CES Offers a Possible Explanation for Matter’s Difficulties

At this time in 2023, the tech world was all abuzz about Matter and its potential to unify a fractured smart home market. Matter was supposed to solve all the interoperability problems. Unfortunately, it never lived up to its hype. Matter development also pretty much stalled in 2023. But now there may be a possible explanation if you are willing to read the tea leaves.

That explanation comes by way of the recently concluded 2024 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Among the many new technologies on display at the show were two that could revolutionize how people set up and manage their smart home devices. Taking the technologies mainstream will require increased Matter adoption. But it looks like certain big tech players are moving in that direction.

Map Control

The first of the two technologies is essentially map control. Rather than consumers controlling smart home devices by way of mobile apps or centralized hubs, map control offers a 3D map-based interface displayed on a smart TV or tablet. The map shows all the devices in a consumer system along with their locations throughout the house.

Want to program the kitchen lights to turn on at the same time you get out of bed in the morning? Just bring up the map and tap the affected light fixtures. Then use a series of dropdown menus to set up your program. Simple, right?

According to media reports, some of the biggest names in smart home tech are already moving toward map-based home automation control. They include Amazon, Samsung, LG, and Google. All of them, except Amazon, demonstrated TV-based 3D mapping systems at this year’s show. But even Amazon has no plans to be left out. They are apparently working on bringing a mapping system to the Echo Hub.

Generative AI for the Smart Home

The second technology is one everybody should have seen coming: generative AI. A number of 2024 CES vendors showed off their generative AI tools to the delight of show attendees. For example, Govee developers showed how a user could tell the app to create a ‘Barbie Dreamhouse-inspired effect’ with their lighting. The app would respond by tuning smart lights to display a warm, pink glow.

Combining generative AI with smart home automation makes perfect sense. Provided AI tools have large enough language models to correctly parse verbal commands, the capacity for generative AI to enhance a smart home via voice control should outperform anything Google or Amazon have accomplished to date with natural language processing.

Matter Is Suddenly More Important

So, how do we tie all of this into Matter? Remember that Matter was supposed to solve compatibility and interoperability issues. It was supposed to make it possible to buy a home automation system from Vivint Smart Home and use it with virtually any device from any brand. But Matter development and adoption both stalled in 2023. It went virtually nowhere.

Could it be that all of the big tech names behind Matter temporarily set it aside while they worked on new technologies capable of maximizing its potential? It appears that could be the case. Perhaps it was more important to develop 3D map control and generative AI before putting more time into Matter.

With these new technologies emerging, Matter becomes more important than it was last year. Perhaps this year will be the year that the consortium behind Matter really begins to promote it in earnest. Then again, what I see as a plausible explanation for Matters difficulties could be little more than coincidence. I suppose time will ultimately tell.

Leave a Reply