The realm of home automation is quickly changing, as would with many technologies available today. In a previous article, we discussed the Four Best Home Automation Apps and Systems (https://wyfihome.com/four-best-home-assistant-automation-systems-and-apps/). A new standard of home automation will begin to roll out later in 2022, which functions to combine these current systems into one singular and more simplified approach, called Matter Home Automation.
What is Matter Home Automation and Certification?
Matter is the new simplified standardization of home automation systems. Matter home automation systems simplify the way home automation systems correspond to and with one another. It reduces the complication of having dozens of home automation applications, such as Amazon, Google, Homekit (Apple), and many other systems, combining them into one system to organize and deploy them.
Another way to put it is to imagine that each home automation system is currently available in different languages. Enter Matter is the new standardized system that combines and translates all of the current languages into one simplified language and eliminates the need for dozens of dictionaries by having one translator utilize them all.
Current home automation apps’ underlying languages, including how they communicate, will interact with and use your current and future home automation devices, all of which work on the bottom layer of Matter. On the top level at which Matter operates, it will integrate all of the bottom languages and put together a top-level language that consumers can use without worrying about what’s going on on the bottom side.
What is a Matter controller/hub?
The exciting aspect of the new Matter technology is that there will be an available set of devices one can purchase and add to their current home automation systems. These function similarly as hubs that connect your existing smart-home devices to the internet. What makes this great is that this will allow you to hook up several systems into one. For our household, we use both Amazon Alexa and Apple Homekit. The Matter home automation controller/hub will allow us to use Matter to control both systems, thereby acting as a bridge to communicate.
The bad thing is that we may need to purchase these new Matter hubs to make current devices compatible, and these hubs will only add to your existing home automation costs. We don’t yet know how much and when these hubs/controllers will be available to us. We can only hope that they are inexpensive and are readily available enough to keep prices affordable for consumers.
How will Matter benefit you as the consumer?
Setting up and managing devices are already time-consuming for adopters of home automation. What makes things worse is that if you have several systems in your household, you’re setting up different interfaces for different devices, thereby using other apps for various systems. This makes things more complex and confusing for both techy and non-techy people!
Matter will matter for your household because it will allow you to have multiple Matter controllers that then integrate devices from numerous companies. In a sense, it will incorporate all of your current systems into one system.
Which current systems will use Matter home automation?
Chances are you’re already using some of the current systems, which will later integrate into the Matter ecosystem. These systems include Amazon Alexa, Apple Homekit, Google Home, and Samsung SmartThings. These are companies that are committing to supporting Matter home automation systems so that you will be able to use your current smart devices (speakers, displays/TVs, voice assistants) in conjunction with Matter smart-device controllers/hubs.
Which companies are committing to using Matter?
Companies such as General Electric, Belkin, Phillips, Amazon, Samsung, and Google have committed to integrating Matter into some of their current and future device offerings. Device commitment is likely dependent on Thread compatibility, which Matter’s networking technology builds on. Amazon’s Echo devices and Apple Homepod Minis both work with Thread technology, so it is likely (just not yer fully promised) that they will both work with Matter as well.
Like many other devices, users who use Ring doorbells and TP-Link Kasa cameras are still up in the air. So users must be wary of what devices they choose to purchase today as it will likely be in question as to whether or not they will be compatible with the Matter home automation standard. We hope that it will, though!
We are also seeing that many companies are moving away from Z-wave, Zigbee, and Bluetooth and are investing more into Wi-Fi integration or Thread compatibility. Thus, older devices may or may not be compatible with Matter, depending on whether or not Matter controllers/hubs will be later available.
What problems will the Matter home automation system solve?
So long as devices are Matter-enabled or compatible, you can use them all in unison. That means that your house’s Nest thermostat in the living room will now be able to interface with your Apple Homepod Mini in your kitchen, along with your Alexa Echo Show 5 in your office. Thus, solving the problem of having multiple systems and devices.
Matter acts as the new connectivity standard for all of your current and future home automation devices, thereby making it more straightforward for you, the consumer. The added benefit of deploying the new Matter connectivity standard is that it removes the added complexity of choosing the best system for your household, mainly when your family members use different devices, including Android and Apple. No more fighting over which phone is best. Just pick one or the other and have Matter connect both!
