Thread – Providing an Experience
By Sujata Neidig, VP of Marketing, Thread Group
Imagine that you are at work and getting ready to leave for home to let Spot (your dog and best friend) out because he's been inside all day. Just when you're leaving, a co-worker comes and invites you to an impromptu happy hour at a new bar that you've been eager to check out for months. Everyone is going so you immediately say yes. But wait! What about Spot? Not only does he need an outdoor break, but it's been a warm day and you're worried the house might be too hot for him. Bummer! Guess you can't go after all.
How could this situation play out differently? Let's look at "the Internet of Things" (IoT) to answer this question.
The Internet of Things
IoT or the Internet of Everything (IoE), are just two terms that have been used to describe the idea of having a "smart" world where devices have intelligence about themselves and other devices. The idea has been around for a few years, but the technology and infrastructure have not truly been available until recently. The growth that industry analysts have projected now seems truly achievable - tens of billions of units by 2020. That's huge!
IoT covers many markets including healthcare, professional and commercial buildings and automotive. However, the area that IoT will impact persons like you and me the most, is in the home.
Today, the right hardware to create smart-end products that are affordable to the average consumer and the software to enable the "Internet" in IoT continues to evolve. More and more dots exist and the thread to connect them in a way to create a truly smart environment is where Thread comes into play.
Thread is a networking protocol that solves the key challenges associated with IoT. It allows simple, direct connectivity from edge devices to the cloud and to each other to create simple, secure and low-power connections between devices in the home with the ability to scale to hundreds of devices.
You may ask, "Doesn't that already exist? Home Depot, Lowes, Best Buy and even Target have displays showcasing connected devices such as thermostats, lighting, door locks and security surveillance devices. Yes, these things exist, but are they ready for the mass market?
To answer that questions, we have to ask a few more:
How easy is it to install? Setting up the connectivity in some cases is a technical challenge and not easily implemented by the typical consumer. Also, is the network secure? How many different items can it connect? Can these devices talk to each other? What about supporting your battery-operated devices that have to last for years? How long will a charge last on these if they are connected to your home network? These are all real challenges today. Thread addresses all of them.
Thread solves all of these challenges because it is;
- Internet-based: IPv6 technology enables device-to-device and device-to-cloud connectivity and gives developers of end products the ability to easily create applications for multiple ecosystems.
- Reliable: Thread networks are robust and self-healing meaning the network won't go down if even one device in the network stops working.
- Scalable: Thread can scale to 250+ devices to support the growing number of applications.
- Secure: Thread networks have security built-in. Devices must be authenticated before joining a Thread network and then messages are secured using banking-class encryption.
- Simple: Thread devices are easy to install with a smartphone or tablet. Consumers can connect smart devices in the home to each other and to the cloud, allowing easy control and access from anywhere by using a simple, easy to remember key or a QR Code (no need to write down and save a 16-digit alphanumeric key!)
- Low power: Thread supports battery-operated devices to be part of a home network. This allows the devices that you use every day - including door locks, lighting controls and sensors - to be a part of the network without requiring constant charging or frequent battery changes.
What does this all mean? Think back to the scenario I painted in the beginning.
Now, when your co-worker invites you to a last-minute happy hour, you can say yes and mean it. You use your smartphone to activate the dog door at home, change the thermostat setting and turn on the fan. You can then pack up your things and head out to meet your friends. When Spot goes outside, you get a notification on your phone. You also get a notification when he goes back in so you know he's safe. Worried about the safety of your home? Your security system is already enabled and connected to your dog door. If something or someone besides Spot tries to open the dog door, it sends a message to your security system, which then sounds off an alarm and sends you an alert. You're on your way to the bar and get a notice that Spot is safely back in the house. When he's back in the house, you check the amount of food and water he has through your smart Doggie Diner app and push a button to dispense more of both. As you're enjoying the evening with your co-workers, you decide to stay a little longer and have dinner, too. Since its getting dark outside, you use your phone to turn on select lights at home because you know Spot fears the dark. After a fun evening, you head home and are greeted with lots of kisses from Spot ☺
Pretty cool scenario, right? This is the type of lifestyle that Thread enables.
For more information, visit www.threadgroup.org.