There’s no question smart devices have made our lives easier. They can simplify and even automate the small, mundane, everyday tasks we’d rather forget about entirely. But even with complete connectivity solutions, unlocking and realizing the full potential of smart ecosystems has been a different story.

Today, the smart device market is a fragmented landscape of connectivity protocols and proprietary ecosystems, in which devices from one won’t work with devices from another. This can make even moderately advanced IoT setups challenging.

Fortunately, that could all be coming to an end next year, when an exciting new technology called Matter finds its way into smart devices across the board.

What is ‘Matter’?

Matter is a new wireless connectivity standard developed and overseen by the Connectivity Standards Alliance, which some integrators may remember as the Zigbee Alliance.

As a new connectivity standard, Matter is being supported by more than 200 technology companies and device manufacturers, including major players like Google, Amazon, and Apple.

Why is Matter so Exciting?

The goal of Matter is to eliminate the current issues with connectivity protocols, and finally enable the interoperability of devices across ecosystems. In theory, that means smart devices from different ecosystems can be integrated together and controlled from a single app (potentially).

Today, anyone who wants to set up a network of different smart devices that work together needs to ensure they’re compatible with each other. For example, is a specific brand of smart blinds compatible with a specific brand of smart lights? Can they be programmed to talk to each other, so that when the lights turn on the blinds close?

For smart home specialists and integrators, Matter has the potential to streamline setups and bring a wide range of devices together under one digital roof, regardless of brand. The only thing consumers and integrators will need to know is whether a device is Matter-enabled.

How Does Matter Work?

Importantly, Matter isn’t actually a new protocol that replaces existing ones, such as Bluetooth and ZigBee. Instead, Matter exists as an application layer that sits over top of those existing protocols, as well as Wi-Fi and Ethernet.

This not only simplifies things for device manufacturers but also for end users, as communication between Matter-enabled devices is plug and play, regardless of their ecosystem.

What Integrators Need to Know

Matter-enabled devices are expected to hit store shelves sometime in 2022. There are no specifics yet on which devices will be first but major players like Amazon, Google, Apple, IKEA, SmartThings, and Huawei, among others, have committed to including Matter-compatibility in their devices.

As Matter-enabled devices hit the mainstream, consumers will have greater freedom of choice over smart devices that work reliably together.

Smart home specialists and integrators should begin assessing the smart device options they currently offer their customers, as well as how those options are presented to prospective customers. As Matter becomes more mainstream, end-users may quickly come to expect a greater focus on how devices from different ecosystems function, rather than focusing on which ecosystem to fully adopt.