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Matter Makes It Easy to Build Compatible, Voice-Powered Smart Home Devices

Telink Staff

August 23, 2021


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The open standard Matter will do more than simplify the smart home consumer experience. With Telink’s system on a chip (SoC) using Matter, developers can now more easily create compatible products that work across vendors. 

The future of smart home technology is interoperable. That’s the driving idea behind Matter, previously known as Project Connected Home over IP (CHIP), a standard that was first unveiled in 2019 by the Connectivity Standards Alliance

As smart home devices, standards, and brands proliferate, Matter was created to cut through the confusion and offer customers a more straightforward shopping experience as well as streamlined at-home usability. Starting in late 2021 and early 2022, consumers will be able to look for the Matter logo on packaging for assurance that their smart devices will “get along” with each other. The first wave of Matter-enabled devices will include a range of smart home products, from lighting, TVs, and WiFi routers to HVAC, door locks, and security systems. 

On the back end, Matter provides developers with a one-stop solution for the product design process. By choosing Matter, developers can appeal to customers and streamline their development process at the same time. Long awaited in the smart home space, it’s time for developers to take advantage of all that Matter can offer. 

Matter Is Built for Compatibility

From top to bottom, the Matter standard includes the necessary elements to enable both functionality and interoperability. Along with robust security and a common app layer, Matter integrates the following:

  • IPv6: Building on Internet Protocol enables communication across devices, apps, cloud services. 
  • Bluetooth® LE: This is used for easy setup and commissioning purposes.
  • Ethernet/WiFi (802.3/802.11): This allows for high-bandwidth uses, such as streaming video.
  • Thread mesh network (802.15.4): This allows for low-bandwidth use cases, such as motion sensors.

Matter is also an open-source protocol, allowing developers to use it for free — which in turn encourages widespread use and greater collaboration. Instead of playing catch-up with shifting demands across various platforms, developers can now focus on a single standard that is compatible with all the big names in smart home. 

To help ensure compatibility, companies are also updating their existing products. Many of the companies that are part of CSA and helped support the development of Matter, including Apple, Amazon, Google, and Telink, are now making strides to ensure their offerings are ready for use with Matter. For instance, Google is updating Nest thermostats, hubs, WiFi network gear, and even its Android smartphone to ensure all are ready for the Matter launch. Similarly, Philips Hue, the major smart lighting company, plans to release a software update that will make all its past and present products Matter-compatible.

How Matter Changes the Smart Home Landscape for Consumers

Imagine this: a customer scans the shelves at the hardware store, or, more realistically, scrolls through pages of products through an online vendor. They are, perhaps, a typical consumer — interested in smart home technology, but not necessarily the most tech-savvy individual. They are looking to get started with smart lighting, and want to make sure it will work with their current Alexa voice control. 

In the past, the consumer would have had to research, “What smart lighting is compatible with Alexa”? But now, customers can rest assured that they can use their preferred voice assistant, whether that’s Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, or Apple’s Siri or HomeKit. 

Product compatibility will open up possibilities for other types of consumers as well. A landlord could invest in smart lighting to draw new residents, without worrying that the new tenants won’t have the right voice control system. Or, a homeowner selling their house could advertise hardwired smart lighting as a major benefit, noting that the system is interoperable with any devices the buyer wants to use. 

Smart lighting is undoubtedly popular, but the advantages don’t stop there — Matter will offer similar benefits across many sectors, from entertainment (such as televisions and speakers), to security (including garage doors, alarms, door locks, and surveillance systems) and comfort (like thermostats or HVAC systems). 

Telink Enables Developers to Maximize Matter Benefits

For smart home device developers, there are obvious advantages to offering consumers this ease of use. But there are also advantages for the development process itself — rather than figuring out the specific, evolving standards for various vendors, developers can work with one standard that offers widespread compatibility. 

Telink makes it easy for developers to leverage Matter benefits. To understand how Matter could work in your planned device, follow along with our Matter lighting demo

To enact this demo, start with the following list of materials:

  • One Telink B91 Development Board as the Matter Device
  • A border router for processing and networking, composed of
    • One Raspberry-Pi for WiFi communication and businesses logic
    • One Telink B91 Development Board as radio co-processor (RCP) for Thread communication
  • A desktop or laptop with a Linux development environment
  • Or, you can refer to this manual to build your own border router and radio co-processor device

This demo is constructed according to the following architecture: 

  • Lighting example app
  • ZCL Data model
  • CHIP Library
  • Zephyr
  • Zephyr Thread driver / Zephyr BLE driver
  • Telink B91 Thread driver / (Telink B91 BLE driver)
  • Telink B91 RF driver

To this end, your desktop or laptop can serve as the client, connected through WiFi to the border router, which in turn connects over a UART circuit to the RCP. This RCP utilizes Thread to connect to the Matter device, which in this example exists on the Dev Board. 

In this lighting example, the data model includes nodes that represent physical or logical devices. A node incorporates several ‘clusters,’ where clusters represent the function property and contain a set of attributes. For instance, a lightbulb node would include clusters for Static Thread commissioning, on/off control, brightness levels control, and ‘get lightbulb state.’ As shown in the demo video, it’s easy to connect a Matter device to the test network and use it to control the lightbulb node in these ways. 

Please let us know if you have any questions about this tutorial. Telink is here to help developers avoid hassle and utilize the standard that is best for their project, whether that’s the highly interoperable Matter standard or another of our offerings. 

For more information, please visit the Telink Wiki or visit the Telink Forum for technical support.

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