Dating back to at least as far as the 1950s, humans have imagined the house of the future as a place where everything is connected, smart and more convenient. Often enough these visions of the future have also included some form of voice-control. Today these futuristic houses no longer seem like science fiction and, with a little tinkering and know-how, more than one DIYer has proven it is possible to combine smart appliances, lighting and smart electronics to create a sophisticated voice-driven home automation experience.
Before the idea of home automation can become truly mainstream, however, modern electronics and appliances will need to adhere to some sort of universal standard in order to make the experience as simplistic as possible. To this end, we’ve already seen the introduction of more than one home automation group, and companies like Apple and Qualcomm have also recently announced the development of similar efforts. Now we can add one more home automation company to the list, a newly minted non-profit organization called the Thread Group.
Although the company itself may be a new non-profit, the group was created as a joint effort between Google-owned Nest Labs, Samsung, ARM, Freescale, Silicon Labs, Yale Security and Big Ass Fans. Thread’s goal is the creation of a wireless IP-based networking protocol that promises easy, reliable cloud access for all the hardware and appliances in your home. Interestingly enough, existing Nest thermostats and smoke detectors already reportedly run on an early version of the upcoming protocol.
the network will be compatible with at least 250 products out of the gate
So when will we see devices ship with Thread compatibility baked-in? The group says it plans to begin accepting additional membership applications later this year, and will offer device certification in 2015. Once ready, the network will be compatible with at least 250 products out of the gate and many more existing connected devices may be able to offer support for the new protocol through a simple software update.
There’s no denying that home automation is part of our future, now it’s just a matter of what groups and standards will lead the smart home revolution. With both Google (via Nest Labs) and Samsung involved, Thread Group certainly has a lot of potential, but it’s also not without some very real competition.
What do you think of the idea of home automation, something you’re excited for or do you feel it is largely unnecessary for most home owners?