What’s all the buzz around Thread?

Skip-profile      Skip Ashton, VP of Engineering Software at Silicon Labs

From the Thread Group launch on July 15 to the Thread Information Session at the Googleplex on September 30, the buzz and excitement around the new Thread protocol continues to build. The Thread initiative has generated tons of positive press coverage, and questions about thread from interested developers come to us daily. More than 100 articles appeared online within a day of the Thread announcement, and more 400 engineers showed up at the recent information session to learn more about Thread.

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So what’s all the buzz around Thread, and how is Silicon Labs involved in the initiative?

Many IoT developers are actively inventing new connected devices and services, and they are eager for new connectivity options that will make it easier to deploy their solutions in the Connected Home. All of these devices and services will become simpler if they are based on an IP stack and provide IP connectivity. Low-power 802.15.4 radios have been pervasive in connected device applications, and tens of millions of these radios ship every year into the Connected Home. Clearly, the IoT market welcomes a new IP-based mesh networking solution, and countless engineers are excited about adding IP connectivity to their connected devices.

Thread is an IP-based networking stack specifically built for the constraints of the Connected Home, offering ultra-low power, high security and ease of use. Thread provides a reliable and robust mesh network with direct IP addressability for all the wireless sensor nodes and connected devices in your home. Best of all, Thread runs on many of today’s existing wireless SoCs, such as Silicon Labs’ Ember® ZigBee® SoCs, and can be deployed on 802.15.4 radios with simple over-the-air software updates.

Silicon Labs is one of the founding members of the Thread Group, and we are a member of the Thread Board along with Nest, Samsung, ARM, Freescale, Yale Locks and Big Ass Fans. We are deeply involved in the Thread organization and are helping to drive the development of the underlying technology. Our mesh networking team in Boston has been working on IP-based mesh networking technology for more than two years, and it’s exciting to showcase the emerging Thread protocol to developers everywhere.

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Skip Ashton discusses the Connected Home and IP-based mesh networking requirements at the Thread Information Session on Sept. 30

In talking to developers at the Thread Information Session, I discovered that many of them have been struggling to get a robust and reliable IP stack running on their own. A number of developers shared stories of their adventures in trying to get a Contiki stack to some level of performance. They were very excited that a group like Thread has been working on this challenge and can now provide a functional IP stack for 802.15.4 wireless devices.

Thread is designed to unify the existing set of protocols running in the Connected Home. Using IP connectivity, we can expect simpler development and easier communication across multiple physical layers such as 802.15.4, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. With Thread, developers will be able to invent new connected devices and services and see them deployed in our homes – and with the confidence that they will be interconnected through a robust, secure Thread mesh network.

Membership in the Thread Group opened on October 1, and through the end of this year and beyond into 2015, we are all looking forward to seeing the rapid roll out of this exciting new IP-based mesh networking technology. Silicon Labs will continue to innovate around wireless connectivity, and our customers can expect to have early access to these new software stacks for their development.

Learn more about the benefits of Thread here.

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