A Thread Border Router is a device that joins a Thread network to the rest of your network, and allows messages to flow between them. That may mean it looks like a bridge or a hub when we draw one in a diagram, but with two important differences:
The first is that Border Routers don’t need to read, modify, or translate the messages that go through them. It simply forwards the message from devices on one side of the network, to their destination on the other side. That means that a Border Router is a generic part of the network — a Thread Border Router from any vendor can perform this function and route messages for any brand of Wi-Fi or Thread devices you might have.
The second — and the reason Thread doesn’t add to your smart home clutter — is that Thread Border Routers, particularly those for consumer applications, are usually built into other devices. Devices you may already own or want to get, like smart speakers, smart home displays, Wi-Fi routers, and yes even those smart home hubs you might have. Companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, Samsung, and others have already announced they’ll be turning on Thread Border Routers in many of their existing products with the launch of Matter. That means tens of millions of homes will be ready for Thread devices, and users can start taking advantage of the new capabilities their smart homes and devices offer, without needing another little white box under the cabinet.
[Well, that’s the promise anyway. Let’s see how this goes, shall we?]