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Thread Group Launches Certification Program As Osram Joins Board Of Directors

The Thread Group, which develops the Thread mesh networking protocol for connected homes, launched its certification, and more than 30 products have already been submitted for testing. The Thread specification version 1.0 was released earlier this summer.

“Having already made the Thread 1.0 technical specification available to members under Thread's RAND-RF (royalty-free) licensing terms, today we are taking another major step in bringing Thread certified products to market, and ensuring that they are tested for quality, security and interoperability," said Chris Boross, president, Thread Group. “This is great news for our 220 member companies, who are anxious to start using Thread in their products."

The group was started by Yale Security, Silicon Labs, Samsung Electronics, Nest Labs, Freescale Semiconductor, Big Ass Fans and ARM in July 2014. Since then, Qualcomm has become one of the major sponsors as well, and there are already tens of other contributing companies such as Intel, Imagination, Microsoft, LG, and many more affiliate companies, too.

The Thread protocol is based on another low-power wireless standard called '6LoWPAN' (IPv6 over Low-power Wireless Personal Area Networks) and will work on top of 802.15.4 hardware, currently already used by some Nest and Zigbee products.

The main advantages of Thread over other protocols is that the mesh network it can create between multiple smart devices at home is highly resilient, as there's no single point of failure, it's secure by default, and it's also IP-based.

Because it's IP-based, any of the up to 250 devices in the network can also connect directly to the Internet. Although, with all the warnings about poor IoT security, it's probably not the best idea to connect most smart devices to the Internet, if it can be helped. The main idea behind Thread remains that it's a mesh networking protocol, which can connect hundreds of devices to each other, locally.

Now that the full specification was released and the Thread Group is starting to certify devices for the protocol, we should start seeing Thread-enabled devices in the market in a matter of months. Certified software stacks from ARM, Freescale and Silicon Labs should already be available this month.

Thread's board of directors was also recently joined by Osram, a global company that sells lighting products and is presumably also interested in making Thread-enabled smart lightbulbs in the future.

"Being a part of the Thread Group will significantly strengthen our effort to drive innovative and sustainable lighting solutions that can enhance any environment," said Timon Rupp, CEO, OSRAM Lightify. "It provides an unprecedented opportunity for OSRAM to collaborate with other visionaries and be on the front lines of driving smart solutions beyond energy savings," said Geert van der Meer, senior vice president, OSRAM Digital Systems.

The Thread products that will be certified will be tested for proper device behavior, networking functionality, security and operation in the Thread network. They may also come with a "Built on Thread" or "Thread Certified Component" logo as a guarantee to consumers that the Thread functionality is working as it should for the home automation devices they buy.

The Thread Group also wants to see what kind of innovative ideas for the connected homes startups can come up with, and for that purpose it has created the Innovation Enabler Program. Every quarter, the group will announce some winners who will receive up to 18 months of Thread membership. For Q3, the winners are Centero, an IoT technology and integration services company, and iSocket, a developer of smart plugs for the connected home.

Other companies, who want to participate in the program, can visit the Innovation Program site for more information.

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Lucian Armasu joined Tom’s Hardware in early 2014. He writes news stories on mobile, chipsets, security, privacy, and anything else that might be of interest to him from the technology world. Outside of Tom’s Hardware, he dreams of becoming an entrepreneur.

You can follow him at @lucian_armasu. Follow us on Facebook, Google+, RSS, Twitter and YouTube.