What is Thread and how will it help your smart home? – The Verge

As the new smart home standard Matter gets closer to launch, connected devices built on Thread — a technology that’s integral to Matter — are starting to roll out. In the last year, Eve, Nanoleaf, Schlage, and Wemo have released smart home gadgets such as motion sensors, light bulbs, door locks, smart plugs, and motorized blinds that run on Thread. But just what is Thread, and why does it matter to Matter?

I sat down with three Thread Group board members to find out how this “new” protocol (it’s actually been around since 2015) promises to fix many of the smart home’s biggest issues: reliability, speed, connectivity, and scale. I spoke with Vividh Siddha, president of the Thread Group and director of software engineering at Apple, Jonathan Hui, vice president of technology for Thread and principal software engineer at Google, and Sujata Neidig, vice president of marketing for Thread and director of marketing at NXP.

As you may have spotted in those bios, Thread — like Matter — is being developed by a consortium of competing companies in the smart home industry. Only Thread started much earlier than Matter. “In 2015, several companies got together and identified a problem in the industry and that we can work together to bring a solution to the market,” says Neidig.

That problem was how to securely and simply connect all the various devices in the consumer smart home. The solution they came up with was Thread, an IPv6-based wireless protocol that could create “a secure, robust, reliable, and simple-to-use network.” Today, Thread is run by a board of directors that includes representatives from Google, Apple, Amazon, Samsung SmartThings, Qualcomm, NXP, Assa Abloy (owners of Yale and August), Lutron, and more.

What is Thread, and why is it important to Matter and the smart home?

Thread is a wireless protocol specifically built for IoT devices. It’s designed to make them work faster, have fewer points of failure, use less power, and communicate with each other more seamlessly.

A low-power, low-bandwidth mesh networking protocol that uses the 802.15.4 radio technology, Thread is similar to existing smart home protocols Zigbee and Z-Wave. But unlike them, it doesn’t need a central hub or bridge. Instead, Thread devices can talk directly to each other. By cutting out the middle man, Thread can be faster, especially over large networks.

Also, unlike the other low-powered smart home protocols, Thread is internet protocol (IP)-based, meaning it can directly connect to any other IP-based device, such as smartphones, tablets, computers, and Wi-Fi routers. “What makes it unique is that it was built on IP,” says Neidig. “We are bringing the same protocol that the internet runs on to run on small devices.”

Matter is an application layer that runs on Thread. “Matter supports both Wi-Fi and Thread for connecting devices, and Thread provides that reliable mesh capability so there is no single point of failure,” explains Neidig.

When Matter arrives later this year, Thread will be the protocol it uses for low-bandwidth devices, such as door locks and motion sensors, and Wi-Fi and Ethernet will be used for high-bandwidth needs, such as streaming video from a security camera. Finally, Bluetooth LE will be used for onboarding devices to a Matter network.


Source: https://www.theverge.com/23165855/thread-smart-home-protocol-matter-apple-google-interview


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