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Philips Hue Will Support “Matter” (But NOT Thread): Does This Matter? (… sorry)

Philips Hue recently confirmed that the Hue ecosystem will soon have a software update to support “Matter”, the connectivity standard that aims to finally introduce a common smart home communication ‘platform’.

However this update will be made to the Hue Bridge V2, meaning that individual Hue lights and components will NOT be Matter or Thread compatible. Does this… matter? Well, I find out in today’s YouTube video.

  • 0:00 Intro
  • 0:32 Matter
  • 2:42 Will Matter help Philips Hue?!
  • 4:12 Hue will NOT support Thread
  • 5:22 Wrapping up

Video Transcript

Hello, I’m Tristan from Smart Home Point. So back in 2019, the smart home community was ABUZZ (is that a word?!) ABUZZ with talk about Connected Home Over IP… or CHOIP. This was apparently the saving grace that would FINALLY allow us to take our 500 different smart home devices produced by 300 DIFFERENT companies, and allow them to seamlessly talk to each other.

Okay, the reality will almost certainly be different, but regardless it’s still a positive development. However CHOIP has now been renamed to “Matter”, possibly because they realized that CHOIP was a stupid name – who knows. Now, Matter could be a big deal… some might even say that it matters. That won’t be the last cheesy pun in this video… anywhoo, Philips Hue have recently announced that they WILL support Matter. This seems like a pretty big deal because if someone in the future comes out with an awesome new RGB remote (which is better than this) that is Matter compatible, it can be used to control your Hue lights – no matter who produces that new RGB remote.

Another example: imagine that Elon Musk develops a fancy new smart voice assistant that takes over the world.

The Musk Smart Speaker is awesome in every way. Control your Tesla, smart home and love life using your brainwaves… or maybe just your  voice. Supports Thread, Matter and the Martian atmosphere.

Brainwave control requires a Neuralink Pro subscription. Martian support requires SpaceX Premium. Both available separately.

The Musk Smart Speaker, here to take over the World.

I’d buy that. If the Musk Speaker is Matter compatible, this could ALSO control your Philips Hue system – even if Philips Hue as a ‘company’ no longer exists, for that matter. That’s because Matter is a “connectivity standard”, which is a fancy way of saying that loads of smart home companies have come together and are agreeing a way for their devices to speak to each-other in a common way. And this can work locally, without the internet being required.

It doesn’t matter whether a smart device uses Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or Thread: as long as the device is Matter-compatible, it can speak to other Matter-compatible devices. And that is no laughing matter. After all, right now most smart devices seem to support Amazon Alexa and often Google Home, but HomeKit support is quite hit-and-miss. And support for lesser-known smart hubs and voice assistants is rare. But the Matter project can change all this – by finally agreeing and enforcing a common way that all your smart devices can speak to each other.

Back to the matter at hand, how does all this help Philips Hue? In-fact, DOES it help Philips Hue? Well… yes and no. I already mentioned that if there’s a fancy new RGB remote or smart speaker in the future, as long as it’s Matter-compatible, it can control your Philips Hue system.. And that’s naturally good, but guess what? You can do that already, as a matter of fact. Zigbee-enabled devices can already control your Hue lights, as we’ve seen with Amazon’s recent Echo devices that contain a Zigbee chip and support Philips Hue lights without requiring a Hue Bridge.

Plus right now, all that being “Matter-compatible” means is that it will probably support Amazon Echo, Google Home and HomeKit-based devices. But Philips Hue supports all three of these anyway! When Elon Musk launches his new smart speaker that takes over the world, Philips Hue will just do a software upgrade to the Hue Bridge to support the Musk Speaker as well.

And whilst it’s good that a lot more companies have signed up to the Matter project than the ZigBee alliance, I must shed some light on this matter and point out that Philips Hue supporting Matter could actually be a BAD thing. Wait, what? Well, Hue has confirmed that the Hue BRIDGE will be upgraded to support Matter. This means that the individual Hue lights and switches will NOT be Matter compatible – they will still run over ZigBee and require the Hue Bridge.

And this gets us to the root of the matter: your individual Hue lights, motion sensors and their accessories will be unable to talk to other Thread-compatible devices. So the biggest benefit of our future smart homes – access to the robust Thread-based mesh network – will be unavailable to the individual Philips Hue components. You still need the clunky Hue Bridge for that, and even then the Hue Bridge won’t be ‘speaking’ Thread – it’ll be Ethernet.

I realise that I haven’t discussed “Thread” yet and I don’t want to confuse things and make matters worse, so… Thread is a low-power, IPv6-based protocol that forms a mesh network. This means that it’s a rival to ZigBee and Z-Wave because they also form mesh networks – whereby each device can link with other devices, creating a fault-tolerant network. If one device goes offline, it’s fine because your smart home commands can just be routed via the other devices in the Thread network. Thread is Internet Protocol based, meaning that it fits much more into the internet-based world that we live in. After all, it’s likely that some internet routers in the future will support Thread, but none really support ZigBee.

So whilst it’s not exactly a matter of life and death that Hue lights won’t support Thread, it’s still unfortunate because Thread is the main communication protocol within the Matter standard (alongside Wi-Fi and Bluetooth). ZigBee isn’t even an option within the standard.

You would have thought that it’s just a matter of time before Philips Hue brings out a Hue Bridge v3 that DOES support Thread, but right now that doesn’t seem to be planned – the Hue Bridge v2 seems here to stay. What this means in practise is that – as I mentioned earlier – your Philips Hue lights and accessories will not be Matter or Thread compliant. They will continue to be ZigBee based, and then just the Hue Bridge v2 will be Matter-compatible – but NOT Thread compatible. And so the actual benefits of this are going to be fairly minimal, in my opinion. Remember that Hue could just introduce a software update for the Musk Speaker when it takes over the world – whether or not Matter exists too.

So that wraps up my thoughts on this matter. The fact of the matter is… what’s the matter?… sorry, I don’t know what the matter is with me today! Summing up, it’s good that Philips Hue will support Matter – but the real-world difference will probably be minimal. What matters more to me is whether Philips Hue lights will start to introduce Thread support in future generations. Doing this will allow Philips Hue to get rid of the Hue Bridge entirely.

We’ll see. For now, I hope you enjoyed this video. If you did, please click the thumbs up button which will tell YouTube that more people should see this video. Please also consider subscribing to my channel and clicking the bell icon which will notify you when I release new videos. Thank you!

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