From Central Hall to The Venetian, Matter was the buzzword throughout CES 2023 this year, with most companies even remotely connected to the smart home loudly discussing their Matter plans (although a few were more subdued). The new smart home standard was featured in several keynotes and displayed prominently in smart home device makers’ booths as well as in Google, Amazon, and Samsung’s big, showy displays.
More importantly, dozens of companies and manufacturers announced specific plans. Several companies said they would update entire product lines, while others announced new ones, sometimes with actual dates and prices. And Matter controllers have become a major thing, with at least four brand-new ones debuting at CES. Interestingly, nearly all of them have a dual or triple function, helping banish the specter of seemingly pointless white hubs stuck in your router closet.
Its undeniable momentum at the biggest consumer tech show of the year is one reason we named Matter The Verge’s “best in show” for CES 2023. And here, we’ve rounded up all the announcements from the show that, well, matter.
In case you missed it, Matter is an open-source interoperability standard that allows smart home devices from any manufacturer to talk to other devices directly and locally with no need to use the cloud. This should make the smart home easier to set up, simpler to use, and more reliable to run. Matter works over the protocols Thread, Wi-Fi, and ethernet and has been jointly developed by Apple, Google, Samsung, Amazon, and pretty much every other smart home brand you can name, big or small.
If a device supports Matter, it will work locally with Amazon Alexa, Samsung SmartThings, Apple Home, Google Home, and any other smart home platform that supports Matter. It will also be controllable by any of the four voice assistants.
Matter should make the smart home easier to set up, simpler to use, and more reliable to run.
However, Matter is still totally unproven, as there are very few devices anyone can actually get their hands on to test, so there is a lot of speculation still as to just how effective it will be. Plus, the initial Matter rollout since the launch in November has been complicated.
The big four have turned on Matter support on their platforms, but Amazon’s approach has been piecemeal, and aside from Apple, nobody supports onboarding devices to Matter on iOS yet.
However, that is shifting: at CES, Amazon announced a full rollout by spring, and Samsung’s Jaeyeon Jung told The Verge that Matter support is coming to its iOS app this month. There’s still no news on Matter support in Google Home’s iOS app. Then there’s the whole competing Thread network issue, although that sounds like it will be resolved sooner rather than later.
If all of these companies continue their support of Matter, then these early teething problems shouldn’t be more than that. After all, the rollout of a new wireless standard is never going to be easy. Just ask the Wi-Fi Alliance and Bluetooth Special Interest Group, which both sent representatives to the Connectivity Standards Alliance’s CES Matter party to show their support (and maybe sympathize).
And the following cascade of announcements includes dozens of new products, so the Matter device drought should be over soon — although, judging by most of these ship dates, not until at least the second half of 2023.
Matter updates coming to existing products
- Amazon will update its Echo 4th-Gen smart speaker to be a Thread border router this spring and will expand its Matter support to more device types — including thermostats, blinds, and sensors in addition to light bulbs, plugs, and switches. All of its remaining compatible Eero and Echo devices and its iOS Alexa app will also become fully compatible with Matter in the spring. (Currently, you can control Matter devices with the Alexa app on iOS, but you can only onboard them using the Android app.)
- Leviton announced Matter support for its entire lineup of Wi-Fi light switches and plugs via a firmware upgrade later this year, starting with the Decora Smart Wi-Fi dimmer and switch. The remaining products will get their turn later this year.
- Lockly announced the Flex Touch Pro, a retrofit door lock with a built-in fingerprint sensor. Lee Zheng, CEO and founder of Lockly, told The Verge that Lockly’s entire line of fingerprint-reader Wi-Fi smart locks will receive an over-the-air update to support Matter later this year. That includes the Lockly Vision Elite and the Lockly Secure Pro.
- Twinkly, of smart holiday lighting fame, announced its new entertainment mirroring app. The Entertainment Hub desktop app lets you sync visuals and audio to any Twinkly lights. Andrea Tellatin, CEO at Twinkly, told The Verge that it will make Matter updates available on all of its existing Wi-Fi smart lighting products and build Matter support into its new products. The next product to be released will be more budget-friendly RGB string lights called Twinkly Candies. These feature fun ball-, star-, and candle-shaped LEDs and are expected to launch in fall 2023. They will cost $49 per string and will ship without USB-C power adapters to keep prices down.
