Matter offers promise of single ecosystem for smart homes

There are high expectations of the new Matter standard and its potential to enable all smart home products to ‘just work together’ as part of a single smart home ecosystem. As the layer that allows multiple smart home devices working on different connectivity technologies to work seamlessly together using a common language, many vendors are pinning their hopes on Matter being the one standard to connect all the internet of things (IoT) devices in smart homes.

To showcase the industry’s commitment to Matter, the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA) put on a major media launch event last week in Amsterdam, Netherlands, for over 100 media and analysts from 15 countries. The aim was to allow its members to demo everything from silicon to end products such as motion blinds, occupancy sensors, weather devices, smart plugs, door locks, lighting, gateways, platform components, and Matter-based software applications. Companies that that demonstrated Matter products or participated at the launch event were: Amazon, Schneider Electric, Silicon Labs, Tuya, Google, Infineon Technologies, Samsung Electronics, Signify (Philips Hue and WiZ), STMicroelectronics, Arm, Nordic Semiconductor, NXP Semiconductors, Resideo Technologies Inc., Texas Instruments, Apple, IKEA, Legrand, Lutron Electronics, Midea, Qorvo, Somfy, Eve Systems, LEEDARSON, mui Lab, Nanoleaf, TCL, and ubisys.

Overcoming the IoT fragmentation challenge

Many of the vendors we spoke to were positive about the potential for Matter to overcome the fragmentation challenge that has been one of the biggest bugbears of the IoT to date. While we’ve heard time and again over the last few years about the potential for billions of connected devices, the lack of interoperability has probably been the biggest hurdle to seeing the hockey-stick exponential growth rate that is continually forecast.

Matter could change that – according to the CSA, since its launch at the beginning of October 2022, in just one month there were 4,400 downloads of the new Matter 1.0 specification since its release and 2,500 downloads of the Matter software development kit (SDK) from GitHub.  With the launch of the Matter certification program for both hardware and software products, there are now eight authorized test labs in 16 locations across nine countries, making it easy to bring Matter products to life. 

Tobin Richardson - CSA
Tobin Richardson of the CSA opens the Matter launch event, and highlights that a product security working group has been established for Matter. (Image: Nitin Dahad)

Tobin Richardson, president and CEO of the CSA, suggested that this was an inflection point for the IoT. He commented, “As we become more connected and break down the walls between the digital and physical world, we need to work together to make those connections meaningful. Matter and our membership are tackling this challenge head-on. With collaboration, inclusiveness, and a deep sense of responsibility to the market and consumers, Matter has the power to create a more connected, safe, and useful smart home.”

Manish Kothari, senior vice president of software development at Silicon Labs, said in his opening talk at the launch that achieving IoT’s full potential relies on open standards, with interoperability and security built into the silicon. He added, “I want to recognize how the industry came around the Matter standard and establishing a certification process.”

Marja Koopmans, director of smart homes and health at Amazon, also emphasized how this standardization of process will aid interoperability. She commented, “The Matter certification program is a truly magnificent undertaking.” She said they’d be bringing 17 Echo devices this year for Matter and will be releasing a ‘works with Alexa’ certification program for Matter.

In an announcement separate to the event, Samsung and Amazon announced a collaboration this week allowing customers to easily tap into Matter’s multi-admin feature, as well as simplify onboarding while creating a unified Thread network in the home. Customers that opt-in will be able to control their Matter devices with both Alexa and SmartThings without having to set up devices on each smart home system. By sharing Thread network credentials, customers will benefit from streamlined setup for Thread based devices and a more reliable experience through wider coverage on a single Thread network. The collaboration is built upon upcoming Alexa APIs enabling simple multi-admin setup and Thread credential sharing for Matter devices, as well as the already available Commissionable Endpoints API. These cloud-based APIs are designed to make complex technology fade into the background, allowing customers to effortlessly add Matter devices to their preferred services, realizing Matter’s promise of simplifying our customers’ smart home experience.

Matter CSA launch event panel
Speakers at the Matter launch event in Amsterdam discuss the Matter launch in a panel discussion moderated by Ben Wood of CCS Insight. Pictured from left to right: Manish Kothari (Silicon Labs), Alex Yang (Tuya Smart), Marja Koopmans (Amazon), Tobin Richardson (CSA), Sitao Ma (Schneider Electric, and, standing is Ben Wood (CCS Insight). (Image: Nitin Dahad)

Back at the launch event, device and appliance makers also spoke about the implications of a standard like Matter. Sitao Ma, VP of connected systems and CTO of home distribution at Schneider Electric, talked about the impact on sustainability. He said homes are responsible for 20% of CO2 emissions globally, and hence open standards and technology interoperability will be key to enabling homeowners to utilize the full power of sustainable home energy management systems.

