Amazon, Apple, Google and the Zigbee Alliance have established a working group to develop and promote a new royalty- free connectivity standard to be known as Connected Home Over IP. The goal is to make smart home products more interoperable, with “security as a design tenet,” the backers said.

Another goal is to make it easier for device manufacturers to build devices that are compatible with smart home and voice control technology such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant and others.

The Zigbee Alliance already collaborates on a standard known as Zigbee for smart home connectivity. Alliance members include IKEA, Legrand, NXP Semiconductors, Resideo, Samsung SmartThings, Schneider Electric, Signify (formerly Philips Lighting), Silicon Labs, Somfy, Wulian and others. The companies mentioned here plan to join the Connected Home Over IP working group.

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The working group plans to use an open-source approach to the development and implementation of the new standard.

Multiple Home Control Standards
The Connected Home Over IP standard joins multiple home control standards. While the Zigbee standard is sometimes used by cable companies, security manufacturers have gravitated toward Z-Wave as they expand into home control. Wi-Fi also is used to control some types of products, particularly surveillance cameras and certain popular thermostats. Some home control products also can communicate using a version of the Bluetooth standard.

Wi-Fi capability and Bluetooth have the advantage of being built into smartphones, enabling smartphones to communicate directly with smart home devices (although the range of the Bluetooth standard commonly built into smartphones is limited). Home control products based on other communications technologies also may support smartphone control, but in that case, communications from the smartphone typically must first go to some type of Wi-Fi connected controller that also supports the other home control communications technology.

Another standard developed for home control is IP-based Thread. And there may be others well.

According to today’s press release, the Connected Home over IP working group plans to use contributions from “market-tested smart home technologies” from Amazon, Apple, Google, Zigbee Alliance and others.

Despite the crowded market, the Connected Home Over IP standard is likely to have at least some success with manufacturers, thanks to its heavyweight backers. And considering the bullish forecasts for voice control and smart speakers, the ability to easily interface with those devices also should spur adoption of the new standard among device makers.

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