Amazon, Apple, Google Partner For Smart Home Device Compatibility

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An Alexa-powered device is seen in an Amazon TV ad. Credit: Amazon

Smart home connectivity standard sees Amazon, Apple and Google partner up with Zigbee Alliance to develop new open source protocol

Big names in the smart home device sector have banded together to develop an open-source standard to ensure devices work together.

Amazon, Apple, and Google have teamed up with the Zigbee Alliance, whose members include IKEA, NXP Semiconductors, Samsung SmartThings, and Schneider Electric, to form a new working group called “Connected Home over IP”.

The aim of this working group is to “develop and promote the adoption of a new, royalty-free connectivity standard to increase compatibility among smart home products, with security as a fundamental design tenet.”

smart homes

Connectivity standard

The move is something of a surprise considering the fierce competition between the various players in the smart home sector at the moment.

“The goal of the Connected Home over IP project is to simplify development for manufacturers and increase compatibility for consumers,” they said. “The project is built around a shared belief that smart home devices should be secure, reliable, and seamless to use.”

The group said they would build upon Internet Protocol (IP) to enable communication across smart home devices, mobile apps, and cloud services and to define a specific set of IP-based networking technologies for device certification.

There is a commitment for the unified connectivity protocol standard to be open source, but will “use contributions (Apple’s HomeKit, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google’s Weave) from market-tested smart home technologies from Amazon, Apple, Google, Zigbee Alliance, and others.”

Essentially, the project aims to make it easier for device manufacturers to build devices that are compatible with smart home and voice services such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, and others.

It is expected that the standard will work alongside with existing connectivity protocols (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth etc) rather than replacing them. The group says that devices will likely support Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy, or Thread, but it will up to each manufacturer to decide which connectivity standard will be used.

Open source

“While smart home devices are abundant, the lack of an industry-wide connectivity standard leaves people confused and frustrated when trying to understand what devices work with each smart home ecosystem,” said Google.

“We’re joining Amazon, Apple and others to create Connected Home over IP, a new independent working group managed by the Zigbee Alliance,” Google said. “We’re contributing two of our market-tested and open-source smart home technologies, Weave and Thread.”

“We’re excited to partner with the industry on the next stage of growth for the thousands of smart home developers in our Works with Google Assistant program,” said Google. “This project brings us closer to the vision of the helpful home that takes care of the people inside it.”

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