November 8, 2022


While watching the live stream of last week’s formal announcement of the Matter Smart Home initiative, I couldn’t resist recalling Samuel Beckett’s classic existentialist drama, “Waiting for Godot,” where the two characters wait for Godot in a series of discussions and conversations. Participate in encounters, for a proxy god, who never comes.

After all, the Matter initiative was made public by the Connectivity Standards Alliance (formerly Project Connected Home over IP) almost three years ago in December 2019.

Matter is a royalty-free home automation connectivity standard that requires manufacturers to fund certification costs. Despite numerous delays over the past three years, Matter has attracted support from a number of smart home heavyweights, including Amazon, Google, Comcast, Apple, and the Zigbee Alliance.

Matter’s mission is undeniably important to the future development of smart homes as it seeks to reduce the well-known fragmentation across multiple vendors and achieve interoperability between smart home devices and Internet of Things (IoT) platforms from different manufacturers. wants.

In theory, Matter certification would allow consumers and businesses to not worry about smart home devices from Amazon, Apple, or Google (just to list the big hitters) working with each other. At least that’s the promise.

thing draws a veil

Last week in Amsterdam, CSA and Groupe Developing Matter announced that it had formally released version 1.0 and that scores of smart home products — several hundred, in fact — were certified. The implication is that the market should soon see products with the “Matter” logo on shelves, though perhaps after the holidays.

The launch event showcased an impressively wide spectrum of smart home solutions ranging from motion blinds, occupancy sensors, door locks, smart plugs, lighting and gateways. CSA claims that 190 products have either received formal certification or are awaiting testing and certification.

what does all this mean

Refreshingly, Godot may finally appear on the smart home stage. The delay in genuine Matter-certified solutions coming to market hasn’t slowed the pace thanks to industry support and initiatives. If anything, many leaders in the smart home space continue to double down on their support for Matter.

For example, Amazon used the launch event to announce that it would have 17 different Echo devices, plugs, switches and bulbs (albeit with Android support) working with Matter in December. In fact, some smart home devices have already been released or are being updated with Matter recognition.

One of Matter’s promises, beyond the interoperability benefits, is that it should enable entirely new use cases and experiences that weren’t previously thought of. Several major “component” companies, including Infineon Technologies and Silicon Labs, are in the process of integrating Matter support into their chips. This fact should allow device makers to bring new iterations of Matter-compatible devices to market faster.

Matter-Certified Smart Home Appliances

Sample Matter-Certified Smart Home Appliances | Image credit: Connectivity Standards Coalition

In addition, companies such as Schneider Electric that provide smart home energy management systems to consumers and businesses believe that Matter devices will ultimately facilitate lower energy bills through better energy monitoring, control, and optimization. will do.

Finally, Matter Certification has wisely considered the security and privacy requirements in its spec. While ease of use and interoperability underscore the mission of Matter Spec, the security features should allow a more robust security perimeter for bad actors to hack into consumer and business networks via IoT solutions.

Analyst Tech

It’s hard to deny the pace of the industry behind the Matter initiative. Plenty of money, resources and intellectual capital are the undeniable tailwinds that increase Matter’s chances of success. Nevertheless, the technical standards have a notorious history, and the delay of the noted case has raised some solid doubts.

However, despite the in-fighting in the industry that sometimes plagues these standards bodies, Matter has been remarkably drama-free. This initiative has only grown into overall industry support, and that’s a good thing.

But bringing Matter-certified devices to market is only the first challenge the CSA and its consortium members will face. Initial reviews of Miter’s functionality and usability across key devices will take center stage in the coming months, and pundits will be watching.

Does the interoperability work as advertised? Will the baseline functionality of Matter-certified devices be sufficient that the user does not need to use the manufacturer’s native app to enable specific differentiated functions?

Overall, smart home manufacturers differentiate their products. For example, not all smart door locks are the same. From a manufacturer’s perspective, mater can have a commoditization effect, reducing a manufacturer’s ability to market the distinctive features of its offerings.

Finally, there is also the recent appearance of the Home Connectivity Alliance (HCA), yet another standard unit focused on the interoperability of smart appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers, washers and dryers.

HCA appears to have a complimentary purpose than Matter, but with members like LG, Samsung, Haier and Residio, don’t rule out the potential for consumer confusion.

Regardless, hope is eternal that after New Year’s Day, the market will finally see the goods and whether the wait was worth it. I certainly hope that, as the smart home space needs it, mainstream users without strong technology skills can take advantage of its potential.

In the meantime, I’ll have some hot chocolate waiting for Godot to arrive.

Schools are pouring a flood of money on safety products. Yet, according to a new report from Parks Associates, there hasn’t been enough thought about how products can be leveraged to better respond to violence in schools.

