Amazon wants every smart home device to work with its Alexa ecosystem, and it says that Matter is the key to achieving that goal. Marja Koopman, director of Alexa Smart Home, said, “We truly believe in ambient intelligence – an environment where your devices are woven together by artificial intelligence to offer far more than any other device ” ledge in an interview.
“Matter brings interoperability, and is essential for realizing interoperability between all those devices in the home.” [our] The perspective of ambient intelligence. The more devices that can talk to each other, the more “experience” the platform can create with them. For example, “If I leave the house and I forget to turn off the lights or adjust my thermostat, Alexa will do that for me, including closing the doors,” Koopmans says.
Matter is a new standard coming to a smart home near you later this year. This will allow connected devices to communicate using existing IP-based wireless protocol threads and Wi-Fi. It’s not a smart home platform like Apple HomeKit, Google Home or Amazon’s Alexa. So, you’ll still have to choose one of these platforms to run your Matter-enabled devices, but you’re not limited to one.
Apple, Amazon, Google and Samsung are embracing Matter because it allows any device to work on their smart home platform, regardless of who built it, and requires no special platform-specific programming on the part of the developer. Without it. If it works with Matter, it’ll just work—at least, for the device categories Matter will initially support: smart lighting, plugs, locks, sensors, thermostats, shades/blinds, and Wi-Fi routers.
Of course, that means those devices “just work” on their competitors’ platforms as well. You’ll be able to pair devices on multiple platforms at once and then control them with any matter controller. The matter controller can be a smart display or speaker, a voice assistant or a smartphone app. As an example, this means that if you pair a Matter device using Alexa, you’ll also be able to control it from Apple’s HomeKit or Google Home.
But the theory is that with an equal playing field, each platform believes it can provide the best “experience” for the customer. And if they don’t, you can switch all your Miter devices to another platform – without hours of tedious effort – and test drive that one.
Can We Have More Matter Devices?
For all this to work, there must be a lot of matter devices. At its Alexa Live developer event this week, Amazon announced a slew of tools and features to help developers make devices matter, as Google did at I/O, Apple at WWDC, and Samsung at SDC. And these tools will help developers build Matter-enabled devices that work with every platform, not just Alexa.
Koopmans stressed that Amazon is also helping developers add mater compatibility to existing products through bridging. “The case is not another protocol reset,” she says. “Customers do not need to replace their existing equipment; Matter is designed to build on investments already made by customers and device-makers.”
Another great promise of the Matter standard is to simplify the smart home experience, making it much easier to add devices to your smart home. On this front, Amazon touts its frustration free setup process, which automatically pairs a device as soon as it’s powered on — no pairing required.
Amazon says it donated FFS to the Matter SDK as an option for developers. Sengled and TP-Link are using it in their matter-over-Wi-Fi devices, and Eve and Nanoleaf are using it in their matter-over-thread devices. “By adding FFS directly to the Matter SDK, it means developers don’t need an Amazon-specific SDK at all,” Koopman explained. Eve is particularly noteworthy here: Until Matter became a reality, its products only worked with Apple HomeKit.
A new Ambient Home Dev Kit lets device makers tap deeper into Alexa’s capabilities to create more of those “experiences” Koopman says will help differentiate Alexa’s platform. These include a new Home State API with Home, Vacation, Dinner Time and Sleep modes that can keep smart devices in sync.
Currently, you can run an Alexa routine or tell Alexa “I’m leaving” to shut your door, turn down your thermostat, turn off your lights, and shut down your security system. But with the new home states, Koopmans says the experience will be more “ambient and active,” and you won’t have to say “I’m leaving.”
“But it’s up to the developers to design that experience,” she says. Amazon is also expanding Routines to allow device makers to build them for you, another move to make smart homes more automated and less complicated (for more on this, read my colleague David Pierce’s article). .
It’s part of Amazon’s effort to create a context-based smart home experience where, through input from all your devices, your home “just knows” what you’re doing and can automatically adjust. Alexa currently has a version of this with its hunches, where when the assistant “has a hunch” you want to do something, like turn off the porch lights after 9 p.m., it does it for you.
But giving the right response to the context is a complicated endeavor. Google Nest has struggled for years to get its Home and Away modes working without any user input, and it still hasn’t succeeded. Apple hasn’t even tried. Matter will be of great help to everyone here because the more devices you have connected to your home, the easier it will be to make references.
How Matter will improve Alexa
Amazon didn’t provide an update on how the Alexa devices themselves would integrate with Matter. Koopmans repeated the bus ledge That existing Echo devices will receive OTA updates to work with Matter over Wi-Fi and Eero Wi-Fi routers and fourth-gen Echo smart speakers as thread border routers to connect any Echo device to your home network will work too. But she did share how Alexa and its app will work with Matter devices and other Matter-compatible ecosystems once the standard launches.
Matter will add some local controls to Alexa, making the voice assistant faster at answering smart home questions, such as “turn off the lights.” “And with a thread border router in your home, your smart home will work regardless of whether the Internet is up or down,” Koopman confirmed.
She also confirmed that Alexa will play well with other Matter-enabled ecosystems, such as Google Home and Apple HomeKit. You’ll be able to add devices to Alexa and then control them with any Matter controller. ,[A customer] Can add new Matter devices or additional Matter administrators [controllers] seamlessly in the background without the need to generate and input a miter setup code for each one,” says Coupman.
When you set up a device using a manufacturer’s app, you can choose to pair Alexa as a mater controller, so you don’t need to go into the Alexa app to pair it separately. Another new feature in many apps is device group sync, which will mean when you add a group like “Kitchen Lights” to the Alexa app or the device’s app, it will show up in both apps. This is similar to how Apple’s HomeKit app works with the Devices app today. Apple has said it has donated the infrastructure of its Home app to Matter.
All this cooperation may seem highly suspicious to those who have seen companies like Amazon and Google fighting over every little thing. (Is there a YouTube app on the Amazon Echo smart display? I guess not.) But when it comes to smart homes, the industry counts collectively; It’s time to cooperate or die. “I don’t believe there is any future for the smart home if the industry doesn’t work together to create great experiences for our shared customers,” Koopmans says. And he is not wrong.