Hardly a month goes by without a report that this or that smart home product has a horrible bug that hands hackers the keys to all of your data. Furthermore, smart home products are often incompatible with one another, causing frustration to users.
But Apple, Amazon, Google and the Zigbee Alliance (which consists of companies such as IKEA, Signify and Samsung SmartThings) are working to fix that. On Wednesday, the companies announced a working group which aims to develop a new, royalty-free connectivity standard for smart home products.
The big focus of this new project, called Connected Home over IP, will be increased security and better compatibility between these products. It uses Internet Protocol (or IP), one of the key protocols underlying the internet, as its base layer. Ultimately, it should help device manufacturers built products that are compatible with smart assistants like Alexa, Siri and Assistant.
Current smart home products, such as smart speakers and other products from Amazon, Apple and Google, will continue to work and be supported even after the new standard is launched.
According to the announcement on Apple’s website, the group will “take an open-source approach” to the development of the protocol. Other manufacturers, chip makers and developers are welcome to join in and contribute, the announcement says.
The project’s website says the group aims to release a draft specification, as well as a “preliminary reference open source implementation,” on the GitHub open source platform in late 2020.
Smart home products have been all the rage in the past couple of years – just check the humongous list of stuff Amazon launched this September – but they’re far from perfect, with incompatibility, complicated setup/maintenance and bugs being among the biggest issues. A recent study indicated that a fair percentage of users are unhappy with these products, especially after they start to pile up.
Hopefully, the new standard will alleviate these problems.