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IoT harmony? What Matter and Thread really mean for your smart home

by Ozva Admin
Matter promises to make smart home devices work with whatever control system you want to use, securely.  This marketing image also seems to promise an intriguing future involving clever mid-century modern chairs and clever statement balloons.
Enlarge / Matter promises to make smart home devices work with whatever control system you want to use, securely. This marketing image also seems to promise an intriguing future involving clever mid-century modern chairs and clever statement balloons.

CSA

The specification for Matter 1.0 was published on Tuesday, all 899 pages of it. More importantly, smart home manufacturers and software manufacturers can now apply for this cross-compatible standard, certify their products, and release them. What does that mean to you, the person who actually buys and deals with these things?

At the moment, not much. If you have smart home devices set up, some of them could start working with Matter soon, either through firmware updates on devices or hubs. If you’re deciding whether to buy something now, you might want to wait to see if it’s programmed to work with Matter. The first devices with the Matter logo on the box could appear in as little as a month. Amazon, Google, Apple and Samsung’s SmartThings division have all said they are ready to update their core products with Matter support when they can.

This is how Matter will arrive, but what does Matter do? You have questions and we have… well, not definitive answers, but information and scenarios. This is a giant standards working group trying to keep things moving both at the world’s largest multinational companies and esoteric manufacturers of tiny circuit boards. It is a complete thing. But we will try to answer some self-directed questions to provide some clarity.

Affair

A standard has arrived, with real devices and software to follow.
Enlarge / A standard has arrived, with real devices and software to follow.

CSA

What’s going on? Where did she come from?

Matter is held by Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA), which was previously known as the ZigBee Alliance. ZigBee is an IEEE 802.15.4 specification for a low-power, low-data-rate mesh network already used by Philips Hue bulbs and hubs, Amazon Echo and Eero devices, Samsung SmartThings, Yale smart locks, and more. many smaller devices. devices. It was widely accepted by manufacturers and demonstrated the value of mesh networks.

Building on that foundation, the CSA somehow gained momentum to push for something people want more than an iterative network standard: a guarantee that if they buy or develop a smart home device, they won’t have to figure out what corporate allegiances that device can work. The mission was to “simplify development for manufacturers and increase compatibility for consumers,” said the ZigBee Alliance, and the new standard was called CHIPor “Home connected via IP”.

That standard was renamed Materia, then delayed, more than once. Stacey Higginbotham, reporter focused on IoT, cited the COVID-19 pandemic and the rapidly growing size of the group for its first few delays. This week, with 550 CSA members involved in Matter’s standards development and a “Fall 2022” release target approaching, Higginbotham interns ear that the Matter group felt pressured to release something, even if it fell short of its original promises. And as you can imagine, a lot of mistakes and questions arise when more than 250 previously isolated companies begin to work together on something.

So Matter is just a new ZigBee with more corporate acceptance?

No, Matter is an interoperability standard, with many connection options available for devices. In Matter, devices can communicate with each other via standard Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Bluetooth Low Energy, or Thread, another IEEE 802.15.4 standard (we’ll talk about Thread a little later).

If you already have a large network set up with ZigBee or Z-Wave, you might still fit in with a Matter network. Hub manufacturers are gradually announcing firmware updates to enable Matter support, allowing them to serve as a bridge between their Matter and mesh-ready controllers and devices. Before being renamed the CSA, the ZigBee Alliance announced that it would work with Thread Group to create compatible application layers.

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