The power of smart at home are the dozens of options that support each goal. The weakness of the smart home is the dozens of ecosystems that often do not play well together. Project CHIP, from Apple, Amazon, Google and more, aims to fix that, and the standard̵
Apple, Google, Amazon and the ZigBee alliance first announced Project CHIP in early 2020 with one big goal: to unite all ecosystems. Rather than simply adding one more standard to the list of ever-expanding standards, Project CHIP hopes to solve the underlying problem by uniting under one existing standard: internet protocol.
It’s similar to what the Thread group tried for years, and that group even joined Project CHIP in the long run, as do more and more manufacturers. IKEA, Signify (Philips Hue), Kroger, Samsung and even Wyze joined CHIP. But the initial announcement was just a concept, not a fully built stand ready for devices.
According to a webinar from the ZigBee Alliance earlier this week, the specification is nearing completion and companies should be able to submit smart home devices for certification later this year. The hope is to have the devices ready for Christmas shopping in time.
Project CHIP runs on several layers, low-energy Bluetooth for installation, Wi-Fi for anything that requires a lot of bandwidth (such as security cameras) and Thread’s mesh network protocol for low-bandwidth devices such as smart lights and motion sensors. Some devices are already Thread ready or Thread compatible, such as Apple’s HomePod Mini and Nanoleaf’s new Essentials line. In theory, getting those devices certified for Project CHIP should be easy.
On the back, getting a device Project CHIP certified should be a simpler process than trying to support half a dozen different standards like Google Assistant, Alexa, ZigBee, and more. This often led to devices outperforming others in one area and confusion as to what a particular device could support in a particular scenario.
And that is a victory for the consumer. When Project CHIP takes off, you don’t have to worry about choosing something that works with your particular setup. Suppose Project CHIP becomes the new universal standard. In that case, as long as the device is Project CHIP certified, it should work across the board with other Project CHIP certified devices, regardless of which company manufactured it or which radios it uses.
However, it is still early, and too early to say if Project CHIP will succeed where other groups have tried and failed.