Smart Home Headaches May Ease

Controlling smart devices from different manufacturers may be about to get a whole lot easier. An industry standard called Matter has been publicly displayed and could mean an end to clogging up your phone with multiple apps.

Matter, a joint effort involving device-makers Amazon, Apple and Samsung, plus Zigbee, a protocol behind many smart devices that handles wireless communications around the home. While Google is an obvious omission from that list, Matter does work with Google Home.

The big-picture goal of the standard is that any smart device input (including both voice-activated devices and phone/tablet apps) can control any smart device, regardless of their technology and without the need for apps to act as a go between. Matter aims to do this using an existing underlying technology called thread.

The demonstration came from Eve, whose “Energy” smart plugs have, until now, only been compatible with Apple. Eve’s staff showed how they can now control the plugs using an Amazon Echo speaker, despite the plugs not being “Alexa-enabled.”

They also switched the plugs on and off using a Google Nest Hub, though The Verge’s Jon Porter noted a demonstration with the Google Home app on a Google Pixel phone didn’t work. Right now, phones need to connect via a dedicated smart device to take full advantage of Matter and there appeared to be a connection problem of some kind, possibly thanks to the large number of wireless devices and networks being used at the trade show.

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