What is the problem? We explain the new smart home standard

Ideal intelligence home seamlessly anticipates your needs and responds to commands instantly. You don’t have to open a device-specific app or memorize exact voice commands, and the voice assistant combo starts the latest episode of your favorite podcast on the nearest speaker. Competing smart home standards make operating your devices unnecessarily complicated. It’s not very… well, smart.

The tech giants try to surpass the standards by offering their voice assistants as a layer of control on top, but Alexa can’t talk to Google Assistant or Siri or control devices. by Google or Apple and vice versa. And so far, no ecosystem makes all the best devices. But it may be changing \ Formerly known as project CHIP (Home Connected over IP), the standard for open source interoperability is known as Problem will finally launch later this year. Some of the biggest tech names have signed up, like Amazon, Apple, and Google, meaning seamless integration could finally be within reach.

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Table of contents

Matter promises to allow different devices and ecosystems to work nicely. Device manufacturers will adhere to the Matter standard to ensure their devices are compatible with voice and smart home services such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, and others. For those building a smart home, Matter will let you buy any device and use your preferred voice assistant or platform to control it.

The first protocol will run on the Wi-Fi and Thread network layers and use Bluetooth Low Energy to set up the device. While it will support a variety of platforms, you will have to choose the voice assistant and the apps you want to use. There is no central Matter app or assistant.

What makes the difference?

The Connectivity Standards Alliance (or CSA, formerly the Zigbee Alliance) maintains the Issue standard. What sets it apart is its membership size, willingness to adopt and merge different technologies, and it’s an open source project. Once the software development kit is ready, interested companies can use it royalty-free to incorporate their devices into the Matter ecosystem.

The development from the Zigbee Alliance gives Matter a solid foundation. Bringing the major smart home platforms (Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Home, and Samsung SmartThings) on the same board is an accomplishment. While it’s optimistic to imagine seamless mass adoption of Matter, it’s already received excitement with a wave of registrations by smart home brands, including August, Schlage, and Yale in the lock categories. clever; Belkin, Cync, GE Lighting, Sengled, Signify (Philips Hue) and Nanoleaf in smart lighting; and others like Arlo, Comcast, Eve and LG. There are more than 240 member companies in all.

The problem has been going on for years. The first release was slated for late 2020, but it was delayed to next year, renamed Matter, and then touted this summer. Now it has been delayed again until the fall. There is always the possibility of further delays.

The CSA says The latest delay is to make it available to more devices and platforms and to make sure they all work seamlessly together before release. Over 130 devices and sensors across 16 development platforms (operating systems and chipsets) are working through certification, and more will be available in the fall.

If the specs come out this fall, more companies can apply for Matter certification and we could see a second wave of smart locks, smart bulbs and security sensors in no time. holiday. Assuming the release goes smoothly, we expect some other smart home brands to come out on top.

What about other smart home standards?

The path to smart home nirvana is paved with different standards, such as Zigbee, Z-Wave, Samsung SmartThings, Wi-Fi HaLow, and Insteon, to name a few. These and other protocols will continue to exist and function. Google will merge its Thread and Weave technologies into Matter. The new standard also uses the Wi-Fi and Ethernet standards and uses Bluetooth LE to set up the device.

Matter is not a single technology and will evolve and improve over time. It won’t cover every possible use case for every device and situation, so other standards will continue to evolve. The more platforms and standards merge with Matter, the greater its potential for success, but the challenge to make it all work smoothly also increases.

Will Material work with existing devices?

Some devices will work with Matter after a firmware update. Others will never be compatible. There is no simple answer here. While many devices currently working with Thread, Z-Wave or Zigbee can work with Matter, that doesn’t mean they will be upgraded. It is best to check with the manufacturer for specific devices and future support.

The first specification, or Matter 1.0, covers only certain categories of equipment, like:

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