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Everything about Matter: the connecting factor for your smart home

Matter is a protocol for your smart home that acts as a connecting factor between devices that normally don't work together.

When you use various smart products in your home, Matter comes at the right time. Perhaps this is a known situation. You buy a number of smart devices, hoping that you can link them together. Because a smart home is only really a smart home when all devices in the house work together seamlessly. But what happens after installation? One device just doesn’t support the platform or voice assistant you like to use. You could have known by reading carefully, of course, but it also goes very far beyond the convenience of the idea behind a smart home.

With Matter it doesn’t matter

But with Matter in house, it doesn’t matter where the product comes from or how you want to use it. Before we go deeper into that, we first need to know what the protocol is exactly. The name Project CHIP (Connected Home over IP) may also mean something to you. This is a smart home standard from 2019 that the largest companies are participating in. Think of Apple, Google, Amazon, Samsung, the Zigbee Alliance and many more companies. The goal of the collaboration: to develop a unified system that works with all smart devices.

And such a move couldn’t come at a better time. Because different companies all have their own platforms and ideas. The Zigbee Alliance is one of them. But you also have IKEA, Legrand, Resideo, Samsung SmartThings, Schneider Electric, Signify, Silicon Labs, Somfy and Wulian, just to give a few examples. All those companies are now coming together to ensure that smart devices for your smart home are better connected to each other. Moreover, it no longer matters which voice assistant you use; after all, everything has to work together seamlessly.

In practice

What does all this mean in practice? Well, it should no longer matter which product you buy and which voice assistant you use. You can get devices from completely different manufacturers and link them together without too much effort. Provided they support Matter of course; that is and remains the most important condition. If a company does not do that, you will again have to rely on external services and platforms that may be able to provide an answer. For example, you have IFTTT and Yonomi as a backup, as well as various smart home systems.

To achieve the integration, Matter uses existing standards. Think of the Ethernet port, WiFi, Bluetooth low-energy and Thread . Thread is still a relatively new player on the market, but more and more brands are supporting the standard. With Thread it is also possible to link products from different manufacturers without the need for an external hub. Moreover, Thread – just like Zigbee and Z-Wave – sets up a mesh network, which means that the connection between devices must be stable.

Matter not only wants to set up a reliable, but also a secure network. By supporting Thread, the standard can – as it now appears – deliver on that. When a device within the Thread network fails, another can take over. In addition, that network uses AES encryption. This is a type of encryption that is used by banks, among others, and is therefore very safe. The list of Matter products is currently very long; too long to list in this article. But the standard is well represented.

In the future

The future for Matter looks bright. After all, many manufacturers have already announced that they will support the new standard. Think of Philips Hue, Yale, WiZ and Nanoleaf. Some manufacturers and companies already support the standard, such as Google and Apple. This does not yet apply to all products, but it is clear that the foundation has now been laid. The only thing consumers now have to wait for is a further roll-out and implementation of the technology. The update process is very simple for companies, so trust is in place.

Meanwhile, Matter also has little to no competition. The observant reader will notice that Z-Wave has not yet been appointed as a major partner. And that’s right. At the time of writing, Z-Wave is not participating in Matter either, but that does not mean that it is or will become a competitor. Some competition would be nice, as products and services improve quickly. But we should not expect anything from Z-Wave . In fact, the company has already confirmed that it is in talks with Matter to see how both standards can work together.

That leaves the question of when we will actually see the first Matter products in the shops. Initially, that was supposed to happen at the end of 2021, but the release was postponed at the time – like a lot in 2021. Google and Apple have already announced that the Google Assistant and iOS 16 respectively will be the first digital products from both companies to support the standard, giving you as a user a great basis to work with. In short: in the future we will see and experience much more about Matter. The release of the new smart home standard is now scheduled for the end of 2022. So it’s only a matter of time.