What actually is Matter?: The Smart Home speaks Esperanto

The Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA) recently gave the official starting signal for Matter - with the aim of paving the way to a smart home world that is no longer held back by different standards.

What actually is Matter?: The Smart Home speaks Esperanto

The Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA) recently gave the official starting signal for Matter - with the aim of paving the way to a smart home world that is no longer held back by different standards. Does Apple's Siri work with this lamp? Can the Google Assistant interact with the power strip? And can I also control this one thermostat via my smart speaker with Amazon's Alexa? All of these questions should be a thing of the past for the most part in the future.

So far, the major manufacturers have had their own ecosystems. If you wanted to control a smart home device, for example via an Echo Dot from Amazon or Apple's HomePod mini, you had to make sure that the respective end device was also supported. For example, a certain smart camera could only interact with Alexa, while another could only interact with Siri, as if they each spoke their own language.

Matter, on the other hand, is intended to enable interoperability and can be compared to a planned language such as Esperanto, which is intended to ensure communication for people of different nationalities and mother tongues. Speakers should be able to understand each other, regardless of whether they come from Germany, the USA or Japan. Converted to the Smart Home: A Matter-certified device should be able to communicate with another, regardless of the manufacturer - the devices then speak the same language.

According to CSA, more than 400 members have come together under the umbrella of the alliance to further develop or at least support the new Standard Matter. In addition to smaller companies such as Amazon, Apple, Google, Samsung, LG and Huawei, these include many giants from the world of technology - but Ikea is also on board.

Matter is still in its infancy and how the whole thing will develop remains to be seen in the future. However, the advantages of a comprehensive standard for consumers are obvious. It starts with the sometimes opaque thicket of previous standards. In theory, in future consumers will only have to check whether a device supports Matter. For example, the intelligent alarm clock next to the bed may no longer need to be ordered via Google Assistant to please stop beeping. If it is certified for Matter, Siri or Alexa can also ensure peace of mind on demand. In addition, the setup of many devices with Matter should be simplified and standardized.

Matter is also intended to broaden the choice of providers for consumers. If products from many manufacturers were not previously supported in a smaller ecosystem, users should be able to think outside the box in the future. The new competition could have several positive side effects, because if you want to assert yourself in the larger market, you also have to offer potential buyers something. In the future, manufacturers will then at best have to draw attention to themselves with lower prices, better quality or special functions of their products and it is no longer sufficient to only offer one of a few alternatives.

Devices that support Matter can communicate over Wi-Fi or the new Thread technology. This requires little power, enables integrated devices to talk to each other via a mesh network and should not only ensure shorter response times, but also support the stability of a system. If one of the devices fails, another takes over. In addition, commands are processed directly on site in encrypted form and do not have to be sent to the cloud first.

Incidentally, consumers now do not necessarily have to buy new devices if they want to expand their smart home and make it fit for the standard. Some manufacturers want to update older products in the coming weeks and have already launched devices in the past few months that should work with Matter in the future.

According to CSA, some categories of smart products will be supported at launch, but not all. This includes electrics and lighting, door locks and blinds, among other things. Teams are also currently working on support for household appliances and cameras, for example. Consumers can also visit the CSA's home page to search for supported devices.

The big brands are ready for the new standard or are just preparing for it. Google announced in May that many of its smart home devices should receive corresponding updates and that they should also be controllable with Android smartphones. With iOS 16.1 and iPadOS 16.1, Apple is arming the iPhone and iPad for Matter, and Amazon plans to support Echo devices with Matter over Wi-Fi, sockets, lightbulbs, and switches with Android setup starting December 17. Availability for iOS, Thread and other devices will follow in early 2023.

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