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Thread logoThread aims to keep Zigbee in the fight to connect your smart home devices.

The Thread Group has been formed to champion a new networking protocol—Thread—that the group says is purpose-built for Internet of Things (IoT) mesh networks.

Thread is an IPv6 networking protocol built on open standards, designed for low-power 802.15.4 mesh networks. It sits between the 802.15.4 Low Rate wireless personal network MAC / PHY and Application network layers.

Thread architecture

Thread architecture

GigaOm's Stacey Higginbotham nicely sums up ZigBee's problems in the IoT networking race, saying it "suffers in part because it has so many variations that the standard is not as standardized as consumers would like". Thread aims to fix that with software grout to plaster over ZigBee's holes and a certification program to ensure interoperability.

The clock is ticking, however, since 900 MHz 802.11ah aka Low-Power Wi-Fi devices are due to hit next year. Even though 802.11ah devices aren't compatible with existing Wi-Fi networks, the Wi-Fi Alliance has done such a good job of getting consumer mindshare that smart home product buyers could easily be sucked into the Wi-Fi branding vortex.

Thread Group founding members include Yale Security, Silicon Labs, Samsung Electronics, Nest Labs, Freescale Semiconductor, Big Ass Fans and ARM.

Read Stacey's entire article for a good take on Thread.

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