Apple, Google, and Amazon have teamed up to fix the smart home with a new standard called Matter – The Verge

December 15, 2021 by No Comments

The smart home should be a natural evolution of our homes, bringing better appliances, better systems, better experiences. But to date, it’s been complicated, confusing, and expensive. Walled gardens have stifled innovation as developers focus on getting their devices to work with three or four or more different platforms rather than spending their time creating better products and new features. Consumers spend too much energy figuring out which product works with which and then troubleshooting those connections, before often giving up on the whole thing. This has led to a slower smart home adoption than many expected.

What the smart home needs, and has needed for a long time, is a universal connectivity standard — a basic level of common plumbing in our homes for everything to flow through. Just as we chose VHS over Betamax in the ’80s (and Blu-ray over HD-DVD in the early 2000s) for a better home theater experience, so we need to choose a smart home standard.

The problem is there aren’t two or three standards to choose from. There are many, and none of them work very well on their own. Zigbee, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth have all tried and failed to become the primary radio protocol of the smart home. But none have gained enough traction or offered enough flexibility to fit into all corners of the smart home.

That’s where Matter comes in.

Buy a gadget, plug it in, and it will work with the rest of your smart home. Set up that new device with your favorite smart home app, and control it with your voice assistant of choice, no matter who made it. This may sound like some distant smart home nirvana, but this is the promise of Matter. The simple smart home could be just around the corner.

An open-sourced connectivity standard created by over 200 companies, Matter is a communication protocol that leverages existing technologies — Thread, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and ethernet — to allow all of your devices to communicate with each other locally, without the need for a cloud.

Buy a gadget, plug it in, and it will work with the rest of your smart home

What makes Matter more than just another smart home standard is momentum; most of the industry is on board. Organized by the Connectivity Standards Alliance (or CSA, formerly the Zigbee Alliance), Matter is being developed by Amazon, Apple, Google / Nest, and Samsung, alongside many other smart home and smart home-adjacent companies, including Wyze, iRobot, Signify (Philips Hue), Ecobee, and more.

Driven by a shared need to fix the problems of the smart home, these companies are working together to figure out how to make this standard be the one that sticks. Can Matter finally bring an end to the confusion perfectly encapsulated by Randall Munroe’s classic xkcd “Standards” comic?

Image: Comic by xkcd

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