What is Matter: Definition and Overview
Smart home market has a variety of underlying communication connection protocols, such as Ethernet, Zigbee, Thread, Wi-Fi, Z-wave, etc. They have their own advantages in connection stability, power consumption and other aspects, and can be adapted to different types of devices (such as Wi-Fi for large electrical appliances, Zigbee for small power devices, etc.). Devices using different underlying communication protocols cannot communicate with each other (device-to-device or within a LAN).
According to the 5GAI Industrial research Association for smart home products in the user dissatisfaction of the survey report shows that the complex operation accounted for 52%, the system compatibility difference reached 23%. It can be seen that the compatibility problem has affected the actual user experience.
Therefore, some leading manufacturers (Apple, Xiaomi and Huawei) start from the application layer protocol to build a unified platform. Products of other manufacturers can be compatible with their own products as long as they are certified by the platform, and the restriction of product interconnection can be achieved only when the consistency of the underlying protocol is broken. As Apple introduces HomeKit system, a third-party intelligent device is compatible with Apple’s product through the HomeKit Accessory Protocol (HAP). However, there are the following problems with manufacturer dominance:
1. The purpose of manufacturers to promote the unified platform is to build a protective wall of their own products, force more users to choose their own system products, create advantageous barriers, resulting in a situation of multi-manufacturer platforms, which is not conducive to the development of the overall industry;
2. At present, there is a threshold for platform access of Apple, Xiaomi and other manufacturers. For example, the price of Apple homekit is high; Xiaomi’s Mijia devices are cost-effective but weak in enhancements and customization.
As a result, the matter protocol was created in the context of strong demand from both the industry and the user side. In late December 2019, led by intelligent giants such as Amazon, Apple and Google, a working group was jointly promoted to establish a unified standard agreement (Project CHIP). In May 2021, the working group was renamed the CSA Connectivity Standards Alliance and the CHIP project was renamed matter. In October 2022, the CSA Alliance officially launched matter 1.0 and showcases devices already compatible with the matter standard, including smart sockets, door locks, lighting, gateways, chip platforms and related applications.
Compared with existing protocols, Matter has the following advantages:
1. Wider versatility. Devices using protocols such as Wi-Fi and Thread can develop standard application layer protocol, Matter protocol, on the basis of underlying protocols to realize interconnection between any devices.
2. More stable and secure. Matter protocol ensures that user data is stored only on the device through end-to-end communication and local area network control.
3. Unified standards. A set of standard authentication mechanism and device operation commands to ensure simple and unified operation of different devices.
The emergence of Matter is of great value to the smart home industry. For manufacturers, it can reduce the complexity of their smart home equipment and reduce the development cost. For users, it can realize interconnection of intelligent products and compatibility with the ecosystem, greatly improving user experience. For the whole-house smart industry, Matter is expected to push global smart home brands to reach a consensus, move from individual to ecological interconnection, and jointly develop open and unified global standards to promote market development.