Three of the biggest smart-home and voice-assistant providers Apple Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Amazon.com Inc. are joining forces to make internet-connected homes easier to set up and safer to use.
The rivals announced Wednesday that they’re working with the Zigbee Alliance, a foundation that promotes standards for the Internet of Things, and its members including Samsung Electronics Co., Somfy SA and IKEA, on a new standard that will ensure their products work with one another.
The group aims to make it easier for device manufacturers to build products that are compatible with smart home and voice services such as Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant. Earlier this year, another consortium led by Amazon had launched an initiative to let users access Alexa, Microsoft Corp’s (MSFT.O) Cortana and other voice-controlled virtual assistant services from a single device.
This new standard will be working alongside existing protocols like WiFi and Bluetooth. While there are no set plans in place yet, the group has said that for the devices to work they will have to support Bluetooth Low Energy, WiFi or Thread to work in the new system they are going to develop. The standard will be based around IP, the group said, adding that not all devices will need to connect to the Internet. And, the new standard will allow all these devices to send messages to each other with end-to-end security.
Besides Apple, Google, Amazon and Zigbee, the other big names in the fray are Ikea, Samsung (Smart Things), Signify (Philips Lighting) etc. The group will start with a focus on safety devices like smoke alarms, door locks etc and the initial draft of the new standard will be released in late 2020.