Industry Group Pushes Back Smart Home Standard

The futuristic totally connected smart home isn’t very far off in the future, as a consortium of tech companies works behind the scenes to bring the Matter Connectivity Protocol to the masses before the end of the year.

More than 200 companies are working with the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA) to speed the release of its software development kit (SDK) for manufacturers of connected and smart home products, including the biggest names in Big Tech and a diverse list of other firms.

The CSA announced Thursday (March 17) that its release of the Matter 1.0 standard — already delayed — is now set to be ready in the second quarter ahead of a major testing event this summer before wide release.

“The ongoing work is really down to quality, stability and validation — meaning we’re in the home stretch,” the CSA said. “For the ability to tear down the walled gardens in IoT, accelerate growth, and improve experiences for customers and consumers.”

It added that “we will see the launch of Matter 1.0 in the fall. After that, the formal certification program will be open to all companies wanting to certify Matter devices. We expect our members will follow thereafter with additional announcements and launch plans for both new products and products supporting Matter software upgrades.”

Speaking with The Verge the same day, CSA Head of Member Services Michelle Mindala-Freeman said: “We will have the SDK complete in Q2 and will make a version of the specification available to our membership at the end of [June]. These are definitely things that are building our confidence that our membership is all-in on Matter and are driving forward to be done this fall.”

Thread at the Heart of Matter

Matter working group members have been signifying support for adoption of the interoperable smart home system that allows consumers to mix devices that work on a common standard.

See also: Smart Home Protocol ‘Matter’ Readies for 2022 Connected Operating System Debut

In November, Amazon voiced its support for the Matter protocol and a Thread messaging network it pairs with, bypassing home Wi-Fi to carry formatted commands like locking a door, adjusting the thermostat, checking the security system and cameras, and other applications.

Announcing its participation in a blog post, Amazon said: “There are over 140,000 smart home products compatible with Alexa, and customers have connected more than 200 million smart home devices to Alexa over Wi-Fi, Zigbee and BLE. By adding support for Matter, over Thread and Wi-Fi, we are continuing our efforts to ensure customers can use Alexa with as many devices as possible while allowing device makers to build with their preferred protocols.”

“Thread provides a low-power, low-bandwidth and low-latency mesh networking option when building Matter devices,” Amazon added. “We are already working with leading brands who are creating Matter over Thread devices, such as Yale, Wemo, Schlage, Sengled, Netatmo, Eve, Nanoleaf, Tuya, eWeLink and Leedarson.”

Seamless interoperability of connected devices is a major hurdle for Matter, Thread and the hundreds of companies signed on to use the combination as a smart home operating system.

In October, Samsung announced that its SmartThings IoT devices will use the Matter and Thread interoperability standards.

Jaeyeon Jung, corporate vice president at Samsung Electronics and head of SmartThings said, “Matter will help drive a surge in smart home adoption, and with SmartThings, it will be easier for users to gain smart home experiences with seamless device onboarding, customized automation, and a choice of voice assistants.”

Consumer Reports wrote in January that “Some devices, such as the Schlage Encode smart lock, work with some systems (Alexa and Google Assistant) but not others. Not all ecosystems offer the same types of devices. For example, large appliances like washers and ovens are supported by Alexa, Google and SmartThings but not Apple HomeKit. And each subsequent device you purchase makes it more expensive and prohibitive if you decide to change ecosystems in the future.”

“All these problems go away if Matter succeeds in making interoperability a given for smart home devices,” Consumer Reports added.

Read also: Smart Home Tech Makers Push Standardized Connectivity Protocol

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