Three of the world’s biggest tech companies — Apple, Amazon, and Google — are putting aside years of competition and creating a joint technology standard.
The new standard is aimed at smart-home products like Amazon’s Echo, Apple’s HomePod, and Google’s Home. It’s called “Project Connected Home Over IP,” a very specific name for a group with a very specific goal: “To develop and promote the adoption of a new, royalty-free connectivity standard to increase compatibility among smart home products, with security as a fundamental design tenet,” the companies announced on Wednesday.
More simply put, the group aims to create a single standard used by all creators of smart-home products.
That single standard, the group said, would “simplify development for manufacturers and increase compatibility for consumers.”
Smart devices produced by Apple, Google, and Amazon have mostly used different connectivity standards. In practice, this means that smart devices — like smart lights, thermostats, and other such home electronics — aren’t necessarily compatible with each smart speaker.
While the new protocol would make more gadgets work across all three devices, it wouldn’t standardize features, and you shouldn’t expect Apple’s Siri to suddenly show up as an option on Amazon’s Echo devices, or Google Assistant to suddenly appear on Apple’s HomePod.
Instead, the standardization applies specifically to connectivity.
“Today there is no widely adopted open standard for smart home which is built upon IP and yet IP is the protocol of the internet and is the most common network layer used in our homes and offices,” the group said, adding that “many Smart Home devices use proprietary protocols today, requiring them to be tethered to a home network using dedicated proxies and translators.”
In harnessing a dedicated standard using existing technology — IP connectivity that serves as the backbone of the modern internet — the group hopes to streamline the consumer experience.
The goal is simple: To make it so “customers can be confident that their device of choice will work in their home and that they will be able to setup and control it with their preferred system.”
Whether it will succeed remains to be seen; the group said the first implementations are expected at some point “in late 2020.”