If you wanted to build a smart home anytime in the last decade, you turned to one of two places: ZigBee or Z-Wave. Both are connectivity standards tailor made for the smart home, each connecting the hundreds of products approved for their systems. You’ve probably never heard of them, but you’ve definitely heard of their new competitors: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. As the niche smart home industry starts to grow, everyone wants a piece of it. And more established standards are coming for them.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth both plan to make some big changes over the next year or two that’ll allow them to better connect the smart home: Wi-Fi is creating a low-power offering so it can work inside tiny devices, and Bluetooth is adding mesh networking so it can extend throughout a home. If things work out, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth could be the only home connectivity standards we need.
“The [low-power Wi-Fi] HaLow announcement is a huge win for us,” says Mitchell Klein, Z-Wave’s executive director. “Everything they’ve been talking about, we’ve been doing already.” Both groups readily acknowledge that they’re going to have to work with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, as well as the ecosystems that use them, to succeed in the home. “We’re not an island,” Klein says of Z-Wave. “We absolutely have to be partnering and working with all of those potential standards. We know that. The good news is: we are.”