Wednesday 18 December 2019 5:00 pm

Amazon, Apple and Google team up to break home tech barriers

Amazon, Apple and Google are teaming up to develop a new standard for compatibility across smart home products and appliances, the companies said today.

The standard could unify a home’s electrical ecosystem and break down barriers between platforms, enabling consumers to rely on multiple providers for a streamlined service.

Read more: Smart homes could transform lives if we connect data

The firms hope to make it easier for manufacturers to develop products that are compatible with all smart home devices, such as Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri. 

The companies currently compete in the smart home market, but this leaves consumers with little choice or flexibility. The standard is an opportunity to grant developers and customers universal access to smart home technology.

If successful, the move would allow customers to use a full range of smart home capable technology – such as automatic lights or wireless speakers – without having to check compatibility.

“If the Working Group succeeds with this goal, customers can be confident that their device of choice will work in their home and that they will be able to setup and control it with their preferred system,” the firms said.

Apple, Amazon and Google formed Project Connected Home over IP with the Zigbee Alliance, an organisation developing global standards for device-to-device communication.

“The project is built around a shared belief that smart home devices should be secure, reliable, and seamless to use,” the Zigbee Alliance said. 

In a statement the tech giants added: “The industry Working Group will take an open-source approach for the development and implementation of a new, unified connectivity protocol.”

The royalty-free connectivity standard would streamline user experience and focus on security. 

Read more: scepticism holds back rise of smart home technology

The goal is for the specification developed by the working group to be available in late 2020, while existing products will continue to work as they do now.

Earlier this year, Amazon launched an initiative allowing users access to Alexa, Cortana and multiple other voice-controlled virtual assistant services from a single device.

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