In a joint statement (opens in new tab) released today, Amazon, Google, Apple, and the Zigbee Alliance have announced plans to “develop and promote the adoption of a new, royalty-free connectivity standard to increase compatibility among smart home products”. The initiative, called the Connected Home over IP project, aims to simplify the development of new smart home devices and improve compatibility between smart home devices.
But what does this all mean for consumers? The main goal of this project is to make sure that smart devices from all major tech companies can communicate and cooperate with each other. The press release makes specific mention of ensuring that new devices are compatible with voice activated smart technologies like Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant and Apple’s Siri.
What's a Zigbee?
While just about everyone on Earth has heard of Amazon, Google, and Apple you might be less familiar with the Zigbee Alliance, which sounds like a faction in Star Trek. The Zigbee Alliance is a group of companies including IKEA, Legrand, NXP Semiconductors, Resideo, Samsung SmartThings, Schneider Electric, Signify (formerly Philips Lighting), Silicon Labs, Somfy, and Wulian. These companies already collaborate closely with each other to develop and maintain global standards for wireless device communication.
This isn’t some exclusive club being set up by the tech giants either, as the group has stated that it welcomes everyone to get on board: “Project Connected Home over IP welcomes device manufacturers, silicon providers, and other developers from across the smart home industry to participate in and contribute to the standard."