Internet of Things

Big Tech’s Zigbee Alliance Eyes 2021 ‘Smart Home’ Standard

We’re all doing, well, everything from home, so it makes sense that home should be a bit easier to deal with.

In what might be a roadmap drawn at least in part by Big Tech — with, specifically Apple, Amazon, Google among those names — the Zigbee Alliance is getting closer to bringing smart home (and tech automation) a bit closer to your doorstep.

And the kitchen.  And the home office.

In news reported Tuesday (Sept. 8), the Zigbee Alliance will debut a standard that is geared toward the “Project Connected Home over IP” next year. The overarching goal is to foster communication across devices that span smart home appliances, mobile hardware and software and also help certify those devices. It would make connection with, say, Alexa and Google Assistant, and the Internet of Things (IoT) a bit more streamlined.

As for just how big the IoT might be: As noted in a recent IoT tracker published by PYMNTS, we noted that the global smart home market could be worth as much as $101 billion this year alone.

AppleInsider.com reports that initially, the devices that would be targeted by the industry group would include lighting and electrical products and security offerings such as doors and locks. Other devices and features to be targeted include TVs, windows and shades and as-yet-unspecified “additional consumer electronics products and the commercial industry.”

The move to a standard is tied to an open-source approach.

Zigbee, which now stands as an alliance of more than 145 firms, and which formally launched in December of last year said in a blog post announcing the standard this week that the promise has been one to “unify a fragmented industry under a single connectivity standard that would help companies focus on creating experiences over ‘plumbing’.”  The consortium said it was “on track” to deliver a draft specification by late 2020. Back at its December 2019 launch, the alliance said that “the decision to leverage these technologies [from Apple, Google and Amazon] is expected to accelerate the development of the protocol and deliver benefits to manufacturers and consumers faster.”

In a January 2020 column, with a nod toward the connected home, Karen Webster noted in this space that “in many ways, voice is the great payments and financial services equalizer — the most ubiquitous and natural of all ways to communicate and trigger a transaction. Over the next decade, voice commerce and the virtual assistants that enable access will accelerate the growth of the everyday app ecosystem, as well as the consumers’ embrace of the everyday ecosystems that will simplify their lives and the payments and commerce experiences that underpin them.”

And in an interview this year with Karen Webster, smart home device maker Ecobee CEO Stuart Lombard told Webster in an interview that the potential is there to create the “home oasis” one smart device at a time. “People are going to invest more in their homes,” he said.

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