Matter is the future of your smart home, but what is it?

Setting up a smart home is not a seamless experience. While the best smart home devices claim they’re simple to add to your existing setup, the reality is quite different. Until now, there was no universal communication standard for smart homes; Smart home devices were designed to work with a few platforms, not all. Enter Matter, the solution to the clutter that is smart home communication. But what will this mean for your smart home?

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The idea behind Matter is simple: you buy a new smart home device, plug it in, and then connect it to any smart home app seamlessly. Matter is the standard the device will use to communicate with your app as well as other compatible devices. It has been in development since more than two years and the goal is to have the first Matter-certified devices available by end of 2022. However, it is not without flaws.

What is matter and how did we get here?

Search Matter for a while and you will come across the term “Thread”. And speaking of wires, if you’ve been sprucing up your home for years, you probably have a Zigbee hub.

Zigbee is one of many existing standards for smart home devices that connect them together in a mesh network. Although Zigbee can allow your smart home devices to talk to each other, it presents a critical stumbling block: the devices cannot talk to each other directly and require a hub device to route their communications. Of course, a homeowner can have all the best smart home devices. but they can only automate them en masse if they can afford valuable output space for a radio transceiver.


It turns out that the conglomerate behind the Matter standard spun off from the same corporate alliance that created Zigbee and they found a way around the requirement for a hub via Thread.

Thread is a wireless smart home communication protocol that forms the backbone of Matter. It has been around for a few years, but has not been widely adopted at this time. That said, it also offers many advantages over other older wireless protocols like Zigbee.

First, since there’s no need for a central hub, users can remove and add devices without worrying about network panic. It also means that there is no single point of failure; if one device fails, the rest should continue to work. We’ll see how it works in a moment.

Second, Thread is built on proven open protocols that maximize interoperability with other standards. In addition to Thread’s unique mesh networking method, Matter can also fall back on Wi-Fi to wirelessly connect devices between different (perhaps oprhanized) networks.


It is important to note that Thread’s use of IPv6 enables a seamless connection between Thread networks and other IPv6 networks such as Wi-Fi. Additionally, it is compatible with other standards that have adopted Thread , including HomeKit. Zigbee devices are given a 16-bit designation that the hub must translate into an IP address in order to connect to IPv6 networks.

Thread improves on Zigbee’s shortcomings while embracing what made Zigbee great, namely low power consumption, low latency, and the use of open standards. There are many other advantages of Threadbut being at the heart of Matter, it promises to be a milestone in the evolution of the smart home.

What’s wrong with matter?

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While Matter will be a powerful smart home upgrade when released, there are still some issues. While none are devastating to the wireless standard, they show that the new standard isn’t flawless.

As mentioned earlier, Thread does not need a central hub to function. However, there is a catch: in an interview with The Verge, Jonathan Hui, vice president of technology for Thread and senior software engineer at Google, said that while Thread devices don’t need to communicate through a Wi-Fi router, they will need a border router if devices on different networks need to talk to each other. Border routers allow devices on Thread networks to communicate with devices on external networks and the cloud. As such, a border router is required for Matter to connect Thread devices to each other and to the internet.

The good news is that you don’t need to buy additional Wi-Fi routers; any Thread device that’s meant to stay on all the time can act as a border router — you can decide to leave your Nanoleaf smart lights on for more than just looks. But unless you have an extremely simple smart home network, you’ll probably need a border router for smart devices like Google Nest or Sonos Move. This won’t be a big deal for some, but you’ll need to be careful what devices you include in your smart home and where you place them to use Matter.

A smaller hurdle has to do with something we mentioned above: with Thread being a low-power standard, you won’t find it on devices that require high bandwidth. Newer security cameras aren’t generally Thread-compatible, which means they won’t work with Matter devices. Fortunately, this is the only significant use case omission. Fridges, light bulbs, and other such devices don’t handle large streams of data, so you’ll almost certainly see Thread and Matter support.

Matter and Thread seems like a giant leap for smart homes

So where will we see Matter? Hopefully everywhere. Companies like Google, Amazon and Apple have publicly announced their commitment to bringing Matter to existing and future smart home devices. In fact, Apple HomePod mini will be supporting Matter upon its release. This is fantastic news and we shouldn’t have to wait too long after the release of Matter for a unified smart home.

Despite its issues, Matter promises to standardize smart home connection technologies with less hassle and more redundancy. If it arrives without a hitch and smart home device manufacturers continue to support the standard, consumers can buy new smart home devices without worrying about breakdowns or breakdowns. However, adopting a new standard can be a bit of an investment for owners and it can also lead to problems. we’ll have a better idea of ​​where Matter stands at the end of this year.

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