A Better Understanding of Matter (Not The Atomic Kind)

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I've been hearing about Matter for a while now, and a new version was released this month. I haven't heard enough to give me a clear idea exactly what the fuss is about. So, I set out to educate myself, and hopefully I can educate you in the process. Here's what I've learned about Matter

Matter is a Protocol

Matter is a protocol and it officially launched on October 4, 2022 with Version 1.0. It is the official protocol of IoT (Internet of Things) devices. Equipment that uses Matter can do so using wired media (Ethernet) or wirelessly (WIFI, Thread). It is an open source protocol that is governed by the Connectivity Standards Alliance™ (CSA), formerly the Zigbee Alliance. Matter is being developed and promoted by some of the largest companies in the world including Amazon, Google, Apple, Ikea, LG, Resideo, Samsung, the list goes on (and on).

A big difference between Matter and technologies like Z-Wave and Zigbee is that Matter is a protocol only. It runs on existing IP infrastructure. By contrast, Zigbee and Z-Wave combine their networking and protocol elements. Since 2022, the CSA has released an update for Matter about every six (6) months, with the latest version, 1.3 being released on May 8, 2024.

Matter began as an idea back in December of 2019 when the "Project: Connected Home over IP" (CHIP) working group was created. The group was founded by Amazon, Apple, Google, and the Zigbee Alliance. As noted above, The Connectivity Standards Alliance™, formerly the Zigbee Alliance, is the governing body over development, certification, and promotion of Matter.

Matter Timeline Through May 2024:

  • December 2019 - Amazon, Apple, Google, Zigbee Alliance, and other companies go public with the CHIP initiative.
  • May 2021 - The name is changed to Matter. Protocol development is under way. At this time, the Zigbee Alliance also changes its name to the Connectivity Standards Alliance™ (CSA).
  • August 2021 - Delay 1. Due to the pandemic, along with some other issues, the Software Development Kit (SDK) is delayed from the end of 2021 to the latter half of 2022.
  • March 2022 - Delay 2. Additional testing is required, so launch will be later in the year.
  • October 4, 2022 - Matter 1.0 is released. Specifications are now available, and certification of devices can now begin.
  • Early October 2022 - Samsung SmartThings Hubs and Android Apps are updated to support Matter with a software upgrade. Apple iOS users have to wait a little longer.
  • October 24, 2022 - Apple introduces Mac OS 13.0, iOS, iPadOS, tvOS 16.1, and Watch OS 9.1. This gets Apple devices ready for Matter.
  • November 3, 2022 - CSA hosts a launch event in Amsterdam.
  • December 16, 2022 - Google's ecosystem now supports Matter. An Android Smartphone is required for installation.
  • December 19, 2022 - Amazon updates 17 Echo models to include Matter support for specific product groups (lamps, sockets, switches) via WIFI. Also, the Alexa App for Android is updated for the commissioning of Matter devices via phone.
  • May 2, 2023 - Amazon opens up Matter via Thread and makes the Echo 4, a border router for the Thread radio protocol.
  • May 18, 2013 - Matter version 1.1 is released with minor improvements.
  • Early September 2023 - Matter Bridges can now be added to Amazon Alexa and Samsung SmartThings apps. Finally, devices with Zigbee, Z-Wave and possibly other wireless protocols are accessible via all major Matter ecosystems.
  • September 19, 2023 - Phillips Hue Smartbridge gets Matter.
  • October 23, 2023 - Matter 1.2 is released. It includes nine (9) more product categories and other improvements.
  • May 8, 2024 - Matter 1.3 is released. This update brings energy management to Matter and adds more new product categories. One new product category is Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE). This allows you to control when an electric vehicle is charged, or how much charge it receives. You can even specify how many miles of range you want to charge to, and by what time. This update also adds product categories for home appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers, laundry dryers, and robot vacuums. Allowing you to control compatible devices through Matter.

