Saturday, May 25, 2024

Matter Certification: Unlock Full Potential Of Smart Homes

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This article explores the ins and outs of the Samsung’s Matter standard, its key features,
and the potential it holds for creating a seamless and connected smart home experience.
Get ready to unlock the full potential of your smart home as we delve into the world of Matter and Samsung offerings for this emerging global standard

The future of smart home technology is evolving at an unprecedented pace, and Samsung is at the forefront of this revolution with its active leadership in the ground-breaking Matter standard. Designed to enhance interoperability and simplify the integration of smart devices, Matter is set to reshape the way we interact with our homes.

It has interior scene with many wireless controlled device and a mobile with app that is controlling them

How Matter works

Today there are about five billion ZigBee devices available in the market. Even though people have adopted ZigBee well, the number of markets in which the products are spreading are still low. The Wi-Fi-based devices have overtaken the market.

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ZigBee has well-defined ZCL cluster libraries. Standard data formats can be imagined as data structures. For example, whenever you want a government passport, you have various ways to provide your data to the government. If we leave it to people’s imagination of an open format letter, we will have zillions of variations in the letter written with the needed data, and you can imagine the delays and ping-pong.

The best way adopted in all public offices is to have a form (or format), which is a template to provide the information STOP in a well-structured format to maintain a common standard to exchange data with government for automation.

Similarly, Matter allows a device vendor to write everything in a particular format, which allows other devices to talk to that device or a cloud platform to provide additional services. Imagine a security system telling a light bulb, as per Matter specifications, to turn on when it detects motion, so that camera can capture the intruder’s picture. Here all the devices such as motion sensor, bulb, and camera could be from different vendors, but they talk to each other observing the Matter standard.

Whenever a computer mouse is connected to the central processing unit (CPU) of a computer, data goes from the mouse to the computer in a very structured way. To enhance security, Samsung conducted different experiments of their own hardware and learnt from them. From these learnings and participating companies’ feedback, Samsung has introduced additional security in Matter.

Protocol stack
Fig. 1: Protocol stack

Earlier scenario

Earlier, a small manufacturer in the Internet of Things (IoT) smart home ecosystem had to work with multiple big players and pay each of them, even if a small amount. There were many small players who could not manage multiple stock keeping units (SKUs).

With Matter, we now have one certification which will be honoured by all the other players like Samsung Hub, Google Nest, Alexa, and Apple. This drastically reduces the cost of certifying a device for a small manufacturer and makes it easier for him to sell the same product in multiple markets and verticals.

Sometimes some of the certifications have region-specific limitations. For example, some of the products that are certified in the United States may not work in India. Matter is a great logo to have for most device manufactures. System integrators, especially the small players, who want to use off-the-shelf products and deploy IoT services will greatly benefit.

Earlier there could be instances where a company’s strength lied purely in hardware manufacturing or a service on top of that. To maintain certifications, government compliance, and user data privacy security, the company needed the full stack—from trusted hardware platform to transmission, cloud platform, and apps—to be secure and securely exchanging data.

Matter has a strict regime for security; Samsung devices provide additional Knox hardware security. Samsung puts five to six cameras in some of their phones and it is not difficult for them to use them as a monitoring device. But their biggest concern has always been privacy and security.

We have all heard of incidents where smart door locks were used to launch denial of service attacks (DDOS) on public servers where smart locks started bombarding the servers. For example, if a banking server gets attacked with thousands of locks sending requests to the server, it would deny access to their regular customers wanting banking services. With IoT devices expected to multiply, the attack potential also becomes exponentially large.

Security systems usually encrypt messages between devices with two software keys. It is like a bank locker where one key is owned by the bank and the other by the client. These messages can only be decrypted with the right keys.

One of the causes of security breaches in devices is the rooting of a device, where it switches off the binary system of a device and the security keys are duplicated. Samsung provides Knox Guard to deal with this. Knox Guard provides clustered hardware platforms, which means the keys are burnt during manufacturing and get stored in a secured zone where it cannot be overwritten by any software switch.

