Thread, for those unfamiliar, is a wireless connectivity protocol designed specifically for smart home devices. Nanoleaf’s CEO previously described Thread as the “love-child of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Zigbee.”
The idea is that Thread forms a connectivity backbone for smart devices like lights that operates alongside users’ Wi-Fi network. Thread boasts several benefits, such as being more power-friendly than Wi-Fi and getting all those smart lights off your Wi-Fi network onto their own mesh connection.
That second piece is where the border routers come in. Unlike other home connectivity platforms, Thread’s hubs are called ‘border routers’ and they can be built into other devices. That’s how Thread differs from platforms like Zigbee, which require their own hubs. By letting certain supported devices act as hubs, Thread can enable more interoperability and reduce the number of smart devices cluttering people’s homes. Some of Google’s newer smart home products, such as the Nest WiFi, Nest Hub Max and second-gen Nest Hub, can act as Thread border routers — now some Nanoleaf products can too.
With Nanoleaf’s announcement, anyone with one of the Nanoleaf Shapes or Elements panel sets will have a Thread border router. Nanoleaf noted in a release that iOS users have access to the update right away, while Android users will get the update soon (it’s currently in public beta). Once your Nanoleaf app is up-to-date, head to ‘More’ > ‘Firmware Updates’ in the app to install the Thread update. Specifically, the ‘controller’ piece of the panels will act as the border router, not the panels themselves.
Nanoleaf says that once users connect their Shapes or Elements controller to Wi-Fi, they’ll be able to start using the Thread network with Thread-capable devices, such as Nanoleaf’s Essentials bulbs.
Along with bringing Thread border router capabilities to some of its products, Nanoleaf announced that it’s working with Amazon’s Eero to expand the Thread ecosystem.
The Eero Pro, Beacon, Pro 6 and Eero 6 routers will all work as border routers for Nanoleaf Essentials. Further, Nanoleaf said that Eero plans to expand compatibility with other products in future updates.