Put simply, Matter is the future of your smart home. For years now, smart devices have been available from a plethora of different companies and manufacturers. The problem was that even though they were supposed to be smart, they didn’t all communicate with each other. Another problem, they followed different protocols based on what ecosystem or platform you used. Products made to work with Google Home or Alexa probably didn’t work with Apple Homekit, and vice-versa. Very few worked with all of the big platforms, and even worse, just trying to connect them to more than one platform at a time was usually painstaking and frustrating.
Thankfully, those days are almost over because Matter aims to fix of those issues. Matter is a new standard for smart home devices that uses a single, open-source protocol for all of your devices to communicate with each other and with your chosen platform(s). Developed and run by the Connectivity Standards Alliance – a collection of the industry’s biggest companies – Matter aims to bring unity and simplicity to your smart home. Devices certified with Matter will all finally start speaking the same language. The big 4 platforms – Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple Homekit, and Samsung SmartThings – have updated their platforms to work with Matter, so if you have one of their smart speakers and/or hubs, your home most likely already supports Matter.
How does Matter work?
Matter is an IP-based connectivity protocol that runs on top of technologies that already exist, like Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Thread, and Bluetooth. Think of it as the language that will handle the communication between all devices. When they all speak the same language, they can all play nicely with each other. You won’t have to look for the “Works with Google Home” or “Works with Apple Homekit” logos on the box. Now all you need to look for is the Matter seal so that you can rest assured that your new device will work with your current platform as well as all of your future Matter-certified devices.
Watch this video from the CSA explaining how Matter works:
Advantages of Matter.
Matter promises a number of advantages:
- Easy to purchase and use.
- Devices from multiple brands work natively together.
- Consistent and fast local connectivity.
- Robust and streamlined for users.
Matter devices do not require an internet connection to work or to work together. Cloud connectivity is optional, allowing for out-of-the-home control. These devices can be connected directly to your chosen platform, rather than being forced to connect first to a third-party app or hub (although some of the enhanced features of your device might still require you to do so). This is achieved by using a decentralized approach, where devices can communicate with each other directly, rather than relying on a central server or cloud service. This means that regardless of the brand or type of device, a Matter-certified product can interact with any other Matter-certified product. Matter devices with Thread can also act as a mesh network amongst each other to enhance the reach and communication of these devices. They will act as individual “border routers” to which other Thread devices can connect to without burdening your Wi-Fi network.
Matter also prioritizes security, which is an essential factor in the smart home ecosystem. The protocol includes end-to-end encryption, ensuring that all data transmitted between devices and the cloud is secure. Additionally, devices must be authenticated before they can join the network, preventing unauthorized access.
With Matter-certified devices, users can mix and match products from different brands and be confident that they will work seamlessly together. This means that users can avoid being locked into a specific ecosystem and can choose the products that best suit their needs.
Do you need to buy all new Matter devices now?
The easy answer is, no. You can keep your smart home ecosystem exactly how it is. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Also, at the moment there are very few Matter devices in the market. That will start changing in the coming months and years, however. Eventually, every new device that comes out might/should be Matter-certified.
That being said, if you have been craving devices that can work for multiple platforms, and if you would like local control without having to worry about everything breaking if your internet goes down, feel free to start upgrading some of your devices to new Matter-certified devices. Many manufacturers have announced their intention on releasing new Matter products this year. It is shaping up to be an exciting year for your smart home.
Setting up a smart home with Matter is relatively straightforward. The protocol includes a simple onboarding process, allowing users to connect devices to their network quickly. Additionally, devices can be controlled using a variety of methods, including voice commands, smartphone apps, or physical buttons.
Overall, the Matter protocol is a significant step forward in the world of smart home technology. Its focus on interoperability, security, and openness makes it a promising solution for users who want to build a smart home ecosystem that suits their needs. As more manufacturers adopt the Matter protocol, we can expect to see an even broader range of devices available to users, making the smart home more accessible and convenient than ever before.