Uncategorized

An introduction to Matter

What is Matter?

At its core, Matter is a communication protocol for smart home devices. It’s built to ensure interoperability and seamless integration between different brands, types of devices and smart platforms. This means devices like smart lights, thermostats, locks and more can all communicate and work together regardless of who made them.

One of the key aspects of Matter is its use of IP (Internet Protocol) connectivity. By leveraging IP, Matter devices can communicate directly over Wi-Fi, Ethernet or Thread (more on this below), making them independent of proprietary hubs or bridges. This simplifies setup and reduces reliance on additional hardware.

matter-hubs-splash

Underneath the hood, Matter utilises existing networking technologies like Wi-Fi and Ethernet for local communication, while also supporting Thread, a low-power mesh networking protocol. Thread is particularly useful for battery-powered devices like sensors, enabling them to communicate efficiently and extend their battery life (which would be near impossible over Wi-Fi).

Security is a top priority for Matter. It incorporates industry-standard encryption and authentication mechanisms to protect data and ensure user privacy. This includes using technologies like TLS (Transport Layer Security) for secure communication between devices and cloud services.

matter-map-splash

Matter also defines a common data model and application layer protocol, allowing devices to understand and interact with each other’s capabilities. This standardisation simplifies development for manufacturers and enhances the user experience by enabling seamless interoperability between devices.

Overall, Matter represents a significant step forward for the smart home industry, promising a standardised foundation for the development of interconnected and secure smart home ecosystems. By simplifying setup, improving interoperability and prioritising security, Matter aims to make the smart home experience less complicated, less fragmented and more accessible for everyone.

matter-logo-header

Why does Matter... matter?

One of the major obstacles holding back smart home adoption can be summed up in a single word… fragmentation.

This fragmentation in the smart home industry has created a confusing and disjointed user experience for consumers. It has made it difficult to build integrated smart home ecosystems, led to compatibility issues and complexity during setup, limited interoperability between devices, promoted vendor lock-in and raised numerous concerns about the security of smart home devices and data.

Current issues with smart home tech...

  • Compatibility Issues: With various manufacturers using proprietary communication protocols and standards, smart home devices often struggled to work together. Consumers face compatibility issues, where devices from different brands cannot communicate or integrate seamlessly. This often means users have to research compatibility before making purchases, leading to confusion and frustration.
  • Complex Setup: Setting up a smart home ecosystem with devices from multiple brands is often complicated and time-consuming. Consumers have to deal with different setup processes, companion apps, and sometimes required additional hubs or bridges to connect devices.
  • Limited Interoperability: Even if devices claim to be "smart home compatible," they often have limited interoperability with other devices. This means that certain features or functionalities might not work as expected when devices from different brands are used together.
  • Vendor Lock-In: Some smart home ecosystems are designed to lock consumers into a specific brand or platform. Once invested in a particular ecosystem, switching to another brand or expanding the smart home setup with devices from different manufacturers becomes challenging or impossible. Vendor lock-in restricts choice and hinders innovation in the smart home industry.
  • Security Concerns: With no unified security standards, smart home devices vary widely in terms of their security features and protocols. Some devices lack robust security measures, making them vulnerable to hacking and unauthorised access. This naturally raises significant concerns among consumers about the privacy and security of their smart home devices and data.
smart-home-standards-comic3
Source: xkcd.com

Matter promises to unify the fragmented smart home...

What’s that I hear you say?… If the smart home industry is already so fragmented, why do we need yet another standard?

It’s an excellent observation. Essentially, Matter is trying to do what others have failed at numerous times… create a true standard for the smart home. So what’s difference this time? Why is Matter likely to succeed where others have not? Simple…

This time we have all the major players behind the technology. Companies that are usually sworn enemies (I’m looking at you blue and green text bubbles!) have swallowed their pride and agreed to support Matter. From Apple to Google, Samsung to Amazon – in fact, over 200 technology companies have all agreed… Matter is “the” new smart home standard. Best of all, this is not some proprietary technology. Matter is open – it is not locked into or tied to any particular tech giant. Matter is good for the smart home industry for so many reasons… but more importantly, it’s good for consumers…

  • Standardisation: Matter establishes a common framework and set of protocols for smart home devices. This standardisation means that regardless of the manufacturer, devices can communicate and work together seamlessly. By defining a unified language that all devices speak, Matter eliminates the need for proprietary communication protocols that often lead to compatibility issues.
  • Interoperability: One of the main goals of Matter is to ensure interoperability between devices from different manufacturers. This means that a smart thermostat from one brand can communicate effectively with a smart speaker from another brand, without the need for complicated setup or additional hardware. By promoting interoperability, Matter simplifies the user experience and expands the possibilities for creating a truly seamless and integrated smart home ecosystems.
  • Collaboration: Matter is the result of collaboration between major players in the smart home industry, including device manufacturers, platform developers, and technology companies. This collaborative approach ensures that Matter is built upon the expertise and contributions of multiple stakeholders, leading to a more comprehensive and robust standard. By working together, industry leaders can address common challenges and drive innovation in the smart home space.
  • Simplicity and Accessibility: Matter aims to make the smart home experience more accessible to consumers by simplifying setup and configuration. With Matter-certified devices, users can expect plug-and-play compatibility and seamless integration with their existing smart home ecosystems. This simplicity removes barriers to adoption and encourages more people to embrace smart home technology.
  • Increased security: Matter's local device-to-device communication without requiring constant internet access enhances security for consumers by reducing reliance on potentially vulnerable cloud servers and minimising the exposure of sensitive data to external threats.
thread-logo-header

What about Thread and Matter?

