You might have questioned why some smart home devices are compatible with your setup while others aren’t. In that case, you should know about the matter, the latest wireless interoperability standard that could shake up the industry.

The artist formerly known as “Project CHIP” has been working on this, with corporations like Apple, Google, Amazon, Samsung, and Zigbee at its core and the result is the polished, formalized brand, Matter.

Soon, the big names behind the protocol will start selling their products in the newly unified state. That will affect consumers, no matter what.

What does matter mean?

With the imminent release of matter smart home, a universal networking protocol, smart home accessories will be compatible with all of the most popular systems. The Matter label is not yet available, but once it is, it will eliminate the need to check whether or not smart home devices, such as light bulbs, are compatible with services like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit.

More than that, Matter devices can work together to make a mesh network where connecting to the cloud is not required but can be done if users want to. The matter is an IP-based technology, but essential smart home functions like turning lights on and off should work whether or not accessories can connect to the internet or you have a dedicated hub or bridge. It would be best to have the internet and a Matter hub to control a home remotely. However, if you’re at home, you should be able to maintain and update Matter accessories with just your phone.

What about Standards for Other Smart Homes?

Zigbee, Z-Wave, Samsung Smart Things, Wi-Fi HaLow, and Insteon are just a few of the protocols that pave the way to a truly connected and smart home. Protocols like these and others will still exist and work. The matter will be a combination of Google’s Thread and Weave technologies. 

The matter isn’t just one kind of technology and it should change and get better over time. There will be gaps in its applicability; hence new protocols will need to be developed. The more platforms and standards merge with the matter, the more likely it is to be successful, but it also becomes harder to make everything work together smoothly.

What happens to the smart home devices we already have?

The most important question is what this means for you and your smart home. We’ve talked about how matter promises to make it easier to choose between ecosystems and new devices, but what about your old ones? Do they have any help?

Well, this depends on their hardware, which is a shame. New devices running on Wi-Fi or Thread should eventually upgrade to matter through a software update or a bridge.

Klein of Z-Wave told The Verge that it’s unlikely that devices will be upgrading because IPv6 requires a lot of software for most products. The good news is that the hubs these devices use to talk to each other will likely be upgraded or connected.