You need to know this about the different smart health home protocols
There are various smart health home protocols available to connect your devices with each other. A protocol in the background ensures that a connection can be made between the different devices. For example, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are an example of well-known protocols, but there are also some protocols made specifically for smart homes. In this article we highlight the most important ones.
Apple Homekit or Google Weave are not protocols
Many people assume that Homekit from Apple, or Weave from Google are your own protocol, because you can use it to control devices. They are wrong. Apple Homekit and Google Weave are overarching “information schemes” that determine what a device can do and how it can communicate with other devices. These schedules ensure that devices can talk to each other. The idea behind Homekit and Weave is that devices can communicate with each other without knowing specific device details, such as the manufacturer, components, or operating system. Homekit works with WiFi and Bluetooth, among other things. Support for other protocols will be added in the future.
A protocol ensures that a layer below these schedules, so even more in the background, can be used to communicate with each other via a specific language. Protocol support must have a device with purchase, otherwise it will not work with other devices, for example. Therefore, also carefully check which protocol the devices can handle before you make a purchase.
What protocols are there?
The most mentioned protocol for smart homes is Z-Wave. Z-Wave is specifically made for smart health home devices. Z-Wave creates its own network, in addition to the existing one WiFi network. By using a hub that communicates with your router, it is possible to control your smart health home product via your smartphone or tablet.
Z-Wave is intended for specific commands. These commands take up little data. By operating on a low frequency, Z-Wave has little trouble with interference from existing networks, such as the 2.4 GHz frequency with WiFi. Another big advantage of Z-Wave is that any device that can handle Z-Wave can communicate with any other type of device that also has Z-Wave. In addition, older versions also work with newer versions of Z-Wave. Also by wired devices such as repeater Z-Wave has reception in many places. This is also called a mesh network.
Just like Z-Wave, ZigBee is specifically designed for smart homes. As a result, the network uses little energy, and devices with a battery can last a long time. And here too, a mesh network is used. ZigBee sometimes struggles to get devices from different manufacturers to communicate with each other, an ailment that Z-Wave has less trouble with.
In addition, there are also different versions of ZigBee in circulation that do not always get along well with each other. If you are considering using a device via ZigBee, make sure that you purchase multiple devices from, for example, the same manufacturer. That way you know for sure that everything works together. This is how the Philips Hue lamp not directly through ZigBee. The signal first goes from your smartphone to the router, on to the hub, to your router, and so to the lamp.
Thread is a relatively new protocol, established in 2014 by Nest and Samsung, among others. Thread assumes that most devices operate on battery power, and is therefore energy efficient.
Thread uses the same frequency and chips as ZigBee. That is why a mesh network with Thread is also possible. ZigBee and Thread can also get along with each other, so that devices will work together. You can connect around 250 devices to a Thread network at a time. Companies like Samsung and Qualcomm are doing their best to make more devices suitable for Thread. An advantage of Thread is that the devices can be controlled via the cloud. In addition, the connection with AES is secured, so that your connection cannot be intercepted by third parties. Examples of devices that use Thread are the Nest thermostat, and the Nest Protect.
Wifi is often used as a protocol for smart health home devices. Because WiFi is already present in many households, it can be started quickly. This advantage is therefore also a disadvantage. Due to the many devices that use Wi-Fi, interference and noise will soon appear on the wifi signal.
This does not benefit the speed with which your smart health home device responds. In addition, Wi-Fi is also very energy-consuming: devices such as smart locks or other sensors will consume their battery quickly if they communicate via Wi-Fi.
Another well-known protocol is bluetooth. Bluetooth has the advantage over WiFi that it is a lot more energy efficient. On the other hand, it can transfer data less quickly. The biggest disadvantage, however, is the range of bluetooth. There will be support for mesh networks for Bluetooth, so this problem could be solved. With the announcement of bluetooth 5 this has not yet been brought out, but that work is being done has been announced. In addition, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is specifically aimed at devices for your smart health home in order to use as little energy as possible. With this, Bluetooth could become a formidable competitor for other protocols in the future.
Cooperation in the future?
All of these different protocols mean that smart health home devices cannot always communicate with each other unless they have the same protocols. In order to be able to manage products with different protocols via one central location and to have routines executed, several solutions are devised. TP-Link, among others, jumps in here with a universal router to introduce that can handle ZigBee, Z-Wave and WiFi. If you then want to have tasks performed by devices with different products, such a router is ideal. In this way you also have to worry less about which protocol has which device. In the future, such routers and hubs will play an important role in controlling devices simultaneously without having to install multiple apps. It is important to know that a universal router does not suddenly ensure that the devices with different protocols can communicate with each other.
Which protocol wins?
That is a very good question and one that is impossible to answer now. It is quite possible that different protocols co-exist, such as in the field of audio DTS and Dolby co-exist. However, DTS and Dolby can be played by almost any device. It is also possible that one protocol wins, as was the case with ehealth; Blu-ray versus HD DVD. One thing is certain and that is that there are currently so many different players and that everyone has their own preferences and opinions. As a consumer, you now have to think carefully about what you purchase and how exactly this communicates with other (future) devices.
For more information about which type of products are there for your smart health home, check our background article about this. Want to get started on all devices link together, read our article about how to do this best. Finally, keep our tips and advice page for the most up-to-date background articles about smart homes.
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