If you thought the only problem with two competing Internet-of-Things standards was that two rivals weren’t enough, you are in luck.

Google’s Nest unit, along with chipmaker Freescale and a handful of others, is announcing Thread — an effort to build support for future devices to connect to one another using a mesh network sending standard Internet packets over an existing low-power radio technology, a protocol known as 6LowPAN.

The Thread project joins Qualcomm-backed AllSeen Alliance and the Intel-backed Open Interconnect Consortium in offering alternate attempts at a standard for the connectible devices of the future. In addition to Nest and Freescale, Thread’s initial members include ARM, Big Ass Fans, Samsung, Silicon Labs and Yale.

Of course, having all these different standards efforts practically ensures one thing: There’s no way all of these devices will actually be able to all talk to each other until all this gets settled with either victory or a truce. (Remember HD-DVD v. Blu-Ray, DVD-R v. DVD+R and VHS v. Betamax?)

If this works out at all like past format wars, heavyweights will line up behind each different approach and issue lots of announcements about how much momentum theirs are getting. One effort will undoubtedly gain the lead, eventually everyone will coalesce and then, someday down the road, perhaps all these Internet of Things devices will actually be able to talk to one another.

But until that happy day, we have the positioning and chest-thumping and placing of stakes in the ground.

Thread envisions that some devices will support only its connection, while larger devices will also have Wi-Fi to connect directly to the Internet.

For their part, the Thread backers say their effort deals with the specific radio and networking technologies that connected devices should use, while OIC and AllSeen work at the application layer.

“We’re not trying to fix the whole problem space,” says Nest product marketing employee and Thread Group president Chris Boross. “We’re targeting just the networking implementation.”

In theory, that means that AllSeen and OIC could even work in conjunction with Thread, though Boross said they haven’t actually talked to either of those camps.

Boross added that the group decided to develop the standard with just the founding members but is looking to quickly expand its ranks.

“We felt we needed to do it in our own little group and then work with others,” Boross said.

Peter Fretty
Peter Fretty

Mixed feelings on this. I think there need to be some standards to provide a level of consistency across the board. However, I would hate to see a standard limit creativity that could possibly spark new opportunities.  This entire Internet of Everything trend - as Cisco calls it - is all about seamless interactions that empower people to improve processes and generate new ways to do things with less obstacles.  

Peter Fretty


Good move, guys.  This (false) "we need an internet of things" notion from a decade ago need to be killed, and being 'nibbled to death by ducks' of competing standards-development activities is the sure ticket to do that!

The meme is false.  The Internet is actually made up of computers and devices talking to one another all the time.  Sometimes, they even let us humans communicate.  Imagine what will happen when an uncontrolled daemon decides to follow Michele Obama's words (but not her practice) and kill all the tasty but 'socially incorrect' food in your refrigerator.  Or tells a hacker/stalker that you have just arrived home and left your weapons and your mobile phone in your car.


I think AllSeen is going to be the winner.  In my estimation, the reason why there are now TWO standards origanizations in Northern California is because people in the Bay Area don't like to ask for the travel time to meet in other areas of the country and achieve a goal to develop original standards. 

AllSeen is backed by linux, and well, I wouldn't be surprised if people in the Bay Area will join the standards bodies with intent to liberally xerox copy ("Steal") ideas.  This is the type of business culture (one with pirate ships) exists and thrives in the Bay Area.  Just look at Steve Jobs, whom everyone in the bay area idolizes... Even after death.


@VernonDozier  This is funny and foolish.  Apparently, you don't know that standards-development activities involve little or no travel?  They use this new-fangled contraption called "email" to exchange documents and notions, and then they bring up big ideas at "web conference calls."

Hint: the Bay Area (with the exception of perhaps Intel) has nothing to do with this.  Apparently, in your world, the Bay Area lacks people who understand even standards development. 

Steve Jobs and Xerox were never known to participate in standards-development work of note, so just how did they steal ideas in standards development work? 

Having two of these groups "headquartered" in the Bay Area actually proves nothing, except that some companies don't want to work in this area with other companies


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