By Finn Boetius, Product Marketing Engineer, Nordic Semiconductor

As the quote goes: “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

Twentieth-century predictions for today’s smart home are a case in point. As recently as 1999, 'experts' predicted that by 2005 we would have articulated two-armed house cleaning robots that could tidy up the place as well as wield a vacuum cleaner. Fast forward to today, and the suggestion is as far-fetched as ever.
Beyond the wild predictions, the promise of the fully integrated smart home has fallen well short of expectations. Smart home devices often fail to work together seamlessly and consistently. Products built for one ecosystem don't always work as planned in another.

Matter – a new connectivity standard

There's now hope in 'Matter', a new connectivity standard for the smart home developed by Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA). Matter works by building on top of existing smart home wireless connectivity technologies Thread and Wi-Fi (plus Bluetooth LE for commissioning), and the Ethernet wired protocol. It provides a unifying application layer that manufacturers can develop to, guaranteeing the compatibility and interoperability of their products.
For consumers, Matter promises simplicity. Instead of having to work out if a Nest thermostat is Apple HomeKit compatible or whether an Amazon Echo device can control a third-party smart lock, buyers can just seek out the Matter seal of approval on devices and be assured of interoperability. For manufacturers, the product development process is also streamlined with a single standard to which to build. Matter is also IP-based.
Matter's greatest attribute is the unprecedented consensus behind it. More than 200 companies have come together to develop Matter. This includes tech giants Apple, Google, and Amazon, large and small device manufacturers, and wireless connectivity specialists like Nordic Semiconductor.

Matter lets protocols work together

Matter provides interoperability between existing smart home connectivity protocols Wi-Fi, Thread and Ethernet. Thread is a secure wireless mesh network developed explicitly for the smart home, tuned for reliability and low latency. Thread works particularly well for lower power devices such as sensors and door locks.
In a typical smart home setup, lower power Matter devices would thus typically run across a Thread network, while devices with higher power and data bandwidth needs will use Wi-Fi. Matter supports the Thread, Wi-Fi and Ethernet protocols for device-to-device communication, while Bluetooth LE is used for commissioning and configuring new devices to a network.

Easing smart home setup with Matter

Matter is also supporting manufacturers to overcome other well-known smart home pain points, such as the setup of new devices. For instance, Amazon is working with leading brands to launch its "zero-touch" Frustration-Free Setup on its Matter-certified devices. This will enable consumers using Amazon's ecosystems to simply take a device out of the box, plug it in, and wait for an automatic connection to the smart home network.
Another feature of the Matter spec, 'Multi-Admin,' is also expected to make life easier by allowing connected devices to be easily controlled by multiple smart home ecosystems.

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Matter promises to fulfill the smart home vision