CHIP IOT Standard Announcement & Mozilla IOT comments?

In the last 2 days there has been much publicity about the new CHIP IOT communication standard hosted by the Zigbee Alliance with very large companies such as Google, Amazon, Apple, et. al. I scanned a list of other partners, with interest, looking for Mozilla IOT w/o success.

Q: Can the Mozilla IOT team comment at some point about the implications of this new communication protocol and what it may mean for the development and/or use of Mozilla IOT software…

The announcement peaked my interest because Zigbee is clearly mentioned along with Silicon Labs, but the Z-Wave protocol was noticeably missing from the announcements. I have Z-Wave components.

Today, Silicon Labs announced the they are making Z-Wave radio standard “open” allowing other developers to update code and manufacture devices; probably to make sure they are not left in the dust IMHO.

BTW: I like to read “Stacy on IOT” in my rss feed. It provides news summaries about IOT topics. See:


Hi Eric,

This announcement certainly peaked our interest too!

If this new alliance is able to achieve their stated aims, it would seem to be a significant and positive development for interoperability in the smart home. It’s also encouraging to see that this news has pushed the Z-Wave Alliance to announce opening up their own protocol earlier than planned.

As I understand it, what the Connected Home over IP (CHIP) alliance intend to do is to take parts of Apple HomeKit, Google Weave and DotDot (from Zigbee) and create a single unified royalty-free application layer protocol which will run over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Thread networks using using IPv6.

They plan to have the initial specification and Apache2 licensed reference implementation ready in late 2020, so I wouldn’t expect to see the first products certified for this new protocol until at least 2021.

You won’t have seen Mozilla’s name on the list of participants because we weren’t invited to take part in the initial launch, but we have expressed an interest in finding out more information and have been in communication with existing members.

In the short term this news doesn’t make much difference to Mozilla WebThings in that people will continue to use their existing Zigbee, Z-Wave and HomeKit smart home products (and the many other protocols!) for the foreseeable future.

In the medium term it may mean that users need fewer adapter add-ons to add all their smart home devices to the WebThings Gateway as new devices converge on this new protocol.

In the long term we will need to evaluate in detail how this new protocol complements or competes with the Web of Things and what that means for our long term strategy of being a trusted personal agent for the connected home.

In the meantime, Web of Things standardisation will continue with a new Working Group Charter starting in the new year. As will other efforts like the one run by the Open Connectivity Foundation. I hope that eventually these efforts will converge into a smaller set of standards in the smart home space.

As well as the issue of interoperability, we will also continue to advocate for privacy and security in the connected home, which can be as much in the implementation of the standards as in the standards themselves.

In conclusion, this press release sounds like a very positive development! It will be challenging for this new alliance to mash all those existing protocols into a single unified protocol and I imagine there will be a lot of politics involved and quite a while yet until we see the first products. So we’re waiting to see what comes of it, and will contribute where appropriate.


P.S. I read Stacey on IoT too, she’s great!


Great comment and feedback and I’m glad Mozilla IOT will be involved.

I have my reservations about this… Note that this new “CHIP” standard will only will use IPv6… Ask yourself why that is? There is no shortage of ipV4 addresses WITHIN private networks ( like 192.186 etc. etc. - recycled forever).
The only possible reason for this is that each and every device using the CHIP standard must be able to be addressed from OUTSIDE the local network - Now look at the business models of the companies involved… Just sayin’

IPv6 supports private ULA addressing which is just as private as IPv4… One should not be afraid of IPv6.

Supporting local, stand-alone, management of IOT is a major concern which is one reason many of us are here supporting Mozilla IOT. I would rather implement my home management tools with limited capabilities to remain private. Alas, most people do not understand the technical details required to do this and require cloud-based services.


The point I was making is that the NOT supporting IPv4 they are showing their colours :slight_smile:
I don’t see nay reason why anyone outside my home network should have any idea what my stuff is doing :slight_smile:

  • IPv6 ULA is private just like private IPv4. All data will remain on your local network.

