What is matter? We explain the New Smart Home Standard (2024)

Ideal intelligence home seamlessly anticipates your needs and responds instantly to commands. Friend no need to open a specific application for each device, or memorize the exact voice command and voice assistant combination to start the latest episode of your favorite podcast on the nearest speaker. Competing smart home standards make operating your devices unnecessarily complicated. It’s just not… well, smart.

Tech giants try to get around the standards by offering their voice assistants as a layer of control on top, but Alexa can’t talk to Google Assistant or Siri or control Google or Apple devices and vice versa. (And so far, no single ecosystem makes all the best devices.) But these interoperability problems may soon be fixed. Formerly known as Project CHIP (Connected Home over IP), the open source interoperability standard known as Problem coming in 2022. With some of the biggest names in tech like Amazon, Apple and Google on board, seamless integration could finally be within reach.

Updated May 2024: Added news about the Matter 1.3 spec release, progress with key players, a section on what you can do with Matter, and more detailed information about the potential function.

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Table of contents

What is matter?

Matter allows different devices and ecosystems to function well. Device manufacturers must comply with the Matter standard to ensure their devices are compatible with voice and smart home services such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant and others. For those building a smart home, Matter theoretically lets you buy any device and use the voice assistant or platform you want to control it. (Yes, you can use different voice assistants to talk to the same product.)

For example, you can buy a Matter-enabled smart light bulb and set it up with Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, or Amazon Alexa—without worrying about compatibility. Currently, some devices already support multiple platforms (like Alexa or Google Assistant), but Matter expands that platform support and makes setting up your new device faster and easier.

The first protocol runs on the Wi-Fi and Thread network layers and uses Bluetooth Low Energy for device setup. While it supports a variety of platforms, you have to choose the voice assistant and app you want to use — there’s no central Matter app or assistant. Because Matter operates on your local network, you can expect your smart home devices to be more responsive to you, and they’ll continue to work even if your Internet goes down.

What makes the difference?

The Connectivity Standards Alliance (or CSA, formerly the Zigbee Alliance) maintains the Matter standard. What sets it apart is its membership (more than 550 tech companies), its willingness to adopt and merge different technologies, and the fact that it is an open source project. Interested companies can use the software development kit (SDK) for free to incorporate their devices into the Matter ecosystem. This is much simpler than certifying each device with each smart home platform.

Growing out of the Zigbee Alliance gives Matter a solid foundation. Bringing the major smart home platforms (Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Home, and Samsung SmartThings) on the same board is an achievement. It’s optimistic to imagine seamless widespread adoption of Matter, but it’s met with a surge of enthusiasm as more smart home brands jump on the bandwagon, including August, Schlage, and Yale in the space. smart lock; Belkin, Cync, GE Lighting, Sengled, Signify (Philips Hue) and Nanoleaf in the field of smart lighting; and others like Arlo, Comcast, Eve, TP-Link and LG.

When did matter come?

The problem has been in the works for many years. Project CHIP’s initial release was scheduled for late 2020, but it was delayed to next year, renamed Matter and then touted for a summer release. After another delay, the Matter 1.0 specification and certification program opened in 2022. SDKs, tools and test cases were made available and eight authorized testing labs opened for product certification .

The first wave of Matter-powered smart home devices went on sale in the fall of 2022, and we’ve seen a steady trickle of growth since then. The first update to the specification, Matter 1.1, appeared in May 2023 and included the majority of bug fixes. Announced in October 2023, Matter 1.2 added support for nine new device categories, including refrigerators, robot vacuums, and air purifiers, in addition to improvements to existing categories.

The Matter 1.3 specification was published in May 2024, adding power management, electric vehicle charging, and water management features along with support for new devices, including ovens, stoves, and refrigerators. dry clothes. It also brings improvements to Matter Casting, so in addition to phone-to-TV casting, other smart devices—like robot vacuums—can send messages to your TV to warn you if they get stuck, for example.


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