Nobody likes wasting money, and the ever-changing smart home landscape can make you feel like you’re going to have to pay a high price. The “Matter smart home” initiative aims to bring order to the Wild West of smart home products.
Why are people reluctant to adopt smart home products?
While experimenting with the smart home can lead to small frustrations, like your voice assistant interpreting your command to turn off something as a request to play a Spotify playlist, the biggest frustration comes from the lack of interoperability, the cost of purchasing smart home platforms and, all too often, the replacement of smart home devices.
If you’ve been hesitant to jump into the smart home market, we can hardly blame you. By the very nature of our work here at How-To Geek, we’re early adopters of technology big and small, including all kinds of smart home tech, and we can definitely tell you that it’s not always an easy experience.
Outside of the market smart home, the majority of the objects we use in our homes are highly standardized and interoperable. You can easily connect old speakers bought on Craig’s List to your stereo receiver, for example, because the speaker cables and connectors are well designed.
Along the same lines, replacing bulbs is simple because the vast majority of residential light fixtures in the United States use the well-known “standard” E26 socket. If it fits, it works. And it doesn’t matter if the bulbs are made by different companies or if the company that makes the bulb didn’t also make the switch in the wall or the circuit breaker panel in the basement.
The worst aspects of owning a smarthome
The “it works” experience is the baseline expectation we all have when interacting with our homes, but that’s not always the case with smart home technologies. On the contrary, the last decade of the smart home has been less like the ease of flipping a switch than the agony of being on the wrong side of the Betamax/VHS format war. Several times.
Even after years of development and advancements in the smart home market, the experience remains messy, and far too many people end up with products that either don’t communicate with each other at all or only work together through a patchwork of workarounds and their willingness to use multiple apps to manage everything.
Something has to change, and it will later this year.
If you’ve read the last section and this sounds exactly like your experience, either because you’ve waited to invest in smart home gear or because you’ve invested and it’s been frustrating, there’s hope for you in an upcoming smart home protocol, Matter.
Matter is a smart home connectivity standard announced in 2019 as a joint effort between the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA), which includes Amazon, Apple, Google, and Comcast. Since then, hundreds of other companies and organizations have joined the initiative, including Samsung, Huawei, IKEA, Lutron, and more. The first Matter-certified products are expected to start shipping in late 2022.
You might not immediately think of Amazon, Apple, and Google as the type to cooperate on something, but their smart home platforms, Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant, are collectively the face of the smart home movement. Fragmentation and lack of interoperability do not make consumers happy.
These companies, and every other smart home company that has joined them, have some serious reason to smooth things over and get you invested in the smart home experience. Here’s how Matter will help solve the problem of fragmentation and eliminate friction in the installation and use of smart home equipment.
Matter will allow you to grow on demand
A diagram showing multiple products connected to a Matter-based smart home.
With the Matter standard, you no longer have to worry about whether the product you want is a “works with Alexa”, “works with the Google Assistant” or “works with Apple HomeKit” product.
The goal of the Matter initiative is to create a smart home world where Matter is as ubiquitous as Wi-Fi. with the type of Wi-Fi I have at home. We’ve all gotten into the habit of adding any device to our home network because Wi-Fi standards are well established by this point.
Once Matter launches, you’ll do the same with smart home devices. Look for the logo, take it home, and with just a tap or two on your phone and a simple Bluetooth swap with the device, it’ll be part of your smart home system.
Gone are the days of seriously considering changing your entire smart home platform just to fit the product you really want into your smart home.
Material is backwards compatible
Anyone who’s been interested in the smart home long enough knows exactly how frustrating it is to see the next best thing happen that renders all your existing equipment obsolete.
The folks behind Matter have gone to great lengths to create something that will siphon off as much existing smart home hardware as possible. New products will be compatible by design and older products can be integrated into the new smart home ecosystem through updates or a Thread border router – a device that acts as a bridge between low-powered mesh communication Thread power found in a growing number of smart home products and the rest of your home network.
To that end, when Matter launches, many existing products will be updated to serve as a Thread border router. Products like Amazon’s current generation Echo speakers, Apple’s HomePod Mini speakers and Apple TV 4K, Google’s Nest Hub (2nd generation) and Hub Max, and other devices like the Eero Pro mesh system and Eero Pro 6, will all receive software updates that will allow them to function as border routers in your Matter smart home.
So if your current smart home product uses Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or Thread to communicate, chances are it will work with Matter. And if not, there will likely be a bridge created by the manufacturer or a third party that will allow it to be integrated into the Matter ecosystem. The Philips Hue bridge, for example, will be updated to work with Matter, while other companies, like Belkin, will release inexpensive new bridges that will support Matter and bring all their older devices into the ecosystem.
Matter control is local
Right now, whether an interaction in your smart home is local or cloud-based is entirely at the discretion of the manufacturer and how they designed the particular product you’re using. Bouncing a request to a remote server introduces lag and creates significant issues in the event of network disruption.
This might not be a problem for you, who live on the fringes of smart home tech adoption, but chances are your spouse or kids won’t enjoy the experience.
Matter transfers control of devices to the local network, which provides significantly faster response times. Add to that the move to wire-based smart home control, and your smart home settings become as instantaneous as turning on a light switch.
Matter unifies the user experience
Currently, controlling smart home devices through a uniform interface is a bit wonky. Many issues can arise, from synchronizing the state of a smart home device to accessing specific functions. It’s not uncommon for people to control their entire smart home through a particular dashboard, but then have to open individual apps to access certain functions.
In other cases, the two ecosystems don’t even talk to each other and you end up with a dashboard that meets 80% of your smart home needs and a handful of apps that you open to do certain things or set some programs.
Matter has a central element called “Multi-Admin” that allows you to easily add products into the Matter system while linking them together in a way that not only works for you, but also for everyone else in your business. foyer. Everyone can interact with the different elements of the smart home in the way that best suits their needs, without the hassle of apps, connections and headaches.
Matter reduces costs for everyone
Ultimately, one of the best things about Matter isn’t the fancy protocol under the hood that the average user is never going to dig into, it’s the cost savings.
Overall, everyone saves money when systems are streamlined. You, the end user, will save money because you’ll need to purchase fewer products to meet your smart home goals (and you’ll very rarely replace those products once they’re part of your home. intelligent Matter).
Starting your smart home from scratch because a new product came out and your old platform doesn’t support it will be a thing of the past.
Additionally, companies large and small in the smart home market will be able to cut costs and focus their energy on creating interesting and useful products, instead of spending time continually complying with multiple competing standards. when it comes to smart homes.
A product that might not have made it to market five years ago because supporting multiple platforms was too expensive might now have a chance because it can plug right into the Matter ecosystem.
We don’t know what’s in it for you, but we’re very excited to not only save money, but to see even cooler and more varied smart home products.
There’s still some waiting to do as the Connectivity Standards Alliance continues to refine Matter and manufacturers around the world adopt and integrate the standard, but we’re more than excited about the future of the smart home that Matter.
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Matter is the standard for the smart home
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