Thread is a new, reliable and secure wireless mesh network technology based on the IEEE 802.15.4 MAC and PHY standard and Internet Protocol (IPv6).
It can be deployed to IEEE 802.15.4 compliant chipsets such as the Kinetis KW2x wireless MCUs. ZigBee Pro and ZigBee IP specifications are also based on the IEEE 802.15.4 standard.
As a difference to ZigBee Pro, Thread defines the functionality necessary for deploying self-healing wireless mesh networks as based on IPv6, by reusing the widely deployed and well proven IP layer model and application interface.
When compared to Wi-Fi or ZigBee IP, the Thread technology can scale down to provide IP connectivity also to ultra low-power or very simple embedded devices such as sensors and actuators.
Furthermore, Thread defines an approach for simplified yet resilient IP routing for device-to-device communication. Such functions are targeted to support a wider variety of applications for the Internet of Things and the connected home.
Bluetooth and Bluetooth Smart technologies are deployed extensively and can be used to implement low energy configurations. However, Bluetooth infrastructure supports only point-to-point asymmetric network topologies.
Application frameworks are also specific to be used only over Bluetooth transports. In comparison, Thread defines a flexible, distributed mesh network fabric scalable to hundreds of devices of various types and provisions for generic IPv6 addressing and interfacing.
A device implementing Thread can also include Ethernet, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth Smart as complementary technologies in order to integrate with upstream IP infrastructure or to facilitate user interaction from mobile devices.
Freescale Kinetis and i.MX devices provide ideal platforms for systems and software integration of multiple connectivity technologies for such application scenarios.
Furthermore, the Kinetis KW2x Dual PAN mode can also be used to run Thread in parallel or co-exist with other standardized or proprietary wireless protocols based on IEEE 802.15.4.