Thread Group IoT Consortium Grows to 50-Plus Members

The group, which is one of several pushing specs for interoperability among IoT devices, expects the first Thread-enabled products next year.

Thread Group

The Thread Group, one of a number of industry consortiums that is developing a connectivity standard for the Internet of things, has a lineup of more than 50 members and will see the first Thread-enabled products hit the market in 2015.

Group officials on Dec. 16 announced that the number of members has grown rapidly since the consortium—which was launched in July by ARM, Freescale, Samsung and Google's Nest Laboratories business, among others—opened up to new members in October.

Along with new members, the Thread Group is now working with UL to manage the process of certifying Thread-based products and Granite River Labs to develop hardware test services, giving developers the tools they need to build, test and certify their solutions. The Thread product certification process will be in place in the first half of 2015, according to group officials.

"This momentum paves the way for the first Thread-enabled products in 2015," Chris Boross, Thread Group president and technical product marketing manager at Nest, said in a statement. "Additionally, the strong interest in Thread underscores the industry's excitement for Thread's benefits and the future of the connected home."

The consortium also is scheduled to hold its first all-members meeting in February 2015.

The Thread Group joins a list of industry consortiums that are creating standards to address the challenge of enabling the billions of devices that will make up the Internet of things (IoT) to communicate with each other. It is pushing the adoption of Thread, a low-power, IP-based wireless networking protocol that is aimed at the home to connect everything from smart light bulbs to appliances to home control units, like thermostats.

Those based on the Thread protocol will be able to communicate with each other. Thread is designed to be low power, resilient and open, enabling others to easily design and build devices that leverage it. It supports IPv6, includes encryption capabilities and is built on the existing 802.15.4 standard. Thread creates a wireless mesh home network that supports more than 250 devices, with each having a direct path to the Internet, according to the group.

The protocol is one of a number of IoT communications platforms being developed. The year-old AllSeen Alliance, which has about 100 members and is a project under the auspices of the Linux Foundation, is promoting the AllJoyn-based software framework as a way of enabling devices to connect and communicate with each other. The AllJoyn code was originally developed by Qualcomm researchers. Other groups include the Open Interconnect Consortium, the Industrial Internet Consortium and the ZigBee Alliance, a 10-year-old organization that last month announced the ZigBee 3.0 standard to drive communication and interoperability between IoT devices.

The standard, which until ZigBee 3.0 was divided into different versions for disparate industries, is currently used in millions of devices, according to the group.

A common communications platform will be crucial to driving interoperability among the disparate IoT devices. However, too many specification efforts make it more challenging.

"At the end of the day, fragmentation only hurts all of us," Liat Ben-Zur, who chairs the AllSeen Alliance, told eWEEK in July after the OIC was launched, adding that she hoped the groups could work together to push back against fragmentation.

The Thread Group's membership touches on a broad range of players in the IoT space, from technology vendors like Imagination Technologies, Marvell Technology, Atmel and GainSpan to smart device makers like appliance vendor Whirlpool, Keen Home and Lux Technology Group.

Various companies also are members of more than one group. For example, the Thread Group and AllSeen both count Imagination and Insteon as members.