- Eve announced its Matter-enabled Thread products will arrive March 28th. The Eve Door and Window contact sensor, Eve Energy smart plug, and Eve Motion sensor will work with Matter out of the box. The company also announced that its Eve MotionBlinds will be upgraded to Matter in late Q1. Also on March 28th, Eve will launch the Eve MotionBlinds Upgrade Kit for Roller Blinds plus new smart honeycomb and Venetian blinds. Matter support will come to all the MotionBlinds products in Q1. The Venetian blinds are interesting because they’ll be the first smart slatted blinds that can raise and lower remotely rather than just tilt.
- Lock manufacturer Yale confirmed that its Thread module has received Matter certification and should be coming soon. You can sign up here to be notified. The module can be inserted into the company’s Yale Assure Lock and Yale Assure Lock 2 lines (except for the Lever Lock) and turn them into Matter-compatible locks.
- Smart lighting manufacturer Yeelight announced its new Cube Smart Lamp with Matter support as well as new products for its Yeelight Pro smart lighting series, which will support Matter with an over-the-air update before Q2 2023. Yeelight also announced an automatic curtain opener, which won’t work with Matter at launch.
New Matter devices announced at CES
- Aqara — whose smart home hub will be updated to support Matter this month — unveiled a new Presence Sensor FP2 ($60, coming Q2), T1 LED light strip, and U100 smart door lock ($160 to $200, Q2). The company also showed off the G4 video doorbell ($120, February). Aqara said all of these devices will support Matter when their respective device types are added to the Matter spec. The company’s Thread-based P2 door / window contact sensor and P2 motion / light sensor will also work with Matter and were on display at CES and are slated for release in early 2023. No pricing has been announced.
- Nanoleaf announced its first Thread-based smart switches, which will be Matter compatible. The Sense Plus Smart Light Switch and Sense Plus Smart Wireless Light Switch will work with the new Nala Bridge, which is also a Thread border router and a motion sensor / night light. The company’s new Nanoleaf Skylight modular ceiling panel is also Matter compatible over Wi-Fi and can act as a Thread border router. Nanoleaf confirmed its Matter-enabled, Thread-powered Essentials light bulbs and light strips will arrive in Q1 and that it will be upgrading its existing modular light panels and light bars (Shapes, Elements, Canvas, and Lines) to Matter.
- GE Lighting confirmed it will produce Matter-compatible A19 Cync Full Color Direct Connect Smart Bulbs and Cync Indoor Smart Plugs later this year, but it will not upgrade existing devices to support Matter. While it does plan to bring more Matter-compatible products to market this year, its new Dynamic Effects products, announced at CES and coming later this year, won’t have Matter support at launch.
This is because Matter doesn’t currently support the type of dynamic lighting effects that are the main feature of the lights. Patrick Miltner of GE Lighting told The Verge that the company might change that plan if and when Matter supports more advanced lighting functions. He also said it could upgrade all of the existing Direct Connect Cync lighting products to Matter with an over-the-air firmware update and will evaluate the benefit of doing that as Matter support rolls out more broadly across the industry.
- TP-Link announced it will release a Matter-enabled Tapo P125M Mini Smart Plug, Kasa KP125M smart plug, Tapo S505D Smart Dimmer Switch, Tapo P306 Smart Wi-Fi Outlet Extender, and the Tapo L535E Multicolor Smart Light Bulb in 2023. (Yeah, I still don’t get the difference between the Tapo and Kasa brands, either.)
- Smart lighting company Govee introduced its first Matter-compatible product, the Govee LED Strip Light M1. It also confirmed it will release new products that support Matter this year but will not upgrade its existing line of smart color-changing lighting products.
- Sengled announced it will release a new Matter version of its multicolor A19 smart bulb in Q1 of this year. Ted Zhang, vice president of Sengled, US market, told The Verge that the company’s current A19 bulbs will not be upgradable to Matter, but the company does plan to release more Matter-compatible products later this year. Pricing for the A19 Matter bulb will be approximately $14.99 for a one-pack and around $27.99 for a two-pack, he said.
