We've written about Matter, the tech designed to give your smart home a massive upgrade, a few times now – and now there are actual products delivering on its promise of better, simpler smart home interoperability. And Nanoleaf is the first smart lighting firm to ship Matter over Thread products.
The new products are branded Nanoleaf Essentials Matter, and they've just launched in the US; the UK gets them next week on 29 March, while there's no news yet on an Australian release. You can choose between E27/B22 bulbs and a lightstrip, but what Nanoleaf really wants to tell you about isn't the specific products but the tech they use.
That's because Matter's still very new, and firms such as Nanoleaf have to evangelise as much about Matter as they do about the smart lights that use it. And they should, because it's a really significant platform.
Why Nanoleaf Essentials Matter, er, matter
Matter is a new smart home standard that's all about making it easier for everything to talk to everything else. Google, Apple, Amazon and Samsung are all behind it, and it has created a common language that all kinds of smart home products will speak.
The goal here is to have a smart home that just works, no matter whose kit you prefer – so if you want to have your HomePods sending messages to your Nanoleaf Essentials in a home that also has a Hue Play Sync box and a Google Nest thermostat, you can.
Think of it as smart home electricity: when you plug something into the wall, it just works. That's what Matter promises too.
For Nanoleaf, the benefits aren't just for you and me. It's better for them too. "Companies will be able to develop their products to fit one standard rather than multiple, will only have to get their products certified once, and will only need to provide one version of a product for retailers to stock in stores," Nanoleaf says. "The tech world could move at a much faster pace, leading to increased collaboration and innovation."
That's Matter. So what about the Thread bit in "Matter over Thread"?
Thread is a highly efficient home/mesh networking standard that enables smart home devices to connect to one another over a very secure, reliable and low-power connection. It's already in devices such as the more expensive of Apple's two Apple TV 4K devices, Google's Nest Hub Max and Eve security sensors, with more devices on the horizon.
I think the best analogy I can think of is that Matter is the language and Thread is one of the ways you can communicate using that language. For example, my native language is English and I can communicate in English over voice, over video, and in writing. It's the same with Matter: it's the communication and Thread is one of the connections you can use to communicate it.
US customers can order the new smart bulbs and lightstrip ($19.99 and $49.99 respectively) today. UK pricing is £19.99 to £69.99 with pre-orders starting next week and shipping from mid-April. Aussie shoppers will have to be a bit more patient to find out more.