Thread – Internet of Things for the home

Thread – Internet of Things for the home

Imaginary Situation

Imagine that you are at work and getting ready to leave for home. You need to get home to let Spot (your dog and best friend) out because he’s been inside all day. Just when you’re leaving, a co-worker comes by and lets you know about an impromptu happy hour at a new bar that you’ve been wanting to check out. Everyone is going so you immediately say “yes!”

Wait! What about Spot? Not only does he need an outdoor break, but it’s been a hot day and you’re worried about the house being too hot. Bummer, guess you can’t go after all. How could this situation play out differently?

The Internet of Things

With the Internet of Things, or the Internet of Everything, there are many terms that have been used to describe the idea of having a “smart” world where devices have intelligence through connectivity. The idea of IoT has been around for a few years, but the technology and infrastructure have not truly been available until recent years. The growth that industry analysts have projected now seem truly achievable – tens of billions of units by 2020. That’s huge!

IoT covers many markets including healthcare, factory automation, retail and automotive. But, the area that IoT will impact persons like you and me the most, is in the home.

Today, we have the right hardware technology which is starting to truly be affordable to the average consumer while the software technology to enable the “Internet” in IoT is evolving. More and more dots are there but the thread to connect them in a way to make a truly smart environment is missing. That’s why seven IoT industry leaders, including NXP, have joined together and created Thread Group.

Thread is a networking protocol that solves the challenges associated with having a truly connected home. Thread allows simple, direct connectivity from edge devices to the cloud and to each other to create simple, secure and low-power connections between devices in the home with the ability to scale to hundreds of devices.

You may ask, doesn’t that already exist? Places like Home Depot and Lowes have displays of a connected home involving thermostats and security surveillance devices. Yes, these things exist, but are they ready for the mass market?

Let’s ask some basic questions:

How easy is it to install? Setting up the connectivity in some cases is a technical challenge and not easily implemented by most people. Also, is the network secure? How many different items can it connect? Can these devices talk to each other? What about to your battery operated devices? How long will a charge last on these if they are connected to your home network? These are all real challenges today. Thread was created to address them.

Thread will solve these challenges because of the following reasons:

  • Reliable networks. Thread offers robust self-healing mesh networks that scale to 250+ devices with no single point of failure. Devices are ready when people need them.
  • Secure networks. Thread networks feature secure, banking-class encryption. Thread closes identified security holes found in other wireless protocols and offering worry-free operation.
  • Simple connectivity. Thread devices are simple to install with a smartphone or tablet. Consumers will be able to connect smart devices in the home to each other and to the cloud, allowing easy control and access from anywhere by using a simple, easy to remember key (you won’t have to write down a 16 digit alphanumeric key and save it somewhere!)
  • Low power. Thread supports battery-operated devices to be part of a home network. This allows the devices that you use every day — including thermostats, lighting controls, safety and security products — to be a part of the network without requiring constant charging or frequent battery changes.

What does that actually mean? Think back to the scenario I painted in the beginning.

Now, when your co-worker invites you to a last minute happy hour, you say, “yes.” You use your smartphone to activate the dog door at home, change the thermostat setting and turn on the fan. You can then pack up your things and head out to meet your friends. When Spot goes outside, you get a notification on your phone. You also get a notification when he goes back in so you know he’s safe.

Worried about the safety of your home? Your security system is already enabled and connected to your dog door. If something or someone besides Spot tries to open the dog door, it sends a message to your security system which then sounds off an alarm and sends you an alert. You’re on your way to the bar and get a notice that Spot is safely back in the house. When he’s back in the house, you check the amount of food and water he has through your smart Doggie Diner and push a button to dispense more of both. As you’re enjoying the evening with your co-workers, you decide to stay a little longer and have dinner, too. Since its getting dark outside, you use your phone to turn on selected lights at home because you know Spot is scared of the dark. After a fun evening, you head home and are greeted with lots of kisses from Spot

Pretty cool scenario, isn’t it? This is the type of lifestyle that Thread will enable.

 

Sujata Neidig is Business Development Manager at NXP & VP of Marketing for Thread Group

Sujata Neidig
Sujata Neidig
Sujata Neidig is regional marketing manager for Americas and drives leadership and growth with ARM-based Kinetis MCUs and i.MX applications processors. With 22 years of experience in semiconductor industry, Sjuata is active in the IoT and Wearables markets and serves as VP of marketing of the Thread Group. She's also an avid marathoner who enjoys family, friends, traveling, wine, and cooking. Find her on Twitter @SujataNeidig.

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