Seamless communication across different smart devices for home automation

In 2019, six IT giants developed the Matter protocol to deliver seamless integration and communication across different brands of smart devices in home automation. The key word for Matter is interoperability and standardized communication.

As an open-source connectivity standard, the Matter stack is integrated into a device to give seamless communication as well as a guarantee of security and energy efficiency.

So how can any device communicate seamlessly with any other devices in an ecosystem agnostic manner?

First, the device must undergo an onboarding process known as ‚ÄúCommissioning‚ÄĚ. The device has to first announce its presence to other devices in the network by sending out periodic BLE beacons. A mobile device is used to connect to the beaconing device and obtain all the necessary security credentials which are validated via a highly secure Blockchain based technology.

As a manufacturer, to get started, you must first become a member of the CSA. Upon successful registration, you are issued a unique vendor ID and the required Security Certificates. To certify a device as Matter Compliant, the device must first be certified to be functionally safe, BLE and WIFI certified.

Once the device is certified to be Matter Compliant, the CSA issues a unique ID for the device and the corresponding Signing certificates that is used to generate other Security Certificates. This must be done by a Product Attestation Intermediate, authorised by the CSA to generate security credentials for a device. An example of such PAI is NXP. These generated certificates are added to your device and are required during commissioning. If a device is not Matter certified, that device can not join the Matter network.

Commissioning commences when a user scans a QR code using a smart phone. The smart phone must be connected to the internet and there must be a Border Router and mobile phone must be connected to the same LAN for this to work.

The mobile phone authenticates the device by retrieving the Device Attestation Certificates and verifying them via the Blockchain database to ensure that the device is fully certified and compliant. Once onboarded, the smart device can be controlled seamlessly from the mobile phone. Matter replaces the need to develop applications for the phone or additional security. To further secure the device, an external secure element, such as the NXP EdgeLock SE050 can be used to handle cryptography and security and store the provisioning keys securely.

The Matter protocol sits above the Wi-Fi or Thread on the communication stack. Matter over Thread guarantees the low power consumption which is essential for battery-powered devices. As a mesh network, Thread is highly scalable, suitable for large networks, and relatively cheap, but must have a border router which stands between the smart Matter device and the Wi-Fi router. Examples of border routers are Google Home, Apple HomePod.  On the other hand, if the device is designed to use Matter over Wi-Fi BLE is not mandatory, commissioning is faster, but as the number of devices in the network increases, communication may be slower.

To wrap up, Matter enables seamless integration, communication, and security across different smart devices used in home automation.