Glossary of Common Terms

  • Matter Device - Smart Home products that support Matter.
  • Matter Fabric - This is the name for the virtual network Matter devices are connected through. All of the devices in a fabric share the same Trusted Root. A Matter Fabric forms a star topology.
  • Trusted Root - In a Matter Fabric, a Trusted Root Certificate Authority (TRCA) anchors the fabric. The Root of Trust is the owner of the Trusted Root CA Certificate. Each node's Node Operational Certificate (NOC) connects back to this Trusted Root.
  • Commissioning - The process of assigning Matter Credentials to a new device on the fabric.
  • Attestation - During commissioning, each Matter device must prove that it is what it claims to be. This is attestation. Only devices that have gone through the certification process outlined by the CSA and have a Device Attestation Certificate (DAC) will be able to join the fabric.
  • Thread - Thread is a wireless networking technology. It was designed from scratch but is based on the Internet Protocol using the IEEE 802.15.4 radio technology. It was designed to meet the following requirements:
    • Low power requirement.
    • Low latency.
    • The ability to work with any, and multiple, application layers.
    • A strong, reliable, self-healing mesh network with no single point-of-failure.
    • Easy setup with no need for a hub or gateway.
    • Must not be restricted to a particular application standard. Thread works with Matter, HomeKit, Weave, and numerous other applications.
  • Thread Group - The organization responsible for developing, maintaining, and promoting Thread.
  • Application Agnostic - Thread was developed to be application agnostic. As long as a device's application layer is based on the Internet Protocol, it should be able to support Thread.
  • Border Router - Based on the IEEE 802.15.4 radio technology, a Thread network can be formed and operated completely by itself, without any bridge or hub. This is how it prevents a single point-of-failure. If the Thread network needs to communicate with the WIFI or Ethernet network, it does so using IP-based routing. This routing is done by a Thread Border Router. There can be multiple of these in a Thread network. The border router is usually not a stand-alone device, but rather something like a cable modem, WIFI router, TV Streaming device, smart TV, or smart speaker.
  • IPv6 - Matter, as mentioned above, uses the Internet Protocol (IP). Specifically, it uses IPv6 for its operational communication and takes advantage of the multicasting capability it provides.
  • Bridge - A network device used to allow access to devices that don't support Matter to the Matter Network. An example would be a Zigbee device. Bridged devices can then work with Matter devices within a fabric, and communicate on different application layers.

What's New in Version 1.3

So, Matter is an open source protocol that uses the IPv6 standard, which supports multicasting. It's intended to unite all smart home devices, allowing users to create a mesh network, or fabric of devices from different manufacturers.

Version 1.3 has added some exciting advancements, here's a list of a few of them:

  • Support for Energy and Water Management - This addition allows any device type to report both estimated and actual measurements. This includes things like power, current, voltage, and other readings in real time. It can also report energy consumption or creation over time.
  • Electric Vehicle Charging - Matter 1.3 adds the new Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) device type. Now, EV charging equipment manufacturers can provide a way for users to control how and when they charge their vehicles. With this addition, users can now manually start or stop charging. They can also adjust the charging rate, or specify the number of miles of range to be added by a particular departure time.
  • Water Management - Matter 1.3 adds support for leak and freeze detectors, rain sensors, and controllable water valves. This allows users to monitor and control water within their space.
  • New Appliance Types -
    • Microwave Ovens - Control cooking time, power level, and mode of operation. Also, receive notifications when food is ready. For range hood style microwaves, control of a fan and light can also be achieved.
    • Ovens - Oven-types such as built-in, stand-alone, or as part of a range with a cooktop are included. Each oven can be controlled individually. This can include the operational mode (standard, convection bake, roast, steam, broil/grill, proofing) and the temperature, and information related to the state of the oven (i.e., preheating or cooling) is also available. Notifications such as preheating and target temperature reached can be provided.
    • Cooktops - With Matter 1.3, cooktops can offer remote access and control (typically this would be used with induction-based cooktops). The cooktop’s individual elements (presumably burners) allow for temperature control and measurement (this may be subject to regulation).
    • Extractor Hoods - Range hoods, or vent hoods over a range can now include support for Matter. This integration will allow control of the fan and light, and if there is a filter with an end-of-life notification, Matter can provide that notification.
    • Laundry Dryers - Matter 1.2 added Laundry Washers, and Matter 1.3 adds Laundry Dryers. Users will be able to set the dryer mode and target temperature. Depending on local safety regulations, they may be able to start and stop the dryer remotely. Notifications for the end of drying cycle as well as any manufacturer specified warning messages, i.e., door open can also be provided.


What have we learned? Well, for one thing, it seems that Matter has more acronyms than a government agency. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it will take some getting used to. In my opinion, as a new standard it's moving along and developing nicely. With so many large (and small) companies being involved I have a good feeling about Matter. Although I believe it will be like any system, labor (and probably cost) intensive to set up once the initial configuration is done, I think it'll be smooth sailing. I can't wait to find out if I'm right!

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