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A new standard for Smart Home Products

Amazon, Apple, Google, and the Zigbee Alliance joined together to promote the formation of the Working Group. Zigbee Alliance board member companies IKEA, Legrand, NXP Semiconductors, Resideo, Samsung SmartThings, Schneider Electric, Signify, Silicon Labs, Somfy, and Wulian are also on board to join the Working Group and contribute to the project. The purpose of this alliance is to develop a new standard for Smart Home Products.

This working group is called Project Connected Home over IP.  It plans to develop and promote the adoption of a new connectivity standard to increase compatibility among smart home products.

The companies around the world are working together to fix the problem of different standards for connected devices. If you buy a smart device today, you have to check if it works with the Amazon Echo or Google Home. The headache extends to companies that build smart devices. These companies need to decide from the outset if they want to support various connectivity methods used by Google, Apple, or Amazon and A new standard for Smart Home Products should be developed.

Project Connected Home over IP

The three tech giants coming together to work on the unified ecosystem itself is the biggest win for customers. Smart home gadgets tend to work across multiple smart home systems but the setup process, feature support usually varies across systems.

How will it work?

The goal of the Connected Home over IP project is to simplify development for manufacturers and increase compatibility for consumers. The project is built around a shared belief that smart home devices should be secure, reliable, and seamless to use. By building upon Internet Protocol (IP), the project aims to enable communication across smart home devices, mobile apps, and cloud services and to define a specific set of IP-based networking technologies for device certification.

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This Industry Working Group will take an open-source approach for the development and implementation of a new, unified connectivity protocol. The project intends to use contributions from market-tested smart home technologies from Amazon, Apple, Google, Zigbee Alliance, and others. The decision to leverage these technologies is expected to accelerate the development of the protocol, and deliver benefits to manufacturers and consumers faster. 

The project aims to make it easier for device manufacturers to build devices that are compatible with smart home and voice services such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, and others. The planned protocol will complement existing technologies, and Working Group members encourage device manufacturers to continue innovating using technologies available today.

Why IP?

Today there is no widely adopted open standard for smart home which is built upon IP and yet IP is the protocol of the internet and is the most common network layer used in our homes and offices. With IP, messages can be routed across networks independent of the physical and link layers underlying them and there are ample battle-tested algorithms and infrastructure for performing routing, switching and firewalling in robust and resilient ways. On top of IP, you inherit well-known transport protocols like TCP and UDP. Consequently, IP is an ideal way to deliver end-to-end security and privacy in communication between a device and another device, app, or service.

There are a large number of IP-bearing networks today, designed for different use cases. Since the protocol is built upon IP, its message traffic should be able to flow seamlessly across different kinds of networks.

Many Smart Home devices use proprietary protocols today, requiring them to be tethered to a home network using dedicated proxies and translators. By building upon IP, some of these devices may instead be able to connect directly with standardized networking equipment.

Which IP-based networking technologies will Project Connected Home over IP focus on?

The Project will define a specific set of IP-based networking technologies for device certification. We expect that compliant devices must implement at least one supported technology and not necessarily all. 

The goal of the first specification release will be Wi-Fi. The Group will likely also embrace other IP-bearing technologies like Ethernet, Cellular, Broadband, and others.

Some companies might focus their product offerings on the protocol over Wi-Fi/Ethernet, while others might target the protocol over Thread or BLE, and still, others might support a combination. Please contact individual companies to find out what their intentions are for future product support.

Open Source

The reference implementation of the new standard, and its supporting tooling, will be developed and maintained on the GitHub open-source platform for all aspects of the specification. Please stay tuned for more information.