Will Matter power the Open Home?
7 min read

Will Matter power the Open Home?

Blue light rays swirling over a yellow box in a living room.
No Bluetooth device is too far for Home Assistant using the new Bluetooth proxies.

Can you believe it's October already? There are only three months left and it will be a busy rest of the year for the Open Home. Matter 1.0 just launched, Home Assistant Yellow is shipping to backers and the Home Assistant SkyConnect is available for pre-order.

In November we will be hosting the State of the Open Home, our annual conference where we gather all the builders in our community to talk about the Open Home. The State of the Open Home will be held online on November 13 at 11:00 AM PST / 20:00 CET. Get notified when it starts.

But enough about what next month will bring, let's dive into all the greatness that landed just this month (it's a lot). Buckle up.


More Bluetooth brings more choice

Home Assistant and ESPHome have been on a roll with Bluetooth. In case you missed last month announcement: ESPHome devices can now act as Bluetooth proxies for Home Assistant, extending the Bluetooth reach of your Home Assistant instance. You can turn any ESP32 into a Bluetooth Proxy from your browser using the web installer.

Today's Home Assistant 2022.10 release brings a big upgrade for Bluetooth proxies. Instead of being limited to only receiving data, they can now make outbound connections. This allows Home Assistant to use Bluetooth proxies to control Yale locks, Switchbot switches, Bluetooth powered HomeKit devices and so much more!

One of the pillars of the Open Home is choice. Users should be able to choose any device they want for their smart home without worrying about vendor lock-in. Now that range is no longer an issue, a ton of Bluetooth devices are now a viable option to be added to your smart home.

Cat with a Pawscout collar.
Track if your pets are home using collars with built-in iBeacon (photo by krazos)

This release also introduces support for iBeacons. iBeacons are Bluetooth beacons that you can attach to things that you want to track. This allows you to track if your garbage can is outside for trash day or your car or pet are not at home.

Read the full release notes.

What the heck?!

We are constantly working on improving the experience of the Open Home. Home Assistant, ESPHome, Z-Wave JS and so many other projects are getting major improvements every month.

With so much momentum we sometimes miss obvious issues or missing things that users run into every day. Issues you don't understand why someone wouldn't just take the time to fix that.

To collect all these issues Home Assistant has launched their Month of What the Heck?. The month evolves around a special forum category where you can post any issue, annoyance or small feature request with the lowest possible barrier to post: none!

Join us on the forums! (and don't forget to read the FAQ at the top)

Banner for the Home Assistant Month of What the Heck?!

Matter 1.0 is here

Matter 1.0 was released yesterday. It's a brand new smart home standard that works locally. We are looking forward to it because Matter is a great fit for the Open Home: Matter devices don't have to rely on a manufacturer cloud to function. Even with company support gone, Matter devices will continue to function. It has however to be noted: while Matter works local, nothing is stopping your smart home controller from relying on the cloud to store your data or even function.

Matter logo

With the release out of the door it's currently the calm before the storm. Well actually, no, if you think the release of Matter will be a storm, you'll be disappointed. Adoption is going to take time because there are many things that need to happen for Matter to succeed and they all depend on one another.

Matter 1.0 being released is only the very first step. This version focuses mainly on the foundation of the standard. The actual number of different device types is fairly limited. Don't worry: the usual suspects like light, switch and various sensors are all there. But things like cameras are missing.

With the specification released, it's time for the next step: support by smart home platforms. Google, Apple and Home Assistant all have a public beta of their Matter support available which will arrive later this year as a software upgrade. That's great, but those platforms need something to control too.

This brings us to manufacturers. They need to belief in Matter and trust that investing resources will help sell more devices without limiting their ability to build a relationship with their users and sell more in the future (a valid concern). The fastest path for manufacturers to support Matter is to upgrade existing devices. This can however be tricky, as running Matter requires more resources. Upgrading is only an option if the device was designed with Matter in mind. The more likely path is that manufacturers will introduce new products with Matter support or upgrade their hubs, while keeping their devices on their old protocols.

Finally, we need you. There need to be actual consumers to buy these products and put them in their home. This will start the feedback loop to convince manufacturers to keep making more Matter devices. And we want more Matter devices because they work local!

So don't expect to be blown away by the Matter 1.0 launch, as it's only the start. Give it a year or two or three for more devices, and especially more affordable devices, to hit the market.

Home Assistant Yellow is shipping

The Home Assistant Yellow and Yellow Kit have finally arrived at the Mouser warehouse and are being shipped to backers.

Meanwhile the team has been busy fixing the Home Assistant Yellow Kit PoE edition and it has passed emission testing! Mass production is starting soon and we hope to be able to hand this to over to Crowd Supply as soon as possible. Given the timeline for Yellow, we expect this to arrive no later than January 2023.

We're terribly sorry about all the delays. Going into the hardware business during a chip shortage and global logistic mess brings it's own set of challenges and although we prepared, we still got caught off-guard.

Home Assistant SkyConnect

The new smart home standard Matter is coming and it will support two types of communication. Devices can talk Matter over your existing Wi-Fi network or communicate via Thread, a mesh networking standard.

The Home Assistant Yellow has a radio module that is capable of running both Thread and Zigbee at the same time and support for that is being added to Home Assistant. But what about all the users that are on a Home Assistant Blue or a Raspberry Pi?  

Nabu Casa didn't want their work to be wasted and so they created the Home Assistant SkyConnect, a USB stick to add this functionality to your existing installation.

Home Assistant SkyConnect

The stick will ship with just Zigbee enabled, but will be upgraded via Home Assistant to offer full Thread and Zigbee once Matter is released and the firmware upgrade is available.

Pre-order Home Assistant SkyConnect

Marcel joins Nabu Casa to work on Matter

Okay, one more Matter related bit of news. Nabu Casa has been working hard on Matter support in Home Assistant. We showcased our early prototype back in June at our Matter workshop, and allowed anyone to try it out.

We've been working on improving Matter ever since. Today we're happy that Marcel van der Veldt is starting at Nabu Casa to work full-time on Matter. Marcel is most known in the Open Home community for implementing the Philips Hue v2 API in Home Assistant, building Music Assistant, and his involvement with integrating Z-Wave JS in Home Assistant.

At Nabu Casa, Marcel will lead all things Matter. He will make sure that Matter in Home Assistant works as expected, and will represent Nabu Casa and the Open Home position within the CSA alliance (which develops Matter). Welcome Marcel!

Nabu Casa – founded by me (Paulus Schoutsen), founder of Home Assistant – exists to further develop Home Assistant, ESPHome, and other projects that help drive the Open Home. It has no investors and its sole income is from people subscribing to Home Assistant Cloud. If you like what Nabu Casa does, consider subscribing!

More Z-Wave firmware updates available

And now for something not Matter related: more companies are providing firmware updates via the Z-Wave JS firmware service. This service helps users keep their Z-Wave devices up to date and their smart homes secure.

We worked last month with Jasco to provide updates for their products. This month Inovelli has published their first firmware to see how it works while iBlinds uploaded firmware for all of their Z-Wave devices. Sweet! 😎

If you use Home Assistant or another product that uses the Z-Wave JS firmware update service, you don't need to do anything. New updates are automatically made available to you.

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