When it comes, Matter will bring the biggest leap forward yet for smart home deployments and is shaping up to be a foundational technology for smarter offices, factories and work spaces, according to executives from Eve Systems.
Making homes (and offices) smart without the friction
Eve today introduced a new version of its popular indoor air quality monitor, Eve Room. The improved product adds support for HomeKit over Thread and is the 10th Eve product to support Thread.
And why that matters is because Thread is one of the natively supported standards in Matter, the protocol backed and developed by Apple, Google, Amazon, Samsung, Eve and 200 other companies from across the industry.
The company will introduce a Thread-enabled motor to control blinds and shades in January and plans to support for Thread across all its devices early in 2022.
“Thread has been a spectacular success for us, and in a not-too-distant future a Thread network in your house will be just as common as Wi-Fi,” Eve Systems CEO Jerome Gackel, told me.
He calls the decision to deploy Thread devices is a “future-proof” decision that means the smart homes built today will work with other devices and platforms using Matter tomorrow. (Gackel expects the new standard to launch around June 2022.)
The company also confirmed plans to introduce an outdoor camera that supports HomeKit Secure Video at CES in 2022, a companion product to its existing indoor camera that also supports Apple’s protected CCTV standard.
What are Thread and Matter?
Matter/Thread are industry standard smart home networking solutions that solve some of the biggest challenges of deploying connected devices. At present, consumers need to use Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to maintain networks of these devices in their offices or homes — and neither of those standards is good at handling dozens of devices.
Another challenge to smart device deployment is platform incompatibility. We have numerous devices available, and while some work with some platforms, they don’t with others. HomeKit, for example, is hampered by a lack of available products for the platform. You can purchase a smart device that demands direct access to its manufacturer’s cloud service before you can implement any kind of automation, and some solutions work fine with (say) a Google hub but won’t work with Alexa or HomeKit. This creates a lot of confusion in the market.
Such confusion also affects industry.
Think about smart water and electricity meters. In the first wave, these were installed all over the place at some cost, but different vendors used incompatible technologies. It meant that many of the sought-after benefits of these systems were never realized.
That’s what happens when industries evolve without standards.
Easing friction, one standard at a time
This kind of confusion is easily solved with Thread and Matter. The latter is IP-based, while the former acts as a kind of mesh network between devices that lets all present communicate reliably with the home control hub (a HomePod or Apple TV in Apple’s implementation).
The fact that Thread and Matter both create their own mesh network to help devices communicate is also a huge advantage, as it reduces the issues you might encounter when using them on Wi-Fi.
Look beyond the smart home and you’ll find Thread is already in use in some industrial and IoT applications, with many building firms looking to deploy the tech in new construction.
Gackel believes there is an emerging opportunity to create smart solutions for offices based on Thread and Matter. There’s a case for this to happen: When people began using smartphones, they soon insisted on using them at work; he thinks people will want the same connected convenience they enjoy at home to be made available to them in the office.
Thread and Matter will make that far more possible.
Simple complexity takes work
It’s not easy to connect smart devices from multiple manufacturers to enable them to work across multiple platforms.
As Eve Systems explains: “Thread is based on the universally deployed Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) standard, making it extremely robust. A Thread network does not rely on a central hub, such as a bridge, so there’s no single point of failure. And Thread has the ability to self-heal – if one node (or accessory in your Thread network) becomes unavailable, the data packets will select an alternate route automatically and the network simply continues to work.”
The privacy thing
Eve has another advantage in the smarthome space.
While many manufacturers in this space rely on some form of cloud service, Eve does not. Like Apple, Eve believes in limiting the quantity of data collected by smart devices, which is why both companies have such a happy coexistence on HomeKit.
Eve’s solutions already work privately, and the company believes that once Matter is released, it will be able to attract non-Apple users to its solutions because it promises privacy.
Eve is part of the early adopter programs for Google, Samsung, and Amazon, so its products should work happily once Matter is released. Eve has always worked closely with Apple.
“We think Matter will push the space forward because it removes so much friction and makes for easy-to-use products. It will lay the foundation for the smart home, and means companies like ourselves can focus on delivering really good products,” said Gackel.
I think these standards will also unlock deployments across the enterprise, enabling even smaller concerns to begin to realize the benefits of on-site IoT.
Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.