Matter Smart Home Guide | Best Smart Home Devices 2022 – Popular Mechanics
Setting up a smart home hasn’t traditionally been a simple task. Gadgets like smart locks and plugs operate across separate apps and connection types (usually either local mesh or Wi-Fi). And in some cases, devices are locked down to function exclusively with one ecosystem, such as Logitech’s Circle View doorbell camera only working with Apple’s HomeKit.
So there’s a clear need for a way to connect all devices from the same place in order to make owning and operating a smart home easier. Enter Matter, a new smart home standard that streamlines pairing and operating smart home devices across all platforms. This expands your choices, from the types of devices you can buy to the platform you use to control them. Matter’s official launch last week should make smart home adoption all the more appealing if you’re considering joining the Internet of Things (IoT)—and could make your life easier if you’re already invested.
What Matter Is And How It Works
Matter is an interoperability protocol developed under the Connectivity Standards Alliance. You may not have heard of this organization, but you’re certainly familiar with its members, which include the biggest smart home tech manufacturers like Amazon, Apple, Google, Samsung, and over 400 other companies. Matter’s universal and open nature allows IoT devices to connect and interact securely regardless of who makes them. For example, while you may prefer to use an Amazon Echo to control your smart thermostat while home, a Matter enabled device will allow you to control it from a competitor’s platform like Apple HomeKit while you’re away—all without going through an additional extensive setup process. At the moment, Matter works with lights, locks, HVAC controls, plugs, blinds, and sensors. The organization plans to expand support to more complex devices like security cameras, robot vacuums, and larger appliances.
If you’re looking to buy a smart home device, you will notice that the product description and packaging itself displays which home systems it’s compatible with (like you’ll see along the bottom of the boxes in the righthand shot above). While some devices work across different platforms, you’ll have to go through the trouble of setting up the device from its own manufacturer app (the left image shows just one page of the dozens of smart home-related apps on my phone), make an account, and then pair it with each ecosystem of your choice in order to be recognized. The process is cluttered and especially frustrating when you want to set up automated routines on devices across separate ecosystems. This fragmentation carries down to the way individual devices talk to each other. While your lights may connect to a mesh hub using Zigbee or Z-Wave, a smart plug may rely on Wi-Fi which eats into your bandwidth and slows down network speeds for other devices. Although it’s less popular, some gadgets even function locally over a Bluetooth connection.
Matter solves this by employing a …….