Matter: A Step Forward in Smart Homes

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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.

 

An Overview

 

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.

 

What's Next

 

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

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Comment

I really appreciate the information in this article, thank you for sharing.  One suggestion for improvement though would be to talk specifically how TP-Link will be adopting Matter.  The final paragraph that states "as we receive more information about how TP-Link will be adopting Matter...." doesn't instill much confidence that TP-Link understands how it will fit into this new world. 

 

Given that Matter is supposed to be available "this fall" I'd think TP-Link would be more clear on their participation in this new standard.

@homeownergeek Folks have been asking this for over a year https://community.tp-link.com/us/smart-home/forum/topic/265136

 

i imagine the biggest question is the same one I have, what does this mean for Kasa devices?  
 

it seems to me like tp-link is quietly end-of-life'ing Kasa devices in favor of their Tapco line.  If they had a roadmap or plan for support they'd have publizized that fact by now.  

Does this mean a network Access Point (AP) will possibly become a middle man to allow your devices to communicate on the Internet as well as communicate with each other?
This would give you better control on the communications and allow you to control the traffic through a router and firewall. Putting it on it own VLAN would allow you to control the security of your network better instead of using a edge device that could have access to all your network devices on your network.

@HomeownerGeek @jb510,

 

Thanks for stopping by! 

 

TP-Link has plans to implement the matter protocol in the future. I cannot share any details regarding how, so that's why I'm recommending keeping an eye out for more information on the community, as I will share it as soon as I can. We also do not want to share any specific plans regarding our support and implementation until its final form has been achieved by the engineering team. The last thing we want to do is promise that a feature or product may be coming soon, only to have a product removed, or a feature changed.

 

When it comes to Matter, the technologies on the devices that support the protocol will end up determining how they implement Matter. Wi-Fi-powered devices that receive matter support will be able to connect to your matter network through an IP connection, and devices with a Bluetooth module may be given a Bluetooth Provisioning feature, depending on the compatibility of the protocol and existing hardware.

 

From what I have been told and am reading online, the official release and adoption of the Matter protocol have been pushed back a few times now on a protocol-wide scale. I have heard,  that we should be hearing more detailed information regarding the release from the Connectivity Standards Alliance.

 

As Matter is the Future of Smart Home Communications, TP-Link is working hard to make sure that our users have the best experience possible, using the most up-to-date technologies. As TP-Link releases more new products, expect to hear more detailed information on what and how devices will be compatible with the protocol.As TP-Link releases more new products, expect to hear more detailed information on what and how devices will be compatible with the protocol.

@jb510 

There are a lot of rumors still circling around indicating that Tapo will be favored by TP-Link over Kasa. I can guarantee you, this is not the case and there are many new exciting products and features coming to our Kasa line of products. In fact, the developers have been collecting feedback regarding what features users would like to see in the Kasa app; so I think it is safe to expect some improvements and features for our Kasa app sometime soon.

 

In case you did not now, Tapo has been a TP-Link brand that has seen a large amount of success internationally but is just starting in the United States. Kasa on the other hand, is the reverse, with a huge presence in the United States, and far less abroad. For this reason, there are no plans to EOL Kasa Smart, ESPECIALLY with it not being in the best interests of TP-Link USA.

 

Don't worry, by the way, the company and team are seeing the community's reaction to the rumor of Kasa being EOL'd; and I have seen no indication that this may be the case in the future.

 

Furthermore, while it may not appear as the case right now, according to our US product offerings, the Tapo brand is based around a Hub and Sub-GHz Technology, while Kasa focuses on Wi-Fi Smart Devices. As more products for the Tapo line are released, this distinction will become more and more clear.

 

@MaximusMark,

There are actually a load of security features that are included with the Matter Protocol. For example, you can choose what devices in the network are able to communicate with each other, and which devices can see the status/info of a device.

 

Matter actually supports the inclusion of two matter controllers that can interact with each other, and use the same devices, but have different security and access permissions. This would let you create a much more secure smart home ecosystem for your home.

 

From what I can tell, yes it is the case that an AP would accomplish, however this will not be too terribly different from current VLAN settings for APs., and would only work this way for wi-fi exclusive devices.

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