Smart home devices are supposed to make your life easier and more convenient, but adding a slew of internet-connected devices that don’t communicate with one another could make things much more complicated. That’s why Matter, a new networking standard aimed at simplifying the smart home ecosystem by allowing everything to communicate in real time, looks so promise. But what precisely is it? Let’s have a look at it in more detail.
At its most basic level, Matter is a global, open-source standard that aims to make it simple and secure for internet-connected products from various manufacturers to communicate.
According to the nonprofit Connectivity Standard Alliance (CSA), which controls the standard, Matter promises to make it easier for manufacturers to create devices that are interoperable with Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Google Assistant, and other smart home and voice services. The goal is to promote interoperability among smart home devices of all brands so that you may operate them from your preferred platform.
“This year, Matter will both signify the end of smart home walled gardens and open the field for greater experiences by any manufacturer,” said Tobin Richardson, CEO of the CSA, during CES 2022.
Who’s in Charge of the Situation?
Project Connected Home Over IP (Project Chip), which Amazon, Apple, Google, and other big players in the smart home industry launched in partnership with the Zigbee Alliance at the end of 2019, gave birth to Matter.
Google announced Project Chip in a blog post in 2019 with the purpose of “building a new standard that enables IP-based communication among smart home devices, mobile apps, and cloud services.”
The Zigbee Alliance was renamed the Connectivity Standards Alliance in May 2021, and Project Chip was renamed Matter.
More than 200 firms are involved in the development of Matter as of January 2022. The specification and certification are created by “thousands” of engineers from collaborating companies, according to the CSA. Matter’s initial version will support Wi-Fi and Thread, as well as Bluetooth Low Energy.
When Will Matter Become Visible?
The first Matter-certified hardware devices were supposed to be released in 2021, but the CSA postponed it until this year. In mid-2022, the Matter mark of approval is projected to emerge on new items.
Consumers will be able to seek out goods with the Matter logo as a mark of confidence to enable simple, dependable, and secure interoperability across smart home ecosystems and product brands by the time we approach the next Christmas shopping season,” the CSA said at CES in January.
According to the CSA, this means that devices carrying the Matter logo should all work together at launch and in the future.
Devices that are supported by matter
Matter has received backing from the majority of major smart home vendors. Amazon, Arlo Technologies, Belkin Wemo, Comcast, Eve Systems, Ikea, GE Lighting, Google, Infineon, Leedarson, LG Electronics, Mui Lab, Nanoleaf, Nordic Semiconductor, NXP Semiconductors, Philips Hue, Qorvo, Samsung SmartThings, Schlage (Allegion), Texas Instruments, Tuya Smart, Universal Electronics, and Veea are among the companies on the list.
Amazon has announced that Matter will be available on Alexa devices such as the Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Plus, Echo Studio, and Echo Show. This means you’ll be able to use Echo smart speakers and screens to set up and control Matter devices.
Matter will be supported by Google Android, Google Assistant, and the Google Home app. Google Smart Home Senior Director Michele Turner noted in a blog post last year that Thread-certified Google Nest devices, such as the Nest Wifi router, the Nest Hub Max, and the second-generation Nest Hub, will act as “connection points” for Matter items. To control Matter devices, Nest promises to automatically update all of its smart screens and speakers, including the Nest Mini. Matter will be supported on the most recent Nest Thermostat.
Matter will be supported by Apple’s iOS and HomeKit platforms. This year, Samsung plans to add Matter to “many products” as well as its SmartThings platform.
Philips Hue has stated that a software upgrade to the Hue Bridge will make all of its new and existing smart lights and accessories compatible with Matter. The upgrade will arrive shortly after Matter’s launch and will provide customers with a “simplified connected experience when interacting with other smart home devices,” according to Philips.
Signify, Philips Hue’s parent company, has “actively participated in demos and periodically tested Matter interoperability of Philips Hue products with smart home partners, ensuring current and future Philips Hue users will have a superior and seamless connected experience,” according to the company.
Will Support for Current Smart Home Products Be Important?
As previously stated, many existing smart home devices will be able to support Matter via software updates—with the condition that they must have the appropriate hardware.
Vendor and device support will vary, and not all devices will be able to receive the update. “Among other things, the gadget must have enough flash memory and processing power to conduct the update,” according to the independent Matter-Smarthome portal.
We can’t merely provide you a list of items because there isn’t a comprehensive directory of which existing smart home gadgets will work with Matter. Instead, if and when a Matter update is ready, you’ll likely receive an email or other notification from the manufacturer of any products you own.
Is There a Single Standard to Unite Them All?
Smart home hubs were once thought to be one-stop shops for connecting all of your connected devices and operating them from a single app. Different hubs offer different connectivity protocols, thus that didn’t quite work out as expected.
Matter will hopefully correct the mistakes made by hubs, but only time will tell. Every year, PCMag reviews hundreds of smart home gadgets, so we’ll be putting Matter-certified goods to the test as soon as they hit shop shelves. Check back soon for an update on this story after we’ve got some direct experience.