My question is if the SmartThings application can communicate with Matter devices (Thread, Wifi or Ethernet) or is a bridge router necessary?
FAQ: What do I need to add a Matter device to the SmartThings app? Do I need a bridge router device?
It depends on the details.
1) you must have a SmartThings hub/dongle which can act as a “Matter Controller.” right now the choices are a SmartThings V2 hub, a SmartThings V3 hub, an Aeotec hub, the SmartThings Station, or the dongle that can be added to the Family Hub refrigerator. They continue to add more options to this list. You cannot use matter devices with only the smartthings app: you have to have a “Matter controller” hub/dongle as well.
2) you must have the SmartThings app on an iOS or android device to act as a “matter commissioner.“ At the time of this writing, the official web interface could not perform this function.
If you have a Samsung galaxy phone, it has some additional matter options that other choices do not have, but nothing particularly important.
3) If the device you want to add is individually certified for Matter over Wi-Fi such as the Leviton D215p smart plug, then that’s all you need as long as your Wi-Fi router either supports IPv6 addresses or can spoof them. Just make sure the device you want to add is on the same Wi-Fi network as the controller and commissioner devices in one and two above, and you should be able to add it, although the exact steps will depend on whether you have previously added it to a different matter controller or not.
Note: if you are in the United States, you use one of the major Internet providers, and your wifi router is less than four years old, you are probably ready for IPv6 addresses, although you may need to change your router setting. But if your Wi-Fi router is older than that, or you do not get your Internet service from one of the major US carriers, you may have more work to do to get ready before using any matter over Wi-Fi devices.
Google has a test page which will tell you if your network supports IPv6 or not. Make sure you visit the page from a device connected to the same Wi-Fi network that your matter devices will use.
The following is a good video explaining the issue.
4) If the device you want to add is individually certified for matter over thread, such as the Eve Energy smart plug, you also need to have a Thread border router. The SmartThings V3 hub, the Aeotec hub, and the SmartThings Station are all thread border routers. The V2 hub is not. But there are a number of other thread border routers available, such as the Apple HomePod mini, some Google home smart speaker models, some echo models, etc. so you may already have one.
The following is a very good explainer article about thread border routers:
5) many devices are not individually certified for matter, but can be brought into matter through their own brand’s matter controller. This includes many zigbee devices, even better, sometimes that brand’s matter controller can also act as a “Matter bridge“ and share those nonMatter devices with other matter commissioners. This is similar to how a hue bridge has always worked without matter to expose its connected devices to other home automation platforms.
For example, the aqara M2 hub is also a Matter bridge. So you can add zigbee Sensors and switches that are not individually certified for matter to that hub, then add that hub to smartthings, and it will bring in some of its other devices with it. (But not necessarily all devices or all features.)
So in this device class, the matter bridge is certified for matter, but the individual end devices are not. This is also similar to how bridge devices work with Apple HomeKit.
At the time of this writing, smartthings/Aeotec hubs do not work as a matter bridge, so you cannot add them to other platforms. And there are as yet no plans to add that feature.
But there are a few matter Bridges from other brands that can now be added to your smartthings account using matter as long as you have the devices mentioned in one and two above. These include the SwitchBot hub 2 and some of the aqara hubs. Tuya and IKEA have announced that they intend to have some hub models which are also matter bridges, but those have not yet been released. Philips Hue has matter bridge support for the hue hub currently available in beta, and it is due to be released in production in September or October 2023.
So, if you have the SwitchBot Hub 2, you could add it to your SmartThings account using matter, and it would bring in any curtainbots that you had connected to it. This would then give you a local connection to the curtainbots, which is not available through the pre-existing cloud to cloud integration. But again, you have to have both the matter controller from one above and the matter commissioner from two above set up.
So, as you can see, the answer to your question depends on the specific device you hope to add, and on the details of your smartthings set up.
On the smartthings side, you must have a SmartThings/Aeotec hub/dongle that can act as a Matter controller.
On the end device side, it depends whether that device uses matter over Wi-Fi, matter over thread, or a matter bridge.
If the end device is individually certified for matter over Wi-Fi, that’s all you need.
If the end Device is individually certified for Matter over thread, you also need at least one thread border router in your house.
If the end device is not individually certified for matter, but can connect to its own brand’s hub which can act as a “Matter Bridge“, then you can probably bring it into your SmartThings account that way.
You will not be able to add your smartthings/Aeotec hub to other matter platforms, because at the time of this writing, it only acts as a “matter controller,” it does not act as a “matter bridge.”
And here’s the official Samsung support article on adding Matter devices, but it’s already a little out of date, and it was always incomplete.
Thank you very much for your response.