Smart homekit was supposed to bring easy automation to the spaces we live in. But unfortunately, each major player in the market tried to force consumers only to use their products, and it quickly became a bewildering mess of compatibility issues and brand loyalty.
This is about to change for the better. At IFA 2022, we saw a Google Nest Hub control an Eve Apple HomeKit smart plug, thanks to Matter. This new intelligent home standard could eliminate compatibility issues for all future smart home tech.
Matter in Action: What We Saw
Eve had several new Thread-based intelligent home tech examples at its IFA 2022 booth. Thread, an open-source wireless mesh communication system, works with the Matter standard to let you do things like this:
The Eve team was quite protective over the demo as it’s a very early implementation of Matter, but this is legit. A working example of a Google Nest Hub controlling an Apple HomeKit-based Eve smart plug. While it is an excellent win for Eve to be among the first to show this off, the implications go far beyond any manufacturer.
When rolled out, Thread will mean third-party smart home and Internet of Things designers will no longer have to choose a particular ecosystem to work in. I’m hesitant to make grand, sweeping statements, but as a reporter who has covered intelligent home tech from many angles since the start, this feels like a big moment.
Why Matter Matters
We need to cover the basics to understand why Matter is so important.
When two intelligent home devices interact, they use a shared communication protocol. There must be some secure handshake, along with instructions or requests. This can happen via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or other short-range radio formats. However, many communication protocols don’t get along, which was by design in many cases.
Thread is a newer mesh networking protocol that allows each device to be a mini-router of its own. It is highly reliable, has minimal power requirements, and is an IP-based system that can communicate with the broader internet without issue.
While there are in-depth guides to the Matter standard, the concept is simple. Matter devices can communicate with each other, regardless of the ecosystem they were initially designed for.
Matter Will Soon Be in Your Home
The Matter demonstration on a busy trade show floor was impressive simply because it’s the first time we’ve seen it do something with existing tech. The Eve smart plug we saw already uses Thread and will update to use Matter when it releases later in 2022.
The final step is for manufacturers to ship products that use Matter, and it could still fall short at this final hurdle despite widespread support. Nevertheless, it’s getting close, and the hope is genuine. Maybe an intelligent home free of complication and difficulty is just around the corner.