If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you have at least one smart home device in your home. After all, about half of all American families now have at least one, according to multiple studies on the subject. Smart speakers and linked thermostats, as well as light bulbs and video cameras, have fast progressed from the bleeding edge to the mainstream.
If you have many smart gadgets in your home, you’ve probably figured out what’s preventing the other half of American households from purchasing their first one. It’s difficult to persuade them to cooperate. Instead of attaining the goal of a seamless Internet of Things (IoT), you’ve probably ended up with Isolated Islands of Technology, which is my favorite spin on the term.
Part of the issue is that numerous huge corporations are striving for control of smart homes, owing to the significant revenue opportunity and impact that this category of products is predicted to have in the future years. While competition has definitely aided in the advancement of major technological advancements in general, getting gadgets geared for multiple ecosystems to function together can be difficult. In other words, using an Apple-created software on your iPhone to get Amazon Alexa-focused devices to operate with Google-powered Nest devices is frequently more bother than it’s worth.
Thankfully, big (and small) players in the smart home market recognized this challenge a few years back and started working on a single smart home standard that’s expected to solve these kinds of interoperability issues. Now called Matter (a vast improvement over the original Project Connected Home over IP, or CHIP, standard) and expected to be finalized and released this year, this smart home connectivity standard is being supported by big ecosystem vendors including Amazon, Apple, and Google, as well as device companies ranging from Dyson and GE Lighting to Samsung and Sonos.
The matter is meant to make it simple to mix and match devices from many manufacturers and have them all managed and/or coordinated by cross-platform apps. To put it another way, everything should merely function with Matter-compatible devices and applications. Furthermore, many of the Matter protocol’s features are designed to function without the use of an internet connection.
While it was understandable to make use of the cloud-computing capabilities of early linked smart home gadgets, privacy and security concerns have grown dramatically since their introduction. Many homeowners today would prefer that information about their actions or equipment in their homes not be shared across the internet, and Matter will allow them to do so.
Chips from Silicon Labs, which helped design the Zigbee standard, as well as NXP, Texas Instruments, and ST Micro, will be used to power the Matter protocol. To interact with devices, the new protocol will combine Wi-Fi and Thread, a low-power wireless communications technology developed by Google. Bluetooth Low Energy will be used to find items that can be connected to a smart home’s network.
You’ll never have to care about these technical intricacies as a user, but it’s fascinating to see how many different technologies and firms Matter is bringing together to develop this industry-wide standard.
Later this year, you’ll start to see the Matter logo on devices and applications that support the standard, and that will be your easy clue that they should all work together. The obvious question is what about existing smart home devices that you might already own? Here, the answer is mixed.
Thankfully, vendors like Amazon have said it plans to offer firmware updates (that is, software that runs inside hardware devices) to many of its existing products, like Echo smart speakers, to make them Matter-compatible. The trick is, even for vendors that are supporting Matter, not all devices are going to be upgradeable, so you’ll have to do a bit of homework to see if the models and/or versions you have can be upgraded.
Even if you discover that you have some devices that aren’t able to be upgraded for Matter support, you still may be able to get them to work in a Matter-based smart home network. Some companies are planning to offer gateway, or “bridge”, devices that will be able to essentially translate messages from the Matter format into something the older device can understand.
This is especially critical for smart homes because many of these gadgets are more appliance-like – meaning they are literally built into homes – making the process of replacing them much more difficult than simply upgrading your smartphone or computer to the current model. Again, realistically, you’ll need to do some research to see if you can locate the suitable gateway/bridge device for the smart home devices you already have – or, at the very least, the ones you don’t want to replace.
The potential of smart home technology has always been enticing, and many of the early attempts have had a significant impact on how certain individuals perform particular tasks or interact with their houses. At the same time, due to the challenges involved in getting various devices to operate together, the smart home industry has never attained the degree of success that many expected it would.Home Automation >> News & Updates >> With Matter Syncing Alexa Google Nest and Apple smart home technology will be a breeze.