New Matter controllers that launched at CES
Matter controllers are required to onboard and control smart home devices in Matter. There are already a lot of Matter controllers out there — including 17 of Amazon’s Echo devices, Apple’s HomePod Mini and Apple TV line, and Google’s Nest Hub smart displays and Nest speakers. Some Matter controllers are also Thread border routers and can onboard Thread devices to Matter; others work over Wi-Fi only.
- Samsung was all in on Matter at CES, with nearly its entire booth dedicated to its SmartThings platform and a large section featuring the launch of its $60 SmartThings Station. This is a SmartThings hub that supports Matter and Thread and doubles as a 15W fast wireless charging pad for Galaxy smartphones and earbuds. You can read more about it in our first look / early hands-on here.
- Samsung also confirmed its Family Hub fridge line will be updated to be a Matter-over-Wi-Fi controller this month. 2022 Samsung TVs and monitors will get the update in March, and the SmartThings Hub Dongle — which is designed to work with Samsung fridges and TVs to add Thread and Zigbee support — will be updated in the first quarter of this year. However, the TVs and fridges will not be Matter devices, so they won’t be controllable by other Matter apps and platforms.
- Starting this year, new Samsung products, including TVs, monitors, and smart fridges, will support Matter, Zigbee, and Thread natively. The company is building a SmartThings Zigbee and Matter / Thread One-Chip Module into all of its products, so you won’t need the separate SmartThings dongle.
- Other TV manufacturers announced or reconfirmed support for Matter as a controller in their 2023 and newer TVs, including LG through its new webOS 23 operating system and Hisense, which joined the CSA and said it plans to bring Matter support to products in 2023, including Hisense and Toshiba televisions.
- SwitchBot has a new Matter-enabled hub — the SwitchBot Hub 2 — coming in March for $69. The Wi-Fi-based hub will bridge SwitchBot Bluetooth devices to Matter, starting with the SwitchBot door lock, curtain controller, and SwitchBot Bot devices. In keeping with the trend for hubs to be multipurpose devices, the Hub 2 is also a temperature and humidity sensor with a large LED display.
- The second-generation Mui Board, scheduled for release later this year, will support Matter as a controller over Wi-Fi for select devices, including lights. Preorders for the new Mui Board will begin this June through Kickstarter for $599. Devices should ship in November.
- The Homey Pro smart home hub is allegedly finally coming to the US in Q1, with support for Wi-Fi, BLE, Zigbee, Z-Wave, 433MHz, and infrared at launch. Matter and Thread support are scheduled for Q2 (Matter) and Q3 (Thread). Homey says the Homey Pro will act as a bridge to bring any non-Matter device into Matter (as long as it’s a device type supported by Matter). You can preorder it for $399 now, with shipping slated for February.
- TP-Link showed off its first smart home hub — the Homebase Tapo H900 (no pricing or release date). The triangular orange device works as a Matter controller and a Thread border router. The hub also supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and is designed to control Tapo smart home devices. It doubles as a video storage device for Tapo cameras and also works as a stand / charger for a tablet, similar to Google’s upcoming charging speaker dock. This should allow you to access the Tapo app and control your smart home directly from the hub.
What’s next for Matter?
For Matter to work, it needs mass adoption in the tech industry, and not every company is jumping in with both feet. A few are dipping an early toe in, while others are putting their feet up and waiting to see what the standard can really do for them. A handful have had very little to say at all.
Also, some companies that suggested they could offer Matter updates for existing products have walked that back. That’s in part because the Matter spec changed and in part because of the complexity of sending a firmware update to customers’ devices that removes existing integrations and makes them have to re-pair it with all of their smart home services (something Eve had to deal with during its rollout of firmware updates last year).
GE Lighting’s Miltner told The Verge at CES that the company doesn’t see the use in updating existing products to Matter as “it will break their existing functions.” Customers will have to reset devices to work with their favorite platforms. However, looking forward, Miltner sees the value. “It’s one specification for every single product; it’s the massive piece the smart home has been missing for so long.” Once Matter hits critical mass, he believes there will be plenty of benefits for GE Lighting and its customers.
