The Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA) held a launch event for the Matter home interoperability specification on Thursday, and amidst the flurry of self-congratulations, there was a bit of Matter news and a ton of release information detailing when devices would be updated to Matter and how. Most notably, new versions will be released twice a year, and the organization has already set up working groups for eight new types of devices: security cameras, robot vacuums, major appliances, energy management devices. energy, Wi-Fi hotspots, smoke and carbon dioxide detectors. , environmental sensors and controls, and ambient motion and presence detection.
Tobin Richardson, CEO and President of ASC, also took a look at the terrain related to device security. In the context of the White House pushes for cybersecurity label for consumer IoT devices, Richardson noted both that the CSA made a presentation at the White House label meeting and that it was trying to harmonize the safety standards of more than 60 regulatory bodies – a clear signal of the CSA’s ambitions. THAT’S IT. But the biggest takeaway for me is that even after three years of planning, the industry still doesn’t know what the smart home should look like.
As far back as 2014, I was giving presentations to various industry groups on smart home, and in those presentations, I listed four key elements that kept smart home growth in check. These were the cost of connected devices, a lack of clear use cases, a lack of interoperability, and the complexity associated with managing a network of such devices.
Matter in its current version solves only part of two of these problems: basic interoperability issues and help with device onboarding and management. So while that’s a start, it doesn’t really help solve the key smart home problem, which is that most companies see smart homes as a way to sell more individual devices and generate revenue. recurring revenue. But the story of the smart home isn’t about gadgets; it’s about delivering value through services or a consistent experience. And the first year or three with Matter won’t bring us closer to compelling services or use cases that drive adoption and continued use.
It’s painfully clear that when most people think of the smart home, they’re too focused on one device or group of devices as one. There is no place in the current Matter specification for context (although the promise of presence detection in later iterations is exciting). The ability to detect when people are in a room or away from home is not built into the standard. A solid understanding of how home infrastructure might react with devices is also not really articulated. And ways to protect different levels of privacy in a house full of potential spies aren’t even part of the conversation.
At Thursday’s event, it was clear that those presenting on stage were still hooked on the core competencies of their own organization’s devices and how to drive sales of those devices. Schneider Electric showcased a smart home energy management system was a perfect example, especially since energy management isn’t even part of Matter yet. Tuya Co-Founder and COO Showcased Core Devices Built on the Tuya Platform
That’s to be expected, but it’s still disheartening, because if I bring the angst I feel around much of today’s technology and spread it out to dozens or hundreds of appliances in my house is a nightmare scenario. I currently have 50 WiFi-enabled devices on my network and several dozen light bulbs and sensors connected to hubs and gateways in my house. And while Matter will help with the basics, I really can’t recommend anyone else to live like me. It’s exhausting to have glitches and boring to program devices when new gadgets arrive and I have to add them to my routines. I’ve stopped reviewing and installing new equipment over the past year because I’ve set the bar much higher than before for appliances.
With Matter, more people will get to where I am already today. But while I’m sure the industry is salivating at the thought of selling 50 new products to individual consumers, even as they become easier to install and manage, most of these devices go unused or, when they are, don’t. add a lot of value. I find it difficult to justify a smart lock when a lock with a keypad would work just as well, for example. Connecting my stove and oven has sparked interest, but neither gets feature updates often enough and isn’t smart enough for me to justify keeping them connected or troubleshoot if they fall out of the network. And I emptied my mailbox sensor because after connecting it I realized I didn’t really care about the mail coming.
It’s not a Matter problem. It is a vision problem. The smart home shouldn’t exist to sell gadgets; it should exist to make life easier for users. So whether it’s an oven that only needs me to put in food it cooks automatically, or a more complex energy management system that tries to optimize the my home’s usage and energy consumption on my behalf throughout the day, it takes very little time to set up and almost no extra effort on my part on a daily basis.
I don’t need my devices bombarding me with a million notifications about detected motion or unlocked doors. I need a way to personalize the information I find relevant and make it appear prominently. Alerts should be based on things that need my attention, not excuses to try to engage me with an app. Matter is behind this, but it’s unclear to what extent the 500+ members will want to let smart home devices fade away and be part of a larger system that really adds value, not just gimmicks .