Tech Giants Are Working Together to Get All Your Smart Home Devices to Talk

Apple, Amazon, Google, and the Zigbee Alliance are talking in tandem in new Connected Home over IP group

Triptych product shots of Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod, and Google Home
The members of the Connected Home over IP working group want to simplify smart home devices for both manufacturers and consumers.
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Tech devices have been in the top five most purchased gifts for the past two years, according to a Google/Ipsos survey. Those tech gifts may live in an interconnected “smart home” system—devices that work in tune with Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant or other, similar, personal tech tools.

Device communication embodies the main problem big tech companies are trying to solve through a new working group called Connected Home over IP, announced yesterday. As the name implies, the group will work to standardize smart home devices by using internet protocol, the most common network layer currently used in homes and offices.

Connected Home over IP includes Apple, Amazon, Google and Zigbee Alliance members Samsung, Ikea and Signify, among others, and aims to “develop and promote the adoption of a new, royalty-free connectivity standard.” The group says the goal is “to increase compatibility among smart home products.”

But compatibility is just one of the major complications facing manufacturers and consumers we look toward a more all-encompassing Internet of Things. It’s impossible to know, at this point, how advances in technology surrounding smart devices will continue to affect the way we understand personal information security, corporate transparency and effective advertising.

User security will be a central focus of the group as it works towards simplifying development for manufacturers and seamless use for consumers, according to the Connected Home over IP website. The plan is for the group’s work to be open-source, and to use contributions from market-tested tech from the group’s members.

At this point, the project is in its infancy and the group’s members were unwilling to discuss progress, but a post on Zigbee Alliance’s website said that it hopes to have a draft specification by late 2020 that “focuses on making smart homes ‘just work.'”

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