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Nest shares its Thread protocol with the masses

Nest launches OpenThread today, an open-source implementation of the Thread protocol, in an effort to streamline the smart home market.

Josh Miller/CNET

In an effort to unite the smart-home market under a single networking protocol, Google/Alphabet's Nest today launched OpenThread, an open-source implementation of the Thread protocol.

The Thread Group, a nonprofit company first announced in July 2014, introduced the Thread protocol in hopes that IoT partners would work together to make the multiprotocol smart-home industry a bit less confusing. Some of the members of the Thread Group include names like Nest, ARM, Big Ass Fans, Silicon Labs, Freescale and Yale Security.

But, two years have passed since the Thread Group's public launch and the smart home is still pretty complicated. Enter OpenThread, Nest's attempt to draw even more support for the Thread networking language. Specifically, OpenSource will make the tech in Nest's thermostats, smoke and CO detectors and security cameras available to any manufacturer interested in using the Thread protocol instead of designing a separate standard.

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Of course, other brands can create their own open-source implementations of Thread, and a product with OpenThread is different than a Thread-certified product. For that, the company has to be a direct member of the Thread Group.

Looking at the broader smart-home industry, it seems that Nest is taking its cues from the open-software Amazon Alexa and Samsung SmartThings platforms rather than the more closed Apple HomeKit. But even if the industry is trending toward open software, Nest, Amazon and SmartThings still aren't sharing a single protocol language. Who knows? Maybe OpenThread will help change that.