Matter 1.2 brings robot vacuums, fridges, smoke alarms, and more

Matter — the IOT connectivity standard with ambitions to fix the smart home and make all of our gadgets talk to each other — has hit version 1.2, adding support for nine new types of connected devices. Robot vacuums, refrigerators, washing machines, and dishwashers are coming to Matter, as are smoke and CO alarms, air quality sensors, air purifiers, room air conditions, and fans. It’s a crucial moment for the success of the industry-backed coalition that counts 675 companies among its members. This is where it moves from the relatively small categories of door locks and light bulbs to the real moneymakers: large appliances.

The Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA), the organization behind Matter, released the Matter 1.2 specification this week, a year after launching Matter 1.0, following through on its promise to release two updates a year. Now, appliance manufacturers can add support for Matter to their devices, and ecosystems such as Apple Home, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Samsung SmartThings can start supporting the new device types.

Yes, this means you should finally be able to control a robot vacuum in the Apple Home app — not to mention your wine fridge, dishwasher, and washing machine. 

You should finally be able to control a robot vacuum in the Apple Home app

The initial feature set for the new device types includes basic function controls (start / stop, change mode) and notifications — such as the temperature of your fridge, the status of your laundry, or whether smoke is detected (see sidebar for more).

Robot vacuum support is robust — remote start and progress notifications, cleaning modes (dry vacuum, wet mopping), and alerts for brush status, error reporting, and charging status. But there’s no mapping, so you’ll still need to use your vacuum app if you want to tell the robot where to go. 

Air purifiers and air quality sensors are also interesting additions. Currently, support across platforms for air purifiers is spotty, and products are expensive. Matter supports a wide range of air quality sensors (see sidebar) plus location for sensors, so individual sensors placed around a home can feed data to a device like an air purifier, HVAC system, or a connected oven hood.