Matter is the new IoT protocol, one system to rule them all and surprisingly IKEA is the first to create a working device you can buy – well into October. What is matter and why is it important?
Will lead IKEA’s Matter Hub
Matter used to be called CHIP (Connected Home over IP), a name that didn’t make for so many silly sentence constructions. The key idea is that it is a standard that allows devices from different companies to interoperate. Currently, the case is backed by Apple, Amazon, Google, and Samsung, among other smaller companies. You might be surprised to find an Apple “walled garden” supporting something that looks like it’s tearing down the walls between IoT devices, but it should really give you an idea of just how far the wall comes down. It may be an interoperability standard, but there is an exit clause that allows manufacturers to not fully expose everything their devices support. So you’ll probably have a worse experience with a sensor made by company A on a hub made by company B. This is controlled interoperability that still allows companies like Apple to lock you into their system. You can resist, but you won’t get the full potential of the devices you paid for.
Next, we need to think about the actual physical hardware – is it Z-Wave? ZigBee? No, its BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) connections for configuration and mainly WiFi for the actual data links. Oh well, no more Bluetooth headaches to deal with. There’s also Thread, an IP-based mesh network that’s already used in Google Nest and Apple HomeKit.
Of course, all of this sidelines existing Z-Wave and Zigbee-based devices and all proprietary devices are well out of the cold. There are plans for Zigbee bridges that connect legacy devices to the material world, but no news on a Z-Wave bridge. Could this have something to do with Matter being managed by the renamed Zigbee committee, the Connectivity Standards Alliance. It seems that Zigbee and Z-Wave are indeed deprecated by Matter.,
Then there’s the question of where does that leave us hackers? If you work for a large company, Matter is essential, as is certification of everything you create. However, smaller, innovative units will have difficulty creating anything that can work with matter. The system is secure from the start and based on IPv6, which poses some interesting issues. That said, there are plenty of examples and tools on the GitHub repo under an Apache-2 license and there’s even an installation of a Raspberry Pi 4, which I admit I haven’t been able to get working yet. . If you’re interested, take a look, but be warned that the documentation is very limited and very specific.
The best introduction is this Nordic video, which features a Pi 4:
One thing is clear, and that is until Matter is released sometime later this year and settles down, home automation projects should probably be put on hold, if possible. This seems to be the new thing that matters.
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