What the Tech? Turning a Home into a Smart Home Is Getting Easier
By JAMIE TUCKER Consumer Technology Reporter
Turning a home into a smart home is about to get easier. One of the problems facing many homeowners is that when they purchase certain devices such as doorbells, lightbulbs and thermostats they find they don’t work with their other devices.
Go to any hardware store and shop for smart thermostats or doorbells and you’ll find some work with Amazon Alexa but not Google Nest devices. Some work with Apple Home Kit and Google but not with Alexa.
This means homeowners if they’re aware of this communication problem, must choose a brand and stick with it no matter what devices they’re adding to the home. The lack of communication between devices and brands is a chief reason many people aren’t adding smart devices to their homes.
But now there’s Matter which is a game changer for the future of smart homes. Nikki Ahmadi from Universal Electronics explains Matter is a protocol or a universal language for all electronics.
“Let’s think of it as a language that I know how to speak and you know how to speak. And instead of you and I replace that with devices,” she said. “All of these devices get to speak the same language, so you can be from different brands and different ecosystems and still work together.”
So Matter is a huge advancement for us consumers. Amazon, Google, SAMSUNG, and Apple are part of Matter, along with about 200 other companies selling devices. “Matter” was a big deal at CES with almost every company announcing Matter-enabled devices. Most new devices will have Matter built in.
But what about the devices you already have in your home? Will they need to be replaced?
“It all depends on what you’re trying to enable,” said Ahmadi. “So Matter, it’s promised that you don’t need to if a brand or manufacturer has decided to upgrade a specific device or device type They can do an update over the air because Matter sits on top of existing technologies so when it comes to what it does, theoretically there is a notion of being able to update these devices
over the air and bring in that capability,” she said.
Another plus for smart homeowners, and those wanting to add smart devices, not only will the devices work together, they’ll work faster.
“Matter” started rolling out to light bulbs and switches, smart locks, thermostats, and some TVs a few months ago. Soon, nearly everything will work with everything. If you have smart home devices installed, download the apps for those devices and watch for available updates.