Building a smart home can be a confusing and frustrating experience, especially when trying to connect devices from different manufacturers.
In addition, having smart devices dependent on a cloud server dramatically slows things down as well as poses numerous privacy and security risks.
Matter has the potential to change all of that, by establishing a unified standard for device manufacturers to adopt. This should simplify device setup and improve security while allowing all devices to communicate together locally.
It promises so much! So let's see how it’s going to deliver it!
What Is Matter?
Matter is an open-source, royalty-free, and unified smart home protocol designed to improve compatibility among smart home devices.
It was developed by the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA), formerly known as the Zigbee Alliance, in collaboration with major tech companies such as Apple, Google, and Amazon.
The goal of the Matter standard is to simplify smart home setup, reduce fragmentation in the market, and enhance security, making it easier for consumers to create a connected and interoperable smart home.
How Does Matter Work?
Matter works by providing a single, unified standard that smart home devices can use to communicate with each other, regardless of the manufacturer or platform.
It is based on Internet Protocol (IP) to ensure seamless communication between devices, allowing them to work together over various networking technologies like Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and Thread.
Matter also features a standardized data model, making it easier for developers to create applications and devices that are compatible across different ecosystems.
Interoperability: Matter's primary advantage is its focus on interoperability among devices from different manufacturers. This ensures that users can seamlessly integrate and expand their smart home ecosystems without worrying about compatibility issues.
Security: Matter emphasizes strong security features, including secure communication protocols and a standardized public key infrastructure (PKI) to authenticate devices and encrypt data. This approach helps protect users' privacy and data from unauthorized access.
Reliability and Privacy: Matter operates on the Internet Protocol (IP), allowing devices to communicate directly with one another without relying on a central hub or cloud service. This improves latency and ensures that smart home devices continue to function even when the internet is down.
Wide industry support: With backing from major tech companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon, Matter has the potential to become the dominant smart home standard. This means that more devices and accessories will be compatible, providing users with a greater range of options.
Simplified setup: Matter streamlines the setup process for smart home devices, enabling users to add new devices to their networks easily using a single QR code or numeric code, regardless of the manufacturer.
Limited legacy device support: While Matter is designed to improve interoperability, it may not be compatible with some older smart home devices that use proprietary protocols or other standards like Z-Wave or Zigbee. Users may need to replace or upgrade these devices to take full advantage. Or purchase additional components like Matter bridges.
Adoption time: As a relatively new standard, it will take time for Matter to gain widespread adoption among manufacturers and users. During this transition period, users might still encounter compatibility issues with some devices.
Potential complexity: Although Matter aims to simplify the smart home experience, the wide range of features and capabilities it supports might make it more complex for some users to set up and manage their smart home systems.
What is Matter-over-Thread?
Matter-over-Thread refers to the combination of the Matter standard and the Thread networking protocol.
Thread is a low-power, wireless, mesh networking protocol designed for IoT devices. It provides reliable, secure, and scalable communication between devices within a smart home.
When used with Matter, Thread enables seamless and energy-efficient communication between smart home devices, making it an ideal choice for battery-powered devices and large-scale deployments.
What is Matter-over-WiFi?
Matter-over-WiFi refers to the use of the Matter standard with Wi-Fi networking technology.
Wi-Fi is in almost every home and already allows devices to communicate with each other and connect to the internet. When paired with Matter, Wi-Fi enables high-bandwidth communication and allows smart home devices to connect directly to the internet without the need for a separate hub or gateway.
What is Matter-over-Bridge?
Matter-over-Bridge refers to a setup where existing smart home devices that use non-Matter protocols, such as Zigbee or Z-Wave, are connected to a Matter-compliant network through a bridge device.
This bridge device acts as a translator, allowing communication between compliant and non-compliant devices by converting and relaying the data between the two different protocols.
This approach enables users to integrate their legacy smart home devices into a Matter-based ecosystem, providing a more cohesive and connected smart home experience.
There are a number of bridges in development from Tuya, Philips Hue Bridge, SwitchBot and Homey Pro.
Do I need a Hub?
A hub is not required for all Matter-enabled devices, as many of them can connect directly to your home's Wi-Fi network.
However, for devices that use Thread or other low-power networking technologies, a Thread Border Router is required to bridge the connection between these devices and your Wi-Fi network.
