What is the new smart home standard “Matter” and why should I care?
By Adama Brown,
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You may have heard of “Matter,” a new standard related to smart home technology. But what is it, and what does it really do? Here’s the essentials.
The goal: total device compatibility
“Matter” is the new name of what used to be called Project Connected Home over IP, or CHIP. The idea behind it is to create a single, free-to-implement standard for smart home devices to be able to interact with each other, a standard that could be used by any and all manufacturers.
What that means, essentially, is that any Matter-certified smart devices could be connected to any other, without worrying about support, or mixing platforms, or other compatibility issues. Choose whatever products you want, and use them however you want, in an obvious win for end users. You’d no longer have to deal with multiple apps for different brands, or pieces of hardware that can’t be controlled by your favorite system.
A big goal, but with big backers
Now, not to sound cynical, but the usual situation when someone introduces a new standard for something to increase compatibility and replace the 14 or so previous competing standards is that very shortly you have 15 competing standards instead of 14.
However, Matter does have something special going for it, in that it has the backing of Apple, Amazon, Samsung, and Google, the four biggest players in the home networking and virtual assistant space. Thus the main selling point of the new standard; instead of smart device makers having to make their products compatible with a separate standard each for Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings, and Google Home, now they would only need to support one single system.
Moreover, because the standard is being released for free, without licensing fees, any company or developer can start building Matter-compatible devices, apps, and control systems without having to fork over money to get started.
Who is building Matter-compatible devices?
As backers of the standard already, it’s reasonable to assume that Amazon, Apple, Google, and Samsung all plan to make their own devices and services compatible. Some, like Amazon’s Echo products, already support the older “Zigbee” standard that preceded Matter.
As for other developers, the standard is still relatively new, so certified devices are going to be thin on the ground for awhile. However, several prominent brands including Philips Hue and Schneider Electric are already putting out devices for compatibility testing. It’s likely that this list will grow extensively as more manufacturers have a chance to look over the standard.
What kinds of devices does Matter currently support?
As of the first version of the standard, released back in October 2022, Matter supports electrical and lighting controls, HVAC, door locks, door and window security sensors, TVs, and streaming media players.
The next major upgrade, expected to be out around March or April of 2023, should include support for controlling robotic vacuum cleaners, environmental sensors (including smoke and carbon monoxide detectors), cameras, and “major appliances” like smart refrigerators, stoves, etc.
While it’s early in its lifespan to make any solid predictions, the Matter standard does at least offer some hope for a truly integrated smart home future, where devices will operate across brands and types without difficulty, allowing you to mix and match your ideal system.