Nest has made the source code of their Thread protocol available on GitHub .
Back in 2005, Microsoft and Intel have submitted to the Internet Society a draft document proposing a standard for transmitting IPv6 packets over Low power Wireless Personal Area Networks (6LoWPAN) networks. Known later as RFC 4944, Transmission of IPv6 Packets over IEEE 802.15.4 Networks , the document is still a Proposed Standard with IETF. Eleven years later, Nest Labs has open sourced OpenThread , an implementation of their Thread protocol used to connect smart devices in a home over 6LoWPAN.
Shortly after its acquisition by Alphabet, Nest and several other companies including Samsung, ARM, Silicon Labs, and Yale created the Thread Group to support the development of a standard and protocol meant to connect devices at home. The protocol was supposed to be lightweight, secure, energy efficient, and run over 802.15.4 radio. Nest’s Thread was to be the starting point. The Thread Group has grown over time to more than 200 members and currently over 30 products are waiting to receive a Thread certification.
In what seems to be an independent action from the Thread Group, Nest has open sourced the Thread protocol under a BSD 3 license. ARM, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments and a couple of other companies are listed among those contributing “to the ongoing development of OpenThread,” but not Samsung nor several other founders of the group. A Nest spokesperson told InfoQ that the purpose of open sourcing the protocol was the desire to accelerate Thread’s adoption by the industry:
OpenThread is a Nest not a Thread Group initiative. With OpenThread, Nest is making the technology being used in Nest products more broadly available to silicon providers and manufacturers in an effort to accelerate the development of products in the connected home. As more silicon providers adopt Thread, manufacturers will have the option of using a proven networking technology rather than creating their own, and consumers will have a growing selection of secure and reliable connected products to choose from.
The OpenThread implementation supports all Thread networking layers -IPv6, 6LoWPAN, IEEE 802.15.4 with MAC security-, and the ability to create a mesh network with no single point of failure between devices.