Make way for Matter, the smart home's would-be skeleton key Coming soon to Echo devices, Android and iOS, the new standard is set to make waves with wide industry support — but don't expect a smart home sea change.

Each of them can use three speakers, three assistants — and a standard device to connect with.

in wednesday Alexa Live 2021 EventAmazon confirmed that the Echo lineup of speakers and smart displays will soon support Matter, a new, universal smart home standard. product of A multi-year joint effort with other industry titans, including Apple, Google and Samsung, Matter aims to help your smart home devices run a little nicer together – and soon, most of the Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Plus, Echo Studio and Echo already in people’s homes Show devices will sync. With standard via a software update.

The news follows similar curtain-lifts from Google and Apple, each of which earlier this year announced related support for Matter across Android and iOS. All of this, along with the buy-in from Amazon, sets the stage for Matter to get off to a great start in the coming months. It won’t take long to start seeing the Matter logo prominently displayed on product packaging for a wide variety of gadgets that want a place in your home.

Matter Smart Home Device Certification Logo

The Matter logo signifies smart-home devices that are well-certified with each other and with the Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, and Google Assistant voice control systems.

Matter’s potential popularity stems from the appeal of its pitch: a single, IP-based, open-source standard that works over Wi-Fi, supports all major control platforms, and acts like a universal language. Which can be used to connect smart home devices. and understand each other. Think USB, but wireless. After all, the Internet of Things has to be like the Internet – platform-agnostic and 99% identical, no matter what device or operating system you’re using to access it.

Anyway, this is the ideal. At the same WWDC presentation where Apple announced that Matter would make its way to iOS 15, the company also showcased newly opened third-party Siri access that lets you trigger and activate Apple’s AI assistant from devices like the voice-activated Ecobee thermostat. lets talk. The catch is that you’ll still need the Apple HomePod Mini (or the discontinued, full-size HomePod) on your Wi-Fi network to perform localized speech processing and security authentication. As Matter draws to a close, let it be a reminder: Big tech companies may be willing to share the cockpit in your connected home, but they want to keep their hands on the steering wheel, and it can make for a bumpy ride. can make for.

Still, smoothing out bumps like those — keeping big tech in control of the category — could have a massive impact on smart homes that matter. The three inward-pointing arrows that might soon make up the ubiquitous Matter logo, as well as representing Amazon, Apple and Google, are each centered on a common center – and each fixed in place at the center of the action. With Matter, you can walk into a home or apartment with preinstalled smart gadgets and have a much easier time controlling them however you like: Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Samsung SmartThings, take your pick. . And, if you’re an Android user who lives with roommates or family members who prefer iOS, Matter can also help make your smart home a little better.

“It’s not just another light bulb standard,” said Amazon’s Chris DiCenzo, a lead engineer for smart homes, as he outlined the company’s goal of making matter relevant by finding new and practical ways to use matter. . One of the first areas of focus: smart smart TVs.

“The industry is really a mess of different protocols,” DeCenzo explained, before describing how Matter TV can help standardize voice control or improve casting performance. Connectivity There are already several TV makers on board with the matter through the Standards Alliance, DiCenzo notes.

That doesn’t mean you should expect the smart home experience to be vastly different than it was before. These companies are still fierce competitors trying to outdo each other with new products and features. Their encouragement is to differentiate, not to divide. For example, Matter won’t let you access the Apple TV’s HomeKit camera controls and the Multiview interface on the Fire TV Stick or Chromecast. And devices like Philips Hue bulbs that communicate using Zigbee, Z-Wave, or some other low-power alternative to Wi-Fi will still need a bridge connected to your network for the Matter to work, so Don’t expect that ugly mess puck and hub on your router shelf to disappear, either.

Where Matter should make the biggest impact is with the developers, no doubt after a decade of jumping through hoops to keep their tools up to date with each platform’s ever-changing demands on their Customers care. (Imagine a busy restaurant with cooks who all speak different languages, while waitstaff have to work to understand everyone and get food to the right customers.) With Matter, those device-makers are one All of the big names in the game will be able to grow around the same standard. It’s a very light lift, and that can free up time and resources that could be better spent developing better tools.

So what matters? The answer is undoubtedly “yes” – even setting smart home aside, it’s a remarkable thing to do when big tech rounds the wagons and agrees to groundbreaking standards involving security and data privacy. And while the smart home will never truly be seamless, Matter would seem to be a better framework for the current landscape, dotted with devices from any manufacturer that had the best Black Friday sales, and whatever big tech company could. You’re controlling the most comfortable (or least uncomfortable) sharing of your home. The case won’t change the status quo of that smart home, but it could reinforce it in ways that help accelerate the category. You might say it’s just a matter of time.

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