Matter - Unlocking the Potential of Matter Devices with a Companion App (Part 1)

Patrick Sernetz

Patrick Sernetz – Head of Solution Architecture

In the rapidly evolving world of smart home technology, the advent of Matter has been a game-changer. Matter’s promise of standardization offers a fascinating vision of interoperability, where devices seamlessly communicate across different smart home ecosystems. This universality is pivotal, especially when it involves devices interacting in ways previously confined by brand-specific limitations.

Consider a matter-enabled color changing light, which, under Matter’s guidelines, supports essential functions such as On/Off switches and brightness adjustments. These features are foundational, ensuring that at a basic level, a smart home system can orchestrate the lighting preferences throughout the day. Matter not only addresses the challenge of secure interoperability among smart home devices but also significantly eases the addition of new devices with a standardized commissioning process across all Matter-enabled devices and brands. Furthermore, it utilizes a blockchain-based ledger to ensure each device remains identifiable, linking to essential resources like manuals, firmware updates, and data sheets in a secure, tamper-proof manner. This decentralization enhances durability and promotes sustainability, offering a long-lasting smart solution advantage.

Is a Companion App still needed?

As the smart home system of choice can now control the matter smart lighting device, interaction with the related voice control system or smartphone app is possible. However, that’s not quite it; there is still a need for companion apps since the smart light might have more features than a regular light bulb. Imagine it boasts advanced functionalities like dynamic animations, an ambilight-like synchronization with a TV, or an integrated PIR sensor for motion-activated lighting. These are the unique selling points that elevate a product from a standard offering to something extraordinary. But here lies the challenge. The current scope of Matter specifications might not fully embrace these intricate capabilities. While Matter lays the groundwork for basic interoperability, it doesn’t always cater to the nuanced, advanced features that differentiate a product in a crowded market. This is where the concept of a companion app becomes not just beneficial but essential. But what is a companion app at all? According to this article a companion app can provide an intuitive way to control and interact with devices, offering customization, real-time monitoring, and updates, thereby enhancing usability and the overall experience with the technology. A well-designed companion app serves as a bridge between Matter’s standardization and the rich, unique functionalities of a device. It represents a brand’s commitment to not only meet the basic expectations set by Matter but to exceed them, offering users a deeper, more customizable experience. Through this app, users gain access to the full spectrum of what a device is able to do, far beyond what Matter currently encompasses. A companion app does more than just unlock additional features; it deepens user engagement, fostering a connection between a brand and their customers. It allows users to explore the full capabilities of their devices, creating a more personalized and satisfying user experience. This level of customization and control is what distinguishes a product from others, turning a standard smart home device into an integral part of a user’s daily life.

In addition, a companion app can enhance the functionality of IoT devices by providing context. For instance, a smart plant cabinet equipped with various sensors may appear contextless in a generic Home app. However, integrating this information into a Smart Companion App can contextualize these sensors within the framework of the smart plant cabinet. This allows the app to guide users through usage, helping them understand what sensor values indicate about the conditions within the plant cabinet, thereby making the device more intuitive and user-friendly. Moreover, by offering a platform that goes beyond the basic functionality required by Matter, it opens the door to ongoing innovation. As a product evolves, the companion app can easily be updated to introduce new features and enhancements, ensuring that the device remains at the cutting edge of smart home technology.

How does that work?

Matter technology harnesses IP communication, utilizing 6LoWPAN for transmission across Ethernet, WiFi, or Thread. This setup enables direct communication between the companion app and smart devices using protocols (e.g. CoAP) optimized beyond the Matter Protocol. These custom protocols are tailored to conserve bandwidth and energy, making them ideal for powering advanced services on smart light bulbs. To access these specialized services, a custom companion app is developed. This app operates using custom protocols that run parallel to, but independent from, the Matter Protocol. This ensures that while the device offers unique functionalities through the custom app, it maintains full compatibility with all “Works with Matter” signed products. The integration of separate services and protocols into the device’s firmware offers a greater degree of freedom, enabling the custom app to unlock these capabilities. This functionality allows users to experience enhanced features that differentiate a product from other Matter-compliant devices. All the while, the device continues to support the basic functionality set forth by the Matter specification, ensuring seamless operation within the Matter ecosystem. This strategic use of a custom companion app not only broadens the capabilities of our smart devices but also provides a competitive edge in the smart home market by offering more personalized and advanced options for users.

What about security?

Integrating a device as an IPv6 entity on local networks raises important security considerations. Matter’s high security standards, including secure commissioning, encrypted communications, and certificate-based authentication, set a significant benchmark. When designing smart devices and companion apps, adopting a security-first approach is crucial. This means ensuring that devices offer only essential services, maintaining encrypted communication, and using a separate certificate-based authentication to match Matter’s security level, ensuring both custom functionality and foundational security measures are in place.


In conclusion, while Matter’s standardization is a significant step forward for device interoperability and user convenience, additional potential of the smart device should be realized through a dedicated companion app. This approach not only aligns with Matter’s vision of a more interconnected smart home ecosystem but also ensures that a product stands out by offering a richer, more engaging user experience while still being fully compatible with existing matter smart home solutions. In the realm of smart technology, where innovation is relentless, such differentiation is not just beneficial—it’s essential.

Patrick Sernetz

Do you have any questions or would you like to realise a Matter project?

Patrick Sernetz – Head of Solution Architecture

Hi, I'm Patrick. Do you have any questions about Matter? Feel free to contact me by e-mail.