Ma said, “It’s making sustainable energy available to all. Each home needs to work as one ecosystem, and every product needs to be able to talk to each other. An open protocol [like Matter] is crucial in enabling this.” He added, “We are one of the first companies to launch Matter certified devices, and as part of our roadmap we’ll bring the existing 240 or so current Zigbee certified products into the Matter ecosystem.” He also said all new connected home devices from Schneider would now be Matter native or Matter compatible.

Alex Yang, co-founder and COO of Tuya Smart, gave his perspective, indicating that ‘interoperability really matters’.  He said, “Our vision is to build a simple and secure era of connecting everything in a smart way.” His company already has seven solutions for Matter, using Silicon Labs MG24 wireless SoCs. Yang added, “Tuya Smart is committed to breaking down barriers between different smart product brands and categories and creating a more open and neutral IoT ecosystem for the global intelligence market. As a board member of the Alliance [CSA], Tuya participated in Matter’s early development, application, and promotion. We also believe that with our extensive and growing partnerships in the IoT industry, the era of connecting everything in a smart way will come soon.”

With the initial launch of Matter, a variety of popular smart home product categories are supported including lighting and electrical, HVAC controls, window coverings and shades, safety and security sensors, door locks, video players, protocol bridges, and controllers embedded in many different kinds of products. Looking beyond the initial release, work has begun and is ongoing for new device categories. In addition to teams working on cameras, home appliances, and more advanced energy management use cases, at the event the CSA announced the formation of new teams to work on closures (such as doors and gates), environmental quality sensors and controls, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and ambient motion and presence sensing.

The Alliance conducted nine test events and a final Specification Validation Event (SVE) prior to the launch of Matter. Companies that successfully participated in the SVE and can proceed with certification applications include: Amazon, Apple, Assa Abloy, CAME S.p.A., Espressif Systems, Eve Systems, GE Lighting a Savant Company, Google, Grundfos Holding A/S, Infineon Technologies, innovation matters iot GmbH, Latch, LEEDARSON, Legrand, LG Electronics, Longan.Link, Lumi United Technology Co., Ltd., mui Lab, Nanoleaf, Nordic Semiconductor, NXP Semiconductors, OPPO, PanKore, Qorvo, Resideo Technologies Inc., Samsung Electronics, Schlage, Schneider Electric, Sengled, Shenzhen CoolKit Technology Co., Ltd., Shenzhen ORVIBO Technology Co., Ltd., Signify (Philips Hue and WiZ), Silicon Labs, Somfy, TCL, Texas Instruments, Tridonic, Tuya, ubisys, and Universal Electronics.

Smart homes are a reality – but Matter adoption will take time

Ben Wood, chief analyst and CMO at CCS Insight, did a good job of showing that smart homes are fact not fantasy – with his data highlighting how, around the world, consumers have been busily installing smart home devices, everything from smart doorbells to robot vacuum cleaners. He said, “A lot of people think of smart homes as just fancy gadgets. But they can help save money, feel safe, help the planet and have more free time. Smartness at home is already a reality for one in three households.”

The CCS Insight data shows what smart home devices consumers are buying and their intention to buy. In terms of currently installed devices, security is the more common area that people are installing in the U.S. and U.K. with smart doorbells leading the way. Interestingly, Spain seems to have a high number of robot vacuum cleaners.

CCS insight smart home devices current-c
The smart home devices that households currently own. (Data: CCS Insight)

When looking at intended ownership of smart home devices, Wood said there is likely to be growth in all categories.

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Intended ownership of smart home devices (Data: CCS Insight)

Throughout the event, everyone cautioned against thinking Matter would be implemented overnight. The CSA’s Tobin Richardson, said that “we are just at the beginning of a journey.” Manish Kothari from Silicon Labs said, “There are still a lot of things that still need to happen to make Matter work. But we do have 50 plus alpha customers working with us to make some of this happen.”

We’ll be posting a special edition of the embedded edge with Nitin podcast featuring Silicon Labs, Infineon Technologies, NXP Semiconductors, STMicroelectronics, and Qorvo. Watch this space.

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