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What is the Matter smart home standard and why does it matter?

Adam Dunkels Adam Dunkels Follow Mar 20, 2023 · 4 mins read
What is the Matter smart home standard and why does it matter?
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Smart homes are becoming more and more popular. However, with so many different devices and protocols available, it can be tricky make all devices in a home compatible and to work together. Both as a user and as a product manufacturer. That’s where the Matter smart home standard comes in.

Matter, which was once known as Project CHIP (Connected Home over IP), is a collaborative effort between leading technology companies including Apple, Google, Amazon, and many hardware vendors such as Silicon Labs, Nordic Semiconductor, and Espressif. The Matter standard is driven by the organization Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA), which was previously known as the Zigbee Alliance. Its goal is to create a unified standard for smart home devices that can work together seamlessly, regardless of brand or ecosystem.

One of the cool things with Matter is that the source code is open source and can be used an viewed by anyone. The source code tree is available on github. This does not mean that anyone can build and sell a Matter device though – Matter devices must be certified by the Matter consortium to ensure standards compliance. And product manufacturers need to be a member of the Connectivity Standards Alliance. Also, when a Matter device is first connected to a network, its manufacturer’s crypto signature is verified to ensure that the device is genuine.

How is Matter different from existing standards like Zigbee or HomeKit?

Compared to existing smart home standards like Zigbee and Apple HomeKit, the Matter smart home standard is designed to be more open and interoperable across different brands and ecosystems. While Zigbee has been a popular standard for smart home devices, it requires custom development for each ecosystem and can be challenging to integrate with other devices. Apple HomeKit, on the other hand, is a closed ecosystem that only works with Apple devices and requires manufacturers to pay a licensing fee to use the technology.

In contrast, the idea behind the Matter standard is that it is designed to be more flexible and open, allowing for easier integration between devices from different brands and ecosystems. It uses widely adopted technologies like Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Thread, and Bluetooth Low Energy, making it easier for manufacturers to develop devices that can work with a variety of smart home ecosystems. Additionally, the Matter standard is not controlled by a single company, but rather a consortium of leading technology companies, which helps ensure that it remains an open and collaborative effort.

Benefits for the consumer and for product manufacturers

One of the main benefits that the Matter group states is the ease of use for consumers. With devices that adhere to the standard, users can set up and control their smart home devices with a single app or voice assistant. This eliminates the need for multiple apps and bridges, simplifying the smart home experience.

For product manufacturers, the Matter standard offers a streamlined development process. By adhering to the standard, manufacturers can ensure compatibility with a wide range of smart home ecosystems, reducing the need for custom development and integration work.

Networking technologies used by Matter devices

The Matter standard uses a variety of networking technologies, including Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Thread, and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). This allows devices to communicate with each other and with the user’s home network in a variety of ways, depending on the device’s capabilities and the user’s preferences.

Devices that adhere to the Matter standard are connected to the network via a Bluetooth setup process. Once connected, they can communicate with other devices on the network using the standard’s communication protocols.

Is the cloud needed?

In terms of cloud connectivity, devices that adhere to the Matter standard are not required to have an internet connection or a cloud backend. However, cloud connectivity usually offers benefits such as remote control and monitoring, as well as the ability to integrate with other cloud-based services.

Product manufacturers do not need to integrate with any specific cloud provider, but can choose to use their own cloud. Or they can build on top of any of the existing cloud providers’ products.

The benefits of cloud connectivity include the ability to control devices remotely, receive notifications and alerts, and integrate with other cloud-based services. However, there are also potential drawbacks to cloud connectivity, including privacy and security concerns, reliance on a stable internet connection, and the possibility of service interruptions.


In conclusion, the Matter smart home standard offers a simplified, streamlined experience for both consumers and product manufacturers. By adhering to the standard, users can enjoy seamless integration between devices and ecosystems, while manufacturers can reduce development time and costs. With a variety of networking technologies and communication protocols, devices can be connected to the network and communicate with each other in a variety of ways. While cloud connectivity is not required, it can offer additional benefits and convenience for users, but also has potential drawbacks that should be carefully considered.

Adam Dunkels
Written by Adam Dunkels Follow
I am Adam Dunkels, IoT consultant. I build exceptional IoT products together with my customers. I am known for being the original author of the lwIP stack, the guy behind the Contiki OS, and the creator of protothreads, among other things.

Want my help to build your next connected IoT product? Get in touch!