Unify Smart Home Device Development with Matter
Matter, formerly Project Connected Home over IP (CHIP), is a home automation connectivity standard designed to reduce fragmentation across different IoT device vendors and achieve interoperability among smart home platforms from different providers. The initiative was launched by some of the most influential names in the smart home ecosystem, including Amazon, Apple, Google, Comcast, and the Zigbee Alliance. Together, along with Silicon Labs and others, this group comprises the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA).
Matter uses Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) for commissioning and runs over Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and Thread protocols. Before going into the Matter standard, it’s important to understand Thread, one of the protocols Matter supports. Thread is an IPv6-based, low-power mesh networking technology for IoT products. Intended to be secure and future-proof, the Thread Group was formed in 2014 to help promote Thread into an industry standard by providing Thread certification for products. Initial members included ARM Holdings, NXP, Google-subsidiary Nest Labs, Samsung, Silicon Labs, Somfy, Tyco International, Qualcomm, and others, with Apple joining the group in 2018.
Thread uses 6LoWPAN, which, in turn, uses the IEEE 802.15.4 wireless protocol with mesh communication, as does Zigbee and other systems. However, Thread is IP-addressable with cloud access. A BSD-licensed open-source implementation of Thread, called ‘Open Thread’, has been released by Google.
The diagram below shows how Matter relates to the Thread architecture:
The Significance of the Matter Standard
Existing wireless protocols offer different benefits, such as low power operation for Thread, Zigbee and Z-Wave, longer range like Z-Wave Long Range and Wi-SUN, or high bandwidth such as in Wi-Fi. Matter allows these different technologies to share the same application layer and create seamless communication with the cloud. Matter will initially support Wi-Fi and Thread network layers for core, operational communications, and Bluetooth LE to simplify device commissioning and setup. Matter enables device manufacturers to build devices that are compatible with smart home and voice services such as Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Google Assistant, and others.
Bridging Non-Matter Devices to a Matter Network
With a large install base of Zigbee, Z-Wave, and other wireless IoT protocols, bridges will be a key aspect of connecting Matter to these devices to integrate the technologies. Although some end devices meet the requirements to be upgraded in-field (such as sufficient flash and RAM), it will be simpler, more stable, and a better user experience to bridge existing sensor networks to interoperate with Matter networks. Many IoT manufacturers will be introducing bridging products that will support both existing and deployed Zigbee/Z-Wave products, in addition to the newer Matter products.
A new Matter device can be a controlled and be part of multiple ecosystems at the same time. For example, a light bulb can connect to Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Apple Homekit. Standardized Bluetooth commissioning, including device authentication, ensures secure and easy installation. Consumers can add new products and brands to their smart home without additional effort trying to figure out if they'll work together. With Matter, it just works.
With security as a core tenet of the Matter standard, its architecture applies best practices to make the IoT more secure. Every device joining the network is authenticated before obtaining network credentials and every message is encrypted and authenticated. Use of proven and standard cryptographic algorithms and secure over-the-air (OTA) updates provides highest level of security.
Silicon Labs’ Matter expertise in wireless solutions allows developers to focus on innovation and bring products to market that simplify the consumer experience. Silicon Labs offers a range of Matter-compatible silicon, as well as the development tools you need to bring high-performance Matter end products to market quickly. Silicon Labs is a founder and board member of Thread Group, and as a board member of the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA) we've been involved in driving Matter forward in the CSA since project inception.
Silicon Labs also has strong expertise in the wireless protocols supporting Matter (Thread, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth), and offers a range of Matter-compatible silicon, software, and development tools. In addition, Matter is being built as an open-source project on GitHub, which will enable more developers to participate in the development process to create robust and secure software that will successfully interoperate among all implementations.
Starting with 2022, Silicon Labs is planning to fully integrate Matter as part of Gecko SDK and Simplicity Studio to provide the same level of best-in-class developer experience as for the other protocol stacks.
Matter software works seamlessly with Silicon Labs development tools, Software Development Kits, and wireless devices such as the BG24 and MG24 series, WF200, WFM200 and, RS9116 modules and SoCs. Explore our Matter solutions, including a selection of development kits for Thread and Wi-Fi, and check out the Silicon Labs Community where you can find articles, FAQs, and other Matter resources.
And don't miss our upcoming panel hosted by Stacey Higginbotham, from Stacy on IoT, where she'll be joined by leaders from Amazon, CSA, Google, and others to discuss all things Matter and answer your questions. Sign up below: