Google, Apple, and Amazon join forces in creating new smart home standard

A smart home
A smart home (Image credit: Philips)

What you need to know

  • Amazon, Apple, and Google are pooling resources to create a new standard for smart home technologies.
  • 'Project Connected Home Over IP' aims to increase interoperability between different companies' smart home products.
  • Better still, it's supposed to be open-source, further reducing the yoke of proprietary standards on our lives.

If you're a fan of smart home products and can't wait to live in a futuristic utopia where everything in your house is 'alive,' Amazon, Apple, and Google may have some good news for you. The folks behind the Echo Dot, HomeKit, and the Nest Mini, respectively, are now working on creating a new standard to regulate smart home technology with the aim of "simplify[ing] development for device manufacturers and increas[ing] compatibility for consumers."

The name of the venture? Project Connected Home Over IP. Super boring, I know. But, hey, at least they have a cute acronym: CHIP. And it's going to be open-source, so hopefully, none of these giants known for trying their best at locking you into their own walled garden can wield undue influence over the standard at the expense of smaller players in the smart home space. To that end, the companies will also be working with the Zigbee Alliance and its constituent members: IKEA, Legrand, NXP Semiconductors, Resideo, Samsung SmartThings, Schneider Electric, Signify (formerly Philips Lighting), Silicon Labs, Somfy, and Wulian.

While exact specifications for the standard have not yet been drawn up, the group aims to make security, reliability, and seamless use the critical tenets of their work. As such, they hope to incorporate support for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy, and Thread into the end product, all of which provided implementations of the Internet Protocol (IP). The project's FAQs state that complaint devices will eventually need to support at least one of these technologies, but not necessarily all. In addition, while smart devices compatible with the standard may be able to connect to the internet, they don't necessarily need to do so. The standard also promises to provide end-to-end security and privacy for local communication between two devices.

Unfortunately, while Amazon, Apple, and Google have all committed to continue supporting their existing products, they say their work on the standard will focus on new products, which means current products may be left in the lurch when the standard is eventually released. That may not be too far into the future either, with the group promising a first draft of the standard by late 2020.

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Muhammad Jarir Kanji
  • This only benefits Apple because the Home Pod, Siri, and Home Kit are all garbage.
  • The obligatory XKCD on standards: Since this is in concert with the Zigbee Alliance, this is pretty much Zigbee-over-IP (ZoIP). Which wouldn't be so bad except Zigbee has perennially suffered from it's own sub-standard wars. Take Hue, which is Zigbee. Want to use an Aquos motion sensor to trigger your lights? You'll probably wind up with two zigbee radios, one that does the Zigbee-LL for Hue and another for Zigbee-HA on the Aquos. In theory, Zigbee 3 will be the "one ring" of Zigbee except that now the Zigbee Alliance will also be hip deep in this ZoIP, how much attention will Zigbee 3 really get? This will help Wifi based devices IN THEORY because they will have a universal authentication, enrollment, command set and device profiles. Trouble is, most of those profiles are useless as WiFi will eat batteries like candy, so most home automations STILL need a low-energy, mesh network, except now that mesh will be even thinner as the power hungry devices that could act as relays will be WiFI. And apple's involvement is just funny. Homekit requires each device to be certified individually. That means that devices will need testing, so it's probably going to have almost no impact on the number of homekit devices.
  • Indeed.... Apple will be along for the ride.... At least they will be good for investing some money...
  • This is only good news for Apple fans in my opinion... Google and Amazon are doing just fine....