In the world of smart homes, you’ll find at least half a dozen standards promising to make everything work together. The latest, and most promising standard, Project CHIP, wants a new name. It will now be known as Matter. And it’s an appropriate name cause it’s the one standard that might matter.
If you’re not familiar with Matter (formerly Project Chip), don’t be surprised. As of yet, no single smart home device supports the standard. And for that matter, the certification process to make a product work with Matter’s standards isn’t even finalized. For now, Matter isn’t helping any smart home user.
But it has a good chance of finally solving some big smart home dilemmas in the future. Right now, if you want to buy a smart home sensor from one company to control a smart light from another company, you have to do a lot of reading to ensure they work together. Does the smart light work over Wi-Fi? Does the smart sensor use ZigBee? To get them to play together, you’ll need at least a ZigBee hub and possibly a Wi-Fi hub device as well. It all depends on what the devices support and what the hubs support.
And that giant game of, “well it depends on a bunch of factors” makes pairing up smart home devices from different manufacturers a nightmare for consumers. Matter promises it can solve all of that. And to help that claim, it has backing from the ZigBee Alliance (now known as the Connectivity Standards Alliance), Google, Amazon, Apple, and other big players in the smart home sector.
Device manufacturers are also on board; Nanoleaf, Apple (again with Apple TV 4K), and Google (with its new Nest hub) already promised full support. And now, just after the rebrand announcement, Signify (makers of Philips Hue Bulbs and Wiz bulbs) says it will also join in and fully covert to support the new standard. Matter will work with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Ethernet, ZigBee, and Thread, unifying all those standards and bringing the strengths of each into one whole. The standard already promised to support Google Assistant, Alexa, and Siri at launch.
If you have a Thread device (like Apple’s Homepod Mini or Nanoleaf’s Essentials), it will likely convert to the Matter standard with little effort on the Manufacturer’s part. With so many large players in the smart home field promising support, we might actually see the day when most (if not all) smart home devices just work together.
Eventually, if Matter manages to pull off its lofty promises, all you’ll have to do is look for the Matter certification mark on a product’s packaging, and it will work with the rest of your Matter certified devices. At least that’s the promise. And according to the Connectivity Standards Alliance (formerly ZigBee Alliance), we should start seeing the first certified devices in time for the holiday shopping season.