NEW DELHI :
As far as smart home products are concerned, there are two main ways to control your lights, doorbells etc. right now. You either need a smart home product like an Amazon Echo, Google Nest Hub or Apple Homepod, or you can choose to use the various apps associated with smart electronics, for instance the Hue app for Philips’ Hue smart lights.
Experts in the sector have often commented on the lack of a unified platform that can make it easier to control and use smart devices. Well, that’s about to change, or at least the three biggest tech companies in the world are going to give it the old college try.
Amazon, Google and Apple announced recently that they are coming together to develop an open source smart home standard, called Connected Home Over IP (CHIP), which allows devices to talk to each other without having to work within one platform. At the moment, developers have to add support for Apple’s Siri, Google’s Google Assistant, and Amazon’s Alexa separately.
If things go as planned, it will be possible for developers to adhere to one royalty-free standard that lets products talk to any voice assistant that the consumer wants to use. It makes things easy for both consumers and companies. While you won’t have to check whether a smart home product will work with the voice assistant you use, companies will find it easier to make sure all assistants are supported.
“The Project aims to make it easier for developers to build a device that is compatible with smart home services such as Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Google Assistant, and others,” says the new alliance’s website.
In fact, while it may be too early to tell, one may even home for democratisation in the commands you give for specific actions to each assistant.
The new alliance, which also includes Zigbee Alliance, which is an important standard in the smart home space today. The Zigbee Alliance includes companies like Ikea, Samsung SmartThings, Signify (formerly known as Philips Lighting) and more. At the moment, a whole host of smart home products use the Zigbee standard. In fact, Amazon’s Echo Plus even has a Zigbee Hub built inside, which lets it talk to any Zigbee-enabled devices without the need for an app or physical bridge in between.
The ‘IP’ in CHIP stands for Internet Protocol, which is the common protocol used for communication over the Internet today. Which means the new standard will be based around this existing protocol.
Google said it is contributing Weave and Thread, two open-source smart home protocols in its arsenal. Apple is bringing its Homekit platform to the table, while Amazon brings the Alexa smart home. Last but not the least, Zigbee Alliance’s Dotdot Data Modela is also included. The idea, as mentioned above, is to find a common ground between the three.
Since Apple, Google and Amazon are the three main players in the smart home space right now, building a unified protocol today could also mean future players will have to adhere to it. The group is expected to have a first draft of the protocol by late 2020, say reports.