Let’s explore the world of smart home standards with Matter and Thread. These two serve different but complementary purposes.

Matter acts as a communication standard, allowing smart devices from different brands to seamlessly work together. It’s like the universal language spoken by your gadgets, ensuring they can understand each other and collaborate effectively.

On the other hand, Thread is a networking protocol that provides a reliable and efficient way for Matter devices to communicate with each other. Think of Thread as the highway that your smart devices use to exchange information, ensuring a smooth flow of traffic within your home.

In simpler terms, Matter is the language spoken by smart home devices, while Thread is the infrastructure that enables them to communicate effectively. Together, they form the backbone of a cohesive, secure and interconnected smart home ecosystem.

More information: You can read more about the new Matter standard on the official Connectivity Standards Alliance website.

homey-pro-hub-matter-thread

What do I need to get started with Matter?

Adding Matter-enabled devices to your smart home is fast and easy – the only other thing you need is the right Matter compatible hub. Which hub is right for you depends on which smart home platform(s) you’d like to control your home with – keeping in mind you can add Matter devices to multiple platforms!

Whether it be Apple Home, Samsung SmartThings, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Homey Pro or Home Assistant, each platform offers a selection of hubs combining both Matter and Thread into one device.

So far, the vast majority (if not all) developers of Matter devices are embracing Matter over Thread as their preferred Matter protocol. This is why it is important that you select a smart hub that supports both Matter and acts as a Thread Border Router as the foundation for your Matter network.

matter-thread-hub-header
Hubs that support both () Matter and act as a () Thread Border Router…
works-withapple-home-badge
  • Apple TV 4K (2nd gen)
  • Apple TV 4K (3rd gen, 128 GB)
  • HomePod (2nd gen)
  • HomePod mini
works-with-amazon-alexa-badge
  • Echo (4th gen)
  • Echo Hub
  • Echo Plus (2nd gen)
  • Echo Show 8 (3rd gen)
  • Echo Show 10 (3rd gen)
  • Echo Studio
works-with-google-home-badge
  • Nest Hub (2nd gen)
  • Nest Hub Max
  • Nest Wifi
  • Nest Wifi Pro
works-with-smart-hubs-badge
  • Home Assistant Green (with SkyConnect USB)
  • Homey Pro
  • Aeotec SmartThings Hub
  • SmartThings Hub V3
  • SmartThings Station

How do I share Matter devices to other platforms?

If you want to control your Matter devices from an additional platform, you need a hub of that platform as well. This hub only needs to support Matter ( Matter Controller), as Thread is already present in your home via the hub of your first platform above. The devices below act as Matter Controllers for their respective platforms…

works-withapple-home-badge
  • Apple TV 4K (2nd gen)
  • Apple TV 4K (3rd gen, 128 GB)
  • Apple TV 4K (3rd gen, 64 GB)
  • Apple TV 4K (1st gen)
  • Apple TV HD (4th gen)
  • HomePod (2nd gen)
  • HomePod (1st gen)
  • HomePod mini
works-with-amazon-alexa-badge
  • Echo (4th gen)
  • Echo (2nd gen / 3rd gen)
  • Echo Dot (2nd+ gen)
  • Echo Flex
  • Echo Hub
  • Echo Input
  • Echo Plus (2nd gen)
  • Echo Pop
  • Echo Show 5
  • Echo Show 8 (3rd gen)
  • Echo Show 8 (1st / 2nd gen)
  • Echo Show 10 (3rd gen)
  • Echo Show 15
  • Echo Studio
works-with-google-home-badge
  • Google Home
  • Google Home Mini
  • Nest Mini
  • Nest Audio
  • Nest Hub (2nd gen)
  • Nest Hub (1st gen)
  • Nest Hub Max
  • Nest Wifi
  • Nest Wifi Pro
works-with-smart-hubs-badge
  • Home Assistant Green (with SkyConnect USB)
  • Homey Pro
  • Aeotec SmartThings Hub
  • SmartThings Hub V3
  • SmartThings Hub V2
  • SmartThings Station

Where are all the Matter products?

Sadly, there are currently very few actually Matter devices available, this is primarily due to the time it takes for manufacturers to develop and implement new standards into their products. Developing and testing hardware and software to meet the new Matter requirements can be a complex and time-consuming process.

Additionally, some manufacturers may be waiting for broader industry adoption or may be prioritising other product development initiatives. As the Matter standard gains traction and more manufacturers jump onboard, the availability of Matter-compatible devices is expected to increase significantly throughout 2024 and 2025.

At SmartHome, we are 100% behind Matter and the benefits it will provide our customers. Rest assured we are working hard to bring Matter devices to Australia – watch this space 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 × one =