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Empowering SOMs for IoT Devices with Matter Connectivity

Nov. 29, 2023
For Matter to realize its full potential, robust hardware solutions are needed, which is where systems-on-modules play a pivotal role.

This article is part of the TechXchange: Power the Smart Home with Matter.

What you’ll learn:

  • What the Matter protocol can do for IoT devices.
  • The importance of the hardware involved in IoT device deployment.

 

In an age of constant technological evolution, the Internet of Things (IoT) stands as a testament to the power of connectedness. However, as we dive deeper into an era of smart devices, the need for a universal communication protocol becomes paramount.

Enter Matter—a unified IP-based protocol aimed at creating seamless and secure connections across smart devices, irrespective of brand. But for Matter to realize its full potential, we need robust hardware solutions. This is where systems-on-modules (SOMs) play a pivotal role.

The Promise of Matter

Before delving into the critical relationship between Matter and SOMs, it's essential to understand the significance of Matter in the IoT landscape. Matter, as proposed by the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA), seeks to bridge the gaps that have long plagued the smart-device ecosystem. With disparate brands and platforms often functioning in silos, users have had to juggle multiple applications and systems to achieve basic interoperability. Matter aims to resolve this issue.

Matter was born out of the pressing need to address a fragmented smart-device market. With the proliferation of IoT gadgets, from smart thermostats to wearable tech, consumers found themselves ensnared in a complex web of incompatibility. Different brands, each with their own protocols, often lacked the ability to communicate with each other efficiently. Such a lack of interoperability not only diminished the user experience, but also limited the potential applications of these devices.

CSA's proposal of Matter aims to break these barriers. At its core, Matter strives to be more than just another communication protocol. It's envisioned as a unifying fabric that interweaves devices across brands and ecosystems. By doing so, Matter targets two primary pain points:

  • Interoperability: For so long, users have grappled with disparate apps and systems, trying to get their devices to "talk" to each other. Matter, with its open-source nature, ensures that devices built on its protocol can effortlessly communicate, irrespective of the manufacturer.
  • Consumer choice: Brand loyalty is valuable, but it shouldn't come at the cost of technological confinement. With Matter, consumers are no longer tethered to a single brand's ecosystem. They can pick and choose devices based on their preferences and needs, without fearing compatibility issues.

Matter's robust architecture ensures that devices leveraging not only SOMs, but various microcontroller units (MCUs) and other platforms commonly used in IoT devices, operate with minimal latency and maximum efficiency. This is especially vital as the IoT landscape isn't limited to our homes. Industrial IoT, healthcare devices, and smart-city infrastructure also stand to benefit immensely from a unified, efficient protocol.

By establishing a universal language for IoT devices, Matter promises a unified, secure, and robust communication protocol. This means buyers can invest in smart devices without being confined to a single brand or ecosystem, ultimately promoting innovation and competition in the market.

SOMs: The Unsung Heroes of IoT Connectivity

While Matter provides the blueprint, it’s the hardware—particularly SOMs—that brings this vision to life. SOMs, for the uninitiated, are compact modules that encapsulate a computer's key components. They offer an ideal blend of performance, flexibility, and scalability, making them instrumental for IoT applications. Benefits of using SOMs include:

  • Agility and fast time-to-market: As the world of IoT expands, time-to-market becomes crucial. SOMs allow manufacturers to bypass the intricacies of designing and testing new systems from scratch. By utilizing pre-validated modules, device manufacturers can expedite their development processes and ensure quick deployment.
  • Scalability: Matter's beauty lies in its ability to support myriad devices across various ecosystems. SOMs echo this sentiment by offering scalable solutions that can be tailored to a vast array of applications, be it industrial IoT or portable devices.
  • Optimized performance: SOMs come pre-optimized to function efficiently, ensuring that Matter's promise of robust connectivity is realized. With advanced processing capabilities and integrated features, SOMs provide the necessary firepower for devices to communicate seamlessly under the Matter protocol.
  • Future-proofing: As IoT evolves, so will its requirements. SOMs are inherently modular, allowing for easy upgrades and replacements. This ensures that devices remain compatible with future iterations of Matter and other advances in the IoT sphere.
  • Complete package: Matter protocol is only one aspect of the SOM connectivity support. SOMs can function as a network gateway due to the support of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Bluetooth Low Energy, and Ethernet. In addition, SOMs support many features like graphic acceleration, display, and audio that enable infrastructure for a large variety of applications. 

The Way Forward: A Collaborative Endeavor

Adherence to Matter and the use of SOMs signify more than just a technology convergence. It symbolizes the collaborative spirit needed to drive the next phase of IoT. The intrinsic relationship between the two underscores the importance of holistic solutions in creating a truly connected world.

Manufacturers and developers must recognize that the success of Matter, and by extension IoT, hinges on symbiotic relationships. The protocol requires robust hardware solutions that can be easily upgraded, and SOMs need a universal platform to showcase their full potential.

The importance of Matter and the deployment of SOMs isn’t just desirable, but essential. As we march toward a future dominated by smart devices, it will become imperative to invest in solutions that guarantee seamless connectivity, enhanced user experience, and unparalleled interoperability. Together, Matter and SOMs paint a promising future for IoT connectivity.

Ohad Yaniv is Chief Executive Officer of Variscite.

Read more articles in the TechXchange: Power the Smart Home with Matter.