A Matter of Collaboration: Silicon Labs Brings our Matter Solutions to Life in Amsterdam
Earlier this month, a group of Silicon Labs employees from six different countries met in Amsterdam to take part in the Matter Launch and subsequent CSA Member Meeting. As gold sponsors of the event, we had the opportunity to present our Matter solutions to not only the rest of CSA’s membership, but to the entire world as part of the Matter Launch Event. It was a massive undertaking and I’d like to offer a glimpse under the hood and share a little bit about how we got there.
In the months leading up to the event, we had assembled a “tiger team”—borrowing from CSA’s Work Group nomenclature—to bring Silicon Labs’ Matter demos to life. This group consisted of folks from across our organization from product to R&D, from marketing to the business units, making sure we got the message right and demonstrated the technical chops to really showcase what we can do. We met on a weekly basis, working across different time zones to bring all the pieces to life. Finally, a subset of us flew in for the media event on November 3.
As we started setting everything up that morning at Capital C, I took a moment to reflect. For so many of us, having worked on Matter for so many years, the excitement in the room was palpable. For those of us in the silicon world, we often think first of the technical requirements and security features developed by the technical work groups within the Alliance, but it also includes the branding, messaging, and soundbites, which are developed by the communications professionals in the marketing work groups. Matter is truly a collaborative effort, tapping into the expertise of so many talented people across companies and business functions. And the morning before the media event, we had a cross-section of those folks in the room, bursting with energy and excitement, yet dealing with last-minute complications like unexpected power cycles and coffee shortages.
CSA, Silicon Labs, Schneider Electric, Tuya Smart, and Amazon Highlight Matter Momentum
Once the event officially got under way, it started with keynote presentations from CSA, Silicon Labs, Schneider Electric, Tuya Smart, and Amazon. Kicking it off, CSA President and CEO Tobin Richardson discussed how the industry had arrived at this critical point, demonstrating that since Matter 1.0 was released in early October, the industry adoption had been immense, and showed no signs of slowing down.
Tobin Richardson of CSA
Speaking to how silicon rests at the foundation of Matter, Silicon Labs Senior Vice President of Software Development Manish Kothari explained that “Ease of connectivity and interoperability has spurred growth in smartphones and PCs, and now with Matter, intelligent devices will transform as well.”
Manish Kothari of Silicon Labs
Manish was followed on-stage by Sitao Ma, VP of Connected Systems and CTO of Schneider Electric Home and Distribution. Sitao explained how Matter can make a more connected home and illustrated the point by demonstrating the company’s Wiser Smart Home Energy Management platform. Designed to help consumers take a more active and informed role in their homes’ energy use, the Wiser platform uses Silicon Labs’ MG24 SoC and our Zigbee software stack. As the leading semiconductor code contributor for Matter, Silicon Labs is a logical fit for helping devices communicate with each other.
Sitao Ma of Schneider Electric
The next keynote speaker was Tuya Smart Co-Founder and COO Alex Yang. Alex demonstrated how Tuya’s IoT development platform had already accelerated Matter development for their customers and how since 2019 they had already conducted over 200 testing sessions to get devices certified for Matter. If you want to read more about how Tuya is using Silicon Labs to advance Matter, you can read our case study with them, "Tuya Smart Brings No-Code IoT Development to Anyone Using Silicon Labs’ Wireless Solutions.”
Alex Yang of Tuya
The final keynote speaker was Marja Koopmans, Director of Smart Home and Health at Amazon. Marja showcased the vast ecosystem of IoT stakeholders that Amazon works with around the Smart Home, including Silicon Labs. You can read more about our work with using Matter for Frustration Free Setup on Alexa devices.
Marja Koopmans of Amazon
Finally, CCS Insights analyst Ben Wood closed out the keynote and helped transition to a panel discussion around the IoT by showcasing his research on the state of IoT adoption around the world. Surprising takeaway: Spain really likes robot vacuums, with 1 in 3 homes having one!
Ben Wood of CCS delivers some interesting data points on the smart home
Ben then moderated a panel discussion between all of the keynote speakers, who had a great discussion about how they see Matter evolving over the next several years. In case you missed the event, you can watch both the keynote and panel on YouTube.
The panelists engage in discussion
After the keynote presentations and panel, we convened in the demo area. In order to demonstrate the full Silicon Labs Matter solution, we took a three-pronged approach. First, we wanted to showcase our Pro Development Kits, including our modules and SoCs for both Wi-Fi (SiWx917 and WF200) and Thread (EFR32MG24 and EFR32MG12). These kits enable developers to build a device and see it respond on a small LED screen and include powerful debugging capabilities when used with Simplicity Studio. Using these kits, we created representations of a door lock, thermostat, light, and window covering. Second, we showcased our Unify SDK, which enables bridging between native Matter devices and devices running Zigbee or Z-Wave. And finally, we connected some of our customers’ end devices running Matter to showcase Matter’s Multi-Admin functionality in real life.
