Matter™ May Be Our Best Shot for an Interoperable Smart Home Ecosystem, but Not Everyone Is Convinced

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By David Ball | 2Q 2024 | IN-7328

Matter™, an Internet Protocol (IP)-based smart home connectivity standard, has attracted considerable attention from Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and chipset designers since its launch in 2022 due to its potential to deliver next-generation smart home connectivity. However, work still needs to be done for developers to provide consumers with a convincing smart home solution to rally behind.

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Matter™ Is Our Best Shot for an Open Smart Home Connectivity Standard


Matter™, an open Internet Protocol (IP)-based connectivity standard, entered the smart home market in 2022 with a promise to unify disparate smart home ecosystems under a common standard. Representing a badge of assured interoperability between smart home devices from different providers, Matter™ gives consumers confidence that certified smart home devices can be installed, connected, and used alongside one another. Whereas devices were previously confined within their closed ecosystems, going forward, Matter™-enabled smart home devices will be compatible with any Matter™-supporting platform. This not only broadens the pool of smart home devices available to consumers beyond that of a siloed ecosystem, but also simplifies the process of building a smart home as consumers can be certain that all of their Matter™-certified devices will “play nice.” The Matter™ standard also provides Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) with a blueprint upon which to develop interoperable smart home devices. The development and maintenance of the Matter™ standard is overseen by the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA), which has over 600 members, including smart home powerhouses Amazon, Apple, Google, and Samsung, alongside chipset vendors Infineon, Nordic Semiconductors, NXP Semiconductors, Silicon Labs, and STMicroelectronics, among others. This level of participation underlines the positive initial reception to Matter™, which has been matched by a significant investment in—and adoption of—the new smart home standard among OEMs and chipset vendors. With key industry players onboard, consumers must now be convinced of the new smart home standard’s value.

Consumers Have Yet to Join Manufacturers in Their Enthusiasm for Matter™


Matter™ is based on IP connectivity and operates over Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Thread, and Bluetooth®. Bluetooth® Low Energy (LE) is predominantly employed to facilitate the commissioning of devices, but Near Field Communication (NFC) can also be used as an onboarding technology. While there is no native interoperability between Matter™ and Zigbee devices, Matter™-enabled smart home bridges can be used to facilitate communication between Matter™ and Zigbee ecosystems. The incorporation of Thread as the key connectivity protocol for device communication over Matter™ was an astute decision: with low-power mesh, self-healing, and low-latency capabilities, Thread is particularly suited to smart home applications and adaptable enough to carry Matter™-over-Thread alongside other applications. Moreover, some Thread, Z-Wave, and Zigbee devices can receive firmware updates to equip them with Matter™ compatibility. An impressive example of this updatability was illustrated in May 2023, when Amazon switched Matter™ on in over 100 million Echo devices, updating Echo, Echo Plus, and Echo Dot devices to act as Matter controllers, and Echo (4th Gen) devices to operate as Thread border routers. This is a good illustration of the way in which Matter™ can drive interoperability in the smart home by connecting devices that use disparate protocols, with Echo (4th Gen) devices equipped to connect Thread networks to other IP-based devices and facilitate interaction with Zigbee devices by acting as a Matter™ bridge.

Immediately following the introduction of Matter™ in 2022, compliant devices started to trickle in. But Matter™ 1.0 only covered a limited range of device types: light bulbs and switches, smart plugs, smart locks, safety and security sensors, media devices, smart blinds, thermostats, garage door controllers, and Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) controllers. Yet, by the time Matter™ 1.2 was announced in October 2023, the ecosystem already had over 1,200 certified devices. Matter™ 1.2 heralded the introduction of new device categories, including white goods (such as refrigerators, room air conditioning units, washing machines, and dishwashers), air quality controllers (including air purifiers, air quality monitors, and fans), robot vacuum cleaners, and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. This new lineup signals the expansion of the Matter™ smart home ecosystem beyond small-form devices to large appliances. But it also signals the ongoing—and incomplete—development of Matter™ as it continues to migrate to new devices and device types.

The initial reception to Matter™ has been positive among OEMs and chipset vendors alike; it is this enthusiasm that has encouraged the arrival of over 1,200 Matter™-certified products since the introduction of the standard in 2022. Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Home, and Samsung SmartThings all offer Matter™-certified smart home solutions that are surrounded by positive messaging around the new standard’s potential. “Your Google Home does more with Matter™,” says Google. Alongside the Matter™-enabled appliances offered by these companies, they have gone one step further by integrating their smart home hubs with Matter™. With Matter™ enabled, Amazon’s Echo Hub, Apple’s HomePod, HomePod mini, Apple TV or iPad, Google’s Nest Hub and Nest Mini, and Samsung’s SmartThings station can all act as Matter™ controllers.

