The Matter standard is here to revolutionize the way we handle our smart homes. But, it’s also causing a bit of confusion due to its uneven rollout. So, what do you actually need to know about Matter? What devices are needed to make it work?
I prepared a list of 7 easy to understand key points that are covering the most essential things about Matter. Stay with me till the end, so you don’t miss the Home Assistant part and you will figure out what Matter is all about.
Let’s start with the first key point.
Table of Contents
1. Matter’s Purpose
Matter is a relatively new standard or specification for how smart home devices should talk to each other and all major tech companies already support Matter or they are going to be pretty soon.
You can think of Matter as a language that lets different smart devices, even if they’re made by different companies, understand each other.
You can understand this girl right? No matter what language do you speak, Matter is trying the same for Smart Home
Have in mind that Matter is not a radio protocol, but a control protocol that runs on top of the existing network infrastructure, using your existing Wi-Fi/Ethernet routers and Thread.
I’ll talk more about Thread later in the video until then if some of the terms or abbreviations that I’m using are not so clear for you, then download my Smart Home Glossary it is all free.
I don’t want to read anymore…
Do you want to watch the whole fun effortlessly on your screen – no problems, check my YT video below:
Matter works with different types of connections like Thread, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and Bluetooth. Where Bluetooth is only used for pairing or also known as commissioning. You’ve probably heard about Ethernet, Wi-Fi & Bluetooth, but what about Thread?
What is Thread?
Thread is a low power radio mesh networking technology. Much like Zigbee for example. Think of Thread like a special highway that doesn’t need a translator hub to work.
You only require a Thread border router or a Matter controller equipped with Thread to link Thread devices to other Matter devices and also to the internet.
Unlike Zigbee and Z-Wave where you need 1 central hub, with Thread you can have multiple Thread border routers working together in your home, which can make the network more reliable.
Also Thread can support up to 250 devices and can directly communicate with Wi-Fi and Ethernet devices and it is really quick with very little delay.
Thread allow Mater devices to have things like automatic network healing. For example, if one device gets unplugged by mistake, it won’t crash the whole network and everything will continue to work as usual.
3. Requirements for Matter Support
Next key point, To have a smart home that uses Matter, you need a few things:
- Matter controller,
- Thread Border Router,
- and an app that supports Matter.
The cool thing is, you might have all three of these devices at home already! But Let’s brake this down.
Starting with Matter controllers first, which can help you set up new smart devices, control everything in your smart home, run automations, and let you access things from far away.
Matter Controllers are:
- The latest HomePods & Apple TVs,
- Some Amazon Echo speakers,
- Some Google Nest devices,
- Samsung SmartThings Hub v3,
- Home Assistant
- Homey Pro and more.
Unlike Zigbee and Z-Wave you can join the same device to multiple Matter controllers. For example, simultaneously add a single smart bulb to Google Home, Apple Home, and Home Assistant. The Matter standard describes that each device should be able to support at least 5 different such connections simultaneously.
Thread Border Router
Next important thing for Matter is a Thread Border Router. This helps Thread devices to connect to the Internet. Thread Border Router is simply a device that has both Thread and Wi-Fi built into it.
And yes, you can have a single device that acts as both a Thread border router and a Matter controller. You can find an updated list of such devices below:
Lastly, you need an app with Matter support (for example on your Smart Phone). The following smart home apps are Matter commissioners and can add and control devices and set up automations and routines.
- Apple Home app on devices running iOS 16.1 or newer
- Samsung SmartThings app (Android / iOS)
- Google Home app (Android / iOS)
- Amazon Alexa app (Android / iOS)
- Home Assistant companion app (Android / iOS)
Matter is also built into the latest versions of Android and Apple’s operating systems, enabling apps to access the local infrastructure required by Matter.
Matter Requirements Summary
As summary, you just need one Matter controller and one Thread Border Router at home and this could be one and the same device and a Smart Phone, on which you can install Apps.
Even if you have more devices working as Thread Border Routers, they’ll just team up to build one big Thread network.
4. Bridges in Matter
Next, let’s talk about bridges. Smart home devices that use a proprietary bridge — such as Philips Hue smart bulbs, Aqara sensors, or a SwitchBot door lock — can be “bridged” into Matter to control their connected devices in a Matter smart home platform.
Apple Home, Google Home, Samsung SmartThings, and Amazon all support bridging in Matter. So, if you have devices that work through a bridge and that bridge has been updated to Matter, the devices connected to it will work in a Matter platform.
Be aware, though, that because of the current limitations of Matter control, you might lose some features if you bridge your devices through Matter rather than through existing integrations.
5. Device Upgrades
Some devices you already have might be made compatible with Matter in the future if they have the right connections like Thread & Wi-Fi.
These devices at some point just have to be updated to the latest firmware and Boom, just like that they will be Matter ready.
There is a big list where you can check do you have such device already or you may wish to buy something that is future proofed. Get the list below:
6. Future Promise
The bright promises and our biggest hope with Matter is that, in the future, our smart home devices will work together smoothly no matter what brand they are. Right now, this isn’t completely true, but we are getting closer. Which is a good sign, don’t you think?
7. Matter and Home Assistant
If you know me already you probably know that I like playing with Home Assistant a lot. If you don’t know me yet then now is a great time to become friends just hit that subscribe button for my newsletter.
Matter and Home Assistant is an interesting topic that can take a whole article or a series, but here is the essential:
- You need Home Assistant Yellow device or SkyConnect dongle to be Matter ready from Hardware perspective.
- You can pair a.k.a commission new devices using Home Assistant Companion App on your Smart Phone.
- You can integrate a Matter-ready device with Home Assistant without linking it to the vendor’s Cloud. Yet, a few vendors might need you to make an account first to enable Matter.
- Home Assistant is not a bridge itself and it cannot turn existing devices in Home Assistant into Matter compatible devices, but who knows that could be changed in the future.
- For devices where Home Assistant provides a native integration (with local API), Matter may not be the best option, as it may lack some functionality that the native Home Assistant integration have, so you better test and choose for yourself.
Now if you’re looking to start or expand your smart home, the next thing you should do is to register for my upcoming Home Assistant webinar by using the link or QR code below
it is all free!
Thanks for reading. I’m Kiril and I will see you next week again. Bye