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A roundup of all the new Matter smart home devices announced at CES 2023

May 18, 2023

By Jennifer Pattison Tuohy, a smart home reviewer who's been testing connected gadgets since 2013. Previously a writer for Wirecutter, Wired, and BBC Science Focus.

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From Central Hall to The Venetian, Matter was the buzzword throughout CES 2023 this year, with most companies even remotely connected to the smart home loudly discussing their Matter plans (although a few were more subdued). The new smart home standard was featured in several keynotes and displayed prominently in smart home device makers’ booths as well as in Google, Amazon, and Samsung's big, showy displays.

More importantly, dozens of companies and manufacturers announced specific plans. Several companies said they would update entire product lines, while others announced new ones, sometimes with actual dates and prices. And Matter controllers have become a major thing, with at least four brand-new ones debuting at CES. Interestingly, nearly all of them have a dual or triple function, helping banish the specter of seemingly pointless white hubs stuck in your router closet.

Its undeniable momentum at the biggest consumer tech show of the year is one reason we named Matter The Verge's "best in show" for CES 2023. And here, we’ve rounded up all the announcements from the show that, well, matter.

In case you missed it, Matter is an open-source interoperability standard that allows smart home devices from any manufacturer to talk to other devices directly and locally with no need to use the cloud. This should make the smart home easier to set up, simpler to use, and more reliable to run. Matter works over the protocols Thread, Wi-Fi, and ethernet and has been jointly developed by Apple, Google, Samsung, Amazon, and pretty much every other smart home brand you can name, big or small.

If a device supports Matter, it will work locally with Amazon Alexa, Samsung SmartThings, Apple Home, Google Home, and any other smart home platform that supports Matter. It will also be controllable by any of the four voice assistants.

Matter should make the smart home easier to set up, simpler to use, and more reliable to run.

However, Matter is still totally unproven, as there are very few devices anyone can actually get their hands on to test, so there is a lot of speculation still as to just how effective it will be. Plus, the initial Matter rollout since the launch in November has been complicated.

The big four have turned on Matter support on their platforms, but Amazon's approach has been piecemeal, and aside from Apple, nobody supports onboarding devices to Matter on iOS yet.

However, that is shifting: at CES, Amazon announced a full rollout by spring, and Samsung's Jaeyeon Jung told The Verge that Matter support is coming to its iOS app this month. There's still no news on Matter support in Google Home's iOS app. Then there's the whole competing Thread network issue, although that sounds like it will be resolved sooner rather than later.

If all of these companies continue their support of Matter, then these early teething problems shouldn't be more than that. After all, the rollout of a new wireless standard is never going to be easy. Just ask the Wi-Fi Alliance and Bluetooth Special Interest Group, which both sent representatives to the Connectivity Standards Alliance's CES Matter party to show their support (and maybe sympathize).

And the following cascade of announcements includes dozens of new products, so the Matter device drought should be over soon — although, judging by most of these ship dates, not until at least the second half of 2023.

This is because Matter doesn't currently support the type of dynamic lighting effects that are the main feature of the lights. Patrick Miltner of GE Lighting told The Verge that the company might change that plan if and when Matter supports more advanced lighting functions. He also said it could upgrade all of the existing Direct Connect Cync lighting products to Matter with an over-the-air firmware update and will evaluate the benefit of doing that as Matter support rolls out more broadly across the industry.

Matter controllers are required to onboard and control smart home devices in Matter. There are already a lot of Matter controllers out there — including 17 of Amazon's Echo devices, Apple's HomePod Mini and Apple TV line, and Google's Nest Hub smart displays and Nest speakers. Some Matter controllers are also Thread border routers and can onboard Thread devices to Matter; others work over Wi-Fi only.

For Matter to work, it needs mass adoption in the tech industry, and not every company is jumping in with both feet. A few are dipping an early toe in, while others are putting their feet up and waiting to see what the standard can really do for them. A handful have had very little to say at all.

Also, some companies that suggested they could offer Matter updates for existing products have walked that back. That's in part because the Matter spec changed and in part because of the complexity of sending a firmware update to customers’ devices that removes existing integrations and makes them have to re-pair it with all of their smart home services (something Eve had to deal with during its rollout of firmware updates last year).