Chipset vendors have kept pace and facilitated the migration of OEMs to the Matter™ standard. An assortment of Matter™-enabled chipset, Microcontroller Unit (MCU), and Microprocessor Unit (MPU) solutions are offered by chipset designers, including NXP Semiconductors, STMicroelectronics, Nordic Semiconductor, Silicon Labs, Broadcom, Espressif Systems, Infineon, u-blox, Texas Instruments, Telink, Qorvo, and Synaptics, among others. With its nRF52840 chipset, Nordic Semiconductor was one of the first providers to offer a Thread 1.3 solution that allows application layers to be added over Thread; hence, Matter™-over-Thread, where Matter is the application layer of choice. With an eye on next-generation wireless connectivity and matching the trend toward multiprotocol Matter™ solutions, Broadcom’s BCM47722 chipset offers Matter™ support alongside Wi-Fi 7 integration and forward compatibility with the draft Bluetooth® channel sounding specification for location tracking. Meanwhile, Telink has leveraged its ultra-low-power expertise with a Matter™ supportive TLSR921X System-on-Chip (SoC), which is geared toward Internet of Things (IoT) devices. With the mandatory U.S. Cyber Trust Mark and EU Radio Equipment Directive expected to come into force in 2025, chipset providers are also ramping up the security functions on their IoT chipsets and modules. Pre-empting these policies, STMicroelectronics’ Matter™ ready wireless STM32WBA series MCU is the first of its kind to satisfy the Level 3 Security Evaluation Standard for IoT Platforms (SESIP) standards.

The industry perspective on Matter™ is undoubtedly tempered by a recognition that the smart home standard still has some way to go. Moreover, the Matter™ certification process is complicated and costly, and OEMs aren’t guaranteed success with this unproven protocol. OEMs and chipset vendors will also have to consider the added complexity and potential cost of chips that support Matter™, and how this will fare with consumers who will have to pay a higher price tag for smart home products. But given the standard’s relative infancy in the wireless connectivity market and the strong display of support from key smart home OEMs—notably Amazon, Apple, Google, and Samsung—the initial response has been encouraging. However, consumers are not yet entirely convinced. The rollout of Matter™ has been muddied by a set of problems that are stunting consumer adoption. One problem is choice. Naturally, not all smart home devices on the market are Matter™-ready and building an exclusively Matter™ smart home would leave the curator with few options. As of October 2023, there was only one Matter™-enabled thermostat on the market: the Google Nest Thermostat. And while some OEMs are still working toward enabling their smart home devices with Matter™—particularly Matter™ 1.2 device types—Belkin is one vendor that has scrapped its Matter™ smart home range entirely. Matter™ also falls short of its interoperability pledges. The Verge’s smart home veteran, Jennifer Pattison Tuohy, lists Matter’s™ broken promises. Such gripes include a failed multi-admin system, the continued need for proprietary hubs to set up Matter™ devices, and issues with Matter™-enabled devices communicating with one another.

For consumers to invest in a Matter™ smart home ecosystem, a wider selection of devices and confidence in the workability of Matter™ must be developed. There is also the need for recalibration among consumers for Matter™ to take off—not only by updating their smart home devices to those that are Matter™-enabled, but also shifting their mindset about the smart home beyond that of a closed ecosystem. This will take time. And while the initial teething issues can be expected, the industry must maintain Matter’s™ momentum, especially because Matter™ may be our best shot for an open smart home connectivity standard.

Momentum for Matter™ Must Be Maintained through Strategic Development


  1. Maintain Matter’s™ Momentum: The speed of initial development, delivery, and adoption of Matter™ has been impressive. Interest in the new standard among smart home vendors has been considerable and early support from the Amazon, Apple, Google, and Samsung has been a valuable asset. This all underlines the momentum of Matter™ in the smart home market, which must not be forsaken but leveraged to maintain the initial success of Matter™. This is especially important to counteract any waning enthusiasm among consumers that encounter issues with its functionality. Following an impressive entrance, the development of Matter™ must now focus on improving user experience and delivering on the standard’s promises. Frequent updates—starting with Matter™ 1.3—would enshrine the standard’s progress and signal to consumers that continuous attention is being lent to the development of Matter™.
  2. Facilitate the Development of the Matter™ Smart Home Ecosystem: For Matter™ to deliver on its promise of greater freedom for smart homes, the range of Matter™-enabled devices and device types must be expanded. Updating the Matter™ standard to build on the additional device types offered by Matter™ 1.2 is an obvious step in the right direction. To leverage the Matter™-compatible device types, partnerships between OEMs and chipset vendors are also of critical importance. Device-oriented collaboration is an excellent way to venture into unchartered territory: Silicon Labs’ collaboration with Nuki in developing the first native Matter™-over-Thread smart lock is one case in point. The development of the Matter™ smart home ecosystem must also be facilitated by the CSA. Barriers to entry in the market must be minimized to encourage the adoption of the standard. The CSA’s Certification Transfer Program is one example of how the Alliance is stimulating the adoption of Matter™ by reducing certification costs and accelerating time to market. The CSA should double down on efforts such as these, especially while Matter™ is still carving out its place in the smart home market.
  3. Consider the Industrial IoT: Matter™ is touted as the next generation of smart home connectivity, but the standard also holds potential for use in Industry 4.0. Similar to the smart home, the Industrial IoT (IIoT) is marred by a lack of interoperability between devices. With this parallel in problems between the domestic and industrial, there is little reason why Matter™ should be restricted to residential applications. There is no doubt that differences exist between the domestic sphere and the IIoT. One key differentiator is the longer device refresh rates within industry and the greater hesitancy toward unproven connectivity standards. This makes courting confidence for Matter™ among consumers and preparing for infrastructural updates in industry ever more important for commercial market success. Matter™ also holds a slightly different appeal to industry than it does to the smart home, yet its value add is equally valid. Matter™ has the potential to increase the scalability of IoT devices and streamline automation, promoting the efficiency and workability of IIoT ecosystems.