thread Group. Retrieved 25 October 2015.
  2. "The Thread group - Thread 1.1 Specifications". Thread Group. Retrieved 2021-06-26.
  3. https://openthread.io/
  4. "Amazon, Apple, Google, and Zigbee join forces for an open smart home standard". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2019-12-18.
  5. "Project Connected Home over IP". Project Connected Home over IP. Retrieved 2019-12-18.
  6. "The Ambient Smart Home Awards 2021: The big winners revealed". The Ambient. 2021-12-15. Retrieved 2022-06-02.
  7. Noel Randewich (15 July 2014). "Google's Nest launches network technology for connected home". Reuters . Retrieved 18 July 2014.
  8. "Apple joins 'The Thread Group,' opening up the possibility of more advanced HomeKit tech". 9to5Mac. 2018-08-06. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  9. "Apple introduces HomePod mini: A powerful smart speaker with amazing sound". Apple (Press release). 13 October 2020.
  10. "Thread Group". www.threadgroup.org. Retrieved 2022-06-02.
  11. "The Thread group - Membership benefits". Thread Group. Retrieved 2021-06-26.
  12. 1 2 Thread Stack Fundamentals (PDF) (Technical report). Thread Group. May 2020. Retrieved 26 June 2021.
  13. 1 2 "Samsung, ARM, and Nest launch Thread, a low-power network for the smart home". PC World . Retrieved 18 July 2014.
  14. Pannell, Tom (10 May 2018). "Bluetooth, Thread, Zigbee Mesh Compared". EETimes. Retrieved 26 June 2021.