Silicon Labs demo at the Matter Launch Event
Jean-François Penven explains our demo to Claus from Wi-Fi NOW
All of the devices on the table (both customer devices and dev kit representations) were controllable by Matter controllers from major ecosystem partners. We utilized Google’s Nest Hub 2 and a Google Pixel phone to communicate with the Google Assistant, an iPhone and an Apple TV 4k’s remote to talk to Siri, and the SmartThings app on the Samsung Galaxy phone to send commands through Aeotec’s Smart Home Hub. We showcased several Matter-enabled products from customers including Nanoleaf, Allegion/Schlage, Tuya, and LEEDARSON. As part of the Unify demo, we also had Zigbee products from IKEA and a Z-Wave plug from Fibaro. By combining the power of Matter’s Multi-Admin functionality with our Unify SDK, we demonstrated all these products working together to create cohesive scenarios across a virtual home.
Junior Martinez and Ann Olivo are interviewed by Electronic Design
We got to speak with reporters from Electronic Design, Der Spiegel, Android Police, The Verge, and more. For me personally, having worked on the Matter marketing front lines for so long, it was very cool to walk reporters through our demo and watch them have that lightbulb moment where they could actually see Matter coming to life in real time.
The Member Meeting: Where the Standards are Set
After a weekend to recuperate, we joined more colleagues for the CSA Member Meeting from November 7-10. Silicon Labs has been a leader in the IoT standards space for many years and it hasn’t come by accident. We’ve been participating in these types of meetings since the early aughts, often sponsoring and paving the way for more collaboration.
The Silicon Labs team poses with our demo table at the CSA Member Meeting
Like many standards orgs, the CSA typically hosts three in-person member meetings per year, but the work continues year-round with many individual conference calls and working sessions held virtually across the globe (standards orgs were championing remote work before it was a thing). The member meetings give individual members the chance to meet their peers face-to-face and dedicate uninterrupted time to standardization efforts. It’s a huge investment by both the individuals involved in the work and the companies who send their employees to advance the technologies. Not only does it give the Work Groups the opportunity to host ballots and have important discussions, but it gives individuals the opportunity to really get to know each other by sitting next to each other in meetings and at meals and providing the opportunity for those “water cooler” conversations that are so important to collaboration and building culture. Of course, in Amsterdam, those conversations were had in front of Nespresso machines instead of water coolers.
An ussie of Silicon Labs employees during one of the Member Meeting networking receptions
The week started out at the opening plenary sessions with updates from CSA leadership and the chairs of the five Work Groups within the Alliance—Matter, Zigbee, Data Model (Dotdot), Access Control, and the newly announced Product Security WG. These opening plenary presentations give members the opportunity to orient themselves to the work ahead of them for the week. Each Work Group is typically divided into different Sub Groups (Technical, Marketing and Product, Certification, Regulatory, etc.) and sometimes those Sub Groups are further divided into “Tiger Teams”, which are spun up and down quickly as the WG’s needs change. These Sub Groups and Tiger Teams meet throughout the week to achieve the goals set out during the opening plenary sessions. Needless to say, it is a lot of work, and by the end of the week, most everyone is exhausted.
The member meeting also gave us another opportunity to showcase our Matter demos during networking receptions and coffee breaks. We even had the opportunity to bring another customer end device into the fold—Nuki’s very chic Smart Lock.
We explained our demo to other CSA members
Rob Alexander and Ann Olivo pose with Andreas Raab and the Smart Lock from Nuki
Although the meeting itself is a ton of work, the membership also had a chance to celebrate the launch of Matter together at the Member Celebration, hosted at a night club that was transformed into a Matter dance club just for us. It was a truly unforgettable night.
Ann Olivo and Janet Collins pose with sparklers and a masked performer at the Matter Celebration
Silicon Labs employees pose with Daniel Moneta of Google and Krista Ingram of CSA
The Silicon Labs logo is projected onto the ceiling at the Matter Celebration
Beyond all the work that goes into developing new technologies and the excitement that comes with launching those standards, it’s important to remember what’s at the heart of all of this: collaboration. During these member meetings and through standardization efforts, we join hands with both customers and competitors to do what’s right for the internet of things and to build a more connected world together. I can’t wait to see what our customers will build next on the foundation we’ve laid.