Officially launched on November 3, the Matter home automation protocol promises to simplify the management of our connected objects. We explain everything about this very ambitious project.
Matter is coming in version 1.0 and it’s going to change your life, that’s the title of our article published earlier this month. We then mentioned the arrival of the final version of this home automation protocol which wants to connect all the objects in the house. A month later, the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA) – formerly the Zigbee Alliance – met in Amsterdam for its launch event.
The opportunity for members to make announcements and to come back to the interest of this highly anticipated protocol.
Matter, what is it?
Originally known as CHIP (for Project Connected Home over IP), the Matter protocol is not just a simple home automation protocol. Its mission is to standardize communication between connected objects in the home.
With Matter, our “smart” devices will speak the same language; breaking down the barriers that exist today to full interoperability. The alliance behind this project says it wants devices that are secure, reliable and easy to use. “This is a major inflection point for the IoT. As we become more connected and break down the walls between the digital and physical world, we need to work together to make those connections meaningful. Matter and our members are tackling this challenge head-on”explains Tobin Richardson, President and CEO of the Connectivity Standards Alliance.
Why do we need Matter?
Currently, the many connected devices available on the market are unable to communicate with each other. With Matter, the border breaks to allow a compatible object to exchange with another device, regardless of its manufacturer or its interface. The protocol promises that these devices from different brands will work together natively, without going through the cloud. Indeed, the protocol offers this interoperability locally.
For the CSA official, Matter has the “power to create a more connected, safe and useful smart home”. Matter should also serve as a trigger for users who are waiting to switch to home automation. According to the CSA, 35% of households in major European markets intend to purchase smart home products in the next 12 months.
Advancing the connected home
Thanks to its simple operation, Matter aims to make the concept of connected home more accessible. Current barriers hamper user interest, most often limiting connected objects to an informed public. The protocol is a game-changer and paves the way to a truly smart home.
Indeed, the fact of offering the same language to all the devices makes it easier to set up complex scenarios. For example, it may be possible to automatically turn on the light when a window is closed and start the heating. This can be done from a single app, device or voice assistant.
In fact, it is already possible to carry out this type of action by worrying about compatibility or by juggling between the solutions of each brand. A recent study conducted by Parks Associates reports that interoperability is a priority for consumers today.
How does Matter work?
Designed to be based on the IP protocol, Matter ensures communication between connected objects on the same network. If the exchanges are standardized, they can be done via various technologies such as Ethernet, wifi, Bluetooth LE or Thread technology. Note that Matter is also compatible with cellular technologies, such as 4G or 5G. Finally, it relies on a royalty-free approach to reach the maximum number of players.
A bridge between all connected objects
On paper, the protocol promises a real revolution and brings us closer to the “smart” home as imagined in the 2000s. For consumers, it is the notion of transparency that is widely put forward. Opting for a compatible product should make it easy to integrate into your installation. We are thinking, for example, of a connected light bulb or a smart socket, which can be controlled from any system or application.
Matter will take care of direct communication between devices without disrupting user habits. The latter will continue to find different products and ecosystems, offered by players such as Apple, Amazon or Google.
For an Apple user, it is the assurance of being able to control any Matter device via Home. Same observation for an Android user or owner of a Windows PC, who can manage his installation without worrying about compatibility.
Are manufacturers interested in Matter?
Yes, manufacturers have decided to massively join the Matter protocol.
It currently brings together more than 550 companies that revolve around the world of home automation. Today, 220 market participants indicate that they support the protocol. Interested companies include giants like Amazon, Apple, Google, Comcast, Huawei, IKEA, LG, Philips and Samsung SmartThings. There are also French companies like Legrand, STMicroElectronics or Schneider Electric.
In Amsterdam, the CSA provided an update on the situation. She assures that the momentum “keeps accelerating” since the release of Matter. In the capital of the Netherlands, members showcased compatible products, including motion blinds, presence sensors, weather devices, smart plugs, door locks or lighting devices. “Since release, 190 products have received certification or are awaiting testing and certification”adds the CSA.
In the future, Matter should also support devices such as cameras or household appliances. The protocol also works on the possibility of managing the closing of doors and gates, managing environmental quality sensors and controls, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors or the detection of ambient movement and presence.
Will my connected objects be Matter compatible?
The interest of Matter is not to be limited to future products. Existing devices can be updated to support the protocol and scale current installations. The solution also provides that new equipment will be able to communicate with older generation equipment. Companies like Google or Amazon have already announced updates to several of their connected devices.
The Mountain View company has already announced that all of its connected devices (screens, speakers, routers, etc.) will be updated to become Matter compatible. At the event in Amsterdam, Amazon followed its rival’s lead in announcing Matter support for 17 devices in the Echo range.
Other manufacturers – like Philips Hue – have made similar announcements. This should continue in the coming weeks.
Beginnings still limited
Behind this announcement with great fanfare, it should be remembered that the protocol is only in its infancy. Delayed several times, its deployment may take time; even if we can expect the arrival of many Matter compatible products in the coming months.
For the time being, we observe that it is mainly lighting and connected sockets that support the standard. Note also that some devices are content with partial support. So there’s still work to be done before Matter becomes essential, but it’s already a very good start.