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A more open smart home industry after announcements by Zigbee and Z-Wave

A more open smart home industry after announcements by Zigbee and Z-Wave
A new smart home standard was established recently: “Connected Home over IP,” an IP-based connection protocol backed by great names in the industry, including Apple, Google, Amazon, IKEA, Samsung SmartThings, Silicon Labs and Zigbee Alliance.
 
According to the website of the new protocol, “the goal of the Connected Home over IP project is to simplify development for manufacturers and increase compatibility for consumers.” The purpose echoes all existing smart home protocols, all of which have the same appeal. Therefore, will the new protocol achieve the long-awaited world smart home players have been dreaming about?
 
First of all, it seems possible from the networking layer perspective. All the connection protocols such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Zigbee and Z-Wave are located at the physical and media networking layer, while IP-based communication stands above them. That is to say, the new standard aims to unite all smart home connections via IP network. No matter whether they are connected via Wi-Fi, BLE or Zigbee, they will run the same IP network to communicate with each other.
 
Google, for example, has explained the new protocol in a blog post. Different wireless connectivity technologies are designed for different scenes - Wi-Fi provides fast connecting speed for media streaming on security cameras, smart TVs or smart speakers with a screen. Meanwhile, BLE allows sensors in a smart home security system to function without consuming much energy. The Connected Home over IP protocol enables the wireless connectivity technologies to present their own benefits while uniting the communication standard via IP-based solutions.
 
The new-formed alliance will release a draft specification and a preliminary reference open source implementation in late 2020.
 

A more open smart home industry

 
It isn’t easy to know how committed each company is to the Connected Home over IP project. However, it is good to see that the big names in the consumer market joint force to create a more harmonized industry.
 
Another proof of the getting-united smart home industry is that more companies are willing to make their technologies open source.
 
The Connected Home over IP project is open source and royalty-free. Furthermore, Apple has recently open-sourced part of the HomeKit accessory development kit (ADK), allowing developers to prototype smart home accessories without commercial purposes. Although commercial devices still need a license for it, the open-sourced HomeKit ADK is hoped to accelerate the development of HomeKit-supported devices.
 
Another major wireless connection technology, Z-Wave, has announced to open the Z-Wave specification to other silicon manufacturers and software developers, altering the single source Z-Wave chip premise.
 
With this change, all semiconductor and software suppliers will be able to join the Z-Wave ecosystem and contribute to the smart home standard. The Z-Wave Alliance will remain the standard development organization and Z-Wave Certification program management.
 
The open-sourced Z-Wave Specification, which is expected to be available in the second half of 2020, will include the ITU.G9959 PHY/MAC radio specification, the application layer, the network layer and the host-device communication protocol.
 
“Instead of being a single-source specification, Z-Wave will become a multi-source wireless smart home standard developed by collective working group members of the Z-Wave Alliance,” said the alliance in the press release.


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