So far, home automation has always meant selecting an appropriate ecosystem. Well, that is a thing of the past now, as all IoT or Internet of Things devices can intercommunicate with this new, open-source protocol. Now designers can develop small demo applications that are Matter-compatible, and they can use the new Matter Development board, the SparkFun Thing Plus, and the Simplicity Studio IDE from the Silicon Labs.
Until now, multiple communication protocols have kept IoT devices a rather scattered lot. Developers and consumers were forced to decide how to make their devices communicate and lock them into that environment. With the introduction of Matter, however, those are days of the past, as Matter is a unified, open-source application-layer connectivity standard. Apart from increasing the connectivity among connected home devices, Matter allows the building of reliable and secure ecosystems.
In 2019, major and competing players such as Zigbee Alliance, Google, Apple, Amazon, and a host of other companies such as Nordic Semiconductors got together to develop a single communication protocol. Their aim was to unify the entire world of the Internet of Things. The result was Matter, a royalty-free, open-source protocol that allows devices to communicate over Thread, Bluetooth Low Energy, and Wi-Fi networks. Therefore, Matter-certified devices can communicate with each other regardless of the wireless technology they use, and do so seamlessly.
Now, there is no need for consumers, manufacturers, and developers to have to choose between Google’s Weave, Amazon’s Alexa, or Apple’s Homekit components. While for consumers, this represents increased compatibility, for manufacturers, it means simplified development.
The major benefit of Matter is it simplifies the management and setup of smart home devices. End-users can now set up their smart home systems easily and quickly, using Matter-certified devices. They will not need any technical skills or specialized knowledge. With the protocol supporting end-to-end encryption, safety is in-built, ensuring secure data transmission between devices.
However, this does not mean designers have been relegated to the role of consumers. The Sparkfun Thing Plus Matter Development Board from Sparkfun Electronics combines Matter and the Sparkfun Qwiic ecosystem, thereby providing an agile development and prototyping arrangement for designers of Matter-based IoT devices.
Silicon Labs offers its MGM240P wireless module for a secure 802.15.4 connectivity for both Bluetooth Low Energy 5.3 and Mesh (Thread) protocols. This module is available and ready for integration into the Matter IoT protocol for home automation. Moreover, the Thing Plus development boards are compatible with Feather, and include a Qwiic connector, thereby allowing easy integration for solderless I2C circuits.
Designers can download the latest Simplicity Studio from the Silicon Labs website, for the specific operating system they are using. It may be necessary to create an account for the download. After installing and running Simplicity Studio for the first time, the Installation Manager will come up, and search for any updates available. After updating, the Simplicity Studio will operate as the latest version.
In the next step, the Installation Manager will ask to install the devices by either connecting them or by defining the technology they use. The Installation Manager may want to install additional required packages before proceeding.