Thread can satisfy smart home networking need with low power IP mesh networks

The increasing popularity of IoT triggered the launch of advanced wireless technologies to satisfy the diversity of needs in IoT. The Thread wireless communication technology, among others, is designed for low power IP mesh networks and can satisfy the needs of connection to IoT in families with numerous devices.

IPv6 makes connection of devices to the web much easier

The Thread wireless communication technology is based on the IP wireless mesh network protocol structured to the 802.15.4 standard. It is low power, safe, and expandable and is a critical technology for the realization of IoT. Numerous wireless technologies can support the connection of the Internet, but Thread is exclusive to the specific need of family networking. The Internet is an IP based network and an IP address is required for each piece of network device to link to other devices in the same network. It is not necessary for IoT devices to link to one another via the Internet, but IoT devices with an IP address can easily access the abundance of resources over the web.

For network technology that does not support IP, it must search for an IP at the gateway. This processing is associated with the mapping of the network IP of the device itself and repacks the data packet of the network as IP data packet. The encrypted data of the device must be decrypted at the gateway and encrypted again in the IP data packet. To the contrast, the device network that supports IP, such as Thread and Wi-Fi, can relay without intervention and reduce the effective loading of the router application.

The rise of the IoT makes IP address almost fully consumed. The IPv6 protocol is a solution for the insufficient supply of IP address. The new IoT devices should also be able to support IPv6 to connect to the world-wide-web of the future. 

6LoWPAN is an acronym of IPv6 over Low Power Wireless Personal Area Networks. It can efficiently transmit IPv6 data packet in the connection of 802.15.4., which allows for easy access to the IoT by devices with limited resources. Designed with IPv6 technology and based on 6LoWPAN, Thread supports UDP transmission including compulsory safety architecture that allows for easy adding or removal of devices. It can provide solutions for self-recovery of mesh networks for more than 250 nodes without the need of specific repeater, and it is designed for very low power that can help to overcome wireless interference. It can also support the path for the software upgrade of Thread for the 802.15.4 and Zigbee devices for multiple nodes development, monitoring, adjustment, and system performance analysis software and hardware development platform. Thread can provide solution for security and the increasing demand of IP mesh network in market, and can support sleep node that requires only one battery for years of operation.

NXP is one among the founding companies of Thread technology and it has launched related products for the manufacturers to proceed quickly to product development, including the NXP Kinetis KW2xD and KW41Z, which can be used in Thread routers, Router Eligible End Devices (REEDs), and Thread end devices. It also supports Tower system development board and Freedom development board, and Kinetis Software Development kit (SDK) and FreeRTOS real-time operating system. The NXP Kinetis KL46, when matching with MCR20A transceiver, can be used in Thread end devices and support Freedom development board and the Kinetis software development kit and FreeRTOS.

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NXP Semiconductors RF/Wireless Development Boards and Kits View

In addition, NXP has also launched the NXP i.MX6 Ultralite evaluation kit that can match with FRDM-KW24D or FRDM-KW41Z for using in Thread border router and cloud gateway that can provide IP address router and infrastructure integration for i.MX6UL evaluation kit and Freedom development board that can run in Linux operating system. The NXP Kinetis K64F can match with MCR60A transceiver to support border router for Ethernet. In the future, it can even support Wi-Fi function (matching with QCA400x) and support the Freedom development board and Kinetis software development kit and FreeRTOS.

Rigado has launched the R41Z series. With a built-in ARM® Cortex®-M0+ processor, an integrated 2.4GHz transceiver and an integrated antenna, the R41Z series is an ultra-low-power highly integrated single chip device that can provide Thread wireless network for combining with IEEE 802.15.4 and Bluetooth low energy (BLE) RF capacity for portable devices and ultra-low-power embedded systems. The R41Z can provide full RF solutions that allow for low development cost and quick launch of products to the market.

With the full adoption of the NXP KW41Z capabilities and peripherals, the R41Z series can help to reinforce the performance of various tough applications and can simplify design and reduce the cost of BOM. R41Z also features Thread for 802.15.4 network and BLE network design requirement, and is an ideal solution for both. The multiple-mode capacity allows for the execution of mesh network LAN and remote control/monitoring, and can engage in direct communication with BLE for mobile devices. Rigado also provides evaluation kit and design service, and can help customers to accelerate product development and reduce the cost and time for development.

The Thread technology can be extensively used in fields such as air-conditioning, lighting, security, home appliances, access control, IoT, home healthcare, audiovisual remote control, smart energy management, low power sensor networks, smart keys, interactive entertainment devices, environmental monitoring and control, hotel automation, and office automation. The scope of application is so wide that entails a very big market. It triggered the manufacturers to develop related new products to compete for a larger share of the market.



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