Amazon, Apple, Google, and the Zigbee Alliance today announced a new working group that plans to develop and promote the adoption of a new, royalty-free connectivity standard to increase compatibility among smart home products, with security as a fundamental design tenet. Zigbee Alliance board member companies such as IKEA, Legrand, NXP Semiconductors, Resideo, Samsung SmartThings, Schneider Electric, Signify (formerly Philips Lighting), Silicon Labs, Somfy, and Wulian are also onboard to join the working group and contribute to the project.
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.
It seems like the sign that a technology has become mature is when companies all give up on trying to force their protocols or standards to be dominant, and when they accept that with everyone working together things will be easier. Over the past couple of years, I have adopted a few different smart home technologies, and, for now, since I use Apple products, I tend to choose those that are compatible with Apple’s HomeKit. But that leaves a lot of gaps in what is available. Companies working together will mean that, in a couple of years, I won’t need to make the same decisions, and there will be more competition, which is healthier for this type of technology.