- The new Matter standard promises to improve the compatibility of smart home devices.
- Google has rolled out Matter to its Google Nest products and Android OS devices.
- One expert warns that Matter has yet to be thoroughly tested in the real world.
A new industry-wide standard could finally bring the dream of automated smart homes that function smoothly closer to reality.
The first smart home devices to support the Matter standard are hitting stores. Eve Systems is updating the Eve Energy plug and two sensors to talk to any controller supporting the new technology. Experts say the new standard could end compatibility woes.
“Users should care because Matter has the potential of making smart home devices interact with one another more seamlessly and open up use cases that have been hard to pull off in the past,” Zach Supalla, the CEO of Particle, a platform for connected devices, told Lifewire in an email interview. “An example would be a smart alarm clock that goes off and triggers other actions in the home from other devices made by different companies, like your lights turning on and your smart blinds opening.”
Communications Is Key
The idea behind Matter is that its software is intended to enable secure communications among a wide range of smart devices. Amazon, Apple, Comcast, Google, SmartThings, and the Connectivity Standards Alliance have been working on Matter since 2019.
Google also recently said that it had completed the initial rollout of Matter to its Google Nest products and Android OS. The company has updated millions of Google Nest smart speakers, displays, and Wi-Fi routers, as well as Android phones and tablets, to Matter. The update means Android and Google Home users can now connect Google devices with Matter devices from other manufacturers.
Eve Systems is another company that's implementing Matter, as mentioned above. The latest models of the company's smart plug Eve Energy, the contact sensor Eve Door & Window, and the motion sensor Eve Motion have completed Matter certification. This month, iPhone users can upgrade devices for free in the Eve app to grant every family member local and direct access from their preferred smartphone or voice assistant.
“The next era of the smart home is here, and we can now invite users across all major ecosystems to the Eve experience,” Jerome Gackel, the CEO of Eve Systems, said in the news release. “No matter what phone or assistant you are controlling your Eve product from, it will always deliver 100% privacy, a superior set of software features, and unparalleled ease of installation.”
Ben Harris, the CEO of Fresco, a software maker that recently joined the Connectivity Standards Alliance to help define Matter’s smart kitchen standards, said in an email interview that the protocol could make things easier for users when cooking.
"Matter helps make the appliances in our homes feel more connected, intuitive, easier to use, and less complicated," he added. "When considering its impact on the smart kitchen, Matter will make it easier than ever for home cooks to connect dozens of appliances and simplify the entire kitchen experience, with the peace of mind that their personal data is secure."
Smart homes start at the doorstep, and Matter may also make getting into your house much easier. Lucas Haldeman, the CEO of SmartRent, a company that provides smart home solutions to real estate companies and is a part of the Matter alliance, predicted in an email interview that most devices in the home will contain a Matter chip within the next two years.
"It will also be inexpensive for the owner to implement, which will make it more widely used," Haldeman said. "Additionally, since many single-family homeowners prefer DIY solutions in their homes, we will see a large uptick to supplement and support connectivity between one-off smart devices."
Despite the lofty prose surrounding the release of Matter devices, Supalla warned that the standard still needs to prove itself in the real world.
"In practice, the value proposition of Matter is still more hype than practice, and although the standard was finalized (a big feat), there is still a question of whether it gets put into things and whether there is true adoption of the tech," he said. "If Matter fails, it would not be the first time that a new 'standard' that everyone's excited about goes nowhere."