What is Matter? The new smart home connectivity standard explained

Smart home technology first emerged in the 1960s, and smart home devices adoption has steadily increased ever since. The USA has the greatest number of smart homes, with an estimated total of 41.3 million smart homes, and statistics show that Americans favour home automation devices more than other nations. Smart home technology, or home automation, was invented to bring convenience, comfort, efficiency and security to homeowners’ lives. Controlling various aspects of a home/residence has never been easier. But what happens when you have an abundance of smart home devices, all from different brands and different compatibilities?

With smart home trends on the rise, we can only expect every household to integrate more smart home devices into their homes or workplaces. However, many tend not to purchase all of their smart home devices from a single brand due to, for example, personal preferences. You might favour Amazon’s Alexa over Google Assistant and Xunison’s home security devices (which are Matter-ready along with the rest of their products) over other home security brands because of the difference in features. An issue over here arises, and that is: Are smart home devices from different brands compatible with another? Will users be able to use them efficiently and effectively without any hassle? Previously, the answer to this did not exist, and consumers were faced with the inconvenience of managing each of their smart home devices separately. But with the upcoming new connectivity standard, Matter, simplifying the smart home ecosystem has never sounded easier.

What is Matter?

Matter is an upcoming global and open-source standard that will allow IoT devices from various manufacturers to communicate securely and efficiently. The new connectivity standard aims to help manufacturers build devices that are more compatible with voice assistants, especially from various top brands such as Amazon, Google and Apple. Manufacturers from multiple brands can use specific sets of IP-based networking technologies for device certification, defined in Matter’s IP.

The fundamental idea behind Matter is to help integrate all smart home devices onto one platform and allow them to interoperate with one another, regardless of brand.

Why is Matter important?

Undoubtedly, Smart home technology revolutionized the industry, but manufacturers did not consider the interconnectedness of different devices from various brands. Different smart home hubs ended up supporting different connectivity protocols.

Consumers will now be able to purchase any smart home device and use it within their existing smart home ecosystem. Downloading separate apps and controlling the devices individually will be necessary, and customers will have the convenience of managing automation and routines from one place.

Matter will also aid in increasing product choice for users. Consumers can choose based on the quality and price of the product they are interested in and not have to worry about whether or not it would be able to function in their smart home ecosystem since products will be enabled in one uniform standard.

And not only will Matter be extremely useful for consumers solely but for operators and internet service providers as well. Since Matter enables a large spectrum of devices to be connected in the same way and managed on one singular platform, many ISPs will find that their customer care contact will be greatly reduced.

In the pre-Matter era (that we are currently in), each internet-enabled device is monitored separately, and if any issues arrive within the connectivity, ISPs and operators have to resolve them onsite or online, ensuring a smooth and flawless connection. Matter will change the game for internet service providers by streamlining and optimizing the way they handle their customer care, making the overall experience convenient for them and their customers.

How will consumers be able to use Matter?

Matter contains a multi-admin control feature allowing consumers to use multiple platforms simultaneously. As long as the devices in use are Matter-enabled, they can be connected to various platforms irrespective of the brand. For example, if you’re using a Nest Thermostat and you wish to control it using Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant or even both at the same time, Matter can make that happen. However, since Matter is a connectivity tool and not a tangible automation device, you’ll need to have an existing smart home platform in place.

Who is behind developing Matter?

Singling out a single company involved in developing Matter is not possible.

The Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA), formerly known as the Zigbee Alliance, involves 200+ companies, as of January 2022, working together and developing Matter-enabled devices. Major companies, smart home brands and even smaller companies such as Apple, Amazon, Google, Samsung, Signify, Ikea, Huawei, Comcast, Lutron, Aqara (Lumi), Arlo Technologies, Belkin Wemo, Comcast, Eve Systems, GE Lighting, Infineon, Leedarson, LG Electronics, Mui Lab, Nanoleaf, Nordic Semiconductor, NXP Semiconductors, Philips Hue, Qorvo, Schlage (Allegion), Sengled, Tuya Smart, Universal Electronics, and Veea, and Texas Instruments are all involved in the development of Matter.

With such a vast array of brands involved in creating Matter, we can expect high levels of compatibility with a wide range of products.

When will the Matter standard be released?

Initially, Matter-certified products were set to be released in 2021, but the CSA delayed the launch until this year. You can expect to see Matter in products on the market in mid-2022.