Google, Amazon, and Apple have jointly formed the Zigbee Alliance. Together, the trio and several others will attempt to come up with uniform standards of communication for the Internet of Things (IoT) devices and other Smart Home electronics. Essentially, the multitude of always-on, and internet-connected appliances should get a unified standard for smart home device connectivity and communication.
Google, Amazon, and Apple, have formed a new working group, managed by the Zigbee Alliance, which aims to create a standard for smart home device connectivity. The technology will be called ‘Connected Home over IP’. While the trio is among the most prominent in the space, other members of the alliance include IKEA, Legrand, Samsung SmartThings, Signify, and many more. Strangely, Microsoft hasn’t joined the alliance yet, despite having a virtual assistant and smart speaker ecosystem.
— pedro.martinez.puig (@Pedro_BCN_MX) December 18, 2019
Google, Amazon, Apple, And Others Form Zigbee Alliance To Develop Royalty-Free Standard For Communication Between Smart Home Devices:
Essentially, the Zigbee Alliance aims to simplify the development of smart home devices and make choices easier for consumers. As the name clearly implies, the uniform standards will be based on Internet Protocol, and aim to enable seamless and unhindered communication between different smart home devices, apps, and cloud services.
Although the development, manufacture, and sales of IoT devices and Smart Home appliances is increasing daily, there’ still no industry-wide connectivity standard. This means most of the smart home devices that consumers buy aren’t compatible with each other. Smart Home electronics, which can be easily controlled through the internet, are still configured for a specific communication ecosystem. Simply put, while an IoT device might work very well with Apple’s Siri, it might struggle with Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant or some other virtual communication platform.
Amazon, Apple, Google, and the Zigbee Alliance today announced a new working group that plans to develop and promote the adoption of a new, royalty-free connectivity standard to increase compatibility among smart home products, with security as a fundame… https://t.co/QEiAkV2t8g pic.twitter.com/WCW3daaQ9W
— The Apple Report (@TheAAPLReport) December 18, 2019
Lack of a communication language and protocols forces appliance makers to make a choice about the platforms their products will support. Moreover, devices from companies that were acquired by other companies that had their own ecosystem, can become painful to configure and operate. The most glaring example of the same is Google’s acquisition of Nest, which left many consumers with devices that no longer work in their ecosystem of choice.
However, with the establishment of the Zigbee Alliance, a new unifying technology platform, called Connected Home over IP, could ensure multiple IoT devices and Smart Home appliances can effortlessly communicate with the consumer’s choice of an ecosystem. This should invariably make it exceptionally simpler for consumers to make a choice about which devices to buy.
How Will The Connected Home over IP technology Work?
Connected Home over IP is an independent working group managed by the Zigbee Alliance. This new standard is different from the existing Zigbee 3.0/Pro protocol. The primary goal of the alliance and the new standard is to bring together market-tested technologies to develop a new, open smart home connectivity standard based on Internet Protocol (IP).
The standard should eventually enable communication between smart home devices, apps, and cloud services. Specifically, Smart home devices built on this new standard will be compatible with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, and many other virtual assistants. Strangely, although Microsoft has Cortana to rival Siri, Alexa, etc. the company still hasn’t joined the alliance. Perhaps the scale back of Cortana might have been the reason behind the reluctance.
The new partnership with Apple, Google, Amazon and the Zigbee Alliance will ensure that "people can buy products knowing that they’ll work with the systems they have at home, and that they’re secure." https://t.co/9XpTJ9aOZz
— Google Communications (@Google_Comms) December 18, 2019
The group is expected to receive active collaboration from each of the member companies. Using the contributions, the group hopes to accelerate the development of the new standard. Incidentally, the final unified standard will be royalty-free. Moreover, the companies have pledged to ensure the standard remains open-source.
As part of this alliance, Google is contributing two of its smart home technologies, Weave and Thread. Google claims the technologies are already in use in “millions of homes around the world”. Weave is an application protocol that can work over Wi-Fi, cellular data, and Bluetooth Low Energy.
We've just announced a new Project with @amazon, @Apple, @Google, and other board companies, that aims to simplify development and increase consumer compatibility. Find more info: https://t.co/2mslcxzpRL pic.twitter.com/QPxaiVkMda
— Zigbee Alliance (@zigbeealliance) December 18, 2019
Needless to add, the biggest gainers of the new Connected Home over IP standard, besides the consumers, will be the developers and device makers. Developers will eventually be able to develop products for a single standard instead of rewriting the same for different ecosystems. The project has a dedicated website, which offers more information about the multi-party joint initiative.