For many people, IKEA's Trådfri gateway was their first step into smart home technology. And now IKEA has unveiled its replacement, which is better in every way that matters: while Trådfri was designed specifically for smart lights, the new IKEA Dirigera hub is designed for smart everything. That means all of IKEA's smart home tech including blinds, speakers and air purifiers, and it also means other firms' smart home technology too.
That's because the Dirigera contains Wi-Fi, Zigbee and Thread radios to communicate with all kinds of smart home devices. The hub will also be Matter-ready – not Matter certified, because that process isn't happening until later this year, but at launch the new hub will meet all the requirements to communicate via the Matter protocol. To begin with you'll need to connect it to your router with an Ethernet cable, but shortly after the October launch you'll be able to connect wirelessly on 2.4GHz or 5GHz frequency bands.
If the Dirigera is as good as it looks, it could be a real rival to the likes of Amazon's Echo and Google's Nest Hub. Both of these smart home hub ranges are very, very established at this point, but with the state-of-the-art Matter protocol on-board and, hopefully, an affordable price point, Dirigera could become one of the best smart home hubs money can buy.
To be clear, Matter is also coming to Amazon Echo and Google Nest, which means they will remain great smart home hub choices, but suddenly we could have another system that is just as versatile and powerful.
What's IKEA doing with its smart home tech?
Speaking to The Verge, IKEA's Rebecca Töreman explained: “Matter is enabling us to create a more seamless experience for our customers and will strengthen the interoperability in smart homes and between smart products". That means it'll be much easier to connect new devices – something I've found a bit of a pain sometimes with existing Trådfri kit when I'm mixing up different firms' smart home tech – and IKEA will create its own cloud network so you don't need to rely on Apple, Google or Amazon to control your things when you're away from home. The gateway will also come with a brand new app to make organising and automating your smart home much easier.
If you've already invested in Trådfri devices, IKEA isn't going to take away anything you're already using: it says it's going to keep its four-interface approach, which enables you to control devices with your app, with smart shortcut buttons, with remote controls and with voice control. That latter one isn't something the Dirigera hub offers, so you'll need one of the best smart speakers.
“When we look at the smart home, we see inclusivity being really fundamental,” IKEA's Björn Block explained. “It shouldn’t be only for the tech-interested people, it should be for the parents, the grandparents, children, but also for guests.”
So far IKEA is only showing Dirigera in preview form, so a lot can change between now and its launch in late 2022. But from what we've seen so far it's looking really good, and should be an excellent excuse to head to our local branch and fill up on meatballs while we're there.