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, intended to be secure and future-proof. [1] 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] Membership of the Thread Group is subject to an annual membership fee, except for the "Academic" tier. [3]

Contents

In July 2014, the "Thread Group" alliance was formed as a working group to aid Thread becoming an industry standard by providing Thread certification for products. [4] 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 [5] and released its first Thread product, the HomePod Mini, in late 2020. [6]

Thread uses 6LoWPAN, which, in turn, uses the IEEE 802.15.4 wireless protocol with mesh communication, 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", has been released by Google. [7]

In 2019, the Connected Home over IP project (later renamed "Matter"), led by Zigbee, 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, as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy. [8] [9]

Selling points and key features

Thread uses 6LoWPAN, which is based on the use of a connecting router, called an edge router. Thread calls their edge routers Border Routers. Unlike other proprietary networks, 6LoWPAN, like any network with edge routers, does not maintain any application layer state, because such networks forward datagrams at the network layer. This means that 6LoWPAN remains unaware of application protocols and changes. [10] This lowers the processing power burden on edge routers. It also means that Thread does not need to maintain an application layer. Thread states that multiple application layers can be supported, as long as they are low-bandwidth and are able to operate over IPv6. [11] :6

Thread touts that there is no single point of failure in its system. However, if the network is only set up with one edge router, then this can serve as a single point of failure. The edge router or another router can assume the role of Leader for certain functions. If the Leader fails, another router or edge router will take its place. This is the main way that Thread guarantees no single point of failure. [11] :8

Thread promises a high level of security. Only devices that are specifically authenticated can join the network. All communications through the network are secured with a network key. [11] :19–21

Competing IoT protocols

Competing Internet of things (IoT) protocols include Bluetooth Low Energy (including Bluetooth Mesh), Zigbee, [12] [13] Z-Wave, [12] Wi-Fi HaLow, Bluetooth 5, Wirepas, MiraOS and VEmesh.[ citation needed ]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Personal area network 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.

IEEE 802.15.4 is a technical standard which defines the operation of low-rate wireless personal area networks (LR-WPANs). It specifies the physical layer and media access control for LR-WPANs, and is maintained by the IEEE 802.15 working group, which defined the standard in 2003. It is the basis for the Zigbee, ISA100.11a, WirelessHART, MiWi, 6LoWPAN, Thread and SNAP specifications, each of which further extends the standard by developing the upper layers which are not defined in IEEE 802.15.4. In particular, 6LoWPAN defines a binding for the IPv6 version of the Internet Protocol (IP) over WPANs, and is itself used by upper layers like Thread.

Wireless mesh network

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.

Contiki

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Z-Wave Wireless standard for intelligent building networks

Z-Wave is a wireless communications protocol used primarily for home automation. It is a mesh network using low-energy radio waves to communicate from appliance to appliance, allowing for wireless control of residential appliances and other devices, such as lighting control, security systems, thermostats, windows, locks, swimming pools, and garage door openers. Like other protocols and systems aimed at the home and office automation market, a Z-Wave system can be controlled via the Internet 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 controller and portal to the outside. Z-Wave provides the application layer interoperability between home control systems of different manufacturers that are a part of its alliance. There are a growing number of interoperable Z-Wave products; over 1,700 in 2017, and over 2,600 by 2019.

Home network Richard Derek Giddens

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Static Context Header Compression(SCHC) is a standard compression and fragmentation mechanism defined in the IPv6 over LPWAN working group at the IETF. It offers compression and fragmentation of IPv6/UDP/CoAP packets to allow their transmission over the Low-Power Wide-Area Networks (LPWAN).

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. "The Thread group - Membership benefits". Thread Group. Retrieved 2021-06-26.
  4. Noel Randewich (15 July 2014). "Google's Nest launches network technology for connected home". Reuters . Retrieved 18 July 2014.
  5. "Apple joins 'The Thread Group,' opening up the possibility of more advanced HomeKit tech". 9to5Mac. 2018-08-06. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  6. "Apple introduces HomePod mini: A powerful smart speaker with amazing sound". Apple (Press release). 13 October 2020.
  7. https://openthread.io/
  8. "Amazon, Apple, Google and Zigbee join forces for an open smart home standard". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2019-12-18.
  9. "Project Connected Home over IP". Project Connected Home over IP. Retrieved 2019-12-18.
  10. Olsson, Jonas (2013). 6LoWPAN Demystified (PDF) (Technical report). Texas Instruments.
  11. 1 2 3 Thread Stack Fundamentals (PDF) (Technical report). Thread Group. May 2020. Retrieved 26 June 2021.
  12. 1 2 "Samsung, ARM, and Nest launch Thread, a low-power network for the smart home". PC World . Retrieved 18 July 2014.
  13. Pannell, Tom (10 May 2018). "Bluetooth, Thread, Zigbee Mesh Compared". EETimes. Retrieved 26 June 2021.