The dozens of new smart home product announcements coming out of CES 2022 this week all seem to have one thing in common: support for the new Thread wireless standard. With such widespread support appearing, 2022 is shaping up to be the year that the new standard finally makes it into the mainstream.

Yesterday we shared news of Schlage’s first Thread-enabled lock, which also includes support for Apple’s Home Key, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Belkin has announced a new Wemo Smart Video Doorbell designed exclusively for HomeKit, along with support for Thread and the new Matter cross-platform home automation standard for its most popular accessories, including the Smart Plug, Smart Light Switch, and Smart Dimmer.

Meanwhile, smart lighting panel maker Nanoleaf has announced that it’s preparing a firmware update that will add Thread border router support for HomeKit, making them the first non-Apple devices to include this capability.

Eve (formerly Elgato) has also revealed a new outdoor security camera, smart window shades, both of which include Thread support, which has been available in its room sensors since last summer. Aqara has also announced its plans to bring Thread support to all of its HomeKit-compatible sensors.

Why Thread Matters

Until recently, HomeKit devices are limited to operating over Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth. These work fine in their own ways, but they also had some serious limitations that Thread is designed to overcome.

Wi-Fi devices require a fair bit of power, making them impractical for things that will need to run on batteries, such as door locks and sensors. While this isn’t a huge problem for devices that require external power anyway, like light switches and garage door openers, having so many devices can still create congestion on your home Wi-Fi network, taking up bandwidth that could otherwise be used for more important things like gaming and streaming.

Bluetooth solves both of those problems but comes with a few of its own. For one thing, its relatively short range can create difficulties in larger homes, and the latency it adds detracts from a seamless home automation experience. There’s a noticeable lag when controlling Bluetooth HomeKit devices, especially with lights.

Wiring up all of your smart home devices over Ethernet is obviously impractical, but all of these limitations are why some smart home accessories have resorted to using bridges that drive other wireless protocols. Philips Hue uses a wired bridge that connects light bulbs and other devices via ZigBee, while Lutron’s Caséta system operates over its proprietary ClearConnect RF protocol — which is probably why it’s also one of the most reliable lighting systems we’ve had the pleasure of using.

Thread, however, promises to solve all of these problems by bringing an open standard to the table that operates at the power levels of Bluetooth but with the low latency and expanded range of Wi-Fi.

The secret to Thread’s greatness is that it’s designed to operate entirely as a mesh network, so it doesn’t require any central hubs like the older ZigBee and Z-Wave protocols do. Instead, every Thread device can communicate directly with every other Thread device. This provides extensive range at much lower power levels.

Instead of a Wi-Fi signal that needs enough power to get back to …….

Source: https://www.idropnews.com/news/2022-could-be-the-year-of-thread-heres-why-thats-a-big-deal/176683/

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