Setting up and pairing smart home technology has always had few limits. If you’re using devices from different ecosystems, there’s a good chance it might be more difficult than you thought would make things easier. Content is set to change that. This guide will explain what Matter is and why it is so important to the smart home user.
In its current state, building a smart home with devices that connect to each other can be a bit difficult. Your best bet is to stick with one ecosystem governed by one standard, such as Google Home, Apple Homekit, or Samsung SmartThings.
If you followed that guideline, there’s a good chance that your light bulbs, switches, smart blinds and other devices would talk to each other and work the way you wanted them to, as long as they were made by the same company.
The flaws of current smart home products start to rear their head when you start buying products from different manufacturers, even if they both work with Google Home or Apple HomeKit. You’ll find that devices can work in certain ways but often don’t play nice with each other. For example, some brands are exclusive to one ecosystem. Eve, for example, only supported HomeKit, meaning customers with Android phones can’t use or control those devices.
What is Matter?
What the Matter Alliance for Connectivity Standards set out to do was connect those smart home products – whether they’re from different manufacturers or only work with certain standards – and develop a bridge between them, connecting them through a simplified standard that is easy. for all devices to understand.
Matter was officially launched about a month ago through an initiative from Google and other smart home manufacturers to close that gap between devices and ecosystems that weren’t playing nice with each other. With that, more companies are able to produce technology without getting certified by a dozen different standards. Instead, each can focus on one or two and know that their products will work for hundreds of others.
Currently, Matter has promised upcoming support for around 200 different products, including some from Philips Hue and Google. The first few devices are the Google Nest line, including the Nest WiFi Pro, which works as a Thread border router.
How Matter works
Bringing hundreds of products together and connecting them in a way that forces them to play nice isn’t easy, but the idea can be simplified to a basic process.
Basically, Matter is sort of like an average man. Any action a device takes goes through Matter. From there, it can be controlled from other devices quickly and instantly. There are two ways in which this can be done. The first is the traditional Wi-Fi connection, which sends a signal over a local Wi-Fi network to other devices. The second way is something called “Thread,” which is a fast networking protocol that works in conjunction with your Wi-Fi network.
What is the ‘Thread’ protocol?
A thread is a common feature of mesh networks, as the two go hand in hand. With this, Thread devices always have a solid connection as multiple devices can emit a low energy signal, maintaining a continuous strong connection. You can think of the Thread protocol as another lane in your local network, with some devices choosing to take that route with less traffic and higher speed limits.
Smart home technology that relies on battery power, such as sensors, are ideal candidates for the Thread protocol, as it consumes less energy to use and can be maintained more easily. In reality, most devices would do better to work with Thread over Wi-Fi, although more companies would have to adopt it in their products.
Of course, to use Thread-enabled devices, you would need a Thread border router, which is a device that can connect those devices to your internet connection. Currently, the Google Nest Hub Max, Nest Hub (2nd Gen), and Nest WiFi Pro all work as Thread border routers, which means you can start building your Matter empire now.
Are Matter devices easy to set up?
Although the standard is officially live for a limited time, companies like Google are already on board to support it. With that, Android is already being prepared to integrate and set up Mater quickly, bringing Fast Pair to the smart home as it would be used to pair earbuds or a smartwatch.
That basically means it’s going to be super easy to set up Matter-enabled devices with Android. Here are the general steps you need to take with most Matter devices:
- Put the device in pairing mode and wait for the Fast Pair prompt to appear for your new device.
- Scan the QR code.
- Choose your favorite controller application.
- Note: This is Google Home, Samsung SmartThings, or another app.
- Connect your Google Account.
- Select the location of the device and give it a name.
Of course, we haven’t had a chance to actually test this, although we expect the process won’t be far off. As complicated as some smart home products can be to set up, we hope that Matter will provide a little relief when you install new bulbs or whatever you may have.
Is Matter still being used??
As mentioned, Matter is a product of most manufacturers and smart home technology companies. By supporting this new standard, it means that products are compatible with more homes and are much easier to use, making it a win-win for everyone. This breaks the barrier for many people, as they don’t have to stick to one standard like Google Home or HomeKit.
With that, the current list is large, made up of more than 15 different companies with certified products. Moreover, even more announced that support for the Matter standard is coming. Of course, this is just the first step, as no smart home products outside of the Eve lines are using Matter so far. We expect this to change soon.
What types of devices does Matter support?
Currently, Matter has a plan in place to support a few select categories of devices. Here is the current set of groups that will be compatible with the standard:
- Cover Windows
- Door locks
- HVAC controls and sensors
One glaringly obvious exclusion is cameras. Because of the security concerns behind the control of security cameras, there is a little more work to be done. Besides, almost all other categories are covered.
The sudden wave of Matter integration is surprising, though welcome. As major companies integrate the Matter standard into existing and new devices, we truly expect smart home technology to become more accessible and user-friendly for everyone, no matter what devices you run.
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