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I am a domotics enthusiast and I use some ESP8266 chips for various uses, mostly with HomeAssistant on my RPi. I recently bought some Zigbee devices and the benefits seem very interesting for IoT compared to WiFi.

However, it seems that Zigbee will be replaced by the unified protocol "Matter" that should arrive this year's fall (source).

For instance, I have a Zigbee2MQTT dongle and I was tempted to buy some CC2530 ZigBee chips but I understood they will not be directly compatible with Matter. Obviously, ESP8266 will not either.

However, I could not find anything related to actual products that will rely on Matter

Is this technology worth investigating for hobbyists like me?
If yes, is there a chip that could be used like an ESP?

(If not, would ZigBee be worth it or should I stick to WiFi for now? TW: opinion-based subquestion)

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    Protocols like this take some time to get established in the marketplace, and even more time for an open SDK to be created that is usable by hobbyists - and that SDK may well have limited functionality, since it isn't part of the official certification process. So the answer to your question depends on how long you are prepared to wait.
    – jayben
    May 27, 2022 at 8:02
  • Nordic’s nRF5 series have an SDK which includes support for Matter (and there are probably others), so you could probably set up a Matter network and have some homemade devices connected to it. But I don’t think there any many (if any) commercial end-devices (lights, sensors…) available yet, so it might be of limited use at this time.
    – jcaron
    May 27, 2022 at 13:33
  • Note however that Matter is based on Thread which is based on IEEE 802.15.4 which is also the base for Zigbee, so at the radio hardware level it’s quite possible Zigbee-capable will be able to run Matter. There may be issues with memory and of course new firmware will be needed but it’s not completely impossible.
    – jcaron
    May 28, 2022 at 21:47
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    @jcaron that would be awesome and a hint to try building some Zigbee scraps :) I guess time will tell May 29, 2022 at 17:05
  • @jcaron That's a common misconception but it's not accurate. Thread is a network protocol. Matter can run over it the same way it runs over WiFi or ethernet. But Matter and Thread are completely independent. Matter cannot run over Zigbee; it requires an IPv6-capable underlying network and Zigbee is not designed to carry IP datagrams.
    – romkey
    Jan 28, 2023 at 17:41

3 Answers 3

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Technology-wise there's nothing keeping you from making a Matter-compatible ESP or controller now. Just read the 1k+ pages of spec, see what's relevant and implement it. With your own controller you could also talk to your own ESP using Matter. Take shortcuts where needed (x509 certificates for example). You'll end up with something very Matter-like without being certified.

However, other Matter controllers might not trust your ESP as it'll not be listed as certified Matter device in the ledger. The reaction might be warnings or outright refusal of operation. In the same way certified Matter devices will not connect to your own controller.

If your goal is to see if it's worthwhile yourself you could do that and maybe at a later point there'll be a way to get hobby-projects in as well.

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Personally, I'm sticking to ESP32 boards for all my upcoming projects. I'm lucky that I only have two ESP8266 boards in use right now. I will probably upgrade them to something at some point.

From my understanding, Matter will work over typical wifi, a thread network, and in some cases on the same spectrum as ZigBee, but it will also require bluetooth to set up. I don't know of any boards out right now that can work with matter over the ZigBee spectrum, but I do know that HomeAssistant and ESPHome just released a tutorial (that you can try today) using matter on an ESP32.

I hope this helps!

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  • Thanks Jake, that's very interesting! I'm not sure I understood though, does it still use Wifi or something else? I plan to use a lot of devices so I'm a bit concerned about crowding my wifi network. Jun 19, 2022 at 4:24
  • It can work over a number of different network types, Wi-Fi being one of them. Jun 20, 2022 at 6:30
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My understanding is that TASMOTA firmware already implements MATTER on chipsets that have enough memory, so hobbists could already create their own TASMOTA devices. But problems arise when we try to add the device to a MATTER network because, as the device is not certified, we cannot provide the key that is required. At least this was my experience.

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