Questions about Matter over WiFi

@JDRoberts Just another question about Matter over Wifi, why do you need a Matter controller (e.g. SmartThings v3 hub) when you are connecting to the Wifi router as in why does the smartthings hub need to communicate with a Matter over Wifi device when the device is connected to the router?

It’s just how the Matter architecture was designed by the independent third party organization, the CSA.

All home automation platforms that want to use Matter need a Matter Commissioner (typically an app) and a Matter Controller (typically a hub). The Matter Commissioner is used to add new Matter devices to the platform. The Matter Controller is used to manage the messages being sent between devices in a way that follows the security and backup requirements for that specific platform.

Every platform participating in Matter has its own Matter Controller that will work only with its own platform.

If you want to use a Matter device with Apple Home (any Matter device, regardless of protocol) , you need a Matter Controller for the Apple platform, like the HomePod Mini or the Apple TV 4.

If you want to use a Matter device with Amazon Alexa, you need a Matter Controller for the Alexa platform, like the Echo Show 10 3rd generation or the Echo 4th generation or the new Echo hub.

If you want to use a Matter device with Google Home, you need a Matter Controller for the Google Home platform like the Nest Hub Max.

And if you want to use a Matter device with SmartThings, you need a Matter Controller for the SmartThings platform, like a standalone v3 hub or the hub built into some of the 2024 Samsung smart televisions.

At the time of this posting, Because different platforms have different security and backup procedures, you can only use a matter controller with its own specific platform. You can’t use an apple HomePod mini as the matter controller for the Alexa or SmartThings platforms. You can’t use a SmartThings V3 hub As the matter controller for Apple home or aqara.

Each platform has its own approved matter controller to manage the Matter messages being sent across its platform.

Your regular Wi-Fi router has no understanding of any of those requirements. So while you need it just to provide the basic transport structure, it by itself is not enough.

If you want to go deeper into a Technical discussion of the matter architecture we can, but we should take it to a new thread. :thinking:

Or you can do your own research at the official third-party standards organization for matter:

If you want the short answer, it’s one word: security. Matter did not standardize security protocols for all systems. So each home automation platform that wants to use matter has its own gatekeeper, the matter controller, that ensures that the messages being sent over its platform meet its own specific requirements for security. Since those requirements differ between the different home automation platforms, each one has to have its own gatekeeper to make sure that its own security rules are followed. {technical note for any other network engineers following along…I know that’s an oversimplification, but it’s still true and it’s easy for those who aren’t as deep into the technical minutiae to understand, so just go with it for now. :wink:}

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It’s just because Matter is local and needs something to talk to the device, that something is called the Matter controller, which in SmartThings is the hub.

Before Matter, pretty much all WiFi smart devices were cloud based, they were connected to your router but were controlled by a cloud service somewhere on the Internet where SmartThings would send the commands like turn on, off, etc. You had to link the cloud service to SmartThings, create an account with the vendor, etc.

Now remove the cloud from the equation because, in Matter, devices receive commands locally without the Internet. How could SmartThings tell your light to turn on? It would need something in your local network to communicate with the light. And that’s the SmartThings hub, doing its role of Matter controller.

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This is true, but only if you are talking about a SmartThings account. From an industry perspective Cloud-based services came in about 20 years After Wi-Fi devices were first used for Home Automation. And again from an industry perspective, all kinds of nonMatter Home Automation devices are still local Wi-Fi, or have that as an option on some platforms.

For example, Apple Home has always required local communications, so every Wi-Fi device that works with HomeKit operates locally. But SmartThings introduced the cloud requirement. So there are many WiFi devices like Meross which operate locally with Apple, but cloud to cloud with SmartThings. (The exact same device.)

So your statement is true, but I just wanted to clarify that it’s not an issue with Wi-Fi devices. It’s a SmartThings design decision. :man_shrugging:t2:

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It’s the same case, you would need your WiFi router AND a piece of hardware made by Apple in your local network to control the device, be it a Homepod, Apple TV, etc. Call it an “Apple Home hub”. For local control you always need something in the local network to send the commands to the device, run the automations, etc.

In Matter it’s the same, the controller is that local piece of hardware so the smart home platform can commmunicate with the local device.

The question of the user is why it’s not enough with the WiFi router (like happens in all cloud based WiFi devices). The answer is that Matter is local, just like Homekit or many other systems, and need a local piece of hardware to talk to the devices, usually in the form of a hub or other smart device that acts as controller.

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Question to both of you then @mocelet and @JDRoberts, let’s say I have a Zigbee motion sensor and a matter over Wifi bulb and my requirement is to turn on the bulb when the motion is detected. Am I right in understanding that when the motion sensor detects motion, the hub driver picks this event, sends the command to the router to turn on the bulb and then the router then turns on the bulb since the matter over Wifi device is connected to the router?

Am I also right in understanding that if the bulb was just a Wifi bulb (Let’s say Wiz not matter), then when the motion sensor detects motion, the hub driver picks this event, sends the command to the smartthings server, the ST server calls an API or somehow informs the Wiz server (through the cloud to cloud integration) and the Wiz server then turns on the bulb?

