If you're wondering why some smart home devices don't work with others, learn more about Matter, the latest industry-shaking wireless interoperability standard.
Companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, Samsung and Zigbee have been working on it since 2019, and the artist formerly known as "Project CHIP" has now turned into an official shiny brand, Matter. The purpose of the problem is the same, but now everything is more formal. The big names behind the protocol will soon drop their new products, which will inevitably affect consumers. And as always, the ever-changing inner workings of smart home automation can be difficult to untangle.
What is a Matter?
Matter is a new protocol for smart home interaction that was launched as a joint effort by several big players in the industry. More than 170 companies are participating, the most important of which are Apple, Samsung, Amazon, Google and the Zigbee Alliance.
So why did they do this?
Consumers must ensure that a particular hub is connected to the correct peripherals and decide which device will work in their home based on the existing ancillary devices and ecosystem. It's like you can't switch between game consoles to play the same game, or you're stuck on a music streaming platform because of your inventory library.
However, smart homes devices are friendlier in these areas, so the company decided to simplify the whole system for producers and consumers. So Matter's goal is an interoperability protocol with a standard data model that allows smart home devices to work across different ecosystems.
How about Zigbee, Z-Wave and Thread?
If you didn't realize it before, all existing smart home devices are now connected via Zigbee and Z-Wave hubs. Along with Bluetooth as well as other small wireless protocols, this pair doesn't suddenly stop connecting devices as Matter grows.
However, given the Zigbee Alliance's role in creating Matter and the Zigbee wireless standard by proxy, it may evolve with Matter to pave the way for Matter and eventually merge one day. . The future of Z-Wave is more interesting.
However, CHIP focuses on IP. Specifies which devices can use IP on the battery. It's important to reach out to them and let them know they're working to avoid those rabbit holes and Zigbee, not just Z-Wave, needs to develop some kind of communication path to CHIP.
Threads is also another wireless protocol configured to issue certificates for some Matter-approved devices.
What will happen to existing smart home devices?
We've discussed how Matter can simplify decision-making for new ecosystems and devices, but what about legacy devices? Will it be supported?
Unfortunately, it depends on the hardware. Wi-Fi or new thread-capable devices will need to be updated to Matter at some point via software updates or bridges.
However, according to the Z-Wave alliance, devices are unlikely to be updated individually because IPv6 places a heavy burden of common software on many products. The silver lining to these devices is that the hubs they connect to are updated or critically connected.
As explained in the section above, Google also provides support for the Nest Thermostat, but not for older versions of the tool. In short, smart home devices that haven't received an update to support Matter may not be around for a long time.
At the moment, the release of Matter is delayed until 2023 due to the difficulty of preparing the SDK and the difficulty of the authentication process, which theoretically gives existing devices some time.