Apple Inc, Amazon.com Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google are partnering to lay the groundwork for better compatibility among their smart home products, the companies said on Wednesday.
Zigbee Alliance, whose members include IKEA and NXP Semiconductors among others, will also contribute to the project, titled “Connected Home over IP”.
The rare partnership comes against the backdrop of an intensified competition among global technology companies to dominate the market for voice assistants and other smart devices.
The group aims to make it easier for device manufacturers to build products that are compatible with smart home and voice services such as Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant.
More parts of the home can now be controlled by voice-activated speakers or remote apps, from thermostats to lights and even refrigerators.
The lack of an industry-wide connectivity standard leaves people confused and frustrated when trying to understand what devices work with each smart home ecosystem, wrote Nik Sathe.
“It also places a heavy burden on manufacturers to make sure all devices are compatible with each other.”, Grant Erickson, engineers at Google’s Nest unit said.
Amazon and Google have relatively open systems already, which have allowed tens of thousands of third-party devices to link up with their smart speakers. Apple only supports a few hundred via its HomeKit standard. The global smart home market is projected to grow to $174.2 billion by 2025, according to MarketWatch, up from $55.7 billion in 2016.
Earlier this year, another consortium led by Amazon had launched an initiative to let users access Alexa, Microsoft Corp’s and other voice-controlled virtual assistant services from a single device.