Make way for matter, the so-called skeleton key to the smart home
To wednesday, Amazon has confirmed that its Echo line of smart speakers and displays will soon support Matter, a new universal standard for the smart home. The product of , including Apple, Google, and Samsung, Matter aims to help your smart home devices play a little better together – and soon the majority of Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Plus, Echo Studio, and Echo Show devices are already in people’s homes. will synchronize with the standard via a software update.
The news follows similar curtain raisings from Google and Apple, each of which announced respective support for Matter under android and in iOS earlier this year. With Amazon’s membership, everything seems to be setting the stage for Matter to make a resounding debut in the months to come. It probably won’t be long before you start to see the Matter logo prominently on product packaging for a wide variety of gadgets that want a place in your home.
Matter’s potential popularity stems from the appeal of its business case: a single, open-source, IP-based standard that operates over Wi-Fi, supports all major control platforms, and acts as a universal language that smart home devices can use to connect with and understand each other. Think USB, but wireless. After all, the Internet of Things should be like the Internet – regardless of platform and 99% the same no matter what device or operating system you use to access it.
It is ideal, anyway. In the same WWDC presentation where Apple announced that Matter will be making its way to iOS 15, the company also showcased a newly opened third-party Siri Access that lets you trigger and talk to Apple’s AI assistant from within. devices such as the Ecobee voice-activated thermostat. The catch is, you’ll still need an Apple HomePod Mini (or the discontinued full-size HomePod) on your Wi-Fi network to perform localized voice processing and security authentication. Let that be a reminder to approach the matter: Big tech companies might be willing to share the cockpit of your smart home, but they’ll each want a helping hand on the wheel, which can make driving choppy.
Still, smoothing out bumps like these – while keeping big tech under firm category control – could be Matter’s mass effect on the smart home. The three inward-pointing arrows that make up the Matter logo, which may soon be ubiquitous, might as well represent Amazon, Apple, and Google, each focused on a common center – and each fixed at the center of the action. With Matter, you can move into a house or apartment with smart gadgets preinstalled and control them much more easily as you see fit: Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Samsung SmartThings, take your pick. And, if you’re an Android user who lives with roommates or family members who prefer iOS, Matter can also help your smart home blend in a bit better.
“It’s not just another bulb standard,” said Chris DeCenzo of Amazon, senior smart home engineer, as he outlined the company’s goal of making Matter relevant by finding new convenient ways to use it. One of the first areas of focus: smarter smart TVs.
“The industry is really a jumble of different protocols,” DeCenzo explained, before describing how Matter could help standardize TV voice commands or improve broadcast performance. There are already a number of TV manufacturers on board Matter via the Alliance of connectivity standards, notes DeCenzo.
That’s not to say that you should expect the smart home experience to be much different from before. These companies are still fierce competitors looking to outdo themselves with new products and features. Their motivation is to differentiate, not to share. Matter won’t let you access Apple TV’s HomeKit camera controls and multi-view interface on a Fire TV Stick or Chromecast, for example. And devices like Philips Hue bulbs that communicate using Zigbee, Z-Wave, or some other low-power alternative to Wi-Fi will still need a bridge connected to your network to make Matter work, so Don’t expect that nasty mess of washers and hubs on your router shelf to disappear, either.
Where Matter should have the most impact is with the developers, no doubt exhausted after a decade of jumping through the hoops to keep their devices up to date with the ever-changing demands of each of the platforms. that interest their customers. (Imagine a bustling restaurant with cooks who all speak different languages, while the waiters have to work to understand everyone and get food to the right customers.) With Matter, these appliance makers will be able to grow around a single standard that brings together all of the big names in the game. It’s a much lighter lift, and one that could free up time and resources that could be better spent developing better devices in the first place.
So, is the material important? The answer is undoubtedly “yes” – even putting the smart home aside, it’s a remarkable thing when big tech surrounds the cars and accepts basic standards around data security and privacy. And while the smart home is never truly transparent, Matter would seem like a much better framework for the current landscape, a framework dotted with devices from any manufacturer with the best Black Friday sale, and controlled by the big business of. technology that you are. most comfortable (or least uncomfortable) to share your home with. The material won’t change the smart home status quo, but it could strengthen it in a way that helps the category accelerate. You could say it’s only a matter of time.