A lot has been happening in recent years in terms of the technologies that underpin the world of connected homes and buildings. We see an increasing pattern of collaboration between different companies and organizations and efforts to increase integration and interoperability between different brands, ecosystems and standards. These developments are accompanied by new brand names, acronyms and even some household names appearing in the IoT industry.
Therefore, reducing market confusion may lead to some initial questions. What does this special term really mean?
Thread is a wireless networking technology based on the well-known Internet Protocol and the proven IEEE 802.15.4 radio technology. It is designed to specifically address the needs of IoT devices, meeting all requirements such as low power consumption, low latency, the ability to work with all application layers, and a reliable and robust network with self-healing capabilities at a single point.
A network that eliminates interference (more devices on the network (the stronger the network if available)) is easy to install and does not require special hubs or gateways. Like Wi-Fi, Thread as a networking technology is not limited to a specific application standard. For example, Thread Matter works with HomeKit, Weave, DALI, KNX, BACnet and OCF.
Matter is a new connectivity standard for homes and buildings developed by the Connectivity Standards Alliance and supported by Amazon, Apple, Google and many other popular brands. The goal is to unify the best smart home technologies into a single IP-based application system standard. This makes it easier for manufacturers to create products that work with different ecosystems and voice assistants such as Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant and more.
Devices may offer compatibility with Matter, in addition to support for other protocols or ecosystems. End users can find the Matter-certified logo on their products to ensure compatibility with the smart home ecosystem or the ecosystem of their choice. Matter is based entirely on Internet Protocol and initially operates over Wi-Fi (typically for high-throughput applications such as video security on AC-powered devices) and Thread (for low-power or battery-powered devices in autonomous systems).
The CHIP project, or IP Connected Home, was a tentative name for the Matter initiative in its early development phase. Now that Matter has been revealed as a consumer-focused brand with its own logo, Project CHIP no longer applies.
The Thread Group is an organization that develops, maintains and promotes the Thread networking standard, with more than 100 member companies representing industries such as consumer electronics, building automation, silicon manufacturing, IT and more. Because Thread is an application-independent networking standard, the Thread team works with many organizations to develop IP-based standards for home automation that can be used with Thread, such as the Connectivity Standards Alliance (materials developers), the DALI Alliance and KNX Community, BACnet and OCF.
Connection Standards Association
Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA) is the new name for the Zigbee Alliance. Over the years, the Alliance has overseen developing and commercializing many standards for home and building communications. The name was changed in May 2021 to reflect the multi-standard organization. Among the standards supported by CSA are Matter and Zigbee.
Thread is based on proven 802.15.4 wireless technology that enables high-efficiency, energy-efficient, self-healing mesh networks. These networks can be configured and managed completely independently, without bridges or hubs, so there is no single point of failure. Communication between Thread networks and traditional networks (Wi-Fi or Ethernet) is possible using simple IP-based routing. This simple routing is done by a device called a thread boundary router, and there can be multiple threads on a network. Wire-edge routers are usually not stand-alone devices, as this feature is usually bundled with other networking devices such as cable modems, Wi-Fi routers, streaming TV boxes, smart switches, or smart speakers.