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Matter: a Unifying Standard for Home Devices or Hype?

In this short article I want to discuss the release of the recent standard, Matter, formally CHIP (Project Connected Home over IP). Will we have a consumer device communication standard that’s ideal for the smart home or are we looking at yet another standard that will further complicate IoT for the our smart appliances?

Matter was parented by the Connectivity Standards Alliance and release to the world this month. Version 1 is available now for review by manufacturers, developers, and anyone curious about this new means of device communications.

The goal of this standard is to make interoperability among home devices easier. And because the standard has backing from Samsung, Google, Apple, and a large number of other organizations with interest in the home device market, there appears to be a fair chance the standard will stick.

The promise seems to be less hassle for the user. When you purchase a product that adheres to the Matter standard, you should be able to easily connect and integrate with other devices in your home using that standard.

But what about security? Even at this moment, I can connect to my neighbor’s TV from my iPad if I wanted to. How do we make sure that these devices are safe, even for those who aren’t the most technically skilled?

According to their security white paper, Matter follows five security tenets:

  • Comprehensive – they use a layered approach
  • Strong – they use well-tested, strong cryptography
  • Easy – security should improve ease of use, or decrease it
  • Resilient – protect, detect, recover
  • Agile – able to respond quickly to threats

How easily will this be adopted by the developers? I did take a look at the source code and libraries. It’s written in C++, so it should be fast. And there appear to be libraries for most of your common development boards, chipsets, and MCUs. I think that’s good sign. You can see the repo here:

So is it a viable standard or is it hype?

Matter was a long time in the making. And it’s creation required manufacturing rivals like Google, Apple, and Samsung to sit across from each other at a table and agree on one direction to take device communication. The standard was just released this month and the official launch is on November 3rd. There are already a large group of early adopters prepared to launch products. Some of your appliances under the Christmas Tree this year might be Matter compatible.

I think it’s safe to say that Matter isn’t just hype. It looks to be a great way for devices to communicate easily on a home network using common IP methods and options like WiFi and a new protocol called Thread. Maybe this time next year we’ll see more IoT innovation in our homes because of better device interoperability.

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