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Open source software from Google to unite smart home devices

Posted: 13 May 2016     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Alphabet  Thread  IoT  OCF  Alljoyn 

Alphabet's Nest Labs Inc. has unleashed what it says is a free open source version of the software it uses to allow the Thread protocol for the Internet of Things (IoT). The release of OpenThread marks a minor but noteworthy effort to speed up adoption of its approach to interoperability in a highly fragmented market for smart home products.

Nest's rivals including the Allseen Alliance and the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) have already made available open source reference code for their IoT application-layer protocols. Allseen's Alljoyn was early to release software that has been adopted in a variety of shipping systems.

Thread enables secure mesh networks based on IPv6 and IEEE 802.15.4. Chip makers including Microchip's Atmel group, Dialog Semiconductor, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments are contributing to the development of OpenThread that can also run on development kits from NXP Semiconductors and Silicon Labs.

OpenThread will be distributed on GitHub for free use based on a BSD license. It can run on home routers with 64Kbyte RAM and 256Kbyte ROM and end devices with less memory.

The protocol is used in existing Nest products and Google's OnHub router. More than 30 other products are waiting for certification from the Thread Group that manages the protocol. Launched in October 2014, it now has more than 230 members including ARM, Big Ass Fans, Samsung Electronics, Schneider Electric and Yale Security.

IoT application protocols Nest Weave and ZigBee can run over Thread networks. Separately, Google is developing an Android-based smart home application framework called Brillo that ultimately will be integrated with Thread and Weave.

Rival OCF also represents multiple options. Its IoTivity open source code using an Apache 2.0 license is expected to emerge in products shipping this year. In November, OCF merged with the Universal Plug and Play Forum that is completing its own UPnP IoT Management and Control protocols it says will act as bridges between OCF and UPnP and should be available soon as open source code.

- Rick Merritt
  EE Times

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