In an effort to make it easier for consumers to transition to a smart home setup without having to buy into a proprietary system, Apple, Google, Amazon, and the rest of the Zigbee Alliance announced today they’re forming a new working group that will (hopefully) develop a new connectivity standard allowing hardware from all these companies to finally play nicely together.
The Zigbee Alliance is responsible for the low-power wireless protocol that allows many smart home devices to wirelessly communicate with a central hub or each other, and it includes such companies as Signify who makes the Philips Hue smart bulbs, IKEA, and Samsung SmartThings. As the smart home has matured over the past decade there have been several competing standards, but Zigbee has been one of the most prominent and it makes sense for Apple, Google, and Amazon to finally join in the fun.
The newly formed Connected Home over IP working group will work towards developing a new and unified connectivity protocol that will, at least in theory, provide better and smoother operability between mobile devices, voice-activated smart assistants, and the hundreds of IoT devices designed to make life at home a little more convenient. The protocol will incorporate technologies already in use by the various companies which the working group hopes will help fast track its development, and it will put an extra emphasis on security which has become one of the biggest concerns with the smart home these days.
Ideally the new protocol will still play nice with older hardware, as many homes are already filled with smart bulbs, appliances, and smart assistants that would be expensive to replace. It will inevitably help deliver a better smart home ecosystem as consumers won’t need to choose one system over another in hopes the companies behind it will still be in business in five years, and it even has the potential to make new IoT devices cheaper, as all these companies will be able to source the same hardware, and won’t have to spend as much on developing the underlying technologies that make it all work.