In the smart home world, Matter is a big deal. It brings together a large group of major players (including Amazon, Google, Apple, and Samsung SmartThings) that typically compete against each other in the same space, but have agreed to work together on a single IoT standard. As a result, Matter-compatible devices should soon be available from more than 280 brands.
The Matter home networking protocol works over Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or Thread — a low-power, mesh-based smart home communication technology that’s similar to Zigbee. The system is designed to be easy to set up and work well in homes of any size. Matter also uses local networks in the home (Ethernet or Wi-Fi), not the internet, which is a big benefit for security and privacy.
Unlike the current smart home protocols (like Bluetooth, Z-Wave, and Zigbee) that send data to the cloud, Matter’s communications are done locally on your home network, and only with other Matter devices. You’ll need a Matter controller or app to onboard and manage your devices, to control them, and to set up automations. The most obvious choice for a Matter controller is the latest speaker or display from one of the big smart home ecosystems (Apple HomePod Mini, 1st- and 2nd-gen; Amazon Echo devices; Nest Hub speakers and displays; or Samsung SmartThings TVs and refrigerators). Other options include third-party bridges from companies like Aqara and Eero, as well as other manufacturers’ hubs or bridges.
Most devices that use Matter will be able to upgrade with an over-the-air update to add support for the new protocol. For example, Eve Systems has already announced that its smart plugs and sensors, as well as Yale’s locks, can be updated with Matter-over-Wi-Fi. GE’s Cync lineup of Bluetooth mesh bulbs, meanwhile, will become Matter-compatible via a firmware update that the company says it will start rolling out in early 2023.
It’s important to note that the aforementioned companies are only working on Matter-compatible versions of existing products, not new ones. For instance, smart security cameras and alarm systems aren’t part of Matter at all, though the CSA has said that they may be added in a future update.
Will all my existing devices work with Matter?
As with any new tech, there are always a few hurdles to clear when it comes to smart home devices. But many of the biggest smart home manufacturers have confirmed that their existing devices will eventually get updated to Matter compatibility, and many are doing so already. The list of compatible Matter products is growing rapidly, and will likely continue to grow as more manufacturers and ecosystems update their apps and devices. If you’re planning to buy a new device, we recommend choosing a Matter-compatible option to avoid issues down the road. You can also look for a Matter icon on the packaging of any product that’s currently available, as a good indication it’s a supported device. If you have questions, talk to the salesperson at the store you plan to purchase your new device from. matter residences