In a long-overdue move, Amazon, Apple, Google, and others are partnering on a standard for the smart home industry. It’s called Connected Home over IP.
“Our goal is to bring together market-tested technologies to develop a new, open smart home connectivity standard based on Internet Protocol (IP),” Google vice president Grant Erickson writes in that company’s announcement. “Google’s use of IP dates back to the launch of Nest Learning Thermostat in 2011. IP also enables end-to-end, private and secure communication among smart devices, mobile apps, and cloud services.”
Google says that it will contribute two of its open-source smart home technologies, Weave and Thread, to the initiative. Both are already installed in millions of homes, the firm says, and Weave, an application protocol, works over many networks, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy, cellular, and Thread.
The goal of this partnership is as obvious as it is necessary: To create a single standard by which every part of a home—including “thermostats, cameras, locks, lights, switches, sensors, and even doggy doors,” in Erickson’s words—can be connected to the Internet and managed locally or remotely in a secure and seamless fashion. This will also help end consumer confusion and frustration, since they will no longer need to worry about what works with what.
“Smart home devices will be compatible with various platforms, so you can choose between Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri or other platforms,” Erickson notes. “We’re excited to partner with the industry on the next stage of growth for the thousands of smart home developers in our Works with Google Assistant program. This project brings us closer to the vision of the helpful home that takes care of the people inside it.”
So what other companies are involved, you may wonder? An organization called the Zigbee Alliance is the only other major player involved in this partnership, and that includes IKEA, Legrand, NXP Semiconductors, Resideo, Samsung SmartThings, Schneider Electric, Signify (formerly Philips Lighting), Silicon Labs, Somfy, and Wulian. So it appears that Microsoft (and Cortana) are not involved, at least not directly. But it’s early days, still, and I’d expect other firms to join the standard in the coming year.
UPDATE: Apple has released an announcement about it joining this initiative too.