Most of today’s Internet of Things (IoT) technology relies on a single device on an existing, in-home WiFi network to communicate with products around the home. As such, it has always been difficult for multiple home automation devices to communicate with each other and do it well, until now.
Thread Group, a non-profit organization with seven founding members, including system and chip giants like Samsung and Silicon Labs, recently announced Thread, a new wireless networking protocol. The solution is a low-power mesh protocol, which can securely connect hundreds of devices around the home.
A mesh protocol is reliable and offers redundancy within a wireless network. When one node can no longer operate, the remainder of the nodes can still communicate with each other, directly or through one or more intermediate nodes. At this time, the protocol is designed to support residential devices only, including appliances, climate control and security systems.
The Thread Group says the protocol will solve major problems within the IoT industry, including lack of interoperability, high power requirements and security that is vulnerable to attack. It provides security at the network and application layers, making it difficult for someone to hack into your network and control your device.
The protocol uses AES encryption at the 802.15.4 MAC layer to close security holes that exist in other wireless protocols. Product install codes allow only authorized devices to connect to the network. Thread operates at the UDP level and supports any IPv6 application layer protocol, meaning devices could be controlled by mobile devices using an IPv6 link over WiFi.
Another advantage of Thread is the extremely low power consumption and ability to run for years on a single AA battery. There’s definitely a new wireless protocol in town, sure to give the current protocol, which was developed before IoT created a web of interconnected devices, a run for its money.