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Matter Standard - The Future of Smart Home Design

Date: Oct 22, 2022

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Matter Standard - The Future of Smart Home Design

The smart home market is estimated to be worth approximately $53 billion. Years of research and development in wireless communications have produced network protocols such as Bluetooth, Thread, and Zigbee.

Ideally, these standards would coexist peacefully in a coordinated ecosystem that brings the various networks together and allows developers to bring new products to market faster.

Physical standards were created to solve this problem.


Matter Standard

The matter is an application protocol that forms a bridge between devices that cannot yet communicate with each other. It was originally scheduled for release this fall, but after several delays, that date cannot be guaranteed. The Matter standard was created in December 2019 as the Connecting Homes over IP Project (CHIP).

However, its profile has grown considerably in recent months. It now has the support of more than 200 companies in its working groups and is backed by major companies, including Apple, Amazon, Google, and Samsung.


Why is the matter standard important?

Developers must write the same code on top of the protocol - such as Thread - to communicate similar data types. This is equivalent to writing an audio data processing layer on top of low-power Bluetooth (BLE) rather than a protocol already in the BLE layer to perform this operation.

In this BLE example, matter provides an SDK for developers to use standardized communication on all supported protocol layers.

The matter is located at layer 6 of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model, which sits on top of existing protocols.

Therefore, a bridge between existing protocols (e.g., Zigbee, which is already used in many smart home devices) and Wi-Fi on cell phones are needed.

Competition is expected from the big players in the smart home space as they race to release the best products that may integrate with leading smart home assistants.


Benefits of the Matter standard

Communication between all devices using the Matter standard will provide greater reliability and security. Any certified Matter device will be able to operate and communicate with any other Matter device, even if the products come from different manufacturers, similar to how Bluetooth devices communicate.

The new standard is also a plus for developers because Matt is open-source. Improved security and reliability because anyone can read and change the source code. It is still on GitHub under the old name, Project Chip.

Apple and Google provide most of the code base. Silicon Labs, which developed the Zigbee protocol, also contributed considerably. This is based on the Zigbee Alliance, called the Connectivity Standards Alliance.

Companies must pay a certification fee to the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA) to be able to market their products as Mat-compatible. However, this can be seen as a good thing, as only properly developed and tested devices are on the market.

The matter is still in its infancy, as evidenced by the 1.4k issues currently open in the GitHub repository. There is still a lot of work for any product that uses matter to enter the market.


Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6e

Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6e are aimed at ever-increasing data rates, latency improvements, and power consumption, much like BLE was separated from Bluetooth.

Wi-Fi 6 and 6e aim to reduce the time it takes for a device to use its transceiver by letting the router tell the device when to expect the next packet and allowing it to sleep. It will be interesting to see the power requirements of the new modules for sleeping end devices using this new Wi-Fi standard and how they compare to the other protocols supported by Zigbee and Matter.

The matter will be based on IPv6, which can support more devices than MAC addresses (MAC's 48-bit address space contains over 281 trillion).

During the IoT industry webinar, device manufacturers already using matter will sit on all protocols and said they would keep their applications and develop them to keep their customers in their ecosystem to provide them with the best user experience.


Conclusion

The matter will make it easier to connect smart homes and IoT deployment areas (including energy, automotive, health, and buildings) and help phase out small ecosystems that cannot communicate with each other or with the outside world.

Rather than trying to replace existing standards, builds on them to facilitate connectivity.

Make it easier for software engineers to develop IoT devices and for consumers to confidently purchase products that can communicate with each other securely and reliably.

Consumers may want to browse the websites of preferred manufacturers to see if they support matter and if their currently existing smart home devices support software upgrades.


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