Two years ago on the CES 2020 floor there was a lot of buzz around a chip – not the latest announcement from AMD or Intel, but a new alliance of big tech companies called Project. Connected Home over IP, or CHIP for short. Its promise was to develop an open source smart home standard that would allow all connected home devices to work together, simply and securely, regardless of who created them. The buzz was: “It will never happen.”
Fast forward to CES 2022 (yes, we all skipped 2021) and Matter – as CHIP is now called – was the show’s darling, with a full dance card and a line of fans stretching out. to virtual Starbucks.
Virtually all of the smart home device announcements this week had the slogan “and we are announcing our support for Matter”. In addition, the infrastructure has received significant support. There were new chips designed for Matter, Amazon announced that device makers can now add Frustration-free installation on their Matter certified devices with just the Matter SDK – no Amazon specific SDKs required. And Google presented its own version of a simplified setup, Quick pair with integrated material handling. Both of these announcements mean that when developers create new smart home products, all you’ll have to do after you bring them home is plug them in and they’re ready to go.
“The wave of Matter news at CES from our CSA members is a testament to the hard work that has gone into developing and testing Matter in 2021,” Tobin Richardson, president of the Connectivity Standards Alliance who oversees Matter, Show, told me. . “Hundreds of companies and thousands of engineers are at the heart of this global solution, creating a more open and innovative IoT, and I’m really excited about what’s to come in 2022.”
The other interesting announcement was confirmation from Amazon that Alexa will share your smart home with other voice assistants. Matter’s main promise has been cross-platform compatibility, that you will be able to control your smart devices with the app or voice assistant of your choice. Now we see exactly how it will be done.
Amazon presented new tools for developers that allow them to add Alexa as an additional way to control a device already configured in another system. While today you can control, say, a Philips Hue bulb with multiple apps and voice assistants, you currently need to configure it with each one individually. With the material, it will be only one and it is done. As a bonus, this new capability also adds local connectivity to the device, allowing for faster response times and the ability to use your devices even if the internet is down.
In total, nearly 30 companies have shown their involvement and / or pledged support for the new smart home standard backed by Apple, Google, Amazon, Samsung and others. Many of them represent a larger slice of the industry – Yours truly, a China-based IoT development platform service provider that supports more than 446,000 developers with more than 1,100 smart home products, said it will support Matter. We’ve also seen a number of new products debut with Thread, one of Matter’s main protocols.
All of this gives us a much better idea of what the material will bring when it finally arrives, it’s currently slated for June 2022. But let’s take a step back and now assess that CES is over and we’re facing a dark medium. -winter before matter arrives here.
It looks like there’s a lot of momentum, minimal internal fights (which we’ve seen) and a clear consumer directive and direction for manufacturers and platforms: we want smart home products to work. together. Now realize it.
The momentum is big enough that it seems to have convinced the world’s major appliance companies to do the same. They’ve gone and created their own alliance to make sure your Samsung dishwasher can talk to your GE Appliances refrigerator. The Alliance for Home Connectivity, announced at Samsung’s CES keynote, was specifically created to ensure that existing home devices can scale into the future of IoT, Samsung’s Yoon Ho Choi and HCA chairman told me at the THOSE.
This issue of the scalability of existing devices is still an area that the case has largely bypassed and really needs to be addressed. Firmware updates have been talked about for existing hubs and bridges, and we know the new Amazon Echo smart speakers and Google Nest Hub devices have an upgrade path.
But, based on numerous announcements coming out of CES this week, it increasingly looks like creating a Matter smart home will require users to purchase a fair number of new gadgets. As Mitch Klein of the Z-Wave Alliance told me at the end of last year, “We can’t leave devices behind or this whole program won’t work. The idea that everyone has to throw everything away and start over just won’t work. It remains imperative that Matter does not leave existing smart homes in the dark.
What will the lucky lock be?
August and Yale are committed to making their smart locks work with Matter. Jason Williams, president of August and Yale Real Living, told me that they plan to release the first Matter lock when the standard launches in 2022. The company already has a Thread-compatible lock, the Nest x smart lock. Yale is getting older, and is looking at other ways to introduce technology, Williams says. Although he has said that his August Wi-Fi-powered locks will not be among the first to be updated (Matter over Wi-Fi currently only affects hardline-powered devices, not devices powered by battery), they are actively looking for ways to integrate their existing products into the new smart home standard.
Schlage could beat Yale to the fist with its new Schlage Encode Plus lock, the company’s first Thread-compatible product. While Thread Radio specifically supports HomeKit over Thread, Schlage’s Donald Beene said The edge that the material is there for the material. “It will be the first [lock] produced with the on-board hardware to support something like that, but we still don’t know where those tech specs will land, ”he said.
All the lights
If you’re making smart lights, switches, and outlets, the material was on your mind this week. Belkin Wemo has announced its work on Thread versions of Wemo Smart Plug, Wemo Smart Light Switch, and Wemo Smart Dimmer that will support Matter over Thread. Cync, the company GE Lighting, has told me that its A19 colored bulb and light strip will be Matter compatible over Wi-Fi, and the smart lighting company Sengled has said it will have its first Wi-Fi bulb. A19 ready for operation when standard launches. Nanoleaf, which has been fully on Thread for over a year now, confirmed at CES that its mains-powered lighting panels, the Nanoleaf Shapes, Elements and Lines, will become Thread edge routers, initially for Thread over. HomeKit but with an eye to matter-compatibility.
Smart home hubs are still here
While Matter should alleviate the whole issue of multiple hubs / gateways / bridges down to a very small box which is hopefully your router as well, this is going to take a while. In the meantime, we still have plenty of hubs, and in the future we’ll need matter controllers to act as remotes for your home (think Google Nest Hub smart displays, but hopefully better).
There have been a few new hubs announced this week, including the new Samsung Home Hub, Samsung has committed to adopt Matter on all Samsung devices, so when this smart home controller hits the US (it will launch in Korean in March), he’s likely to be a part of that. Aqara, maker of cheap Zigbee sensors and decent HomeKit cameras that double as hubs, said it will update its M2 and M1S hubs, upgrading all compatible connected sensors to Matter. He also announced that he was developing Thread versions of his popular motion and contact sensors.
Smart home security camera company Arlo has announced its home security system, based on its “modular hub”. The word modular intrigued us, as did the company’s decision to finally join Matter. While we’d like to think this is a sign that cameras are coming to Matter earlier (they’re not currently part of the Matter spec), Arlo’s first product to get Matter support is more likely. to be those amazing new all-ins. -a captor.
Speaking of Modular Cutting-Edge Computing Company Vea showed off an intriguing smart home hub that the announcement says will be compatible with Matter. The Veea STAX Smart Hub is a 6 Mesh Wi-Fi router and smart home hub in one, with the option to add LTE or 5G cellular connection via stackable modules. A smart speaker module with directional mics is in the works, and the STAX modules also incorporate Lutron and Philips Hue bridge technology (among others), as well as HomeKit and Alexa compatibility. While the initial launch is aimed at communications companies as a white label Smart Home as a service (SHAaS) solution, the company says it will soon be available directly to consumers.