Long-Awaited Matter Smart Home Specification Arrives

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4Q 2022 | IN-6708

The long-awaited Matter specification is complete and product certification can begin. Bringing interoperability to smart home devices and systems, the new industry standard will have a significant impact across the smart home market and beyond.

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Delivery of Matter 1.0 Means the Smart Home Has an Industry Standard


Matter, the application layer specification set to unify myriad systems and devices in the smart home market, or at least Matter 1.0, has been finalized and certification of devices for the new interoperability standard can begin starting immediately. The Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA), formerly the Zigbee Alliance, which oversaw the development of the specification, announced availability alongside details of the certification process for the first devices set to support the specification and carry the Matter-certified branding.

Matter Devices, Controllers, Multi-Admin, and Certification Testing


The release of the Matter 1.0 specification and the opening of the Matter certification program will allow CSA member companies to deliver interoperable products that work across smart home brands and platforms to deliver offerings with greater privacy, additional security, and, arguably most valuable of all to consumers, greater simplicity.

Smart home products covered by the specification include lighting and electrical (e.g., light bulbs, luminaires, controls, plugs, and outlets), Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) controls (e.g., thermostats and Air Conditioning (AC) units), access controls (e.g., door locks and garage doors), safety and security (e.g., sensors, detectors, and security systems), window coverings/shades, TVs, access points, and bridges. Leveraging Thread border router capabilities means that controller functionality can reside in a host of devices, including smart speakers and TVs, as well as existing controllers and bridges.

A key aspect of Matter is multi-admin control and, although not spelled out in the CSA announcement, the ability for end users to select which ecosystem/voice control capabilities can control all or specific parts of a smart home deployment, which is supported in Matter 1.0. To deliver security and authentication of certified devices, Matter leverages a distributed ledger and Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) to the network to validate device certification and provenance, ensuring that deployed devices are authentic, certified, and up to date.

The CSA also named the eight authorized test labs now open for product certification: Allion Labs, Bureau Veritas, DEKRA, Element, Eurofins Digital Testing, Granite River Labs, TÜV Rheinland, and UL Solutions. These sites can also test Matter’s underlying network technologies, Wi-Fi and Thread. CSA test harnesses and tools are also available, and the open-source reference design Software Development Kit (SDK) is complete. In addition to device certification from scratch, CSA members with devices already deployed can update their products Over-the-Air (OTA) to support Matter, once their products have completed certification.

Matter 1.0 comes just after the CSA-managed Specification Validation Event (SVE), which tested all Matter clusters, as well as the certification sites. Around 50 companies and just under 100 devices took place in the SVE interoperability testing. Delivery also comes ahead of the key fourth quarter.

From Smart Home Interoperability to New Services and New Markets


Backed by the largest consumer tech companies in the world from the outset, Matter has long held the potential to draw together the disparate smart home market into one of standardization around protocol selection and each manufacturer’s management ecosystem. Even so, since its launch in late 2019, some across the industry doubted the ability of Apple, Amazon, Google, Samsung, and others to drive and commit to an effort that will open their individual ecosystems to interoperability. In addition, the complexity of the project and the global nature of the smart home market—with local players adapting their offerings to market access and local demand—raised further doubts. Finally, the selection of Thread over existing smart home low-power protocols, such as Zigbee or Z-Wave, brought further complexity and some industry wariness.

Far from unusual for standards development, the project has seen planned delivery shift from end of 2020, to 2021 to Fall 2022. It is normal to overshoot initial deadlines, but provided further opportunity to cast doubt on the project. However, throughout the process, there was clear commitment from not just the founding players, but across the smart home market and among key suppliers. Matter development drew engagement in Europe and Asia-Pacific, and the global availability of testing sites further supports global adoption. Bolstering the selection of Thread, silicon providers, including NXP, Silicon Labs, ST Micro, Infineon, and more, have all developed product lines targeting the support of the Matter specification.

Matter’s arrival will drive a new wave of smart home adoption with capabilities already deployed extending from a handful of devices to systems throughout the home. The investment made by the key members behind Matter was driven not just by the potential to simplify interoperability to drive smart device adoption, but also for interoperability to enable richer, wider services capable of leveraging a new level of detailed networked data collection and significantly expanding the value of the smart home ecosystem. The smart home becomes a consumer and vendor investment, not just for device functionality, but for a wide range of services that can be improved and drive new revenue, from insurance and health management to automated retail and more. Matter is key to bringing the scale to the smart home that will support and make such offerings increasingly valuable.

Over the next 6 months, a host of already deployed devices capable of being upgraded OTA will support Matter. Amazon’s line of Echo devices has been shipping with Thread capabilities to support potential Matter certification. Similarly, Google is committed to updating its Google Nest Hub Max, Nest Hub (second gen), and all of its Nest Wi-Fi routers to be Matter controllers. The Apple Home Pod Mini and Apple TV 4K devices will also support Matter. On the device side, Signify has said its Philips Hue smart lighting control bridge will be upgraded to support Matter, allowing its lights to be controlled by any Matter controller without the lights being updated. Having invested in deploying Matter-ready devices, expect to see these players not just bring Matter to that installed base, but also put their heft behind educating consumers about Matter and the capabilities it enables. In addition, smart home control interfaces will have to be refreshed. Google has been previewing a new Google Home app able to link to sensors and smart doorbells to enable functionality such as motion sensors triggering smart home automations. With Amazon, Apple, and Samsung also committed to Matter, new interfaces and interoperability will be coming to their respective smart home management platforms, too.

While continuing to grow and shipping devices in the tens of millions a year, Matter brings the potential to open new markets to Matter and certified offerings. Leveraging silicon support and consumer market scale, standardized, secure smart home devices start to be deployable in more commercial settings. Commercial buildings, for example, still host a number of approaches and vendor proprietary devices and offerings. Smart workplaces or smart hospitality becomes less burdensome and less risky with the promise of a widely adopted interoperability standard that won’t be the domain of a single vendor.

Despite the long-publicized goals of Matter specification development, and the obvious commitment from those primary member companies, the delivery of Matter 1.0 is no small step, and the impact of its delivery will extend well beyond just the smart home.


Companies Mentioned