The Matter protocol combines Thread and BLE.

Two different wireless protocols can - and sometimes must - work together in a single smart home system.


As the experience of recent years has shown, apparently no wireless communication protocol will gain complete primacy in the smart home sector.

The global vision of a smart home includes various technologies such as smart lighting, thermostats, door locks and audio systems that communicate seamlessly to make life better for millions of consumers around the world. However, for this vision to become a reality, smart home solutions must continue to evolve. The following factors seem to be the key to further development:

  • Strengthening the cooperation of the entire industry
  • Significantly reduced system complexity and improved interoperability between wireless devices and platforms, including home hubs from key ecosystem providers such as Amazon, Apple and Google
  • Willingness to take full advantage of the unique benefits offered by various wireless protocols in advanced smart home applications


The combined benefits of Bluetooth LE and Thread

As already mentioned, no single wireless protocol will dominate the widely adopted smart home sector. On the other hand, by combining the capabilities of various leading protocols, OEMs can accelerate the development of their wireless products and services, creating more efficient systems and thus gaining an advantage in increasingly competitive smart home market.

Each major protocol brings something valuable. For example, Thread (mesh protocol based on IPv6 standards with no single point of failure) seems to be the perfect standard for smart home systems. However, Bluetooth LE - primarily developed for peer-to-peer consumer applications - is still better suited for the smartphone connectivity that is prerequisite for easily implementing the next wave of smart home innovation. Until now, however, the advantages of this connection could not be underestimated as the complexity of the system was an obstacle from the end user point of view.

Today, Bluetooth LE and Thread are increasingly used together as protocols that complement each other and extend a range of smart home technologies. Users enjoy the advantages of Bluetooth LE connectivity, which enables efficient commissioning and configuration of devices on the network using a smartphone. On the other hand, the implementation of Thread enables work with low energy consumption, in a small range of bandwidth.

Low-power Thread network devices form a stably connected network, extending coverage without additional infrastructure. In addition, Thread enables fully encrypted communication between individual devices and the cloud.

Collaboration makes a difference

Close collaboration with industry stakeholders can accelerate the adoption of smart home systems. A group of companies known as Matter is working to create useful standards that leverage the connected ecosystems of device manufacturers and technology vendors. In turn, Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA), a global organization using open standards of low-power wireless technologies, has ambitions to create conditions for true, full interoperability of smart homes, which is to lead to their full dissemination.

CSA creates a universal application protocol that is capable of providing end-to-end cloud connectivity while enhancing security and privacy between a wireless device and other devices and applications. This protocol will be based on the mature Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and User Datagram Protocol (UDP), as well as the widespread Internet Protocol (IPv6) and other lower-layer protocols including Bluetooth LE and Thread.

For the Matter alliance, compatible products must simultaneously support the Bluetooth LE and Thread wireless protocols. The first allows the device to be started up safely and without any problems using a smartphone or tablet, the second transmits data when the device connects to the network.

This article is courtesy of © Nordic Semiconductor

Author: Krzysztof Loska

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