United States Air Force and their defence establishment has certified the Knox grade platform for mobility devices, and they use it for their pilots’ tablets, etc. The same Knox Guard is used in Samsung washing machines, televisions, and other smart appliances.

Matter has defined a concept for multiple admins. It means that you can onboard a device to one application (for example, SmartThings app) and the device is available in other apps like Google Home as well. For example, you can check your doorbell with Alexa, Google Home, etc at the same time with minimal configuration. This is the kind of flexibility that only Matter offers at present.

Smart home banner web icon for futuristic technology, Security, Smart conditioner, smart house, IOT, Energy management, voice assistant and Lighting control. Minimal vector infographic.

Protocol stack

Matter is an application layer protocol that is very flexible, as it does not require you to change your Wi-Fi card or a ZigBee card. Matter can support Wi-Fi and Thread devices.

Most of the code that is needed is available in open source repositories and you do not have to invest in software development. You can either get code from the repositories themselves or you can go to chip vendors, who can give you the chip with Matter binary loaded in it.

Certification process

The certification of Matter involves following steps:

  1. Become a member. Read Connectivity Standards Alliance Policies and Governing Documents.
  2. Request a manufacturer/vendor ID. Contact the Alliance Certification Team to reserve your manufacturer ID or vendor ID.
  3. Select a Compliant Platform or Network Transport. For Zigbee and Smart Energy end products, there is access to Compliant Platforms from multiple silicon vendors. Select one from the list of certified Compliant Platforms. For Matter end products, you have the choice of various network transport options, including Wi-Fi, Thread, and Ethernet. Note that you will need to obtain certification for your network transport from the relevant standards organisation before you certify your Matter device with Alliance.
  4. Choose a Testing Provider. Select from Connectivity Standards Alliance authorised Test Providers at locations all around the world.
  5. Send product to be tested. After scheduling testing with an authorised Test Provider, the facility will make arrangements for testing samples and Protocol Implementation Conformance Statement (PICS) documents to be submitted. Test Provider will issue a final report to the Connectivity Standards Alliance when testing is successfully completed.
  6. Submit Certification Application. Complete and apply for certification in Connectivity Standards Alliance Certification Tool. Instructions for requesting a Certification Tool account and creating/submitting applications can be found in the Connectivity Standards Alliance Members Area.
  7. Application Pending. Connectivity Standards Alliance Certification Team will review your application and, if necessary, request action on specific identified items or information required to decide approval or rejection. At any time during this process, you may reach out to the Connectivity Standards Alliance Certification Team with any questions.
  8. Approval. After your product certification is approved, you will receive a formal certificate from Alliance and you may now start using the Certified Product logo. Certified Product logos have usage guidelines that govern how they are used. Please review the applicable sections before affixing. Logos are provided to the applicant’s contact for the certification. Matter products will also receive a Certification Declaration (CD) blob file and a certified product record entered in the Distributed Compliance Ledger (DCL).

To conclude, Matter has redefined the trajectory of smart home technology, offering a glimpse into a future where compatibility and connectivity seamlessly coexist. With its ability to simplify device integration and promote interoperability, Matter opens up a world of possibilities for creating truly smart and interconnected homes.

As we continue to witness advancements in this field, embracing the Matter standard will be instrumental in unlocking the full potential of smart homes, making our lives more convenient, efficient, and enjoyable than ever before. So, get ready to rediscover the future of the smart home ecosystem with Matter at the helm.

This article is based on the tech talk by Ravindra B. Shet, Senior Director, Head of IoT Team, Samsung R&D Institute India Bangalore (SRIB) Pvt Ltd. It has been transcribed and curated by Laveesh Kocher, a tech enthusiast at EFY, who has a knack for open source exploration and research


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