The Thread Group's liaison agreements will benefit the connected home

August 22, 2016 OpenSystems Media

Thread is a networking protocol. Period. This networking technology provides key benefits to the market such as being based on Internet Protocol (IP) for a unified convergence layer across all networks in the home; supporting low-power operation for extended battery life; implementing mandatory security to address privacy and security concerns; and providing a robust network with no single point of failure.

However, there are many other aspects to building an IoT solution that complement the networking layer. The application layer or layers used by an end device is an example of another layer to consider. Many app-layer options are available and can be adapted to run over Thread. While the Thread Group doesn’t define items out of the networking layer, it recognizes that developers of IoT and Smart Home products need to put the entire package together.

Because of this need, the Thread Group partners works with other standards organizations and alliances where it makes sense based on feedback from members and the industry as a whole. the Thread Group currently has several great partnerships in place, with others expected shortly. The goal is simple—to advance the adoption of connected home products worldwide.

The group’s first target has been around the application layer. Hence, liaison agreements are in place with ZigBee, the Open Connectivity Foundation, and the Connected Lighting Alliance.

So, what does a “liaison agreement” really mean, and how will it benefit the industry? A liaison agreement is a formal document and binding legal agreement that directs how two organizations will collaborate to achieve a common goal, identifying and circumscribing for the organizations. The essence of this document is to enable the two organizations to work together on:

  • Technical points of mutual interest such as use cases, integration, demos, interoperability, testing and one-stop certification with the ability to exchange relevant documents with intellectual property protection for each providing organization.
  • Cross-organizational meetings with observer-level participation to develop areas of mutual interest with mutual protection of confidential information, intellectual property, and copyrights.
  • Co-marketing and public relations activities to educate the market and accelerate adaption of the technologies.

With a liaison in place, the Thread Group will work that partner technology will be fully compatible with Thread’s low-power, secure, and scalable IPv6-based wireless mesh network layer. As a result, there will eventually be integrated solutions enabling a continuous and seamless product experience.

The current liaisons:

  • The Connected Lighting Alliance: Collaborating on an indoor professional lighting solution.
  • Open Connectivity Forum: Providing compatibility of the OCF application layer with Thread’s wireless mesh network layer to create a fully-functioning connected home framework that’s easy-to-use from setup and configuration, all the way through application-to-application interactions
  • ZigBee Alliance: Providing compatibility between the ZigBee Applications Library and the Thread Group’s IP networking layer to deliver an end-to-end solution for IP-based IoT networks.

What’s the next step for these relationships and for Thread Group overall? The group is working closely with partners to determine and execute on the most immediate actions and will continue to share updates with the design community as they become available. We’ll also continue to form relationships with more leading standards for application layers and other technologies to reduce the fragmentation seen in the IoT space and to enhance the connected home.

Sujata Neidig is the Vice President of Marketing at the Thread Group. She has over 20 years of experience in the semiconductor industry and has served in a variety of roles ranging from product engineering to marketing and business development. She is also a Business Development Manager responsible for driving NXP’s processors and connectivity leadership and growth in the consumer market. Sujata earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

Sujata Neidig, Vice President of Marketing, Thread Group
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