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The Internet of Things is still very messy. That could be about to change

Google, Apple and Amazon prepare their platforms for Matter smart home, where devices can connect easily to any controller.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer
Working from home and Using a smart speaker - stock photo
Image: Yagi Studio via Getty Images

Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA), backed by Google, Amazon, Apple and more, has released the Matter 1.0 standard and certification program, which promises a unified smart home experience.

Matter is an open standard that aims to make it easier for smart home and Internet of Things (IoT) devices to connect to each other more easily, something that is complicated, messy and often simply not possible right now. But now the Matter standard is here, along with a global certification program and eight authorized test labs, that can test whether devices and their underlying technologies meet the Wi-Fi and the Thread mesh networking standard. 

The Zigbee Alliance, which is now the CSA, announced the Matter IoT standard in 2019, with Apple, Google, Amazon and Zigbee Alliance's members, launching the group CHIP or Project Connected Home over IP

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The Zigbee Alliance brought in Ikea, Samsung Smarter things, Philips Lighting brand Signify, and many more. It's behind the Zigbee 2.4GHz wireless specification for interoperable IoT device data transmission, launched in 2004. The Tread mesh networking standard is similar to Zigbee but newer. 

"Wi-Fi enables Matter devices to interact over a high-bandwidth local network and allows smart home devices to communicate with the cloud. Thread provides an energy efficient and highly reliable mesh network within the home. Both the Wi-Fi Alliance and Thread Group partnered with the Connectivity Standards Alliance to help realize the complete vision of Matter," the CSA said.      

Google in May announced its first Google Matter products would be available later this year. Matter mean users only need set up one smart home network rather than many for hubs from Amazon and Apple. They also don't need different apps for each IoT product. 

Google's Matter controllers include the Google Home speaker, Google Mini, Nest Mini, Nest Hub, Nest Hub Max, Nest Audio, and Nest Wifi. 

Matter is also coming to most Amazon Alexa-powered Echo devices, including Echo, Echo Dots, Echo Plus, Echo Studio, and Echo Show. And the standard is just as important for all the smart devices connected either to Echo, Nest or Apple hubs. Amazon has already been working with device makers Eero, Eve, Resideo, Phillips Hue and many more to ensure Matter works. Currently, 300 million devices connect to Alexa. 

And Apple is bringing Matter to iOS 16.1, which is currently in beta. Apple plans to include the certified Matter SDK once its complete, but has invited developers to use the Matter SDK provided by Apple for their Matter ecosystem apps. iOS users will be able to add devices via the Home app, or any HomeKit-based app. 

The Matter standard is about two years behind schedule, in part due to CSA lacking the software development kit (SDK) required for members to integrate with the platform. CSA today says the "open-source reference design SDK is complete". Vendors can update already deployed products to support Matter once products are certified, according to CSA. 

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The CSA has over 280 member companies building a wide range of connected products, but this first release only covers a subset of them, including lighting and electrical, HVAC controls, window coverings and shades, safety and security sensors, door locks, media devices including TVs, controllers as both devices and applications, and bridges. These products need to be running over Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and Thread, and connected via Bluetooth LE.   

"What started as a mission to unravel the complexities of connectivity has resulted in Matter, a single, global IP-based protocol that will fundamentally change the IoT," said Tobin Richardson, president and CEO of the Connectivity Standards Alliance. 

"This release is the first step on a journey our community and the industry are taking to make the IoT more simple, secure, and valuable no matter who you are or where you live.  With global support from companies large and small, today's Matter 1.0 release is more than a milestone for our organization and our members; it is a celebration of what is possible."

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