The Connectivity Standards Alliance, formerly known as the Zigbee Alliance, creates a standardized approach to the development of the Internet of Things, while offering a new brand called Matter, focused on improving security, interoperability, the simplicity, reliability and flexibility of IoT.
Jul 19, 2021According to the Zigbee Alliance, 2020 has been a banner year for Internet of Things (IoT) devices based on Zigbee technology, with more than 560 of these devices certified, which is an increase of around 30% over the previous year. last year. Over half a billion Zigbee chipsets have been sold to date, and nearly four billion are expected to ship by 2023. In light of this growth, the Zigbee Alliance has changed its name to Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA ), to reflect the many related IoT technologies it represents.
In addition, the organization offers a new standard brand name, Matter, formerly known in the industry as Project Connected Home over IP (CHIP), which serves as the application layer for IoT technology. The new Matter mark provides a seal of approval, reports the Alliance, assuring users that any object built to this standard will be compatible, reliable and secure. The organization will continue to develop Zigbee technologies and will retain the Zigbee technology brand. Several companies are currently developing products, such as smart home devices, based on the Matter standard, which are expected to be certified and released by the end of this year.
The former Zigbee Alliance, now CSA. includes 350 member companies and 3,000 people who create, maintain and deliver open global standards for IoT, according to Tobin Richardson, president and CEO of CSA. The organization has formed a working group dedicated to standardization of the Matter brand and currently has 180 members. The name change represents an extension of the role of the Strictly Zigbee-based Technology Alliance to include Matter, as well as other IoT technology standards, such as Smart Energy (for green products for the home), Rf4ce (for remotes), JupiterMesh (for smart cities) and Dotdot (for everyday smart objects).
The Matter logo is intended to be as easily recognizable as the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth logos, according to Richardson. “It’s about having a ubiquitous outward-facing label,” he says. For consumers, the logo will mean that smart home lighting, door locks, TVs, HVAC systems, security sensors and other controllers can work in multiple ecosystems. Users should have a Matter certified device that could be controlled by Amazon or Google systems, for example.
The material focuses on four key areas, explains CSA: simplicity, interoperability, reliability and security. The standard aims to simplify the development process for manufacturers of smart home devices. With interoperability, says Richardson, a variety of products can communicate even though they are from different manufacturers. The goal of reliability, he adds, is to create a consistent, fully tested standard so that consumers can rely on their quality. Finally, the feature Richardson considers most important: security. Matter devices will use widely used security protocols with an IP base, he explains, adding, “It’s security by design, with an emphasis on security for every interaction between every device.
In 2019, Amazon, Apple, Comcast, Google, SmartThings and the Zigbee Alliance joined forces to develop and promote the Project CHIP standard, joined by other members IKEA, Legrand, NXP Semiconductors, Resideo, Schneider Electric, Signify, Silicon Labs , Somfy and Wulian. Currently, there are over 180 member organizations of all sizes, spanning a range of business categories, and over 1,700 working group members on the issue to promote the specification, benchmark implementations, tools and tools. testing and certification programs. This month, Apple announced that Matter-certified devices will work with the HomeKit smart home software framework.
According to Richardson, the Matter logo will put a name in front of consumers indicating that a product can offer interoperability where siled systems were previously developed. Devices certified as Matter compliant must run on existing networking technologies, such as Ethernet, Wi-Fi and Thread (ISO 802.15.4 compliant) as well as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). The standard will continue to evolve, he says, with the addition of many new types of devices. The fundamentals of how the power, provisioning, and other functionality of Matter will be accomplished are already in place. “Much of the code will now be in the repository, setting up test events, moving from an important design phase to a key implementation phase,” he says.
CSA members are making products even as the organization works on the standard, Richardson reports. “We have already been at the same table to develop [it]”, he says, like those who create development kits for their Matter certified products.” So you have engineers from Google, Apple, Amazon, and ASSA ABLOY playing together, doing these tests, “with interoperability at the center. By the end of the year, he predicts, manufacturers will be able to sell Matter-certified products, following guidelines put in place based on the task force’s early efforts.
This phase – what the Alliance calls 1.0 – of technology development and diffusion could happen quickly, says Richardson, due to the maturity of the organization (the Alliance was launched two decades ago), as well as the competence of the members of the group. “There are things that we already know and have developed,” he says. “It’s almost a systems integration effort rather than developing code from scratch.” The organization, he adds, knows the importance of securely simplifying and harmonizing IoT. Continuing this effort, CSA will represent the global movement towards regulatory decisions made at the legislative level, for security purposes, whether in Beijing, Washington DC or Brussels.
Over the long term, CSA predicts future growth, not just in smart homes, but in most industries. This growth was pronounced in 2020 and early 2021, says Richardson. “I was surprised at how businesses doubled during COVID-19,” he says, based on consumer demand for IoT solutions and the growing need for interoperability for them. “Businesses have a cap on functionality with closed ecosystems, so what you see is we have to open up these islands and get a common standard.”
Richardson warns that basic interoperability is needed to continue the growth of IoT in a way that will be adopted by consumers. “If we don’t figure out interoperability, consumers will be tired,” he says, because products won’t work in a way that delivers value. “If we don’t do it now, it could set the market back two, three, four, five years.” IoT technology is deployed in commercial buildings, schools, hospitals and hotels, as well as for smart agriculture, all providing technology that enables connected and contactless experiences.
The Matter Working Group includes chip and module companies, as well as device manufacturers and retailers. The CSA has also partnered with the World Economic Forum and the Council on the Connected World to create an initiative that will create sustainable, resilient and equitable solutions with IoT technologies.