Matter: A Step Forward in Smart Homes
Matter: The Next Big Step for Smart Devices
Over the next few months, you may start hearing a lot more about new technologies that will change smart homes forever. This is a result of the Matter Protocol’s growing popularity among smart home developers.
TP-Link has always valued the experiences that we provide for our users, from setup to daily use. As a result, we are always looking for ways to improve our products using the latest technologies. TP-Link has already joined the ranks of Google, Silicon Labs, Apple, Samsung, sOmfy, IKEA, and Amazon by supporting the development and implementation of the Matter protocol.
Given the wide range of manufacturers supporting the development, we can expect devices to be more secure and more compatible in the future. Currently, the Matter Protocol has 269 Participants in addition to their core promoters! Make Sure to go check out what manufacturers of devices you already own to see if they are also planning to use Matter technologies in their products.
The Matter Protocol is a communication protocol being developed and supported by most smart home brands to encourage the interoperability of devices between brands, increase the control of smart homes across platforms, and provide a unified structure for device-to-device local communication.
Matter, initially Project CHIP (Connected Home Over IP), was built by the Zigbee Alliance; since then, this project has grown in popularity and is supported by most major smart home brands as a protocol for use in future products. The Zigbee Alliance even changed its name to the Connectivity Standards Alliance due to the wide variety of communication protocols that Matter can interact with besides Zigbee, such as IP and Bluetooth Focused Devices.
If you recognize the name Zigbee, you may have a good idea of what Matter is trying to achieve by creating a standardized communication protocol for smart home devices. Zigbee is the original communication protocol used as the foundation for the Matter Protocol, along with Thread. Both Thread and Zigbee are existing communication protocols meant to facilitate inter-device communication.
Understanding the Matter Protocol
Matter devices are different from existing smart home devices, in that Matter devices allow for devices to connect and communicate with each other, rather than having to connect to a centralized node, such as a separate Smart Hub or Router.
Matter does this by popularizing a standardized “language” (Essentially, a Set of Commands and attributes for Device Types) that can be used by device manufacturers to ensure that their smart devices can interact with and communicate with devices from other manufacturers that also support the Matter Protocol.
The main requirement to understand how matter works is that every Matter network must have at least one controller to instruct the devices on how, when, and if they can communicate. We will begin to see more and more companies roll out devices that can control matter networks, such as Google Home or Alexa devices.
What Are the Advantages of Having Devices Communicate With Each Other?
There are unique advantages to using devices that communicate with each other such as the ability for automation and grouping at a device level. This can range from creating a group of lights in a room so that they turn on and are always in sync with each other or can result in a motion sensor being able to directly control lights in a room.
Previously, this could be achieved by grouping devices in their respective applications (Google Home, Alexa, SmartThings, Kasa, Tapo, etc.), but often required devices of one brand or type to be grouped together, and this grouping would not persist across other platforms. This was accomplished by having these applications communicate with the cloud platform from their respective companies and would require device commands to be sent to each platform individually.
With the matter protocol, devices will be able to communicate with each other, despite being of a different type or brand, and the overall matter network can be used by multiple integrations to understand existing device groups and settings.
Could this be the end of having to hear the words we all hear in our sleep?
"Device is unresponsive. Check its network connection".
Or is this the start of,
“I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that”
Is Matter Replacing other Methods of Communication for Smart Devices?
No! Matter will improve the communications that you can have between existing devices. If you have a Zigbee or Zwave network, you will be to use these networks and systems while keeping your network under the Matter umbrella. Take a look at the chart below to see how matter fits into existing networks.
So Then, How Does Matter Work with my Existing Devices?
This controller for your matter network will be able to interact with any devices or hubs existing on your network that are compatible with Matter. Depending on the type of devices you are looking to add to your network, you may or may not need to purchase a hub that is compatible with the protocol. For example, while Zigbee Networks are a building block of the Matter protocol, there still has to be a link between the Zigbee Network and the Matter Controller.
This is where something called a border router comes into play.
Border Routers are the Devices or Hubs that allow your devices to connect to the Matter Network if they do not connect using Wi-Fi. If you have a Zigbee-based network, you will have to find a hub or solution that is compatible with Matter, or wait for Alexa to introduce their Matter Controller for their Smart Devices.
As we receive more information about how TP-Link will be adopting Matter, we will make sure to update the community through our forums, newsletters, and stories. Make sure to keep an eye out for future posts regarding Matter!
We would love to hear more about what you think of Matter, what will be possible, and what you would like to see happen as a result of the new protocol. Matter is just now starting to appear in the wild, so make sure you stay up to date with the newest news regarding the technology on our forum