Vendors are making slooooow progress toward interoperable environments for the consumer Internet of Things.
Like the Democrats this week, home networking initiatives are trying to move forward in a unified way, but there will clearly be divided camps for a long time.
Today the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) and the Thread Group announced they will set up formal liaisons. They stopped short of saying they will hammer out a way for the OFC’s application layer code to run on Thread transports, but they did say they are “committed to driving improved cross-application interoperability and device connectivity.”
It’s a first step -- and who knows where it will lead -- between one group started by Intel and another by Nest, the home net startup acquired by Google. It follows a similar move a year ago in which Thread said it will support a Zigbee application framework. Weeks later, Zigbee rolled out its own new and improved mesh, undercutting Thread.
For its part, OCF merged with the Universal Plug and Play Forum which was developing its own framework for the consumer Internet of Things aka home networks.
Most of these groups, including Thread and OCF, have many members in common. Thus it was no surprise that Thread Group president Grant Erickson said in his press release that “Thread Group members identified and prioritized OCF as a strategically important application layer to run over the Thread wireless mesh network.”
The two “will work together to ensure that OCF’s application layer will be fully compatible with Thread’s …wireless mesh network layer,” the release added, suggesting member companies may need to work out the interoperability details.
Meanwhile, hopes are rising Apple’s Homekit is expanding its reach into more devices and, most importantly, to end users with an upgraded Home app Apple will launch with iOS 10. Of course there are many other efforts to unify home networking around other commercial flags such as the AllSeen initiative which, like OFC, is another application layer effort managed by the Linux Foundation.
For the foreseeable future, end users will have to choose carefully among different home automation devices that will work better or worse when controlled by different phones, tablets and TVs.
Next page: Hopes rise for the Apple home