IKEA First With Matter Hub And It Matters
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Wednesday, 01 June 2022

Matter is the new one-system-to-rule-them-all IoT protocol and surprisingly IKEA is the first to create a working device that you can buy - well in October. What is Matter all about and why does it matter?


IKEA's Dirigera Matter Hub

Matter used to be called CHIP (Connected Home over IP),  a name that didn't quite make for as many silly sentence constructions. The key idea is that it is a standard that allows devices from different companies to interwork. At the moment matter is backed by Apple, Amazon, Google and Samsung among other, less important, companies. You might be surprised to find "walled garden" Apple backing something that seems to tear down walls between IoT devices, but it really should give you some idea of how far the wall is actually coming down. It may be a standard for interoperation, but there is a get-out clause that allows manufacturers not to completely expose everything that their devices support. So you are likely to get a poorer experience running a sensor made by company A on a Hub made by company B. This is controlled interoperabilty that still allows companies like Apple to lock you into their system. You can resist, but you won't get the full potential of the devices you paid money for.


Then we have to think about the actual physical hardware - is it Z-Wave? Zigbee? No, its BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) connections for setup and mostly WiFi for the actual data links. Oh good, more Bluetooth headaches to cope with. There is also Thread an IP-based mesh network which is already in use in Google Nest and Apple HomeKit.

Of course, all of this  sidelines the existing devices based on Z-Wave and Zigbee and any proprietary devices are well out in the cold. There are plans for Zigbee bridges that connect legacy devices to the world of Matter but no news on a Z-Wave bridge. Could this have anything to do with Matter being run by the rebranded Zigbee committee, the Connectivity Standards Alliance. It looks as if both Zigbee and Z-Wave are effectively deprecated by Matter.,

Then there is the question of where it leaves us hackers? If you work for a big company then Matter is a must and so is certification of anything you create. Smaller, inovative, units, however, are going to have difficulties in creating anything that can work with Matter. The system is secure from the word go and based on IPv6, which makes for some interesting problems. Having said this, there are lots of examples and tools on the GitHub repo under an Apache-2 licence and there is even an installation of a Raspberry Pi 4, which I admit I haven't managed to make work as yet. If you are interested then take a look, but be warned documentation is very limited.and very specific.

The best introduction is this Nordic video, which includes a Pi 4:


One thing that is clear is that until Matter is released, some time later in the year, and has settled down, home automation projects should probably be put on pause, if at all possible. This seems to be the new thing that matters.



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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 01 June 2022 )