Earlier this month, Apple joined Thread Group, an organization committed to standardizing low power mesh networking solutions for products within the Internet of Things. While Apple has not yet published a comment on the matter, membership suggests they may be thinking about adopting the technology in the future.
Thread is a networking standard in a mesh system much like Bluetooth, Zigbee, or Z-wave technologies. The IP system can connect to a number of devices and common household objects from Philips Hue lights to Yale locks.
Apple is competing with a number of companies for smart home supremacy including its perennial rivals, Amazon and Google. Amazon is a Thread member while some of Google’s newest Nest products already incorporate the technology. Apple has been making a push for its HomeKit to compete with Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Nest ecosystems and it may not want to lose out on participating in the initial stages of this new technology. A cursory glance at Thread’s membership reveals that large companies such as Samsung and LG, along with smaller companies like TDK and Ubilogix, have all entered into association with the organization.
In describing their technology the organization states:
“Thread addresses the need for a new and better way to connect products in the home. Built on open standards and IPv6 technology with 6LoWPAN as its foundation, Thread offers numerous technological advantages over other wireless standards including secure and reliable networks with no single point of failure, simple connectivity and low power.”
Low power is of particular concern to Apple and other companies actively promoting their products in the Internet of Things because of the demands of battery life in smart home devices. Apple currently has HomeKit products that are powered solely through batteries while others require a constant source of external power. Furthermore, companies across the board are attempting to make fewer and fewer appliances reliant on wall plugs.
It is yet to be seen if Apple’s new “Sponsor Board of Directors” status with Thread will result in a revamped HomeKit replete with Thread-enabled devices. However, Apple did join the Wireless Charging Consortium prior to releasing its first iPhones to allow inductive charging. Regardless of Apple’s potential vision, even the technological underpinnings of the smart home market remain competitive, and companies are exploiting every advantage to try to stay ahead of the curve.
Featured image courtesy of Apple.