Samsung SmartThings hubs will be upgraded to Matter this month

An over-the-air update coming later this month will turn Samsung’s standalone SmartThings hubs into controllers for the new smart home standard Matter. The v2 hub will control Matter devices over Wi-Fi and Ethernet, while the current hub and SmartThings dongle will also act as Thread boundary routers. Samsung is the first company to publicly announce the Matter certification.

Jaeyeon Jung, Corporate Vice President of Samsung Electronics and head of SmartThings’ mobile experience business, told The Verge in an interview that the company received its Matter certification early on Wednesday, October 12, a week after Matter was launched. Michelle Mindala-Freeman of the Connectivity Standards Alliance, which oversees Matter, confirmed it has started issuing certifications this week and said Samsung was one of the first to get one.

“We partnered with Silicon Labs to use software to run Zigbee and Thread simultaneously with the same hardware chipset.”

At the Samsung Developer Conference Keynote this week, Mark Benson, head of SmartThings, announced that Matter support would be rolling out to his platform this month. Jung confirmed to The Verge after the keynote that Samsung plans to push over-the-air updates to all existing v2 and v3 SmartThings hubs, the SmartThings dongle and the SmartThings app on Android. The software-based SmartThings hubs built into newer Samsung smart TVs, monitors and Family Hub refrigerators will be upgraded at a later date to support Matter, Jung says.

While the upgraded hubs will still support Zigbee and Z-Wave, they won’t be Matter bridges, at least not anytime soon. “We don’t have a plan to support that feature yet,” Jung says. “SmartThings users can continue to use those devices connected to a SmartThings hub, but existing Zigbee and Z-Wave devices will not be exposed to matter.”

The good news is that SmartThings v3 hubs (now made by Aeotec) and the $35 dongle for Samsung devices with SmartThings software hubs are becoming Thread boundary routers. “We partnered with Silicon Labs to use software to run Zigbee and Thread simultaneously with the same hardware chipset,” Jung says. “Once we roll out the software, SmartThings v3 hubs will support both Zigbee and Matter over Thread devices, along with the dongle.”

This means that if you have a compatible Samsung smart TV or smart fridge and you pick up the $35 dongle, you’ll have a SmartThings Matter controller with a Thread edge router ready to go by the end of this month. Of course, there are no Matter devices available to control yet. But with the standard’s launch last week, we should see products roll out this year.

The Matter Logo

Image: CSA

What is matter?

Matter is a new smart home interoperability standard that provides a common language for smart home devices to communicate locally in your home, without relying on a cloud connection. It uses wireless Wi-Fi and Thread protocols and will include smart sensors, smart lighting, smart plugs and switches, smart thermostats, connected locks and media devices, including TVs, at launch.

All of this means that if a smart home device you buy has the Matter logo on it, you should be able to set it up and use it with any Matter-compatible device and on any Matter-compatible platform. Matter-compatible devices should be available by the end of this year.

Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Samsung SmartThings, and Apple Home are some of the major smart home platforms signed up to support Matter, and we expect to see updates on these platforms in the coming months.

While v2 hubs cannot be upgraded to Thread and will support Matter devices over Wi-Fi and Ethernet, Jung says they can control all Thread devices with a Thread boundary router built into another device. The same goes for the software-based hubs in Samsung smart TVs, monitors, and Family Hub refrigerators, if you don’t add a dongle.

In addition to not exposing Zigbee or Z-Wave devices connected to the SmartThings hubs to Matter, Jung says Samsung has no plans to add its smart TVs or devices to Matter as devices, meaning they will can only be controlled through the SmartThings app and not through other Controllers of Matter. TVs are in the first Matter spec, but devices are not. (Samsung is a member of the Home Connectivity Alliance – an organization of major appliance manufacturers who want to do for appliances what Matter does for the smart home, so one day you could control an LG washing machine in the SmartThings app and vice versa. .. saw a demo of this but no launch timing yet).

Jung says Samsung’s smart device ecosystem is one of the reasons the company thinks consumers will use SmartThings over any other platform as Matter makes device compatibility less of an issue in the smart home. (SmartThings has arguably built its brand as the most open platform of the major players).

A silver fridge with a screen.

Samsung’s Family Hub smart fridge will soon be able to control your Matter smart home via SmartThings. Image: Samsung

She also pointed to the SmartThings Home Life services, a new feature in the SmartThings app that groups smart home functions into energy management, cooking, pet care and air quality to provide actionable advice and control. Currently, these services only work with Samsung devices (except for power management, which can monitor the power consumption of all devices connected to SmartThings). But Jung says that with Matter, Samsung plans to support more devices in these services. “We want to become an open platform so that people can benefit from using SmartThings with all the smart devices they have in their home,” she says.

Samsung’s claim of pursuing platform openness sounds a bit hollow

However, by not enabling the bridge function in its hubs, Samsung’s claim to pursue platform openness with SmartThings sounds a bit hollow. It is the only platform of the big four that supports both Zigbee and Z-Wave devices, and many devices in the first Matter categories – lights, locks, sensors – use Zigbee and Z-Wave protocols. This meant that Samsung had a unique opportunity that it didn’t grab. It could have been the first platform to bring Zigbee and Z-Wave devices into Matter, allowing all Matter-compatible platforms to control all compatible devices connected to the hub. Instead, SmartThings hubs and dongles will be the first way to get Zigbee, Z-Wave, and Matter all in the same ecosystem, but it will have to be the SmartThings ecosystem.

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