CSA shows standards Matter

  • May 24, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

The Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA), formerly known as the Zigbee Alliance, has announced Matter, an interoperable, secure connectivity standard for smart homes based on Project Chip.

The proliferation of connected objects continues to change the way people live, work and play. From homes to offices, factories to hospitals, connected objects enable people to experience their environments in cohesive, interactive ways. Yet, disconnected platforms and disparate development paths have caused confusion for consumers and complicated processes for developers and innovators.

Smart objects should be reliable, secure and work together, which is the shared vision behind Project Connected Home over IP (Chip), now known as the new standard Matter.

Amazon, Apple, Comcast, Google, SmartThings and the Zigbee Alliance came together in 2019 to develop and promote this standard, joined by fellow alliance board member companies Ikea, Legrand, NXP Semiconductors, Resideo, Schneider Electric, Signify, Silicon Labs, Somfy and Wulian. Now, there are more than 180 member organisations of all sizes, across a range of business categories, and over 1700 member individuals participating in bringing the Matter specification, reference implementations, testing tools and certification programmes to life.

Matter is a unified IP-based connectivity protocol built on proven technologies, helping connect and build reliable, secure IoT ecosystems. This technology and royalty-free connectivity standard enables communications among a wide range of smart devices. Matter is also a seal of approval, assuring that any object built on this standard is reliable by nature, secure by design and compatible at scale.

“We create marks of trust, and Matter is an important milestone for users in our long history of delivering unifying, secure, reliable and trustworthy standards for the IoT,” said Tobin Richardson, CEO of the CSA. “I’m very excited to unveil Matter as a foundational element in delivering a truly connected world.”

Matter aims to make it easier for device manufacturers to build devices, and ensure they are compatible with smart home and voice services such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s HomeKit with Siri, Google’s Assistant and SmartThings. The first specification release of the Matter protocol will run on existing networking technologies such as Ethernet (802.3), wifi (802.11) and Thread (802.15.4), and, for ease of commissioning, Bluetooth Low Energy.

Consumers should get increased choice, compatibility and control of their experience. Developers get lower development and operational cost via a single SKU and more time for innovation. Retailers get reduced complexity in-store to create a more simplified purchasing experience, leading to fewer returns for compatibility issues.

With Matter, consumers and businesses can choose the brands they want in their smart home or commercial building and be confident they will work seamlessly. Homeowners, and especially those living in a smart home with multiple devices such as smart locks, thermostats or smart speakers, can easily add devices with a Matter mark using a simple setup code to connect their home as one. Businesses, particularly those that rely on connectivity, can count on one network to keep their operations running smoothly.

Key for developers is that Matter isn’t only a specification – it also offers an open-source reference implementation in parallel. This drives tangible benefits for developers including faster time to market, reduced reliance on single-vendor stacks, improved quality since they can access multiple use cases to test against, and increased security with full transparency into the community’s ability to identify and commit patches.

The Matter mark will serve as a seal of approval, taking the guesswork out of the purchasing process and allowing businesses and consumers to choose from a wider array of brands to create secure and connected homes and buildings.

The Matter name was selected for its foundational nature. Matter is a building block for life, and now also for the IoT. The three arrow forms meeting in the Matter symbol communicate the brand promise of convergence and connectivity in its most distilled visual form. Its geometric construction and triangular nature express security and utility. The two-colour visual identity has been simplified to represent day and night with gradients evocative of dynamic connections between products. The new Matter brandmark was developed in partnership with Interbrand.

“Today, millions of customers around the world rely on Alexa as their favourite way to control more than 140,000 Alexa-compatible smart home products, and we are committed to continuing to make smart home connections easier for customers,” said David Shearer, vice president at Amazon Smart Home. “With Matter, smart home devices built on technologies like wifi will be more interoperable, making them simpler for manufacturers to develop and certify, and delivering more value for customers.”

In early May, the feature-complete base specification was approved by the Matter Working Group. Reaching this milestone gives members a definition of the major features to build out the open-source implementation and test the specification.

With this, the project is on track to see first devices through certification in late 2021, depending on manufacturer go-to-market plans. Devices targeted for launch include lighting and electrical, HVAC controls, access controls, safety and security, window coverings and shades, TVs, access points, and bridges.

Members poised to be early adopters of Matter include Amazon, Assa Abloy, Comcast, Espressif Systems, Eve Systems, Google, Grundfos Holding, Huawei, Infineon Technologies, Leedarson, Legrand, Nanoleaf, Nordic Semiconductor, NXP Semiconductors, Qorvo, Resideo, Schlage, Schneider Electric, Signify, Silicon Labs, SmartThings, Somfy, ST Microelectronics, Texas Instruments, Tuya Smart, Ubisys, Wulian and Zumtobel Group.

Texas-based chip company Silicon Labs has announced wireless devices to help develop Matter end products.

“We are proud to share our extensive wireless experience with the Matter community, providing more than 20% of the source code, and are delighted to see the opportunities it brings to the future of IoT connectivity,” said Matt Johnson, president of Silicon Labs. “The success of the IoT industry depends on simplicity, reliability and security, and our wireless solutions for Matter allow developers to focus on innovation and bring products to market that enable a seamless consumer experience.”