Nest has released an open-sourced version of its Thread protocol, making its home automation network technology more broadly available to developers. The introduction of OpenThread is expected to give parties interested in working with open-source technology all the benefits of building on Thread — allowing them to continue innovating without dealing with the current limitations of the protocol.
This project is the company’s first open-source initiative.
Created by Nest, Samsung, ARM, Atmel, Dialog Semiconductor, Qualcomm Technologies, and Texas Instruments, Thread was intended to be the standard for connected home devices and apps. When it was announced in 2014, the protocol was described as providing a common network language that products like smart thermostats and smoke alarms could use to talk with each other.
The original creator companies even formed an industry coalition called the Thread Group to spearhead standards. Since its founding two years ago, more than 230 members have been added to the group, with over 30 products submitted and awaiting Thread certification. Even Google’s own products, such as its OnHub router, include the Thread protocol.
Eventually, Thread was used to develop Nest Weave, a device-to-device communications protocol that allows connected objects such as GE’s branded lighting controls to communicate with other smart devices without solely relying on Wi-Fi.
It’s important to note that OpenThread is solely a creation of Nest. Some of the other companies in the group have their own implementations of how to interpret Thread. Developers, silicon providers, and manufacturers will be able to ship products with OpenThread, but Nest cautioned that product certifications are only available to those that are part of the Thread Group.
“Thread makes it possible for devices to simply, securely, and reliably connect to each other and to the cloud,” said Nest’s head of platform and Works with Nest initiative, Greg Hu. “And because Thread is an IPv6 networking protocol built on open standards, millions of existing 802.15.4 wireless devices on the market can be easily updated to run Thread. OpenThread will significantly accelerate the deployment of Thread in these devices, establishing Thread as one of the key networking technology standards for connected products in the home.”
The initial version of OpenThread has been uploaded to GitHub and also includes sample code for developers to work with. Nest plans to demo this open-sourced protocol at the Google I/O developer conference next week.