Back in 2019, Apple announced that it was teaming up with Samsung, Amazon, Google, and the Zigbee Alliance to create a more open and secure standard for smart home accessories. The project was initially slated to launch in 2021, but was later delayed to 2022.
A new report from The Verge today goes in-depth on another aspect of the Matter initiative: a new universal casting technology that could rival (or replace) AirPlay…
The report notes that in addition to Matter’s goal of improving interoperability between the countless different smart home standards out there today, Matter is also aiming to improve TV control. This comes in the form of a new connectivity protocol, but one that is said to be “platform agnostic.”
Matter TV, as we’ll call it for wont of an official name, will allow control of a television’s core functions — volume up / down, changing the channel, controlling inputs and outputs, and switching between HDMI ports. “But importantly, you can also do casting,” Chris DeCenzo, Principal Software Development Engineer at Amazon Lab126, told The Verge.
The report goes on to explain that the Matter TV specification will initially use “app-to-app” communication, “at least until the TVs and streaming video players become Matter enabled.”
The technology here is not system-level specific, as with Apple’s AirPlay. It appears to be more akin to Google’s Cast, where apps will need to build support for it, at least initially. But like AirPlay, and as with all Matter communications, it’s entirely local. Communication from device to device uses Matter as the channel. At launch, Matter will use ethernet, Wi-Fi, and Thread as its communication protocols.
What remains unclear is what sort of streaming platforms will add support for Matter TV. The requirement, at least at first, would be for apps like Hulu and Netflix to integrate Matter TV like they have AirPlay and Chromecast. If apps widely adopt it, it could become a viable alternative (or even replacement for) current proprietary casting technology.
The Matter standard for smart home devices and communication continues to look more and more enticing. As always, however, the question is whether there’s actually a way to get Google, Apple, Samsung, and Amazon on the same page. Again, the promise of Matter is “platform agnostic” smart home accessories, but these companies have a history of doing the exact opposite.
Regardless, it should be interesting to watch the rollout of Matter in 2022. Based on what we know now, it hasn’t been delayed any further, but that could certainly always change.
The full report at The Verge is well worth a read and can be found here.
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