We’re this close to smart home hardware actually just working right

In December of 2019, several of the biggest companies in tech — including Apple, Google, and Amazon — joined the Zigbee Alliance to establish a new standard for smart home technology. Project Connected Home over IP, or “CHIP,” was aimed at improving interoperability and increasing security between gadgets from different brands. CHIP is finally nearing completion, and it’s getting a new name and logo to help consumers identify secure IoT tech.

Project CHIP is now Matter, and it’s coming to new and existing products to help bolster security, with its first protocol release supporting connections over Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Google Thread, and Bluetooth LE. Matter-certified devices are compatible with services like Google Assistant, Alexa, Samsung’s SmartThings, and Apple HomeKit, which should provide greater interoperability and support across the board. It also provides a boost in security, as more devices will be able to connect directly to each other rather than over your home network.

Although it’s getting a shiny new name, Matter isn’t ready to ship just yet. The project is planned to launch for its first devices later this year (though, as always, these projects have a history of slipping behind schedule). Some of the most popular smart home gadgets, including light bulbs, plugs, outlets, thermostats, and locks, are targeted for this first group of certifications. You likely won’t have to rush out to buy new gear, either. Signify, the company behind Philips Hue and WiZ, has already announced its hubs and bulbs will be compatible with Matter following an OTA update.

The Zigbee Alliance is also undergoing a name change, timed with Matter’s public unveiling. The group is now branded the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA). Though it may not be as eye-catching as “Zigbee,” it’s a name that might help people take the organization more seriously as it moves closer to bringing Matter to consumers.

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