The new head of SmartThings discusses Matter and the future of the smart home – The Verge

The smart home is about to change. Soon, you won’t have to choose a smart light bulb or door lock just because it works with your smart speaker. Instead, you’ll be able to buy a smart device, bring it home, and it will work with any voice assistant or app you choose. At least, that’s the promise behind Matter, a new standard created by Samsung, Google, Apple, and Amazon. Most importantly, you won’t be locked into the platform you chose. If you decide you want to switch to SmartThings from Google Home, or go with Amazon Alexa over Apple HomeKit, any Matter-enabled devices can come with you.

This shift in the smart home means the major platforms that help us run our connected devices are changing, too. The Verge sat down with Mark Benson, the newly appointed Head of SmartThings US, Samsung’s home automation arm, to learn about its plans to adopt Matter.

Mark Benson, the new head of Samsung SmartThings US, on stage at CES 2022 discussing plans for the adoption of Matter.

Founded 10 years ago on Kickstarter, SmartThings is one of the only standalone consumer smart home hubs from the early days of the DIY smart home boom that’s still alive and kicking. It built its business on its namesake hub’s ability to connect devices from different manufacturers, allowing you to control them all with one app.

While there are more “hubs” that do that today (including Amazon Alexa and Google Home), the SmartThings hub is one of the few consumer-level devices with multiple radios in it, including Wi-Fi, Zigbee, and Z-Wave, allowing it to control a much wider range of smart home devices. It also works with cloud-to-cloud software services and is one of the most compatible smart home platforms. There’s voice assistant support, too, for both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant as well as Samsung’s Bixby.

“The user experience is the competitive space that will differentiate platforms and companies”

Acquired by Samsung in 2014, SmartThings has become the electronics giant’s primary platform for connected devices. The app is preinstalled on all Samsung phones, and if you buy any connected Samsung appliance — such as a refrigerator, TV, or washing machine — you’ll need to download the SmartThings app to use any smart features. The app works on both iOS and Android phones and includes one of the more powerful automation platforms.

Since the acquisition, Samsung has moved away from manufacturing any SmartThings hardware, offloading both the standalone hub and many of the sensors to device maker Aeotec. The company has said it’s focusing all efforts on the SmartThings app and supporting Samsung’s connected products through software.

In 2021, it launched Cooking, Air Care, Clothing Care, and Pet Care sections of the SmartThings app to help users of Samsung products get the most out of their connected appliances, and a Smart Energy and Home Care section for monitoring energy usage and maintenance needs of Samsung appliances.

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