What is Multi-Admin?
Matter’s Multi-Admin system acts as one entry-point accessing multiple end-points simultaneously. Multi-Admin functions in a way that a smart-home device, such as a Wi-Fi-enabled lightbulb or switch, can be controlled with numerous smart-home systems at the same time. That means a Nanoleaf or Philips Hue bulb will likely interface with Matter’s multi-admin system, interacting with your Apple Homepod Mini and Amazon Echo. Thus, Multi-Admin will function to simplify and integrate multiple home automation into one fully compatible system.
How will Matter improve home automation Security and Privacy?
New technologies such as the blockchain and WPA3 Wi-Fi encryption will likely be implemented in the new Matter home automation standard. Blockchain technology will allow for a more decentralized and distributed handling of information, thereby reducing the number of points of failure. WPA3 is more secure than WPA2 in that it uses simultaneous authentication of equals (SAE) encryption, thereby allowing only Wi-Fi devices that support WPA3 to join virtual access points (VAP). In the realm of Apple devices, iPhone 7 and later phones are all compatible with WPA3. While Android devices that support Wireless AX (Wi-Fi 6) should be compatible with WPA3, Android OS 11 and above should also support it. Today, most new routers come available with Wi-Fi 6 and WPA3 as standard, so unless you’re using an older system, a simple search for ‘how to enable WPA3 on my _ router’ via Google or YouTube should advise you on how to facilitate it.
Does Matter allow for Local Connectivity?
Yes! Matter home automation systems once set up, will work locally. This means that so long as your Matter compatible device is connected to Wi-Fi, you can control it with or without it being connected to the internet. So long as your phone, router, and Matter device are connected to the same home network, it will work! Local connectivity increases the reliability of your devices by being connected to one network while increasing the speed of service due to not having to be connected to an entirely different server which may or may not respond quickly due to latency and distance.
One of the things we like about Kasa Home Automation Devices is that it works with and without being connected to the internet. That means that it functions locally on Wi-Fi all on its own. We don’t yet know if TP-Link Kasa will work on Matter, but we hope it will.
Is Matter Open-Source?
Yes! The new Matter home standard is an open-source protocol. It is designed in such a way that current and new companies and DIY communities such as Home Assistant will likely be able to utilize and deploy this new system. In 2019, it started as Project CHIP (Project Connected Home over IP) and was later renamed Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA). As per Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matter_(standard)), “Matter aims to reduce fragmentation across different vendors, and achieve interoperability among smart home devices and Internet of things (IoT) platforms from different providers.” Members who now participate in and with CSA include Amazon, Apple, Google, Comcast, IKEA, Huawei, Schneider, etc.
What’s fantastic about Matter being open-source is that communities like Home-Assistant.io can utilize and integrate it with Home Assistant, thereby creating endless possibilities of home automation and customization. From what we’ve seen, this will likely produce more fun things and ways one can make smart their home while improving security and speed.
Will my current devices be compatible with Matter?
Future device compatibility is in question when we look at our Ring cameras and doorbells and our Schlage Z-wave locks. Will your Ring devices be compatible with Matter? Will your Schlage Z-wave locks work with or without new Matter controllers/hubs? The answer is we don’t yet fully know. Thus, today’s best practice is to look for Thread-enabled and Matter branded products to be safe when pursuing new smart and home automation devices. Converting older devices to Matter will likely require purchasing new controllers/hubs, so expect to save for these investments.
When will Matter be released?
As of late, Matter has postponed its official release dates, with the latest timeline being Q4 of 2022. This means that it is best to look for devices with the Matter logo already imprinted so that you can look forward to using and implementing the devices ahead of their official release, thereby allowing for future-proofing of current and future home automation devices.
Today’s best practice is to look for Thread-enabled and Matter branded products to be safe when pursuing new smart and home automation devices.Tells us if you’ve already picked out your next thread and matter compatible device: catch us on discord or Give us a comment below!
In the end, Matter will matter in home automation and integration. Much like the implementation and use of USB-C in our devices, Matter will likely be the next step for integrating multiple devices into one standardized system. Will it be the final form for home automation systems? It’s likely not, but it is the next step for old and new home automation users.