What is Matter?

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Matter has the goal of being an interoperable standard that fosters technology adoption and innovation, gradually replacing proprietary protocols for smart home ecosystems.

Matter is implemented by an open source SDK that contains not only the implementation of the specification but also a rich set of examples and interoperable code. The core Matter protocol fits on the top three layers in the context of OSI, meaning it can run over any type of IPv6 transport and network. While control and other operational communication is performed over IPv6, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) may be employed to commission new devices1.

Matter, OSI and TCP/IP layer side by side
Figure 1: Matter, OSI and TCP/IP layers

Matter is flexible and interoperable. It builds upon years of challenges and successes of low power 802.15.4 networks as well as Wi-Fi smart home devices. Like Thread, Matter builds atop IPv6. It includes strong cryptography, a well-defined modeling of Device Types and their data, and the support for multiple ecosystem administrators.

Matter also supports bridging of other Smart Home technologies such as Zigbee, Bluetooth Mesh and Z-Wave. This means that devices based on these protocols may be operated as if they were Matter devices through a Bridge, which is a member device of both a Matter network and the other, bridged, IoT technologies.

There is a dual advantage to Bridges. The devices that use other protocols gain access to technologies and ecosystems that target native Matter devices. Meanwhile Matter will leverage on mature technologies with large installed user bases to create a true web of connected things.

Prerequisites

This primer assumes you have a good working knowledge of the following:

  • Networking and routing concepts
  • IPv6

Familiarity with Wi-Fi technology and the Thread networking protocol is not required, but useful to have.


  1. BLE is a point-to-point protocol that does not implement IP. Thus, for the purposes of Matter 1.0, BLE should be seen as a onboarding technology that enables easy commissioning of devices.