An industry alliance led by Apple, Google, Amazon, and other tech companies will begin certifying smart home devices later this year, taking the technology one step closer to widespread adoption. Matter, the alliance’s name, will allow smart devices, such as lightbulbs controlled by Amazon Alexa or a video doorbell monitored by Google Home, to use its logo on their packaging. The logo is made up of three round-tipped arrows pointing toward a common center.
Tobin Richardson, CEO of Matter, stated in an interview that he expects the logo to become as “ubiquitous” as the Wi-Fi logo is now.
“As these different devices become more complex networks, it’s even more important that they all speak the same language,” Richardson explained. “That mark will lend a helping hand to ensure that you can add whatever lightbulbs, door locks, or other features you desire.” Richardson made the remark in an interview ahead of Tuesday’s Matter press event.
The certification process of the alliance is further evidence of the fast pace of change in the smart home, which is part of the internet of things movement to digitize everything. The smart home, like smartphones, could quickly become an integral part of your daily life.
Matter is a new name for the CHIP (Connected Home over Internet Protocol) smart-home alliance. It was unveiled in 2019 and uses the internet’s core technology to simplify the process of connecting smart-home devices. Through smart speakers, users can control lighting, heating, home theaters, video doorbells, door locks, and alarms.
It can be difficult to get all of these devices to communicate with one another, especially when Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, and Google Assistant are all vying to be your preferred interface. Matter is intended to unify the network domain, ensuring that devices can communicate with any of the three major voice control systems. Even if you use multiple control systems, it should work.
Matter allies created their technology as part of the Zigbee Alliance, a group formed to work on the low-speed but energy-efficient Zigbee network technology used in some smart-home devices like smart lightbulbs and alarm sensors. On Tuesday, the Connectivity Standards Alliance renamed itself to reflect its mission beyond Zigbee.
Smart speaker leaders Amazon and Google, internet service provider Comcast, Samsung’s smart home SmartThings group, and Signify, which markets Philips Hue lighting technology, all made appearances at the event.
Matter technology has been developed by the allies as a royalty-free, open-source project on GitHub. They ratified the specification in the last two weeks, which is a critical step in allowing device makers to begin working on certification and making Matter support easier for developers. Matter should make setups more streamlined, according to Michelle Mindala-Freeman, the alliance’s marketing director. Setup codes should allow you to connect your devices without the need to download apps or connect to cloud services.
Matter should also lower barriers between different smart-home ecosystems, so you don’t have to worry about whether a new product will work with your existing smart home setup. Mindala-Freeman describes it as “breaking down the walls of the walled garden.” To be successful, the Matter allies must also persuade us that the technology is trustworthy, not just simple. With iPhones now cracking down on app tracking, privacy is top of mind.
“We still have a long road ahead in terms of building the trust,” Richardson said. “You have to earn it.”