Matter is supposed to unify and simplify home automation for consumers – but haven’t we been here before?
Later this year and alliance between Google, Amazon, Apple and a whole host of home automation companies such as Phillips Hue, Wyze, Yeelight and Nanoleaf is set to revolutionise the industry.
This alliance is caller Matter.
Matter, in a nut shell, is supposed to allow any compatible device (such as a smart bulb) to talk to any other compatible device or smart assistant over your Wi-Fi with no extra bridging hubs (looking at you Phillips Hue bridge and Samsung Smartthings).
This sounds marvellous! All your devices working together without any bridge hubs over Wi-Fi under a standardised protocol…..
Only thing is we have already had this! It was called ZigBee And it’s been around since 2002!
Zigbee was the same principal to use a standard protocol that all devices could talk to simplify home automation and open the market up with non-proprietary systems (albeit with a hub due to the frequency of the signal agreed upon). Guess what? It was the same group of companies and manufactures who agreed and signed up to this standard!
In practise there are many devices which support ZigBee, but far from being an open protocol, in reality we have different manufacturers with their own hubs which do not talk to each other without the use of advanced integration services such as Home Assistant.
You have to ask why they would even agree to an open system from a business point of view?
What would be the incentive for a customer to choose a Phillips Hue bulb at twice the price of a competitor under the new Matter Alliance?
Seriously, why would they make it work? The current model is to lock the consumer into a company ecosystem and this alliance (just like ZigBee before) would un-do this model.
I am maybe being cynical, but I feel this new alliance is a re-hash of the previous ZigBee alliance, which will not be enforced in the same way.
I really hope the home automation industry will adopt both the technical standards and the spirit of the alliance and truly open up the market to mixed devices over a network. But until I see the results, I won’t hold my breathe!
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