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I'm just starting my smart home journey and have been investigating. I prefer open and no vendor lock-in solutions and think Matter will be the solution for me, with Thread being a protocol heavily discussed wrt to it.

What is Matter

From https://www.pocket-lint.com/smart-home/news/156992-what-is-matter-smart-home-standard:

Matter is a new smart home interoperability protocol launched as a joint effort by a handful of the industry's biggest players. Over 170 companies are involved, with Apple, Samsung, Amazon, Google and the Zigbee Alliance being the most prominent names.

So, why did they do it - what's the point? Well, the smart home in its current form is a little messy.

Customers need to make sure dedicated hubs can link up with the right peripheral devices, and also make decisions over which devices work for their home based on which assistant and ecosystem they're already embedded in.

It's the equivalent of not being able to shift between a games console to play the same game, or being trapped into a music streaming platform because of your built-up library.

The smart home is a friendlier battlefield than those areas, though, which is why these companies have decided to make the whole system easier for both manufacturers and consumers.

The goal of Matter, then, is to be an interoperability protocol with standard data models that ensure smart home devices can work across different ecosystems. So, an Amazon Echo Show display should hypothetically be able to work as seamlessly with a Google Nest doorbell as it does with its own Ring offerings, for example.

What is Thread?

From https://www.pocket-lint.com/smart-home/news/156083-what-is-thread-smart-home:

In simple terms, Thread is a low-power wireless radio protocol for the smart home that allows devices to 'talk' directly to each other.

Unlike Zigbee and Z-Wave, Thread creates a mesh network by making each device in your arsenal an access point.

So, rather than each individual device requiring communication with one hub-like access point, this shares the responsibility more evenly. Each Thread-enabled device will essentially be able to act as a mini-hub, which also means you don't have to deal with third-party hubs, such as the Philips Hue Bridge or fourth-generation Amazon Echo.

But there is bugger-all available in Australia. The first thing I want to wire in are smart switches. There is Eve - https://www.evehome.com/en/eve-light-switch, but it is only available in Europe (at least isn't available in Australia).

(I don't like the idea of smart lights due to the waste of having a disposable network device).

Zigbee is part of the Matter standard so i thought they might be a good way to go that (if chosen well) will be compatible with a Matter system.

I see there is a EPS32-H2 SOC - https://hackaday.com/2021/08/04/new-part-day-an-esp-with-zigbee/ that sounds promising. Since it has built-in IEEE 802.15.4 to support ZigBee 3.x and Thread 1.x.

I'm looking for confirmation that it would be sensible for me to invest in a Zigbee 3 hub and devices that will be compatible with Matter once that is established? Perhaps there are things to look for or avoid?

I'm all ears!

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    Hi HankCa, this is a quite open-ended question. Not exactly what the site excels at. Especially since it involves a bit of speculation as Matter is not even on the market yet. Many companies are currently working on making their stuff Matter compatible but until we have a bunch of Matter devices out there this is really hard to judge. I'd probably look for companies with a good track record of updating their devices and whatever press announcements they make. (E.g. matter-smarthome.de/en/products/…)
    – Helmar
    Jun 10, 2022 at 13:09
  • Hi Helmar, yes it is too early days to avoid being speculative. I forgot another requirement - Homekit compatibility. This is all really too hard at the moment and given I've waited this long for a smart home I am happy to wait longer. Generally it is disappointing that Australia is once again at the bottom of the pecking order. I will keep an eye on the Matter / Thread space.
    – HankCa
    Jun 10, 2022 at 22:53

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There’s bugger-all Matter stuff anywhere, not just in Australia.

The official launch is currently planned for (Northern Hemisphere) fall 2022, after multiple delays. There are actually a few Matter devices that have been announced (or maybe even released) recently like IKEA’s new hub, but that’s about it for now.

There are a few more Thread devices already on the market (not that many, really), and there will probably be a path towards Matter for at least some of those (since Matter is built in top of Thread), but it’s a bit early to be sure unless the manufacturer already announced it.

Zigbee actually isn’t part of Matter. Matter is managed by the same organisation which handles Zigbee standards and certifications, and it uses the same radio (802.15.4), and many Zigbee vendors are involved in Matter, but as far as I know that’s about it.

Some Zigbee vendors (like Philips/Signify, who are behind Hue) have announced compatibility with Matter (the Hue bridge will be able to handle both Zigbee and Matter and act as a gateway between the two), but it’s not like any Zigbee device will work with any Matter hub or Zigbee devices will be able to be upgraded to Matter (though it is quite possible some will).

Until Matter is officially launched (and most importantly, Matter devices), there’s still a lot of speculation.

The ESP32-H2 is not yet available, and I believe we’re still waiting for a release date from Espressif.

On the other hand, Nordic’s nRF5 series have support for BLE and Zigbee and Thread and Matter, but though I personally haven’t tried the latter at all yet.

There are probably a few other chips out there with Matter SDKs if you want to have some fun. But very very few consumer devices, especially end nodes (sensors, lights…).

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  • Sorry I should have clarified - bugger all Thread devices in Australia. If there was then I believe they should work under Matter (although I guess there is an asterix * against any such statements). Yeah Matter is not in production yet. I guess the future will be bright once this gets off the ground. You could say I've either come in at a bad time, or a good time! Thanks for your feedback.
    – HankCa
    Jun 11, 2022 at 8:58
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    Thread is just the network protocol in Matter, I suppose it will also involve a lot of standardisation of higher-level protocols, so that for instance a switch can turn on a bulb, etc. So a Thread device will need to be upgraded to be able to work with other Matter devices. I suppose many will, but there may be all sorts of constraints preventing it.
    – jcaron
    Jun 11, 2022 at 10:40
  • LOL. Another reason to hold off until things settle down.
    – HankCa
    Jun 12, 2022 at 22:24

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