Samsung, Google-owned Nest Labs, and five other companies have partnered to create Thread Group, which will focus on developing a new wireless-networking protocol for smart homes. Thread uses both the same frequency and radio chips as Zigbee, a standards-based wireless technology utilized by products like Phillips' customizable Hue LED light bulbs. It can connect more than 250 devices to a low-power, mesh network equipped with internet and cloud access. The new protocol is intended to address some of the issues present within the competition, including lack of interoperability, high power requirements, and hardware dependencies.

While it does offer features like scalability and "banking-class, public-key" cryptography, Thread's biggest advantage is that it's just a software update away from being compatible with so many products on the home-automation market. Additionally, with Samsung involved in its development, Thread radios may start appearing in the next wave of smartphones and tablets. Nest Learning Thermostat and Nest Protect are already using a version of Thread, and we might see more hardware using the protocol as early as next year. GigaOm reports that Thread Group intends to provide rigorous testing, certification, and enforcement — a process that is slated to begin mid-2015.