The Zigbee Alliance announced a new open-source standard for smart home products and systems today. Matter, formerly known as Project CHIP (Connected Home over IP), has the backing of Amazon, Google, Signify (Philips Hue), SmartThings, and other big players in the smart home market. The Alliance itself gave itself a new name, too. It is now the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA).
In a press briefing, product managers and executives from CSA member companies said the Matter standard is complete and ready for testing, with the first Matter products planned to reach the market by the end of 2021. This first batch of new products are expected to be in the lighting, HVAC, access controls (e.g., door locks and garage doors), home security (sensors, motion detectors, and hubs), and window coverings categories.
Matter bridges will come to market about the same time, which will enable IoT products based on other standards to work in the Matter ecosystem. That last item will be key for early adopters who have already made big investments in smart home tech.
Matter is an IP based protocol that can run on existing network technology: Wi-Fi, ethernet, and Thread. Matter devices will also be able to use Bluetooth Low Energy to simplify setup. These devices will also be able to tell each other what they are and what they can do, so that they can work with each other without the user needing to do a lot of configuration work.
A feature of the standard dubbed “multi-admin” will enable products from varying ecosystems—Apple’s HomeKit and Amazon’s Alexa, for example—to work together without a lot of end-user intervention. Multi-admin will also establish layers of control, so that different family members will be able to connect to a home’s smart products with varying levels of control.
Smart home products based on Matter will have a distinctive logo (see the illustrations above) that will inform consumers of their interoperability features. As for Zigbee, the CSA has committed to continue developing it, so it won’t be going away any time soon.
Michael is TechHive's lead editor, with 30+ years of experience covering the tech industry, focusing on the smart home, home audio, and home theater. He built his own smart home in 2007 and used it as a real-world test lab for product reviews. Following a relocation to the Pacific Northwest, he is now converting his new home, an 1890 Victorian bungalow, into a modern smart home.