Matter: A New Communication Standard
The smart home space is – for lack of a better term – a bit chaotic these days. You see a neat new device that you want to add to your home. Still, you'll need to read the documentation carefully to figure out where the device fits in the patchwork of compatibility between the devices you already own.
Once you've got everything set up, you'll find that systems from different manufacturers don't necessarily work well together, causing devices to drop intermittently, become unresponsive, or produce strange results. You find yourself stuck in your garage because the smart garage door opener has failed, or wandering around in the dark because the smart lights don't come on - what broke this time?
Wouldn't it be great if all of these devices used a common standard and worked right out of the box?
What is matter?
Matter is a new communication standard that allows smart home devices from different manufacturers and on different protocols to work together easily. You can buy a Matter-enabled hub and Matter-enabled devices set them up, and make them all work together with almost no hassle.
Rather than creating a patchwork of compatibility between manufacturers, manufacturers can rely on Matter's common standard. Certification testing for Matter ensures that all devices bearing the Matter badge meet a minimum level of functionality to ensure the devices work together reliably.
Matter sits higher in the protocol stack and allows devices on WiFi, Ethernet, and Thread to communicate with each other in a standardized way. This is similar to how WhatsApp works with cellular data, WiFi, or a connected computer - you can talk to all your friends over any network protocol.
Of course, the introduction of a new standard could further fragment the market if the industry does not support it and widely adopted, so it is very encouraging that the main players in the sector - Apple, Amazon, Google, Samsung and many more - creating the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA) to develop Matter. With so many companies signing up, we believe Matter will become the next industry standard, as will the number of devices that have centralized to USB-C or Bluetooth.
Potential Industry Adoption Issues
New standards are sometimes used to force users to switch to new devices by ending support for existing devices early. It's up to each company to provide live support and updates for existing devices so they can "talk" the matter. Some may choose not to provide these updates, forcing their customers to update to a new Matter-enabled device.
Two skill levels
Organizations also have the option to support standard product features through Matter, but retain premium features only for devices and accessories within their product family. Companies could support Matter in the name but retain the premium features for their walled garden ecosystems. Whether that will happen as Matter is released and adopted by the industry remains to be seen.
Future of matter
The matter is expected to be ratified in the fall of 2022, paving the way for the next generation of smart homes that will revolutionize the development and use of IoT devices. We believe Matter will be essential for any company looking to enter the smart home space, whether they are designers making hardware products or consumer electronics companies bringing their products to market. With more than 5.5 billion Matter devices projected to ship between now and 2030, the importance of Matter will be undeniable.