Home Automation 101: What Is Matter in Simple Terms?

Something known as Matter is all the rage in home automation circles these days. Matter has the tech culture fantasizing about a fully animated world in which a typical smart home anticipates its owner’s needs ahead of time and makes sure everything is taken care of – without the need for any human interaction. But is this really possible? And what is Matter, exactly?

Unfortunately, most of the discussions about Matter are written in technical terms the average person does not understand. That is unfortunate. Matter could end up being the most important project in home automation this century. It certainly has the ability to change everything we know about home automation, much the same way the USB port turned personal computing on its head 25 years ago.

A Proprietary and Fractured Market

To fully understand Matter, you first need to know why it was developed in the first place. Over the last decade or so, home automation has grown exponentially. But the market has remained fractured due to a strict emphasis on proprietary technologies. It is no different than the personal computing market of the 1980s and ’90s.

Home automation leaders like Amazon, Google, and Apple all develop their proprietary devices in hopes of eventually dominating the market. But without such domination, we are left with a variety of devices and software platforms that do not work together. Google has created its own exclusive ecosystem. So have Apple, Amazon, Samsung, and all the rest.

Matter is an attempt to rectify the situation by providing standards manufacturers can adhere to without giving up proprietary differences, making it possible for any platform or device to communicate with any other.

Matter Is a Communication Standard

Let us say you have a Google device and an Amazon device that are incompatible with one another. What’s the problem? The two devices cannot communicate. They speak different languages. You could solve the problem by investing in a home automation system from Vivint Smart Home. Vivint systems support both Google and Amazon devices. But what if you wanted to add a device that Vivint doesn’t support? You are right back where you started.

Matter steps in between all those devices to provide a standard communication and conductivity protocol. Think of it in terms of human language. English is the standard language for international politics, business, and education. Yet hundreds of native languages are still spoken around the world. English is a standard that brings people together in a global setting. Outside of that setting, other languages continue to serve their respective speakers as they always have.

That’s what Matter does for home automation. It provides a centralized standard through which devices from virtually any manufacturer can communicate. Within their own ecosystems, devices from the same manufacturer can continue communicating through proprietary means.

The Rise of the Home Automation Interface

Matter is the result of a consortium of home automation companies working together to create a standard. At the current time, more than 550 manufacturers have devices that adhere to the standard. So how do these companies set themselves apart? With their interfaces.

Matter will usher in a new era of home automation interfaces. Once communication protocols are no longer an issue, providers will work on creating the most intuitive and productive interface on the market. The interface landscape will be where big names like Google and Amazon compete for market share.

One last thing to know about Matter is that it is open source. It can be freely adopted and modified by anyone, free of charge. No wonder it is taking over the home automation space.

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