When it comes to recruiting companies to Internet-of-Things initiatives, the Z-Wave Alliance seems to have taken a leaf out of the Thread Group's book by dangling the free-membership carrot in front of up-and-coming smart-home innovators.
The yearlong Z-Wave Labs Program is an upcoming contest that will let startups and entrepreneurs compete for free Alliance memberships and more--much in the same way as the Innovation Enabler Program that the Nest-led Thread Group announced recently.
For the uninitiated, the Z-Wave Alliance is a consortium of companies invested in Z-Wave, a low-power, wireless mesh-networking technology owned by Sigma Designs, that's popular in the connected-home market. The group says the Z-Wave ecosystem of wireless control products and services is the world's largest, with more than 1200 commercially available products from 300-plus companies currently on the market.
With that out of the way, let's get back to the IoT competition.
In addition to a free 12-month membership to the Z-Wave Alliance, each of the competition's twelve monthly winners will also receive a Sigma Designs 500-series Z-Wave Developer Kit. The kit is essentially a suite of hardware and software tools necessary for developing Z-Wave enabled products.
Not a lot else is known about the contest at this stage, other than that it doesn't get underway until May 2015. According to a press release announcing the contest, more details will become available in April.
"The Z-Wave Alliance recognizes the importance of start-ups and disrupters in the industry both to jump start innovation but also to accelerate widespread adoption of smart home and IoT technology," said Sigma Designs' senior director of corporate marketing, Mary Miller, in a press release.
The story behind the story: The Z-Wave Labs Program is an attempt at catching tomorrow's smart-home headliners young, while they're still susceptible to the allure of free memberships and dev kits. It will give young startups and entrepreneurs an opportunity to rub shoulders with the many established names that make up the Z-Wave Alliance, including ADT, Smartthings (owned by Samsung), LG Electronics, Leviton, Vivint, and many others.
This announcement follows close on the heels of a similar move by the Thread Group, a consortium backed by Nest Labs, ARM, and Big Ass Fans that is pushing a new IoT protocol based on 6LoWPAN (IPv6 over Low-power Wireless Personal Area Network). And that's interesting given how Z-Wave sees Thread: a technology redolent of typical Google arrogance and "cheerfully oblivious to a market of tens of millions of existing smart products controlling homes, businesses and industries worldwide."