Project Connected Home over IP (CHIP), the awkwardly-named-but-interesting smart home partnership between Apple, Amazon, Google, and over 170 other companies that’s supposed to make everything more compatible should finally start showing some results later this year. According to a webinar hosted by the Zigbee Alliance earlier this week, companies participating in the program will be able to get smart home devices certified for the standard by late 2021, which means we might see some things on shelves for the holiday shopping season. That first wave of devices will include things like lighting, blinds, HVAC controls, TVs, door locks, garage door openers, security systems, and Wi-Fi routers.
The CHIP standard is built around three technologies: Bluetooth LE for setup, WiFi for high-bandwidth use cases, like streaming video from a security camera, and the still-nascent Thread mesh network protocol for low-bandwidth devices such as motion sensors. (Thread has been a work in progress for a while, but it’s now on the Apple HomePod Mini, the newest Google Nest Hub, and Eero routers, so maybe it’s finally going to happen.)
Manufacturers will be able to bring CHIP support to older products through bridges, as well, so there’s a chance that devices you already own might work with CHIP products in the future.
The program, which was first announced back at the end of 2019, has had some delays due to the pandemic. It was originally supposed to have products within the CHIP standard by the end of 2020, but then the group announced last September that we wouldn’t see anything until sometime in 2021. That time apparently is the end of 2021, so it’s very possible this launch could slip even further into 2022.
The goal of CHIP is to offer a unified standard for smart home products so that customers don’t have to worry if a device they buy will work with the other devices they already own. Its technologies replace older smart home protocols such as Zigbee and Z-Wave and are designed to work with whatever voice assistant you prefer. Of course, a new standard isn’t a guarantee to solve any confusion, and it’s very possible that the CHIP program will just add yet another option to the list of standards already out there.
Stacey Higgenbotham at Stacey On IOT has a deep dive on all the announcements made by the Zigbee Alliance this week, including how it plans to improve smart home security through... the blockchain, so I suggest reading her analysis for more on the subject.