The market research and consulting company in Edison, Texas, noted in its report that schools have promoted access control practices, the use of faculty badges and security cameras for nearly 20 years, but the measure does not adequately secure schools. have found. violence.

Citing data from the School Survey on Crime and Safety, the report said that during the 2017-18 school year, 71% of schools experienced at least one violent incident, and 21% reported one serious violent incident. experienced. The National Center for Education Statistics released similar figures for the 2019-20 school year.

“Although these data points are from a variety of organizations, the numbers show a 4% increase in serious violent incidents even though the use of surveillance cameras, access control and other security systems on school grounds is at an all-time high,” wrote author Parks . President and CMO Elizabeth Parks and research intern August Ward.

“Schools are spending a lot of money on security products, but they don’t do a great job at thinking through feedback,” said Mark Hatton, CEO of MutualLink, a provider of interoperability security solutions based in Wallingford, Conn.

“All of those security products are produced proof after the fact. They haven’t been coordinated and considered for response,” Hatton told TechNewsWorld.

better access control

The report notes that evolving school safety technology is providing increasingly efficient support to first responders.

“Advanced technologies increasingly give first responders a lot of additional information about what’s happening in the environment without relying on humans to relay that information,” Parks told TechNewsWorld.

The report noted that access control systems allow people to skip the step of tracking the closing of doors. Access control systems enable people to control whether the doors have been locked or not.

In the Uvalde tragedy, it added, a school door that would normally have been closed was left open, allowing gunmen to enter. A machine locking system may have prevented this.

The report indicated that advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning could also accelerate reaction times. AI and ML can identify suspicious activity, identify dangerous objects, recognize patterns and organize data and evidence, it continued. These are powerful capabilities to improve safety and response times, especially when this can happen without the assistance of an operator.

However, Parks said that automation should not be a substitute for human intervention. “Technology and automation should be used not to replace humans but to provide better information to humans so that humans can respond better,” she said.

zeroeyes technology

Dot Blackwell, the superintendent of Vassar Public Schools in Vassar, Michigan, however, believes that school safety technology is less effective at addressing violence problems when it relies on staff for monitoring or management.

Vassar Public School, 45 minutes from Oxford High School, the scene of a mass shooting in November 2021 that killed four students, and injured seven people, including a teacher, recently installed a new security system called ZeroEasy. was done.

ZeroEyes works with existing video surveillance systems at a school to identify firearms. It can alert first responders of a potential threat in three to five seconds – even though the image of a threat must pass human muster before it can be forwarded to the appropriate authorities.

Blackwell told TechNewsWorld, “ZeroEyes Technology is the first product our school district has discovered, offering an innovative way to monitor activities in our buildings and our parking lots that could give us precious minutes to save lives.” Is.”

press panic button

Another technology cited in the report is panic devices that enable emergencies to be reported without explanation. In some respects, technology is more efficient and effective than humans.

MutualLink can amplify information sent to first responders before tools such as panic buttons.

“When you press a panic button, in about four seconds, the school’s floor plan along with the camera feed is sent to the police,” Hatton explained.

“The fact is, if someone wants to cause harm, they are likely to enter the school,” he said.

“When security products designed to keep intruders out of school fail to do so, MutuLink may immediately share information about those products with police.”

“MutualLink converts day-to-day security products into effective response products,” Hatton said.

Technologies need to work together

The report also referred to the Personal Emergency Response System. It explained that the PEAR device enables school staff with just the press of a button to contact first responders when needed. According to the report, the technology can improve and simplify response times, which is one of the most important problems with threats operating on campuses.

One of the benefits of the devices mentioned in the report is their low cost, which is why they are being used more frequently in schools. However, one challenge with this technology and security systems, in general, are false alarms.

According to Parks’ research, nearly half of security owners say their security system triggers too many false alarms. Additionally, 62% of home security owners report experiencing one false alarm in the past 12 months, and about 10% report having experienced more than five false alarms in the past year.

The report states that a number of technologies must work together to effectively secure a school. Every school has a different layout, population size, and funding, which means that one set of security solutions will not work for everyone. Every state, it continued, has different rules and grant systems for their schools, which in turn makes it difficult to integrate security companies nationwide.

Time will tell how these new technologies perform, Parks’ report predicts. School safety technology is beneficial, but currently, more metrics are needed to evaluate the technology used for school safety. It noted that the technology cannot guarantee flawless defense against security breaches and threats. Nevertheless, it can help reduce the likelihood of a dangerous situation occurring and create efficiency in emergency response.

“How can we stop school violence is a million dollar question,” Parks said. “I don’t know if we have the answer yet. But any threat to the safety of children in school is the best answer we can have.”