Nest Releases Open Source Version of Thread Networking Protocol

Nest's goal is to accelerate development of connected home products based on its Thread networking protocol for the Google subsidiaries home automation products.

Nest Open Thread 2

Nest on May 11 released Open Thread, an open-source version of the networking protocol that allows the company's smart thermostat and other home automation products to connect to each other and to the Internet of things.

Nest's goal is to speed up the development of connected home products by eliminating the need for developers to create their own specialized protocols. Nest, an Alphabet-owned subsidiary, relied on a proprietary protocol called Thread to network its products.

The protocol, which is maintained by the Thread Group, is designed to give developers of smart home products an easy way to connect and control their products while making it easy for consumers to set up such devices in their homes.

Developers can sign up to become members of the organization for annual membership fees ranging from $2,500 for a basic membership to $100,000 to become a sponsor with a seat on the board of directors. More than 230 organizations are currently members of the Thread Group.

"As more silicon providers adopt Thread, manufacturers will have the option of using a proven networking technology rather than creating their own," Nest said in a statement announcing the availability of Open Thread. "And consumers will have a growing selection of secure and reliable connected products to choose from."

Because Thread is built on IPv6 and open source standards, millions of installed 802.15.4 wireless devices can be updated relatively easily to run Thread. Releasing an open-source version of the protocol will spur that process and will drive wider deployment of the networking standard, Nest predicted.

Several technology vendors will contribute to the development of OpenThread. They include Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, Dialog Semiconductor and ARM. In addition, Thread-capable radios and development kits from multiple vendors will be capable of running OpenThread, Nest said in its release.

Nest will distribute OpenThread on the GitHub source code repository. Developers will have access to sample code and access to support on Nest’s discussion forum as well as on the Stack Overflow site for programmers, the company said.

Nest’s introduction of Open Thread represents another effort to expand its sphere of influence in the connected home market and the broader IoT market. Last year, Nest announced a product integration initiative under which the company has committed to ensuring its products would interact with intelligent home technologies such as smart lighting and heating systems from other vendors.

Some think the company's goal is to eventually position its technologies as hubs that can be used to not just interact with other home automation systems, but also to control them.

But overall though, after getting acquired by Google for over $3 billion in 2014, Nest has struggled to live up to early performance expectations for the company. In recent months, Nest has been more in the news for the exodus of employees from the company and the reportedly abrasive management style of chief executive CEO Tony Fadell, than for its technology.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.