Thread is a wireless protocol for your smart home. In this article we explain what that Thread in your smarthome: Everything about the wireless protocol.
You’ve probably seen the term Thread before. We paid attention to it at different times, such as when Google or Nanoleaf have updates on it. What Thread exactly is can be explained in one sentence. But why it is important for the future of smart homes requires a little more text and explanation.
The Thread Group
Thread is a wireless smart home protocol invented by the Thread Group . This is an organization that several companies have signed up for, including Google, Amazon, Apple and the aforementioned Nanoleaf. It is a mesh network, comparable to Zigbee and Z-Wave , protocols that receive much more attention.
And that’s for good reason. Not only are there thousands of devices that support one or both protocols, popular manufacturers such as Samsung and Amazon have also released hubs that support the standards. Despite this, Thread can still be a major player in the smart home market. Could This Smart Home Protocol Actually Make Your Smart Home Better?
A step further
Basically Thread is a mesh network protocol that consumes little power and can thus get into many types of devices. Do we really need an alternative to the network protocols that already exist? If we can believe the inventors, the answer to that question is a resounding ‘yes’. Namely, this type of network is designed to solve some pressing problems that many different smarthome owners encounter.
Whether you are an advanced user or not, you have probably run into one of these problems. Devices that work on a battery, they run out quickly with frequent use. In addition, it can sometimes be quite a challenge to have different devices communicate with each other. And then you have the connection problems in general. With Thread it must be possible to establish a stable and secure connection, without consuming the available energy in your battery.
In a way, this protocol still resembles Zigbee and Z-Wave. All standards can ensure that devices communicate with each other and are interconnected. Unlike the two known variants, the modern mesh network does not require a smart home hub to function. In practice, it means that a network can recharge itself when a device goes offline or has a slow connection. That network then adapts and continues to work, without being interrupted.
Another important element is the fact that there is support for standards such as IPv6 and 6LoWPAN. This means that all devices can communicate with each other, regardless of the manufacturer.
It is of course already possible to have devices communicate with each other. But that usually takes a detour, especially when you use the usual solutions. You then connect different devices via routines, which you set via IFTTT, Google Assistant or Alexa. These platforms then act as a kind of switching station between supported devices. So it is not the case that all devices work with a common solution by default, which is really a thorn in the side of many smarthome enthusiasts.
So if a device does not support the platform you are using, no link will take place. Thread should solve problem because all devices are supported. In addition, there is AES encryption, at the same level that banks also use for online transactions. The Thread Group reports that other standards also use AES, but do not offer it at the same level. Furthermore, more than 250 devices can be active within one network and that devices that work on AA batteries can last for years.
Devices with Thread
Thread is therefore useful, but also still emerging technology. That does not mean that the technology is not already present on different devices. Thus, as mentioned, Nanoleaf lamps support the mesh network. Manufacturers such as Eve are also already offering support. The HomePod Mini is probably the best known device with onboard support.
And the great thing is, Thread can actually be added to any device with a simple software update. The only requirement is that there is support for the 802.15.4 protocol, which is a common Internet protocol.
Google is also putting its weight in the fight by equipping various Nest products with the new protocol, for example, in addition to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. This offers options for securing your home. For example, if you have multiple Nest Secure cameras in your home, they will continue to work when the power goes out and there is no WiFi (they also have a built-in battery). Thread makes that communication possible.
Unfortunately, at the time of writing, there is very little we can do with Thread ourselves. There is no easy way to add supported devices to a network yet. That way will undoubtedly come, but for now we have to make do with what is available, as well as knowing that things will probably be much better in the future.
In addition to Google, Amazon, Apple and Nanoleaf, D-Link, Eero, Kwikset, LG, Lutron, Bosch, Samsung, Signify, Tado, LG, Somfy, Tado and Yale are also members of the Thread Group. So the future looks pretty bright when this mesh network is widely rolled out and supported.
IPv6 stands for Internet Protocol version 6. This is the protocol needed to use IP addresses. IPv4 was able to support roughly four billion IP addresses, while IPv6 has space for – hold on – 340,282,366,920,938,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 addresses. That is an inexhaustible resource.
6LoWLAN is an acronym and stands for IPv6 over Low-Power Wireless Personal Area Networks. The idea behind this network is that even the smallest and least powerful devices should be able to participate in the Internet of Things .