Why Apple, Amazon and Google Are Uniting on Smart-Home Tech
Kanebridge News
Share Button

Why Apple, Amazon and Google Are Uniting on Smart-Home Tech

The new standard, arriving this year, provides a common language so all your devices can communicate with each other.

By SHARA TIBKEN
Wed, Feb 23, 2022 11:26amGrey Clock 4 min

If you think about smart-home gadgets at all, you probably think about energy-saving thermostats or lights you control with an app. Most people don’t worry about how they work, let alone how they might work together.

Some of tech’s biggest players—Apple Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Amazon.com Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co.—have established smart-home platforms, so your iPhone can turn off the lights or Alexa can change the thermostat without too much extra setup. But that still means shoppers must check if new products work with the tech they already have at home.

Compatibility issues and setup complexity have made people slow to go all-in with smart-home technology. A new standard, called Matter, aims to change that.

When it rolls out this year, Matter will act as a common language spoken by most new—and many older—smart-home products. You could buy any gadget you wanted and connect it to whichever app you prefer. You’ll be able to control it with the voice assistant of your choice, or even use multiple assistants and apps inside your home.

Even though Matter would work behind the scenes, it could mean more affordable devices that are easier to set up and even play nicely together.

What’s perhaps most surprising: All the biggest names in smart-home tech are on board, so going forward, you won’t be trapped in one walled garden. If you get tired of Alexa and want to switch to Apple’s HomePod Mini, you could do it without having to also buy new automated blinds. (It’s a little like the film industry going all-in on VHS back in the day.)

“We all really recognized that unless we solved some foundational problems that were hitting all of us across the industry, this industry just wasn’t going to grow,” said Michele Turner, senior director of Google smart-home ecosystem.

Along with the tech giants, over 220 other companies support Matter. Between now and the end of the decade, vendors will ship more than 5.5 billion Matter-compliant smart-home devices, according to ABI Research.

Matter is designed to be more secure and private than other smart-home systems, in part because it can perform some basic functions without sending messages to the cloud. And you probably won’t have to throw out all your old smart devices.

That’s not to say the companies supporting Matter won’t try to lock you in somehow. Matter defines basic functionality, but advanced features will still be linked to companies—like how AirPods work better with Apple devices.

‘So Dead Simple’

Initially, Matter will run in door locks; sensors for motion, air quality and more; thermostats; lighting; garage-door openers; blinds and shades; smart plugs; and smart TVs. More complex smart-home products, such as security cameras, robot vacuums and appliances, won’t be supported at launch.

When a developer wants to add a feature to its smart-home product, it has to expend resources to update the software for every platform. With Matter, most changes would only need to be made once, so developers could lower their prices.

Once you get your Matter-compatible product home, setup will be easy—you would just scan a QR code to add it to your network. “The goal is for the vast majority of devices out there—lights, plugs, switches, sensors—to make that initial setup so dead simple that it just takes a couple of seconds,” said Ms. Turner.

You can give your housemates smart-home access, letting them turn on the lights with Alexa while you use Siri. And if you have a mishmash of gear in your home, you might even get it all to work together. Right now, most people buy smart-home devices to address a “singular need,” said Adam Wright, an analyst with technology research firm International Data Corp., but that could change as more are compatible with Matter.

Quitting the Cloud

Google and Amazon’s home devices regularly communicate with the cloud, while Apple’s HomeKit is designed to work without as much internet dependence. Smart-home commands stay inside your home, which can make responses faster and more private. Matter takes a similar approach to HomeKit. If there’s an internet outage, your Matter-enabled products could still work, much like how your Wi-Fi printer still operates when your broadband is down.

“All smart-home accessories will have the same level of security, privacy and ease of use that Apple customers enjoy today with HomeKit accessories,” Apple spokeswoman Jacqueline Roy said.

In the past, Eve Systems GmbH didn’t link its smart plugs and sensors with Google and Amazon because they depend on the cloud, said Tim Both, Eve’s senior brand and product manager. Eve didn’t want to be responsible for user data. With Matter, the system’s data can stay inside your home, even if you use Google or Amazon’s platforms.

