Samsung Announces New Matter Functionality
Samsung Electronics is implementing Matter into its SmartThings experience. This update allows users to connect Matter devices to SmartThings - making smart home connections easier. SmartThings hubs will receive an over-the-air update, along with the app, if they haven't already.
Samsung has been a major contributor to the development of Matter protocols and was one of the early companies to become Matter Certified.
WHAT IS MATTER?
For readers who are not familiar, what exactly is Matter? The goal of Matter is to be the go-to smart home operability standard, allowing all smart home gadgets and set up to be connected and functional, essentially creating a universal communication method. The IP-based tech provides a common language that allows smart devices to communicate without relying on cloud connection. Matter is not the same as a Home platform such as Apple HomeKit or Google Home - It doesn't automate or control; it simply provides clear communication pathways.
The goal is that in the future, any Matter Certified device can easily incorporate into a Matter Smart Home.
How does it work?
The perks of Matter is that it works without the need for hubs, bridges, and clouds, working entirely locally using Thread and WiFi protocols. Matter is designed to keep working, even if the internet goes down, while local control features allow for a step up in maintaining home privacy.
Matter needs a WiFi access point and controller, which could be a smartphone or tablet. A thread border can also work with a preferred smart home ecosystem such as the Samsung SmartThings Hub.
What is Thread?
Thread is a vital part of Matter technology. Similarly to Zwave and Zigbee, Thread is a low-power mesh networking protocol that offers speed and reliability. While this may sound the same as other technology, Thread is a little different than others. Thread was specifically designed to be used in SmartHome ecosystems, unlike things like Bluetooth or WiFi that were intended for other things and then co-opted into the smart home sphere.
Thread isn't another box that plugs into a router - Thread devices are flexible. The tech can be implemented into any device with an always-on power supply and can be placed just about anywhere. They may be battery-powered or wall-connected, with the latter giving the option for a Thread border router - a bridge between WiFi and Thread. For example, users could use smart plugs, smart speakers, smart thermostats, WiFi access points, or even a Smart TV or fridge for this purpose.
What makes Matter different than other systems?
Zigbee, ZWave, Bluetooth and WiFi have all been around for a while, and they're familiar tech - what makes Matter any different? Matter has backing from many major brands, and a lot of the industry is on board with the Connectivity Standards Alliance, allowing for collaboration and consistency. More than 400 companies are members of the alliance, with 210 directly involved in the development, including Amazon, Apple, Google, Nest, Samsung, and more.
WHAT DOES MATTER MEAN FOR USERS?
With all of that in mind, what does this new Era mean for Samsung SmartThings and users? Simply put, it could mean a more effortless, seamless smart home experience. SmartThings users can now control their Matter devices from a single app rather than using multiple different apps from different manufacturers. Additionally, TVs, Family Hub fridges and other devices will be updated to support Matter control.
Matter Controller Support is said to begin with the second and third generations of the SmartThings hub, along with the Aeotec Smart Home Hub. V2 hubs will control Matter over WiFi or ethernet and cannot be upgraded to Thread, while current hubs and the Smart Home Dongle will act as thread border routers. Aeotec will make V3 Hubs, and the Samsung appliances and dongle for SmartThings software hubs will also become Thread Borders. Additionally, compatible Samsung Smart TVs or fridges will immediately activate as Matter controllers with Thread borders through the dongle once the update takes place.
It's worth mentioning that the SmartThings Hubs will not be able to bridge Zigbee and ZWave into Matter. However, the upgraded hub will still support the protocols.
WHAT COMES NEXT?
Given the breadth of the SmartThings line, users are asking what's next now that Matter is being introduced. According to Samsung, Matter-certified products will be rolled out across brands, including Google Nest, Eve Systems, Yale, and more, over the next few months and years to kickstart that Matter smart home system.
In addition to the Matter implementation, Samsung also announced an expanded partnership with Google to boost multi-admin support, their Matter control feature, with better interoperability and improved usability.
This Matter implementation is sure to bring changes to the SmartThings Smart Home and could influence other lines in the future, so keep an eye out for those updates and Matter-related news.
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