A month after the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA) finalized version 1.0 of Matter, the body behind the new smart home connectivity standard held a big event to celebrate the launch of the first products to launch or get updates with the new protocol. At the Amsterdam event, CSA also shed light on how your smart home will work in the future and upcoming Matter features you can expect later.
On stage, CSA President Tobin Richardson explained that since the launch of Matter 1.0 about a month ago, 20 new companies have joined CSA, with the number growing day by day. The alliance also boasts that in that timeframe, there are now 190 certifications in progress or completed for new products. Developer interest is also high. The Matter specs have been downloaded over 4,000 times and the SDK over 2,500 times.
CSA President Tobin Richardson on stage
During the event, the ASC announced that it would strive for a semi-annual release cadence, bringing support for new devices, feature updates, and continuous improvements into a reliable schedule, with work on frontline cameras, devices and energy management. In the short term, ASC wants to focus on stability and creating a great experience, however, to make sure everything runs smoothly.
Matter will also have a product safety task force. The CSA recognizes the importance of advancing Matter in the security department, and the alliance wants to work to provide inherent security in its protocol.
It’s been a long road to get here for the CSA. Matter was first conceptualized as Project CHIP in 2019. The companies involved realized they were running into hurdles with their disparate systems and are hoping Matter will solve the problem for them. Even then, Matte was hit with delay after delay. The body behind it was forced to move the launch from 2021 to 2022, all to make sure everything was running smoothly for every product involved and everything was built on a solid foundation.
However, you can see it from another angle. Matter has successfully brought together hundreds of companies to work together on this universal standard, and if you think of the number of stakeholders involved, the three-year time frame from idea to execution is impressive, despite the delays.
The material is supposed to finally convince those who are still skeptical about the smart home. It’s meant to fix the problem that you have to bet on just one vendor to get your smart home started, only for that vendor to potentially break support or experience other compatibility issues. Matter will allow free control of devices with the platform you prefer. The CSA emphasized this aspect during its presentation, stating that you will be able to buy any Matter-certified device and configure it in seconds, without ever having to worry about compatibility. The alliance also pointed out that you can control your smart home with any controller app you like, be it Google Home, Apple Home, Samsung SmartThings or via voice over Amazon Alexa.
Matter wants to achieve this with its open nature. The alliance builds its system on Wi-Fi, requiring no specialized hardware like Zigbee would. It also relies on an optional IP-based “Thread” mesh networking standard and Bluetooth Low Energy, although the latter is only intended as an easy option for setting up devices. The whole standard is open-source and also lives on Github.
Matter has more advantages than this interoperability and open connectivity. While Matter uses local networks like Wi-Fi and Thread, it works completely offline. This means that even if your ISP has problems, you can still control your smart home. The standard is also open source and royalty free, making it easy for companies to join the system and upgrade their products.
Despite the big launch, Matter is still in its early stages and currently only works with a limited set of devices. You can use Matter controllers and apps to control your lights, smart plugs and outlets, HVAC controls, blinds and other window coverings, safety and security sensors, door locks and media devices, including televisions. The alliance is working to expand both the feature set introduced with Matter 1.0 for the mentioned devices and the supported device types.
During the event, a number of companies announced new products supporting Matter or pledged to update their existing devices and smart home hubs to work with the new protocol. Here is a selection:
- Amazon announced that it will support Matter over Wi-Fi this year and bring the standard to 17 Echo devices as well as its outlets, switches and light bulbs. For next year, the company plans to bring Matter over Thread and add the standard to more Echo devices and other types of devices.
- Aqaraa company best known for its Zigbee smart home hubs, will offer Matter support on its existing product in December and launch all-new Thread-enabled devices in 2023.
- Smart home and lighting company bright announced that it is joining CSA and bringing Matter support to its products in 2023. The company further wants to work on improving Matter’s capabilities for apartment owners and dwellers.
- Nanosheet took advantage of the event to showcase four new Matter compatible smart bulbs and light strips as part of its Essential range. They will launch globally in early 2023, with prices ranging from $20 to $100.
- Philips’ Hue Bridge is one of the first devices to be officially Matter certified. A software update will automatically activate the bridge and all smart home products connected to it.
- energy management company Schneider-Electric announced that it would make its future devices Matter certified. The company also introduced a new Wiser gateway that bridges the gap between Matter and older standards, allowing Zigbee and other devices to be added as part of your Matter home.
- Internet of Things Chip Maker Silicon Laboratories announced a new chip, the SiWx917 low-power Wi-Fi 6 SoC, coming in 2023. It also highlighted its MG24, an SoC that combines Matter, Zigbee, Thread, and Bluetooth support in a single package .
- tuya announced that he had completed three Matter certificates. He also prepared his own app for Matter, allowing you to control other Matter devices with his app.
Matter could very well be the start of the commodification of the smart home, which will make using the service much easier for everyone. As with regular household appliances, you may no longer have to double-check and triple-check if the device you want to buy will work with your home. Like standardized electrical outlets, you know it will work well enough with any Matter-enabled controller and you won’t need to be connected to the internet at all times.
CSA membership spans the entire industry, with more than 280 companies already on board. Before becoming part of the body behind Matter, the CSA was known as the Zigbee alliance. Zigbee is a widely used smart home standard, and like Threads, it’s a mesh network that can exist in addition to Wi-Fi in your home. However, Matter aims to solve some of the headaches this system has brought, including the requirement to have a dedicated smart home hub to communicate with Zigbee devices.