Amazon and others will still use the cloud for some things. Older Alexa-enabled smart speakers can’t process commands without it, said Chris DeCenzo, a principal engineer at Amazon working on smart home and Alexa devices, adding that the cloud is “a critical component of infrastructure for many, many smart-home devices and services today.”

All New Stuff?

If you already bought into the smart-home life, you won’t have to start over. Not completely, anyway.

All Philips Hue lights will work with Matter when the Hue bridges that control them get updated software, said George Yianni, co-founder of the Philips Hue lighting business, who now runs its R&D for parent company Signify NV. “Even ones we sold 10 years ago will become Matter-compatible.”

Most newer products from the giants will work with the new standard. Google’s Nest Wifi and its recent Hub displays will become connection points for Matter, while all Nest displays and speakers will get updates to control Matter devices. The newest Nest Thermostat will be compatible as well.

Nearly all Amazon Echo devices will let you set up and control Matter, too. Apple’s HomePod Mini and second-generation Apple TV 4K will be able to act as Matter hubs, as will Samsung’s SmartThings Hub v3.

Products that can’t be updated will continue to work as before, just without the increased compatibility. Assa Abloy Group will upgrade some of its Yale locks, but it can’t update its August line. Matter wasn’t designed “in a way that we can reliably run it on a Wi-Fi lock that runs on batteries,” said Jason Williams, president of the company’s August and Yale smart-lock businesses. The batteries would drain quickly, creating a poor user experience.

Some Yale locks can be upgradable with a hardware module—so you don’t have to buy a new lock but you still might have to spend a bit extra. The company aims to make all future consumer locks work with Matter, Mr. Williams said.

Despite any initial shortcomings, Matter may be the key to smarter homes, even the homes of people without Ph.D.s in electrical engineering.

“We know we’re competing with a light switch,” said Samantha Fein, vice president of business development and marketing at Samsung’s SmartThings. “So if it’s not as easy as that, we’re not going to get anywhere.”



MOST POPULAR
11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

Related Stories
Lifestyle
Is ‘Rizz’ the Secret to Getting Ahead at Work?
By Rachel Feintzeig 22/07/2024
Lifestyle
PROPERTY OF THE WEEK: 5 Hume Avenue, Wentworth Falls
By Kanebridge News 19/07/2024
Lifestyle
Blackstone’s Private-Equity Returns Trail the S&P 500
By Andrew Bary 19/07/2024
Is ‘Rizz’ the Secret to Getting Ahead at Work?

Whether you call it charisma, charm or magnetism, some people seem like naturals. Good news: It can be learned.

By Rachel Feintzeig
Mon, Jul 22, 2024 4 min

Great leaders have it. Gen Z has a new word for it. Can the rest of us learn it?

Charisma—or rizz , as current teenage slang has anointed it—can feel like an ephemeral gift some are just born with. The chosen among us network and chitchat, exuding warmth as they effortlessly hold court. Then there’s everyone else, agonising over exclamation points in email drafts and internally replaying that joke they made in the meeting, wondering if it hit.

“Well, this is awkward,” Mike Rizzo, the head of a community for marketing operations professionals, says of rizz being crowned 2023 word of the year by the publisher of the Oxford English Dictionary. It’s so close to his last name, but so far from how he sees himself. He sometimes gets sweaty palms before hosting webinars.

Who could blame us for obsessing over charisma, or lack thereof? It can lubricate social interactions, win us friends, and score promotions . It’s also possible to cultivate, assures Charles Duhigg, the author of a book about people he dubs super communicators.

At its heart, charisma isn’t about some grand performance. It’s a state we elicit in other people, Duhigg says. It’s about fostering connection and making our conversation partners feel they’re the charming—or interesting or funny—ones.

The key is to ask deeper, though not prying, questions that invite meaningful and revealing responses, Duhigg says. And match the other person’s vibes. Maybe they want to talk about emotions, the joy they felt watching their kid graduate from high school last weekend. Or maybe they’re just after straight-up logistics and want you to quickly tell them exactly how the team is going to turn around that presentation by tomorrow.