A number of companies are taking this wait-and-see approach. “It benefits Schlage more to wait to see how things are going to come out first,” Paul Wilkie, a spokesperson from lock manufacturer Schlage, told The Verge. “That’s not to say that there’s not already something in development — it’s clear that there is something in development. But we are waiting to see how everything congeals over the next year.”
He pointed out that it’s one thing for smart lighting and plug manufacturers to jump on a new bandwagon, but for a device that secures your home like a lock, it’s important to make sure people are ready for the new tech.
“It’s one specification for every single product; it’s the massive piece the smart home has been missing for so long.” – Patrick Miltner
While Matter wasn’t designed to leave existing smart home devices behind, it’s appearing more likely the most benefit will be for the future smart home rather than the past or present one. “We have a go-forward strategy for Matter,” Tobin Richardson, president of the CSA, which manages the Matter standard, confirmed to The Verge. “Moving forward, Matter solves a lot of compatibility issues, but in terms of backward compatibility, not every device will be upgradeable. You may just be doing it through a gateway.” He says that should be a straightforward process if manufacturers upgrade their bridges.
For those of you with robust smart home setups that you want to bring into Matter, bridging is going to be the most reliable route for backward compatibility. There aren’t a lot of solutions yet, but a few companies — including Aqara and Philips Hue — have announced their platforms will support bridging into Matter.
It’s also likely we’ll see dedicated bridges coming out that can bring Z-Wave and other products with proprietary protocols into Matter. Silicon Labs announced a new Unify SDK that will provide both a hardware and software solution for manufacturers to do exactly this.
One company for whom bridging would make a lot of sense is Lutron, with its popular Caseta smart lighting line of switches and plugs. Adam Mack of Lutron Electronics told The Verge that while the company is a member of the CSA and is watching the rollout carefully, it has no announcements around adding support for the standard to its product line. Which, to be fair, is one of the most interoperable and reliable smart home products on the market today.
It’s also clear that Matter needs to step up its support for more functions and device types. Currently, only basic functions are supported. Lights, locks, sensors, etc., will have basic control capabilities: on / off; lock / unlock; motion / no motion; brighten / dim. But Matter doesn’t support advanced features such as dynamic lighting effects, adaptive lighting, shared access codes for door locks, and energy management for smart plugs.
Those who want to use those features will need to either choose a platform that supports them (for example, the Apple Home app supports adaptive lighting) or use the manufacturer’s app for that function (for example, the Eve app supports energy management for the Eve Energy plug).
We are also waiting on new device types to be supported in Matter. Initially, there will be support for light bulbs and light switches, plugs and outlets, door locks, thermostats, blinds and shades, sensors (motion and contact), bridges, and TVs.
The CSA told The Verge that its next release, slated for spring, will include support for battery performance (so you can keep track of battery life or devices such as sensors), white goods home appliances (such as fridges, washing machines), and robot vacuums. But cameras and garage door controllers, which were previously announced as coming next, look like they’re still going to be a while.
“I have to remind them all that while monetization is important, this is building a market, not a way to shut others out.” – Tobin Richardson
There are also a number of categories in the initial Matter spec with few or no actual products announced, like thermostats, for example. There’s the Nest Thermostat (new) and a couple of radiator options that have been promised. But none of these have been updated yet and no timeline has been given. The Verge spoke with Ecobee CEO Stuart Lombard, who confirmed that its line of smart thermostats will support Matter but wouldn’t give any further details. Previously, the company has said its thermostats could be upgraded to Matter with a firmware update and could support Thread. Amazon hasn’t said if its smart thermostat will be upgraded.
So, what is the biggest challenge for Matter now that it’s had its big public debut and seemingly passed its big CES test? “The complexity can be a concern,” Richardson, of the CSA, told The Verge. “What we’re trying to do is straightforward. How IoT happens can sometimes be so complex and confusing that consumers back away.”
If every company continues to be invested in Matter and “doesn’t back into proprietary shells,” Richardson feels confident Matter will achieve all it set out to do. However, “the commercial teams are now coming in and looking for the differentiations,” he said. “I have to remind them all that while monetization is important, this is building a market, not a way to shut others out.”
Matter may not be the solution to the smart home’s challenges that every company wanted. But it is the solution they got. Now, we wait and see if it’s the solution they can actually deliver.
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