Smart home standard “Matter” is supposed to connect previously incompatible components
For some time now, the eyes of the smart home world have been on “Matter”: The connection standard is intended to enable cross-platform control of components that are integrated into the home network via WLAN, the wireless mesh network Thread or via Ethernet. A device that was previously only compatible with Apple’s HomeKit then listens to the Google Assistant, for example, without having to be registered in the Google Cloud.
The start originally planned for autumn 2021 has been postponed to summer 2022. But at least around 60 devices are currently in the certification phase with the responsible Connectivity Standard Alliance (CSA), as its director Jon Harros reported on the sidelines of a press event organized by the manufacturer Eve. Aqara, Eve, Nanoleaf, Philips Hue, Wiz and Yale have so far made declarations of intent to also have suitable devices in stores for the start of Matter. Then there are Amazon, Apple, Google and Samsung, who are also among the initiators of the Matter standard.
However, Harro’s expectations were dampened that all of the 60 components mentioned will actually be available in stores at the Matter premiere. The main argument against this is that the devices are in very different stages of development. However, Aqara and Philips Hue also want to have their ZigBee gateways certified for Matter. If this happens, dozens of already available ZigBee components would be Matter-compatible in one go.
According to the CSA, “four to five” accessory categories are to be expected at the market launch, including smart lamps, sensors, adapter plugs and heating thermostats. That is enough for basic smart home scenarios. Manufacturer Eve offered a foretaste of the practical experience with a product demo in front of trade journalists. A Google voice command switched on a table lamp using an Eve socket, another command queried the room temperature from an Eve weather sensor. The voice commands were processed and sent by a Google Nest Hub 2. The Smart Display exchanged locally via thread with the accessories. Eve also doesn’t have its own cloud and cannot be connected to Google technology in this way. The Google Assistant, in turn, always needs an internet connection to process the voice commands. The commands could only be given in English during the demonstration and sometimes only led to the desired success after two or three attempts. However, it was still an experimental firmware.
The fact that something worked at all in this early phase feeds the hope that Matter can actually simplify the often laborious search for compatible accessories and meet the desire for less dependency on cloud-to-cloud connections than the previous transmission standards for Smart Home has succeeded. However, much is still unclear – such as what role Matter will play in cross-platform automation and remote access. For many of the companies involved, the proposed bridging is a really thick board because of the brand’s own operating logics.
In view of this major construction site, it is not unusual that a somewhat longer start-up is necessary and that many manufacturers are still lurking until the specifications are fixed. A large number of interoperable components can therefore only be expected if the Matter start in the summer is successful from the company’s point of view.
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