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Smart Home

Interoperability: CHoIP, Zigbee, Z-Wave, OCF

The ideal smart home experience for consumers is one in which a broad range of smart home devices are setup effortlessly and work seamlessly together, providing convenience to the user and enhanced value for all products in the ecosystem. The connectivity, automation, and data sharing derived from integration can create a differentiated user experience, when done well. A number of companies, and organizations continue to work on improving interoperability:

CHoIP - Amazon, Apple, Google, and Zigbee Alliance have announced plans to develop and promote a new open-source connectivity standard for smart home devices called Project Connected Home over IP (CHoIP). The standard is being developed in an effort to increase compatibility among smart home devices and to make it easier for device manufacturers to develop these products. The working group that will contribute to this project include Zigbee Alliance board members, as well as representatives from IKEA, Legrand, NXP Semiconductors, Resideo, Samsung SmartThings, Schneider Electric, Signify, Silicon Labs, Somfy, and Wulian.

Zigbee -Zigbee is continuing efforts to drive board membership and has experienced a lot of traction over the past two months. Along with tech giants Amazon, Apple, and Google, Resideo joined the board in January 2020.

Z-Wave- Silicon Labs (sole owner of Z-Wave IP) and Z-Wave Alliance announced in December 2019 that they are open-sourcing Z-Wave technology to make it available to all chipmakers and stack providers. This historic decision is an attempt to drive revenue by expanding the ecosystem of Z-Wave products, ultimately making the technology more valuable to manufacturers and service providers.

Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) - At CES 2020, OCF announced a new OCF Universal Cloud Interface to enable a standardized procedure for creating cloud-to-cloud integrations among product ecosystems. The OCF UCI is a programming interface that can be used to standardize connectivity between different manufacturers’ cloud servers, and between devices and the cloud. Samsung and Resideo are key partners in the effort.

While the IoT industry is still hampered by fragmentation, efforts are increasing to achieve interoperability at both the application and cloud layers of the software stack. The future of interoperability appears less to look like convergence than collaboration. The major protocols will likely persist indefinitely with minor differentiations in range, security, power consumption and data packaging. However, more tools will be available to facilitate communication between disparate protocols depending on whether use cases require device-to-device communication or can suffice with could-to cloud communication. Solution providers express less interest in investing in commoditized connectivity.  These developments will make it easier for home service providers to deploy services in the future.

For more information on interoperability, “Parks Associates assesses changes in the interoperability landscape and key partnerships that are changing the face of the industry in Smart Home Tracker: Market Sizing & Trends, delivered quarterly.”

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