Building A Standard That Really “Matters”
August 13, 2021
President & CEO, Connectivity Standard Alliance
Historically, there comes a point in time when you realize that a market can be bigger if you work with others to build it, instead of trying to own 100 percent of that market yourself. There’s still competition (vigorous!), but often there’s a realization by both technical and business leaders that what’s needed to drive the market forward is collaboration. That’s where the smart home market is today and that’s where our community at the Connectivity Standards Alliance plays a critical role.
World-leading standards communities like ours set the rules of the road and the rules of engagement. We create the place where companies can contribute intellectual property and trust it’s done in a way that respects that contribution and ensures equal treatment for all who want to play on a level playing field. And most importantly, we enable the right outcomes – standards that can be counted on to work through rigorous testing and certification programs.
Matter on the Move
It’s been three months since our member community renamed itself, we refined our united industry vision for better connectivity, and we gave a name to the consolidated smart home standard in Matter.
We’re incredibly excited about the progress that’s been made by the Matter Working Group and for the continued momentum of this unprecedented effort. Typically, creating a new standard takes many years of work to get to the stage Matter is at today. We are still less than two years into the project, and we couldn’t be more excited about where this initiative is headed and the impact it will have on consumers, device makers, technology companies, builders, property managers, retailers and more.
We have a feature-complete specification, which means the final feature set and supported use cases have been ratified by the Matter Working Group. We have strong participation from more than 200 global companies and participation from 2,000 individuals — up from 180 and 1,700 respectively in May. Also noteworthy is our commitment to deliver a complete development tool kit, from an open-source SDK to certification and testing tools.
Since May, we’ve also had a global outpouring of support for Matter with dozens of announcements and product news from leading brands like Amazon, Apple, Assa Abloy (Yale), Coolkit (eWeLink), Espressif Systems, Eve Systems, Google, Infineon Technologies, Nanoleaf, Nordic Semiconductor, NXP Semiconductors, Schneider Electric, Signify (Philips Hue & WiZ), Silicon Labs, SmartThings and Texas Instruments each excited to share their plans with consumers and the market.
Why this Approach
I’m often asked what’s different with Matter and our approach vs. past standards? In short, tooling and support. A paradigm shift for us was taking a code-first approach. We’ve always followed open standards development, but we’ve up-leveled in a whole new way, given Matter’s global reach and a vision for further IoT standards consolidation under the CSA. So, with Matter we’re using a GitHub repository to create an open-source reference design and SDK (Software Development Kit) so that companies can get product ideas to market that much faster, more reliably and more consistent with the standard than ever before. As we are breaking new ground, we’re learning lessons, but our community knows this is the right way to build the Internet of Things.
By the Numbers
I’m so impressed by the continued investment by so many to make Matter a success. We’ve seen active participation from member companies across the industry, driving the core specification, the budding certification program, and marketing and industry outreach. It’s this active participation and contribution that continues to shape and refine our Matter plans.
Our members have held four Matter test events to date. This fourth event just recently completed with a record number of devices and participants — over 60 devices and nearly 90 participants representing more than 40 unique companies. This is double the event participation from our earliest test events for Matter and is the largest test event in Alliance history. We’ve seen increasing contributions to the SDK in GitHub with, on average, nearly a 40 percent increase in the number of commits (which is a change in the SDK code) over the last three months compared to earlier this year.
Companies participating in SDK development and test events have provided thoughtful contributions, developed innovative new solutions and approaches, and offered suggestions for enhancing the details of the specification and SDK overall.
Now that we’re aligned on the feature set for Matter, we’ve shifted into building out device type support, testing, refining, and of course SDK development. This is where the participation of member companies and the feedback we are receiving from the test events has proved extremely valuable. It’s allowing us to ensure we have the best solution possible when the final specification and SDK are available.
With test event 4 complete, we’re planning to host additional test events, including one in September, with participation only expected to rise as we approach our first “gated” test event, which will be a key milestone in defining first Matter devices in-market. We continue to welcome members into the developer community to work on the SDK via contributions to GitHub, and on the certification process and tools which will help get Matter products to market quicker.
Taking an open-source SDK approach means everyone that develops a Matter device can use the same code base. That’s an absolutely critical element to ensuring rapid adoption and market success — but we need to get it right. The ultimate goal remains to deliver a specification and SDK that delivers on our promise to create a common language for the smart home and improve consumer smart home experiences and spur greater innovation.
In May of this year, we saw a development path with first devices through certification by the end of the year in 2021. With the completion of several test events and forecasting, our members have updated the schedule to reflect a commitment to ensuring that the SDK, and related tools, are ready to meet the expectations of the market when launched and enable a large ecosystem of interoperable Matter products. Our refined plans include ongoing SDK and certification program development in 2H 2021, targeting a “pre-ballot” version of the technical spec available to members at year’s end. In the first half of 2022, we expect to see the SDK released, the first devices through certification, and our formal certification program opening.
Together with our members, we’ve updated these go-to-market plans to ensure the Matter specification, certification, and testing tools, and of course the SDK, are stable, deployable at scale, and meet market expectations for quality and interoperability. Our members continue to work hard to build these tools, and their own Matter products and we look forward to the first products and timelines revealed next year.
CSA leadership and the Matter Working Group have a common goal to increase adoption of the smart home around the world and ultimately make the experience exponentially better for consumers and developers. We are excited about the record-breaking progress to date and level of participation from our member companies. This progress and participation shows that these companies understand how important Matter, as a unifying standard, is for consumers, industry and the globe.
To my colleagues in the working groups, my congratulations and admiration – you are doing great work that the world is waiting for – keep up the great pace, investment, and vision!