Why Matter matters for Smart Homes and what you can

Why Matter matters for Smart Homes and what you can gain from it

Buying smart home products is by no means always cut-and-dried. Manufacturers often make it quite difficult for you. In fact, support for certain items is often limited to one ecosystem. This means you can’t just rely on every smart gadget being linkable the rest of your smart home inventory. Fortunately, that’s about to change in the future thanks to Matter. But what exactly is that?

Matter is a new smart home connectivity system created by more than 200 companies. It was created by the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA). The system uses Internet Protocol (IP) such as Bluetooth LE, Wi-Fi and Thread. Smart home devices are connected to one overarching standard thanks to these protocols.

How does Matter work?

Matter makes it easier for companies and developers to build smart home devices that work seamlessly together, regardless of brand. That means that in the future, you’ll be able to use Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Apple, Samsung SmartThings products, among others, more easily at the same time than ever before. This will also simplify the buying process for both retailers and consumers. After all, those can purchase smart home products worry-free.

How does Thread work?Thread (Image: Thread Group)

Thread is an important link in the operation of Matter. This is a mesh protocol, similar to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, with the goal of allowing products to communicate with each other wirelessly. It is based on IPv6 and uses an edge router, or border router. This allows Thread to connect to other networks such as Wi-Fi, Ethernet and Cloud. You can think of the collaboration between Thread and Matter as follows: Thread serves as the connection between devices, while Matter is the language these devices use. Thus, one cannot exist without the other.

What companies are involved?

There are more than 200 companies involved in the Matter Working Group. The biggest names probably look familiar to you. These include Google, Amazon, Samsung and even Apple. These companies have already pledged their support for Matter and Thread on future products.

Amazon Echo with MatterWill Amazon’s Echo become the first Matter-connected device? (Image: Amazon)

Amazon is going to give even existing smart gadgets this extension already. The company will start with the Echo and then expand to other devices. Google will integrate Matter with Android and Nest. Some products like the Nest Hub support Matter via Thread, while others support Matter via wifi. So not every product will use Thread support. Samsung has also promised support for Matter in its SmartThings platform. It is just not known which products this involves.

From when will we be able to use Matter?

In the second half of 2020, the companies planned the full launch in 2021. Due to a delay in the process, the timeline was updated in August 2021. It was predicted that the launch would not occur until the second half of 2022 at the earliest. Tobin Richardson, CEO of CSA, said the delay was necessary. The various tools were not yet ready to meet expectations.

At CES 2022, Matter was announced for a mid-year release. The goal was to release products around the holidays in December. However, the CSA announced another delay in March 2022. More time was needed to put the finishing touches on the project. Still, the delay does not seem to be a problem. In fact, Matter is still expected to launch in the fall of 2022. Until then, we will have to be patient.

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