GE Lighting's Miltner told The Verge at CES that the company doesn't see the use in updating existing products to Matter as "it will break their existing functions." Customers will have to reset devices to work with their favorite platforms. However, looking forward, Miltner sees the value. "It's one specification for every single product; it's the massive piece the smart home has been missing for so long." Once Matter hits critical mass, he believes there will be plenty of benefits for GE Lighting and its customers.

A number of companies are taking this wait-and-see approach. "It benefits Schlage more to wait to see how things are going to come out first," Paul Wilkie, a spokesperson from lock manufacturer Schlage, told The Verge. "That's not to say that there's not already something in development — it's clear that there is something in development. But we are waiting to see how everything congeals over the next year."

He pointed out that it's one thing for smart lighting and plug manufacturers to jump on a new bandwagon, but for a device that secures your home like a lock, it's important to make sure people are ready for the new tech.

"It's one specification for every single product; it's the massive piece the smart home has been missing for so long." – Patrick Miltner

While Matter wasn't designed to leave existing smart home devices behind, it's appearing more likely the most benefit will be for the future smart home rather than the past or present one. "We have a go-forward strategy for Matter," Tobin Richardson, president of the CSA, which manages the Matter standard, confirmed to The Verge. "Moving forward, Matter solves a lot of compatibility issues, but in terms of backward compatibility, not every device will be upgradeable. You may just be doing it through a gateway." He says that should be a straightforward process if manufacturers upgrade their bridges.

For those of you with robust smart home setups that you want to bring into Matter, bridging is going to be the most reliable route for backward compatibility. There aren't a lot of solutions yet, but a few companies — including Aqara and Philips Hue — have announced their platforms will support bridging into Matter.

It's also likely we’ll see dedicated bridges coming out that can bring Z-Wave and other products with proprietary protocols into Matter. Silicon Labs announced a new Unify SDK that will provide both a hardware and software solution for manufacturers to do exactly this.

One company for whom bridging would make a lot of sense is Lutron, with its popular Caseta smart lighting line of switches and plugs. Adam Mack of Lutron Electronics told The Verge that while the company is a member of the CSA and is watching the rollout carefully, it has no announcements around adding support for the standard to its product line. Which, to be fair, is one of the most interoperable and reliable smart home products on the market today.

It's also clear that Matter needs to step up its support for more functions and device types. Currently, only basic functions are supported. Lights, locks, sensors, etc., will have basic control capabilities: on / off; lock / unlock; motion / no motion; brighten / dim. But Matter doesn't support advanced features such as dynamic lighting effects, adaptive lighting, shared access codes for door locks, and energy management for smart plugs.

Those who want to use those features will need to either choose a platform that supports them (for example, the Apple Home app supports adaptive lighting) or use the manufacturer's app for that function (for example, the Eve app supports energy management for the Eve Energy plug).

We are also waiting on new device types to be supported in Matter. Initially, there will be support for light bulbs and light switches, plugs and outlets, door locks, thermostats, blinds and shades, sensors (motion and contact), bridges, and TVs.

The CSA told The Verge that its next release, slated for spring, will include support for battery performance (so you can keep track of battery life or devices such as sensors), white goods home appliances (such as fridges, washing machines), and robot vacuums. But cameras and garage door controllers, which were previously announced as coming next, look like they’re still going to be a while.

"I have to remind them all that while monetization is important, this is building a market, not a way to shut others out." – Tobin Richardson

There are also a number of categories in the initial Matter spec with few or no actual products announced, like thermostats, for example. There's the Nest Thermostat (new) and a couple of radiator options that have been promised. But none of these have been updated yet and no timeline has been given. The Verge spoke with Ecobee CEO Stuart Lombard, who confirmed that its line of smart thermostats will support Matter but wouldn't give any further details. Previously, the company has said its thermostats could be upgraded to Matter with a firmware update and could support Thread. Amazon hasn't said if its smart thermostat will be upgraded.

So, what is the biggest challenge for Matter now that it's had its big public debut and seemingly passed its big CES test? "The complexity can be a concern," Richardson, of the CSA, told The Verge. "What we’re trying to do is straightforward. How IoT happens can sometimes be so complex and confusing that consumers back away."

If every company continues to be invested in Matter and "doesn't back into proprietary shells," Richardson feels confident Matter will achieve all it set out to do. However, "the commercial teams are now coming in and looking for the differentiations," he said. "I have to remind them all that while monetization is important, this is building a market, not a way to shut others out."

Matter may not be the solution to the smart home's challenges that every company wanted. But it is the solution they got. Now, we wait and see if it's the solution they can actually deliver.

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