In what is dubbed as Project Connected Home over IP, a broad contingent of the major players in connected home ecosystems have come together for the first time to develop and promote a new, royalty-free, and secure connectivity standard to strengthen compatibility among smart home products. Spearheaded by tech heavies Amazon, Apple, and Google in tandem with Zigbee Alliance members, this may be a watershed moment for the burgeoning connected home realm.
Looking Forward to Secure Interoperability
Can it be? We struggle every day with the lack of interoperability between similar connected home accessories from the three predominant competing ecosystems. While accessories compatible with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit and Siri, and Google Assistant capture the lion’s share of the market, they rarely work together—to the detriment of homeowners. For instance, Apple HomeKit devices rarely appear in Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant consoles, Google Assistant devices rarely appear in Amazon Alexa and Apple HomeKit consoles, and Amazon Alexa devices rarely appear in Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant consoles. So it may be possible, sometime down the road, for this to improve measurably as Project Connected Home over IP comes online.
It is interesting to note the Zigbee Alliance is on board, whereas the competing Z-Wave Alliance it not. This may bode well for Zigbee, and they are partnering here with their alliance board members in this effort. These companies include IKEA, Legrand, NXP Semiconductors, Resideo, Samsung SmartThings, Schneider Electric, Signify (formerly Philips Lighting), Silicon Labs, Somfy, Wulian, and others.
Foundation by Amazon, Apple, Google, and Zigbee Alliance
Furthermore, from statements made on the Project Connected Home over IP website, the open-source approach will initially envelop existing development work and protocols from the four founding members. This includes Amazon Alexa Smart Home, Apple HomeKit, Google Weave, and Zigbee Alliance Dotdot data models.
You can expect to see the Working Group release a draft specification and a preliminary reference open source implementation by late 2020. Stay tuned.
Tom Kolnowski is the Chief Content Officer & Founder of Digitized House Media, LLC, the publisher of Digitized House | Guide to the Connected Home. When he isn’t writing about smart home technology, sustainability, and high-performance architecture, you’ll find him exploring faraway destinations with his family.