Google’s Thread goes open source

Google’s Thread goes open source

Jem Henderson

Thread, the networking protocol used in Google’s Nest smart thermostat, has recently been released as open source software. Named ‘OpenThread’, it’s hoped that this move will lead to a rise in networked technology products for the home and push Google and Thread to the top of the smart-home device market.

What is Thread?

On the Thread website, it states that “Thread was designed with one goal in mind: To create the very best way to connect and control products in the home”.

Thread is what powers Nest, Google’s smart meter that allows homeowners to control their thermostat from their phone, even when they aren’t at home. Through the Thread protocol, the thermostat can link up to other Nest products such as home security systems.

Greg Hu, head of the Nest platform, said in a recent press release that: “Thread makes it possible for devices to simply, securely, and reliably connect to each other and to the cloud”.

Why has Thread been released open source?

Releasing Thread as open source is partly a response to competitors’ protocols already being released to the open source market. Allseen Alliance and the Open Connectivity Framework (OCF) have seen increased take-up of their framework since making it open source.

The official press release announcing the move seems to suggest that increased market share is a contributing factor to OpenThread. Hu said “OpenThread will significantly accelerate the deployment of Thread in […] devices, establishing Thread as one of the key networking technology standards for connected products in the home”.

What is the future for Thread?

OpenThread has been posted on GitHub under a BSD license so that any developer can use it to build low-power mesh networking into home automation products. The code is freely available, however all products that use it will still need to be certified by the Thread Group.

Each approved product will carry the “BUILT ON THREAD” logo to show that it has undergone rigorous testing and certification to ensure it can be used securely and safely in the home.

As the Internet of Things becomes more widespread in the consumer market, developers and product designers are striving to make their products inter-connectable over wireless networks. The ability to control systems from a phone – whether that’s your heating, TV or washing machine – is incredibly convenient for consumers.

The IOT is going to changethe world – from banking and financial services through to how we keep our accounts online secure, the potential is vast and Google are hoping to be right at the heart of it.

It’s becoming increasingly popular for new build houses to have some sort of home automation built in. As time goes on and homeowners get used to this technology and show off the benefits to their non-smart-home-owning friends, the demand will begin to grow.

An open source OpenThread makes Thread a viable protocol option for these new products, so we should expect to see many more Thread powered devices in the years to come.