A number of smart speakers, smart displays, TVs, and Wi-Fi routers are being upgraded to act as Thread Border Routers (such as Amazon Eero, Apple TV, Google Nest Hub, and the Echo 4th Gen)
A hub can also provide additional functionality, such as improved security, device management, and automation capabilities.
How Secure Is Matter?
Matter was designed with security as a top priority. It uses industry-standard encryption and authentication methods, such as public key cryptography and secure key exchange protocols, to protect communication between devices.
Additionally, Matter employs secure boot and software update mechanisms to ensure the integrity of device firmware.
As an open-source standard, Matter's security can be continuously reviewed and improved by the community, providing a high level of trust and transparency.
What type of devices will be Matter compliant?
As of November 2022, the following device types are officially supported in the Matter 1.0 standard.
- Lighting and Electrical: Smart bulbs, switches, and plugs offer flexible lighting and power control solutions for a connected smart home.
- HVAC Controls: Devices such as smart thermostats help users manage their home's climate efficiently.
- Controllers and Bridges: These devices facilitate communication between different smart home components, enabling a cohesive smart home experience.
- TVs and Media Devices: Matter compatibility ensures seamless integration and control of entertainment systems.
- Blinds and Shades: Smart window coverings can be automated and controlled within the ecosystem.
- Security Sensors: Devices like motion sensors and alarms provide enhanced security for smart homes.
- Door Locks: Smart locks offer improved access control and security features.
- Software Components and Applications
In addition to the currently supported device types, nine new categories are scheduled for release in Q3 2023:
- Cameras: Smart security cameras will provide enhanced surveillance and monitoring capabilities.
- Robot Vacuums: Matter-compliant robot vacuums will offer seamless integration and control within the smart home environment.
- White Goods/Appliances: Devices such as smart refrigerators, ovens, and washing machines will become Matter-compliant, allowing users to monitor and control them within their smart home ecosystem.
- Energy Management: Smart energy monitors and systems will help users optimize energy consumption in their homes.
- Access Points: Devices like smart doorbells and gate controllers will improve access management and security.
- Closure Sensors: These sensors, for example in garages, will allow users to monitor and control access points more effectively.
- Environment Sensing and Controls: Devices for monitoring and controlling factors such as air quality, humidity, and temperature will be integrated into the ecosystem.
- Ambient Motion and Presence Sensing: These sensors will enable automation based on motion and presence detection within the smart home environment.
- Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Matter-compliant detectors will offer enhanced safety features and seamless integration with other smart home devices.
As the standard continues to evolve and expand, users can expect an increasingly diverse range of devices to become compatible, offering more flexibility and customization in their smart home ecosystems.
Brian from Automate your Home has a great video on this which you watch below:
Is Matter based on Zigbee?
Matter is not based on Zigbee, but it was developed by the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA), formerly known as the Zigbee Alliance.
While Zigbee is a separate smart home protocol, Matter was created to be a unified, IP-based standard that would improve interoperability, security, and reliability among smart home devices.
Although both standards have different technical foundations, the CSA, which has experience in developing and managing Zigbee, has played a crucial role in the development of the standard.
Is Matter going to replace ZigBee?
Matter is not going to directly replace Zigbee, but it has the potential to become the dominant smart home standard due to its widespread industry support and focus on interoperability.
Zigbee will continue to exist, and many Zigbee devices might receive firmware updates to make them compliant.
However, as more manufacturers adopt Matter, it's expected that the focus will shift towards this newer standard, potentially leading to a decline in the development of Zigbee-only devices.
Is Matter a standard, a specification, a protocol, or an application layer?
Matter is a unified smart home standard that encompasses a specification defining the protocol, application layer, and technical requirements for seamless interoperability among smart home devices.
As a protocol, it defines the rules and procedures for transmitting data between devices in a smart home network. It operates on the Internet Protocol (IP), which allows devices to communicate directly with one another, providing reliable and efficient data transfer.
On the application layer, it specifies how smart home devices should interact with each other and how users can control these devices. This includes defining data models, device types, and communication patterns to enable various smart home features such as lighting, security, and climate control.
By addressing both the protocol and application layers, Matter aims to create a unified, secure, and user-friendly smart home ecosystem that can be easily adopted by manufacturers and users alike.