The Internet of Things Thread Network Protocol Debuts

Tuesday Jul 15th 2014 by Sean Michael Kerner
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The increasingly crowded landscape of Internet of Things protocol groups is now even more crowded.

Apparently, regular Internet networking protocols aren't enough for the Internet of Things. Today yet another group emerged, promising to deliver an improved experience for the Internet of Things with yet another new protocol effort.

Yale Security, Silicon Labs, Samsung Electronics, Nest Labs, Freescale Semiconductor, Big Ass Fans and ARM have joined together to form the Thread Group to advance Internet of Things connectivity.

Thread will leverage a number of existing standards, including IEEE 802.15.4, IETF IPv6 and 6LoWPAN. Thread's backers define it as an IPv6 networking protocol designed for low-power 802.15.4 mesh networks. Thread is already being used inside of Nest-based devices today. Nest Labs makes Wi-Fi enabled thermostats and smoke detectors and was recently acquired by Google in a deal valued at $3.2 Billion.

The 6LoWPAN technology is a key part of the Thread protocol. 6LoWPAN is an acronym that stands for Low Power Wireless Personal Area Networks. Thread builds on that foundation to enable self-healing mesh networks. Going a step further, the Thread backers claim the new protocol is easily implementable as a software update for the millions of existing 802.15.4 wireless devices already on the market.

"Existing wireless networking approaches were introduced long before the Internet of Things gained ground," said Vint Cerf, vice president and chief Internet evangelist, Google, and advisor to the Thread Group, in a statement. "The Thread protocol takes existing technologies and combines the best parts of each to provide a better way to connect products in the home."

The Thread Group itself has two tiers of membership in its organization, including sponsor and contributor levels. Other Internet of Things groups currently in the market include the Linux Foundation's AllSeen Alliance, which now has 50 members. There is also the Open Interconnect Consortium, backed by Intel, Dell and Samsung.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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