Matter V1.0 Announced
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Wednesday, 05 October 2022

Matter is the biggest news in IoT since - well it's difficult to think of anything bigger. It is proposed as the one standard to rule them all and bring order to the chaos that is currently the domestic IoT scene. Now it has reached version 1.0 - so what?

Matter1

The major investors in home IoT, Apple, Google, Amazon and Samsung, have nothing to gain by adopting a standard that allows their devices to work together and yet this is exactly what has happened. Matter, from the Connectivity Standards Alliance, is a standard that will allow all compliant devices, irrespective of manufacturer, to work together over WiFi or over a newer protocol, Thread.

The whole thing is supposed to be open source - which it is, but it's a flavour of open source that suits big companies better than small ones. You can't get the specification unless you provide details of your company, consent to a privacy policy and promise not to redistribute the spec.

The SDK is open source but difficult to get into. There are instructions for building for Android, Apple, ESP32, mbed and a few development boards. There is an image that converts a Raspberry Pi 4 into a hub and the Home Assistant team is adding Matter to its open source home automation program.

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The first thing to say is that this is a big win for Zigbee - or more exactly the Zigbee Alliance. Despite talk of Z-wave bridges and so on you are safe to conclude that Z-wave is not a good bet for the future. Thread is an IPv6 style network evolved from Zigbee - it uses the same hardware. It looks likely that existing Zigbee devices can be upgraded to Matter with just a OTA software change. Such updates are claimed secure as they are signed by the vendor.

Phillips Hue bulbs are claimed to be capable of being updated to Matter without having to buy new hardware. Amazon states that its Echo speakers will be Thread board routers, i.e. will connect Thread devices to the net, and most of its existing devices can be upgraded. Google is also planning to upgrade all its Nest speakers, WiFi routers and displays.

High data rate devices such as security cameras can have WiFi as well as Thread, but this isn't essential. Thread provides the mesh networking which connects the IoT devices together and WiFi connects them to the Internet. 

It does look as though development for Matter using low cost devices like the Pi and the ESP32 will be possible in the near future and the idea that Home Assistant will support Matter is a  good sign that this isn't a move to lock out the Maker community and block custom development. However, at the momement making anything work is difficult.

There are many questions about Matter that will only be answered after we have some experience of actual devices. For example, will manufacturers insist on connecting to the cloud to make their devices work? Will the security be enough to stop malware making its way in to form the largest botnets ever seen? Will manufacturers include features designed to spoil the interoperation? The Matter standard allows for custom extensions, but it isn't clear how these will be used.

One thing is very clear - it isn't a good time to be making a choice of home automation hardware or software, unless you like being a first adopter.

 

 Matter1

More Information

Matter Arrives Bringing A More Interoperable, Simple And Secure Internet Of Things to Life

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 08 October 2022 )