Excuse us if you already read this in LEDs Magazine: Signify’s WiZ smart home lighting line will soon support the Matter protocol that enables all sorts of internet-connected devices — locks, doorbells, virtual assistants, speakers, thermostats, and so forth — to interoperate.
Signify first announced that news in May 2021, a year and a half-ago. WiZ products were expected to start supporting Matter via a software update by September of that year, and were to come with native support by early 2022.
The thing is, the industry group that was developing the Matter protocol ran into considerable delays. At the time of Signify’s first announcement, Matter was to have been finalized by the Connectivity Standards Alliance in time for the September availability 2021 availability, Signify said back then.
That did not turn out to be the case. In fact, the CSA did not complete Matter until last month, a year or so after the previous target.
We don’t know the ins-and-outs of the delays. But we can imagine that, industry alliances being industry alliances, there were complications in achieving consensus among members — many of whom compete with each other.
The CSA — previously called the Zigbee Alliance — has more than 400 corporate members. No fewer than 29 companies sit on its board of directors, including Signify, Amazon, Google, Apple, Ikea, Samsung, and China’s Huawei, Leedarson, Tuya, and Wulian. It’s logical to think that the directors were not seeing eye-to-eye. And that the Chinese contingent on the board might have had different perspectives on issues such as privacy than some of the other board members.
The standardization effort has a history of churn, reflected by the May 2021 name change from Zigbee Alliance to CSA, when the protocol name also changed to Matter. It had been called CHIP, for Project Connected Home over IP.
The delay will have affected all CSA members, not just Signify.
Now, for the second time in 18 months, Signify has declared that Matter compatibility is just around the corner for WiZ.
“WiZ has started certifying its full product portfolio, including lights and smart plugs, to work with Matter,” the company stated in a press release earlier this month. “The certification effort is expected to be completed by end of 2022.”
Signify further explained that “all new WiZ smart lighting products will have the Matter logo on their packaging beginning in H2 2023 for easy recognition by consumers. Once Matter certification is completed, all products manufactured since Q2 2021 will receive an over-the-air [OTA] firmware update to become part of the Matter ecosystem. This includes products purchased previously and already installed.”
Unlike 18 months ago, Signify did not issue a separate press release stating that Matter compatibility is imminent for its Hue line of smart lamps. LEDs has requested an update from the company. Hue has a legacy of using Zigbee communications technology (while also more recently working with Wi-Fi), whereas the less expensive WiZ line has long used Wi-Fi.
The Toronto-based LED lighting company Nanoleaf has also announced Matter-compatible products, planning to make four new retrofit lamps and striplights available by early next year.
MARK HALPER is a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine, and an energy, technology, and business journalist ([email protected]).
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