  • Neglecting to mention IPv4 does not mean it will not be supported

  • My internet provider does not support IPv6 on our cable modems (have not enabled it). I doubt that CHIP will disenfranchise entire geographic regions by requiring public IPv6.

  • There is a need in many cases for end-2-end SSL communications using certificates (lock, cameras, security, etc). This is one process I think they are researching. This begins with generating SSL certificates using public IP addresses during initial provisioning.

Only time will tell…

The data released by the consortium explicitly shows IPv6 only in their “stack” diagram…
Look here

I don’t think they explicitly want to exclude IPv4.
The idea of the consortium is to reuse things which are already existing.
Most of the standards of the past years for IP in IoT are targeting IPv6.
If you look at BLE, there is a proposal for IPv6 over BLE (, not IPv4.
Zigbee, as well as Thread, are based on 802.15.4.
There is an IPv6 Layer on top of 802.15.4 called 6LoWPAN, which is used by Thread.
Adding IPv4 support to all of this would result in a lot of effort with almost no gain from a technical perspective.

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That’s exactly why I dumped Amazon Echo in favour of Mozilla IOT; I don’t want my home appliances on internet and completely out of my control.

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When I saw this announcement I was a little worried. Most security issues occur because people use IP/wifi based devices, which they connect to their home networks. As we’ve seen time and time again, this makes any IoT devices a potential Trojan horse: if it can be taken over, the attacker is free to wreak havoc on the LAN.

The great thing about Zigbee and Z-wave is that they automatically create a separate network for those ‘smart’ devices, which greatly reduces the attack surface.

Secondly, devices that use IP and can connect to the internet autonomously are also a huge privacy risk. They are dangerous because they can autonomously send lots of data to the cloud. There is no gateway in between where users can manage and block this.

This is my main issue with the Mozilla WebThings Gateway: its built on the ideology that things should be connected to the internet in the first place. That this is somehow automatically a positive thing, that this is ‘open’ and ‘transparent’ somehow. Similar to how Facebook keeps saying they want to ‘connect people’, as if that’s automatically a good thing. We’ve learnt it’s not that simple.

In the end, having things connect to the internet/cloud is what surveillance capitalists want us to accept as a default. I believe that in the following years we’ll see a movement away from that. Heck, we’re already seeing it. Companies like IKEA wisely chose to use Zigbee instead of Wifi for their new products. I predict Apple will also move in this direction (perhaps based on Bluetooth).

And I wish Mozilla would push in this direction too.

In a nutshell, I believe the problem with the Internet of Things is the Internet part. The good news is that we can remove it and still have a great smart home.

Note that there is a difference between “connected to the internet” and “connected to the cloud”. Whilst there are benefits to a completely offline system, there is also clearly utility in connecting some home devices to the internet and some functionality which only the internet can provide.

The current default industry approach of communicating with your home via commercial cloud services (even when inside your home) has inherent problems around data ownership and privacy. The value I believe the WebThings Gateway provides is to enable users to monitor and control their home over the internet, without a middleman, giving users agency over their devices and data.

The internet and the web were designed to be decentralised by nature, but they are not always used that way. By hosting the data and web services inside your own home, you don’t need a centralised cloud service to store and process your private smart home data, and you get to decide who (if anyone) to share those data with.

Zigbee and Z-wave do more literally separate smart home devices from the internet, but a local IP network can be configured to be just as secure and private. There’s nothing inherently good or bad about IP as a technology, it’s really about how the technology is used.

Also note that both IKEA and Apple are members of the CHIP working group and it is possible that, if it becomes popular, CHIP may eventually render Zigbee and Z-Wave obsolete (CHIP will operate on top of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Thread).


Let me start by saying that I think the Gateway’s stance of moving away from the cloud is really great, and I obviously think it’s one of the best open source solution for smart homes in development. If I had to choose between a cloud service and the internet connected option, I’ll take the latter any day. I think it’s noble of Mozilla to push in this direction.

I’m less convinced the CHIP standard is interested in the same shift though. Let’s be honest: this new standard wasn’t developed to improve privacy (otherwise Mozilla may have been involved earlier), it was developed to make data exchange easier. It’s goal is to get data onto the internet and into the cloud quicker. It’s goal is convenience.