Yes, although think of the router as just the messenger. The router just routes the information so it reaches the destination, does not know how to turn on a light. If your router is also the WiFi access point, WiFi traffic is going to go through it and Internet traffic too since it handles the Internet connection as well.

In Matter the hub sends the messages directly to the lights, using whatever means your network provides, like a WiFi access point for a WiFi light or a Thread border router for a Thread device (which could be integrated in the hub or not), or maybe it’s even a Matter bridge for certain devices.

Without Matter, the hub sends the messages to the ST cloud, the ST cloud to WiZ cloud and WiZ cloud to your light.

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Ok, just to be very clear, then the hub sends the message directly to the lights to turn it on VIA THE ROUTER? If not, I still don’t understand the purpose of the router.

Exactly, via the WiFi router, because the wireless link to WiFi devices is handled by the WiFi router.

The point of Matter is that both the hub and the light speak a common language which is the same for all the brands. And they speak without leaving your network.

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As I mentioned in another thread, take the post office example.

The transport protocol, in this case Wi-Fi, is the system of trucks that deliver the mail to the individual houses.

Matter is an agreed-upon communication method of checklist forms that go inside the envelopes that are going to get delivered. That makes it easier for the recipient to understand what the sender wants them to do.

Your Wi-Fi router is like the person maintaining the delivery schedules for the trucks. It’s making sure that the mail gets to the right address. But it doesn’t know anything about what’s inside each envelope. It just knows the address on the outside.

Matter is the agreed-upon method for communicating to the light switch that it should turn on now. It’s a piece of paper inside the envelope that the Wi-Fi truck is going to deliver.

You need your Wi-Fi router because without it, the envelope is just sitting there. It’s not getting delivered to the recipient. So the recipient, in this case, the lightbulb, doesn’t get the message that it’s supposed to turn on.

The purpose of the router is to deliver the message. That’s it. It doesn’t know what the message says, it just knows the address it’s supposed to be delivered to.

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Very clear now, many thanks @mocelet and @JDRoberts. How does the matter device get firmware updates?

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The Matter way is:

Until all vendors do that and SmartThings unlocks all updates, the way is using the vendor’s app. If your device is added to the vendor’s app it usually auto-updates or at least notifies when there’s a new version.

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So, when I set up a matter over wifi device, then I need to add it to ST and also the vendor app? If yes, then how does the update get to the device added in ST from the vendor app?

If you only add the device to ST, the vendor’s app cannot update it. Some devices allow having the same light or whatever in both Matter ecosystems and their own app.

Some Matter lights like WiZ or Tapo can be added to both Matter and their app. Others like Sengled do not and you just don’t get firmware updates at the moment because the native Matter way is not ready yet.

Edit: In fact, to have them added to both Matter and their app, some devices need to be setup with their app first (like WiZ), while others need to be added later (like Meross) and in others the order is not important (like Nanoleaf). So it depends on the device and the vendor.

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@mocelet and @JDRoberts, Thanks both of your for your inputs.

Received my first matter over wifi smart plugs (EIGHTREE) today, set it up and works perfectly as of now. It was recognised by Alexa when I paired it (DIDN’T need to restart my hub) but then I changed the name of the smart plug to ‘Hallway Diffuser’ in ST and tried to say ‘Alexa, Hallway diffuser on’, but it does not work. Didn’t work for the off either. However, the smart plug is visible as a device in Alexa with the same name and can turn on / off directly in Alexa app so I had to write a voice routine in Alexa ‘Hallway Diffuser On’ and turned this device on in the ‘Then’ condition and it is working fine.

The routines in ST are also working fine so no issues with the set up or speed as of now.

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Just to add, this is an energy monitoring plug but doesn’t show any energy monitor in ST because this feature is not included in Matter yet so I had to set this through the vendor app. It looks like this feature was supposed to be included last year but it wasn’t so I am hoping that it will be be available in the next 6 months.

Yes, the only Matter plug/outlet that I am aware of that supports energy monitoring is the Eve Energy and that’s by a special arrangement between the two vendors.

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The 1.3 specification for energy reporting in matter was just released a couple of weeks ago.

But that’s just the specification. It doesn’t require any device manufacturer to use it, and it doesn’t say when anyone who wants to use it has to release it. It just says that if they want to do energy reporting consistent with the matter standard, there is now a definition for how to do that.

Typically, we would expect it to take 12 to 18 months before we started seeing devices with that feature, but it may be that some companies have been working on it ahead of time since it is such a popular request. We’ll Just wait and see.

Meanwhile, as @h0ckeysk8er mentioned, The matter standard does allow for the use of some custom clusters, which is how Eve is making the data available to SmartThings right now. That’s a custom integration between the two platforms.

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Just circling back on the update, so if I add the matter device to the vendor app and get it updated there, then it means it is updated in ST also as I am thinking the update is for the device and not for the platform?

Indeed, the firmware update is for the device, who applies the update should not be important.

The only SmartThings specific thing for a device is the driver and you don’t have to worry about that since they are updated automatically.

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