Why it matters having Matter support for your new smart home device
As companies unveil their new smart home devices at the 2022 CES tech show, underway now in Las Vegas, much of the hype involves Matter, an open-source connectivity standard built around a shared belief that smart home devices should seamlessly integrate with other systems and be secure and reliable.
If you like devices, you are probably among the 66% of households that have smart home devices, according to Deloitte. We also know you don’t just stick with one company or brand, but probably have purchased from at least half a dozen different companies. That’s why for any company launching a smart home device this year, having Matter support will be helpful.
Not only is the protocol being developed by some of the biggest tech companies — think Apple, Amazon and Google — and smart home device makers, it is designed to finally fix the issues around fragmented smart home systems so that all of your devices can be easily set up and routed from one place.
Matter, via a local controller device, is essentially the infrastructure, the pipeline and the language that will enable all of the devices to communicate. Its Internet Protocol will define a specific set of IP-based networking technologies for device certification so that manufacturers can build devices that are compatible with your Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Matter’s first protocol will run on Wi-Fi and Thread network layers and will utilize Bluetooth Low Energy for commissioning.
The Connectivity Standards Alliance, formerly the Zigbee Alliance, which is organizing the testing for the first Matter-certified devices, identified over two dozen companies that were exhibiting or showcasing Matter at their booths, meeting rooms or virtually at CES this year. They include NXP, Qualcomm, Samsung SmartThings, Telink, Texas Instruments and Universal Electronics.
In May, Google said it was bringing Matter to Android and Nest, and today announced that in a few months, you will be able to use its Android “Fast Pair” feature to quickly connect new Matter-enabled smart home devices to your home network, Google Home and other apps with just a few clicks.
And earlier today, Amazon said its “frustration-free setup” documentation was now available for device makers to review, and it is working with a host of companies on both set-up experience and Alexa capabilities, including adding that device as a second administrator for Matter devices so you can still control them even if your internet connection is down.
It is also collaborating with silicon vendors on what will become a Matter System-on-a-Chip to support the frustration-free setup. All of this comes after last year’s announcement that most Echo devices would support Matter and that 4th gen Echo and eero devices will become Matter Thread border routers.
In addition, here are some other companies that announced new devices or services that support Matter:
Comcast mentioned it while launching its new xFi Advanced Gateway Router equipped with features like “IoT for Smart Homes of the Future” that was Zigbee and Matter compatible to act as a central connector for IoT and home automation devices like smart lights, plugs and locks.
Eve Systems, which produces connected home products, created Eve MotionBlinds, touting it as “the first connected blinds and shades motors in the market to support Thread.”
Home security brand Arlo Technologies unveiled its Arlo Security System, a set of sensors with eight different functions, that correspond with a security hub and integrated keypad for small businesses and consumers that want more of a do-it-yourself security monitoring solution. The company also stated its commitment to Matter as a way of solidifying its stance on broad-range compatibility in the smart home space.
Edge computing company Veea unveiled its Smart-home-as-a-Service offering which will include support for Matter, Thread and Wi-Fi 6. The offering includes the Veea SmartHub mesh router for the home called STAX.
Among Belkin’s several Matter-enabled product announcements at CES for the home are its new Wemo video doorbell that works with Apple’s HomeKit, and the Wemo Smart Plug, Smart Light Switch and Smart Dimmer that will work with Matter over Thread.
Mui Lab debuted its Matter-ready “muiPlatform” that turns smart devices into “calmer ones,” which includes a board that turns Amazon’s Alexa into a more visual interface.
One device Michelle Mindala-Freeman, vice president of marketing for the Connectivity Standards Alliance, is watching is Schlage’s announcement made Tuesday introducing it new smart Wi-Fi deadbolt, which will be among the first to support Apple’s latest enhancement to its HomeKit experience with home keys capability.
She says 2022 will be a big year for Matter. There are hundreds of companies involved in both CSA and Matter, and 50 companies have brought through 134 products already, Mindala-Freeman told TechCrunch.
It is expected that CSA will have the certification, specifications, testing tools and SDK released by the middle of the year. This will enable companies to be faster to market with new hardware and innovations and reach a broader consumer audience.
“At a fundamental level, our job at CSA is to eliminate fragmentation and help companies to grow and do it in a way that is highly valuable to consumers,” Mindala-Freeman said. “Standards like Matter do that, and we believe it is a rising tide that raises all boats.”