That’s my main issue here: the CHIP initiative is trying to apply an IP layer that makes it easier for Zigbee/Z-wave/Bluetooth/etc devices to connect directly to the internet. It’s applying an IP layer to technologies that were so great precisely because they kept far from IP networks.

We’re learning how surveillance capitalism has run amok. Similarly to the WebThings standard, a push in the “let’s make it easier to connect things to the internet” direction just feels wrong. To me, saying Google’s new standard is “exciting” is understandable, but also a little painful.

I’d rather see initiatives that focus on making things work better as stand-alone devices, on making them “local first” and make connectedness something that upgrades their capabilities. Something that’s optional. Push for an “edge first” situation.

And yes, IP networks can be configured to be secure. But in reality, that rarely happens.

But… perhaps that’s precisely where Mozilla could help out?

For example, Mozilla could instead push for a standard that makes ‘border guards’ for WiFi devices easier to create. It could push harder to make the WebThings Gateway a wifi hotspot that insecure WiFi devices can connect to. It could then monitor and block their connections. It could limit the extent to which a hacked device could become a trojan horse that puts the home network at risk. Mozilla could develop standards that help firewall IP-based devices. It could limit calls to servers. It could make it so that these wifi devices can only connect to the internet at times when the user is actually outside the home, and requires this access. And so forth.

I know it would be inherently weird for a “web focussed” organization like Mozilla to create a solution that’s all about making the web optional, about minimising connection to the internet. And making it easier to avoid cloud services is already a great step in the right direction, so I’m already grateful for that. But to me there’s an inherent and unresolved tension between “we want to keep data local” and “we love standards that make it easier to connect devices to the internet”.

I believe Mozilla’s goal is to protect people. On the web, developing a standard can be a great way to do this. It helps avoid walled gardens and vendor lock-in. It creates transparency and consumer choice. Firefox is a great example of this.

But when it comes to smart homes, this assumption should be critically examined. Here, a standard can have the opposite effect, as smoothing the onramp for the digital highway could just result in more data leaving the home. What citizens need instead is a protective barrier. They need to have easy to use control over data flow. They need innovations that limit data flows, instead of exacerbating it.

I don’t want to come accross as dismissive to the standardisation efforts. The name “Gateway” is great because it has both meanings (barrier, onramp) in it. The tension doesn’t have to be resolved - it can be both. But I hope there will be equal enthousiasm when news about an edge-first AI for smart homes standard come along :slight_smile:

Just my 2 cents.


Having come from the Heavy Metal/IBM z/OS world, I agree with silmunc16. Although IBM was/is a seperate world, I have seen many instances of standards and their effects. It is why I am getting into home automation without the cloud over my head…

Another 2 cents thrown in.

Absolutely - Mozilla can be a sane presence about web things and the related “control over data flow”. The current Internet is truly a mess, and needs to be re-engineered. In the meantime let’s keep developing this smart home platform.

@benfrancis: I’ve read/listened to a few articles/podcasts about the status of CHIP recently and it’s apparent wide adoption by many key industry players. Sometime in 2022, more-and-more home devices will use/require CHIP.

Can you update the community about any new/updated plans or discussions how or if WebThings will support CHIP-based devices?

It seems the need to support CHIP is something that can’t really be ignored by home management platforms due to the scope of devices that will require it in the future…

Hi @EricEdberg,

I don’t really have anything to update you with I’m afraid. As soon as there’s a specification to implement, we will look at how best to support CHIP in WebThings. Note that anyone can create a CHIP add-on for WebThings Gateway and any discussion would happen in the open, on this forum, Matrix or most likely on the GitHub issue.

I continue to have high expectations of CHIP, but as I understand it the project has been delayed and there is currently no specification or complete reference implementation to work from. You may know more than me, what have you heard from podcasts?

I haven’t seen a draft specification yet, but you can follow the progress of the reference implementation on GitHub. If anyone wants to try to build a prototype CHIP adapter add-on for WebThings Gateway based on this incomplete implementation that would be very welcome.

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