When it arrives in 2022, Matter is hoping to offer a unified smart home platform for Apple, Samsung, Alexa, and Google products. Here’s everything you need to know about the innovative tech and why it’s important.
What Is Matter for Smart Homes?
Matter is an upcoming smart home language that allows devices in different ecosystems to communicate with each other. In other words, your Alexa-controlled thermostat will be able to connect to your Google Home-controlled smart display. That also means you can control Google products using Siri, or even give Apple Homekit devices commands through Alexa. Matter is a collaborative effort between professionals across a variety of industries and is the brainchild of the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA).
Matter hopes to become the “go-to” smart home hub for all smart products. It’s important to note that Matter isn’t some sort of new, tangible gadget, but rather it’s an underlying software that will improve connectivity between existing (and future) third-party products. Apple Homekit, Google Home, Samsung SmartThings, and Amazon Alexa have already bought into the new connectivity standard, and you can look forward to seeing the tech in their products in mid-2022.
As for how Matter actually works–well, that’s a bit complicated. To keep it simple, Matter will work using both standard Wi-Fi and an existing technology called Thread (which offers connectivity for battery-powered devices), while also incorporating the use of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) during the setup of specific devices. Once the initial connection is finalized, all smart devices on your network will be able to communicate with each other.
If Matter sounds a bit familiar, that’s because it’s not technically a new creation. First announced in 2020 as the awkwardly named, “Project Connected Home Over IP” or Project CHIP, the language has since been rebranded as Matter (which is an objectively better choice).
For most consumers, however, what it’s called or how it works isn’t important. What is important, is how it’ll impact their smart home setup and make their lives a bit less complicated.
How Will Matter Improve Your Smart Home?
One of the biggest selling points for Matter is that it will essentially let you expand your current smart home ecosystem using just about every product on the market. Apple HomeKit users (who desperately need a smart display) will be able to pick up a Google Nest Hub Max and easily incorporate it into their setup. Alexa devices will be able to use the power of Siri voice commands to carry out tasks. No longer will you need to hunt down products specific to your smart home ecosystem–as long as they’re Matter compatible, they’ll integrate nicely into your network.
Security should also improve with the introduction of Matter. Devices on your local network can operate without having to connect to a cloud, making it difficult for information to find its way outside of your home. Of course, updates and downloads will still require a long-range connection, but daily interactions will all be limited to Thread and Wi-Fi—making them extremely secure.
These Products Will Support Matter
A full list of supported products is yet to be released, but we do know that many of today’s most popular companies are on board with Matter. When the tech is released in 2022, you’ll be able to quickly identify supported devices by a “Matter” logo on their packaging.
Here’s a look at the types of smart home products that will be compatible with Matter at launch:
- Home security sensors (excluding security cameras)
- Thermostats, HVAC controllers
- TVs and streaming devices
- Wireless access points
- Lightbulbs and light controllers
- Garage controllers
- Door deadbolts
- Plugs, outlets
Within those categories, these specific devices are expected to offer Matter support.
- Echo smart speakers (4th Gen)
- Echo Studio
- Echo Show 10
- Echo Plus
- Nest smart speakers
- Nest Hub Max
- Nest Wi-Fi
- Nest Hub (2nd Gen)
- Apple TV 4K
- HomePod Mini
- All existing HomeKit APIs
- According to Samsung, all current SmartThings hubs will support Matter.
Matter Isn’t Replacing Your Old Devices
Matter has been built from the ground up to be compatible with most of today’s best-selling smart devices. That means you won’t need to throw out your old smart display or thermostat just because Matter is becoming the new standard. There’s a good chance that products you currently own will support Matter, and if they don’t at launch, they might gain support at a later date
Even if it’s not compatible with the language, you can still continue to use your smart home ecosystem as if nothing has changed.
However, some experts are predicting that Matter will reduce the cost of development for smart devices—so it might be tempting to upgrade to a shiny new gadget that incorporates Matter into its software. Until then, your best bet of futureproofing your home is to only purchase smart devices that support Thread, as it’s an underlying component of Matter.
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