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.
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.
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.