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Thread: Home Controls Guide to the New Wireless Technology

Written by
Home Controls
Published on
July 19, 2023 at 8:00:00 AM PDT July 19, 2023 at 8:00:00 AM PDTth, July 19, 2023 at 8:00:00 AM PDT

As smart technology becomes ever more prevalent, the needs for secure and reliable operation and guaranteed fast wireless transmissions (that don’t impede other wireless signals and devices) sit at the forefront of product development. Additionally, competition within the smart home market has created closed bubbles of wireless connectivity, forcing users to commit to one or two networks based on a single communication protocol, such as Z-Wave, Zigbee, or Wi-Fi. However, the desire for interoperability between closed networks has been growing steadily over the past few years. Some companies responded by creating hub controllers capable of communicating with multiple networks. Apple, Amazon, Google, and Samsung decided to partner together as the Thread Group to support a new wireless communication protocol called Thread.

What is Thread?

Thread is a mesh network wireless protocol specifically designed for Internet of Things devices that use low power transmissions such as security sensors, smart switches, door locks, and more. A Thread network does not require a hub device to retain saved automated functions or manage transmissions between devices; instead Thread networks require a “border router”, a smart device given permission to use its radio transceiver to communicate with Thread & Matter compatible devices through a Wi-Fi/IP network. Smart devices that function as border routers include the Aeotec Smart Home Hub, Google Nest Hubs, and eero mesh routers. All saved automated functions are stored locally in paired smartphones as well as cloud servers. Thread uses open standards like IPv6 and a IEEE 802.15.4 MAC/PHY foundation to provide interoperability between devices of different manufacturers and routines run by different virtual assistants. Thread networks are also protected with AES encryption to prevent unauthorized access. If installed strategically throughout a building, a Thread network could support over 250 devices at once with minimal dead zones or signal delay.

Like Z-Wave or Zigbee networks, Thread utilizes a mesh network to communicate with any and all Thread compatible devices within range. Each device on the Thread network operates as a “node”, changing its role between endpoint transceiver and signal router to ensure signals reach the proper destination. Battery powered Thread devices are only capable of acting as end points, while plug-in or wired devices can switch their communication roles. Each Thread device connects to the nearest Thread device, and so on and so forth to deliver signals directly from one Thread device to the next. Should one Thread device break, be removed or turned off, the transmitting Thread device will automatically send the signal to the next nearest node. This framework ensures constant connection and performance throughout the Thread network, as each Thread device fills in potential dead zones within your home or office building. Additionally, Thread communications will not interfere with high frequency transmissions including 5GHz Wi-Fi, allowing users to take advantage of a smart home system without slowing down their overall bandwidth.

What is Thread’s relationship with Matter?

Matter and Thread are both categorized as wireless communication protocols and work in tandem with each other. Thread functions as the foundational network, establishing and maintaining connections between various devices using a local IP or Wi-Fi network. Matter acts as translator for all interconnected devices across various brands, wireless protocols, and optional cloud services. Matter makes use of multiple wireless protocols simultaneously depending on the bandwidth required for delivering information. When coordinating low bandwidth, low power devices like sensors and smart switches, Matter utilizes Thread connections. For high bandwidth applications including transmitting surveillance footage or audio from a receiver to a wireless speaker, Matter uses Wi-Fi signals. Additionally, Matter and Thread piggyback off of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) transmissions when connecting new devices or reestablishing Thread connections.

Home Controls currently offers the following Thread compatible devices: 

Aeotec Smart Home Hub (border router)

As more Thread and Matter compatible devices become available, Home Controls will seek to expand our catalog of available devices and provide updates on the ever growing list of compatible devices. For more questions about Thread, the differences in wireless communication protocols, or any other home automation or home security topics, check out other entries in our blog or talk to our team over the phone at (858)-693-8887 or email us at