You might be hired into a company for your skill set, Duhigg says, but your ability to communicate and earn people’s trust propels you up the ladder: “That is leadership.”

Approachable and relatable

In reporting this column, I was surprised to hear many executives and professionals I find breezily confident and pleasantly chatty confess it wasn’t something that came naturally. They had to work on it.

Dave MacLennan , who served as chief executive of agricultural giant Cargill for nearly a decade, started by leaning into a nickname: DMac, first bestowed upon him in a C-suite meeting where half the executives were named Dave.

He liked the informality of it. The further he ascended up the corporate hierarchy, the more he strove to be approachable and relatable.

Employees “need a reason to follow you,” he says. “One of the reasons they’re going to follow you is that they feel they know you.”

He makes a point to remember the details and dates of people’s lives, such as colleagues’ birthdays. After making his acquaintance, in a meeting years ago at The Wall Street Journal’s offices, I was shocked to receive an email from his address months later. Subject line: You , a heading so compelling I still recall it. He went on to say he remembered I was due with my first child any day now and just wanted to say good luck.

“So many people say, ‘Oh, I don’t have a good memory for that,’” he says. Prioritise remembering, making notes on your phone if you need, he says.

Now a board member and an executive coach, MacLennan sent hundreds of handwritten notes during his tenure. He’d reach out to midlevel managers who’d just gotten a promotion, or engineers who showed him around meat-processing plants. He’d pen words of thanks or congratulations. And he’d address the envelopes himself.

“Your handwriting is a very personal thing about you,” he says. “Think about it. Twenty seconds. It makes such an impact.”

Everyone’s important

Doling out your charm selectively will backfire, says Carla Harris , a Morgan Stanley executive. She chats up the woman cleaning the office, the receptionist at her doctor’s, the guy waiting alongside her for the elevator.

“Don’t be confused,” she tells young bankers. Executive assistants are often the most powerful people in the building, and you never know how someone can help—or hurt—you down the line.

Harris once spent a year mentoring a junior worker in another department, not expecting anything in return. One day, Harris randomly mentioned she faced an uphill battle in meeting with a new client. Oh!, the 24-year-old said. Turns out, the client was her friend. She made the call right there, setting up Harris for a work win.

In the office, stop staring at your phone, Harris advises, and notice the people around you. Ask for their names. Push yourself to start a conversation with three random people every day.

Charisma for introverts

You can’t will yourself to be a bubbly extrovert, but you can find your own brand of charisma, says Vanessa Van Edwards, a communications trainer and author of a book about charismatic communication.

For introverted clients, she recommends using nonverbal cues. A slow triple nod shows people you’re listening. Placing your hands in the steeple position, together and facing up, denotes that you’re calm and present.

Try coming up with one question you’re known for. Not a canned, hokey ice-breaker, but something casual and simple that reflects your actual interests. One of her clients, a bookish executive struggling with uncomfortable, halting starts to his meetings, began kicking things off by asking “Reading anything good?”

Embracing your stumbles

Charisma starts with confidence. It’s not that captivating people don’t occasionally mispronounce a word or spill their coffee, says Henna Pryor, who wrote a book about embracing awkwardness at work. They just have a faster comeback rate than the rest of us. They call out the stumble instead of trying to hide it, make a small joke, and move on.

Being perfectly polished all the time is not only exhausting, it’s impossible. We know this, which is why appearing flawless can come off as fake. We like people who seem human, Pryor says.

Our most admired colleagues are often the ones who are good at their jobs and can laugh at themselves too, who occasionally trip or flub just like us.

“It creates this little moment of warmth,” she says, “that we actually find almost like a relief.”

MOST POPULAR
11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

Related Stories
Lifestyle
Dubai’s Top Hotel Concierge Provides an Insider’s Glimpse to the Glitzy City
By JAKE EMEN 08/07/2024
Money
Where Do Economists Think We’re Headed? These Are Their Predictions
By SAM GOLDFARB 23/07/2024
Money
Elon Musk Pitches Advertisers on a Return to X, Months After Telling Some to ‘F’ Themselves
By MEGAN GRAHAM 20/06/2024
0
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop