The Thread Group, the organization behind the IPv6 networking protocol for the Internet of Things, announced the release of its initial hardware reference test bed and test harness, with test bed participants ARM, NXP and Silicon Labs bringing the first conforming stacks to market.
“The arrival of this milestone generates a new wave of momentum for Thread,” said Grant Erickson, president of the Thread Group, in a press release. “We’re very excited to see the first Thread 1.1-conforming stacks come to market, and for our member companies to move their Thread-enabled products towards commercial availability. As an organization, we’re addressing a profound gap in the way we connect things where people live and work – an easy-to-use, IP-based, resilient, low-power, and secure way to connect and control products – and we’re very pleased that our memberships’ vision, collaboration, and hard work are coming to fruition.”
The first conforming stacks from ARM, NXP and Silicon Labs already have successfully passed testing based on the Thread 1.1 technical specification. Member companies are free to use the Threat test resources, including test bed, test harness and UL’s lab, to test products for conformance based on the 1.1 spec.
Backers of Thread include Nest Labs, which Google acquired in 2014, Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics and more. The group started off with a focus on making Thread the foundation for the IoT in the home, using open standards for low-power 802.15.4 mesh networks. But earlier this month, it announced its intention to expand into the commercial building and professional sectors by adding extensions to the existing specification.
Meanwhile, the Thread Group is working with UL Labs to perform interoperability testing with the conformant stacks from ARM, NXP and Silicon Labs. Upon the successful completion of interoperability tests, Thread will designate these stacks as “Thread certified,” a milestone the group expects to reach in late 2016.
While plenty of fragmentation remains in the IoT standards space, the Thread Group has made attempts to reduce that fragmentation by collaborating with the ZigBee Alliance, for example. Back in 2015, the Thread Group and ZigBee Alliance arranged a collaboration to allow the ZigBee Cluster Library to run over Thread networks, with the goal being to help streamline product development and ultimately improve the consumer's experience in the connected home.
Whereas ZigBee has been around for more than a dozen years, Thread, when it started in 2014, set out to work on the mesh networking layer and didn’t want to get into the application layer technology like ZigBee provides. Thread says it provides the foundation upon which any application layer can run. Both ZigBee and Thread are based on 802.15.4 and share many of the same members.