Nest, Samsung and ARM form new home automation protocol, dubbed Thread

by: Andrew GrushJuly 15, 2014

nest thermostat

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?

  • MasterMuffin

    First time I’ve heard of Big Ass Fans, dat name doe :D Thread certainly has some big players behind it, so it will most likely be successful. I’m not that into the idea of home automation though. HAL 9000 anyone? :D

    • Amadeus Klein

      They literally make “Big Ass Fans”… Based out of Kentucky USA….

      • MasterMuffin

        I love it when companies aren’t too serious about themselves :D

        • mobilemann

          they have to be somewhat serious, i would imagine at least with their engineers. That thing looks like it could decapitate a field of people with ease!

      • Brandon Harhi

        That’s a big ass fan.

  • ThunderCrackR

    We might have a winner here!

    • AS

      Another one to add the the list, if only they were compatible with each other.

      Seriously, the methods are all fine, the only issue is the price. People tent to wait until a technology has become cheap and widespread before investing in it. Creating yet another system is just going to delay it’s uptake.

      • ThunderCrackR

        We have to wait, yes, but there has to be a beggining. So every next right-step is something good.

        • AS

          Considering the beginning was around the time the X10 protocol was created in 1976 (and is still widely sold today, just at extremely inflated prices), how long do we have to wait?

          • ThunderCrackR

            The technology was not that advanced in those years. Nowadays, the components are getting small enough to be used in wearables (and other IoT devices). There will be a high number of these products in the years to come. Hopefully, better devices.

          • AS

            I don’t see any new examples of Home Automation that can’t be done with any of the old 433Mhz RF technology. Like I say, the beginning was decades ago and nothing has changed.

            Creating a new protocol is just reinventing the wheel, but never inventing anything that needs wheels.

  • Luka Mlinar

    Nest doesn’t work in the majority of places in Europe. We all use high voltage wires here. Unless you can bring it to everyone, forget about starting a trend.

  • mobilemann

    because zigbee didn’t have a fully open-source stack, (oh wait, it did!) here’s a closed API that will work with lots of manufacturers, supported by google.

  • ziplock9000

    Why does it need it’s own protocol and not just use existing ones?