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Advanced building automation powered by IoT requires reliable and competent communication protocols for the sensors & devices to transmit and receive data. OpenThread is Google’s wireless mesh technology that helps to achieve it. This powerful technology ensures reliable and secure end-to-end communication with single applications connecting hundreds and even thousands of products at a time.

What is Google’s OpenThread?

Google Open Thread is an IPv6-based networking protocol designed for low-power Internet of Things devices in an IEEE 802.15.4-2006 wireless mesh network. It’s commonly called a Wireless Personal Area Network (WPAN). It operates in the 2.4 GHz open radio frequency band and addresses challenges such as interoperability, security, power, and architectural requirements. Thread is independent of other 802.15 mesh networking protocols, such as ZigBee, Z-Wave, and Bluetooth LE.

Implementation of OpenThread Networking Protocol

Due to a lack of IP-based technologies, the IoT devices and cloud functionalities needed application gateways. To combat this situation, IoT companies used to deliver gateways along with their IoT devices and systems. But, these functionalities are not certified or do not have full interoperability. Also, the main challenges arise when it comes to unlocking new end-to-end features between devices and mobile apps.

Today, every facility wants to achieve connected building. They aim to accelerate the development of products in their commercial facilities. OpenThread is a portable and flexible open-source implementation of the Thread networking protocol that makes it possible.

It’s a Thread Certified Component, which carries out all Thread networking layers (IPv6, 6LoWPAN, IEEE 802.15.4 with MAC security, Mesh Link Establishment, Mesh Routing) and device roles. At the same time, it provides Border Router support on embedded devices.

A thread architecture is a great participant in the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem that allows devices to communicate securely across other link technologies. It’s a key element in the OpenThread Border Router(OTBR).

Just like a Wi-Fi Access point, an IPv6 Thread Border Router provides connectivity independent of the application protocols that are already in use.

What is the role of OpenThread Border Router?

An OpenThread Border Router (OTBR) offers end-to-end connectivity to other IP-based networks, like Wi-Fi or Ethernet. It acts as a gateway between the Internet and the Thread network. As a result, users can access all Thread devices from the application, mobile phone, or a cloud-hosted online service whenever a Thread Border Router is connected to the network or the Internet. In this way, the development process becomes fully transparent.

The OpenThread Border Router works with several chipsets from several suppliers and is based on low-cost Raspberry Pi-based development boards. It’s designed to work with OpenThread released by Nest, but it can work with other Thread Certified implementations.

Top features of OpenThread

OpenThread is a flexible, well-supported open standard, and the best technology for IoT developers. From remote asset management to sending data from normally ‘unconnected’ underground spaces, this next generation of IoT comes with powerful features!

Here are some of Thread’s primary features:

  1. Network Deployment: OpenThread comes with APIs that set up mesh networks or commission devices and handle local network communication. Building connected products like cloud communication or OTA updates becomes easy this way.
  2. Built-in security: All devices in a Thread network are authenticated. They cannot join the network unless authorized. All communications are encrypted and secure by default which adds a layer of security to the cloud.
  3. Remote local management: OpenThread gives the power to monitor the state of the network from anywhere in the Particle Device Cloud.
  4. Reliability: This part of IoT technology allows for self-healing mesh networking, ensures no single point of failure, and comes with spread-spectrum techniques to provide immunity to interference.
  5. Scalable: OpenThread networks can scale up to hundreds or even thousands of devices at a time.
  6. Efficient: Low-power Thread devices can sleep and function efficiently on battery power for years.
  7. Simple: It is easy to install, start, and operate.

Applications of OpenThread in Building Automation

Currently, there are many loopholes in the building management system. Due to a lack of standardization in networking protocol, the maturity of technology stacks, security, privacy concerns, and other setbacks, facility managers have to face several challenges in ensuring optimal operation and connectivity within building systems.

Thankfully, the application of IoT is changing things another way round. It paved the way for an open set of standard protocols for building automation allowing devices, sensors, and actuators in a building to communicate with each other exchanging valuable information.

Multiple devices cannot communicate with each other easily as they belong to different vendors and follow different networking protocols. They rely on a router to communicate with products around the building.

Even if devices fail, the networks never go down. Also, the current network protocols need a battery as they work 24/7. It often results in quick battery drain. They are not secure and are comparatively easy to hack. With Thread gateway-based solution, facility managers can reduce discrepancies so that they can focus more on creating values in end-user applications.

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