Nanoleaf and Matter: Answering All Your Questions

Nanoleaf Blog Nanoleaf Press Releases Smart Lighting & Smart Home
April 1, 2022 | 10 Min Read | Serena P.


In the past few months, Matter has become the hot word on the street for the smart home industry. And there’s a good reason for this: it has the potential to open a lot of doors for smart technology that weren’t previously thought to be possible. But, as with all shiny new things that garner a ton of hype, the expectation vs. reality for what Matter is actually capable of has many people…confused. 

So read on because we’re going to lay out everything you need to know about the release of Matter, what it is (and isn’t), and how it will impact smart home, Nanoleaf, and—most importantly—you!

(NOTE: There is a TL/DR answering the most frequently asked questions at the bottom of this article if you’re short on time and just want answers)

What Matter Is:


Matter is a smart home standard created with the goal of unifying the smart home experience. Basically, it’s a language that many future smart home products will speak that will allow them to communicate fluidly with each other, regardless of the brand or maker. Around 170 technology companies are involved in this initiative, with Apple, Google, Samsung, and the Connectivity Standards Alliance being at the forefront. So in theory, where you previously had to commit to one family of products, with Matter you’ll be able to use whichever products you like with whichever ecosystem, and control them with whichever device you may have.

smart home standard matter with multiple devices

Sounds pretty cool right? That’s because it is cool! Where tech companies previously focused on exclusivity to retain a customer’s loyalty within one brand, now they are opening it up to create an even greater potential for technological growth and innovation all across the industry.

How is that you may ask? Well if a tech company doesn’t have to invest endless resources into creating their own exclusive ecosystem from scratch to work with their product line, they can dedicate more of that focus to developing those products into something more, without the previous limitations, constraints, and overhead. Interoperability leads to collaboration, and a sum that can be greater than its parts.

To The Companies

This is great news for all smart home technology companies! They can build once to one standard rather than multiple, will only have to get their products certified once, and will only need to provide one version of a product for retailers to stock in stores.

To The Consumers

To a consumer it’s also nice because it saves the trouble of checking the box to make sure each new product you buy is compatible with your current ecosystem; you’ll just see the “Matter” logo and know you’re good to go. And if you have a preference of one brand’s products over another in a specific category, you can mix and match to curate your ideal smart home system.

What Matter Isn’t:

Matter is great! But before you go rolling up your sleeve for that “I<3MATTER” tattoo, it’s important to know not only what its limitations are, but also what it was just plain never intended to do.

Matter vs. Thread

Many people compare Matter to Thread as they’re both new unifying smart home technologies posed to change the game, but that’s generally where the similarities end. Where Matter’s primary goal is interoperability, Thread’s is efficiency. With Thread you’re offered a faster, more reliable, lightweight and self-healing mesh network, when compared to things like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. And like Matter, Thread-enabled devices all speak the same language, which is how they can communicate with their compatible Thread Border Routers, regardless of brand.

A connected Thread network smart home with Nanoleaf Products

But to put it simply, where you can think of Thread like a new Wi-Fi/Bluetooth hybrid, Matter is more similar to the way you would think of Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant or a similar ecosystem of certified products. The main difference between Matter and something like HomeKit is that it is more open and versatile rather than closed off and exclusive to one brand.

So while Matter compatibility will be built into different smart home products for that increased versatility, Matter itself is a foundation and not a “feature”—in that it doesn’t change the way you use or experience those products—and it never claimed to be.

What does this mean for YOU?

As wonderful as Matter will be for the industry, when it comes to your personal smart home experience, chances are that if you’re reading this article…it will make absolutely no difference to you (or at least not in the near future).

Why? Because if you’re on this page you care about, or are interested in, smart home. You love your smart home products: your smart assistant, your amazing Nanoleaf smart lights, and those extra few smart things you have around the house that just take that smart experience to the next level.

…You’re not the big brand looking to limit coding time, or for ways to divide resources to develop the latest and greatest technology. 

…You’re not the smaller brand looking to get your foot in the door and collaborate with those bigger brands. 

…And you’re definitely not the consumer who somehow stumbled upon this page, read this far, and just discovered something called smart home for the first time that sounds kind of neat.

Your Smart Home

You already have your ecosystem filled with products that you love which help to make your day to day life a little smoother, whether that be your Nanoleaf Wi-Fi wall lights—like Shapes, Lines, Canvas, or Elements that add something special to your routine—or your Thread-enabled Essentials Bulbs or Lightstrips—that are fast, fun and functional. In your smart home, your daily lighting needs, along with the benefits of your other smart products, already give you an extraordinary and seamless smart experience every day.

Smart home with Nanoleaf Lights, Shapes, Lines, Elements, Canvas

The truth is: once Matter arrives, none of that changes in any way. 

You’ll keep using the smart products you have and love in your home the same way as you do now, and you’ll keep adding cool new ones to your established smart home ecosystem just like you did before.

Down the line, once Matter’s impact on the industry takes effect, you’ll be able to reap the benefits of the collaboration and innovation by getting your hands on some unique new game-changing smart products and features, all while the amazing smart home products and systems that you have currently (including all your Nanoleaf stuff) continue working like business as usual.

What does this mean for Nanoleaf?

Our current products were designed to be used over Wi-Fi or over Thread, and will continue to do so just the same once Matter arrives.

The Essentials

When it comes to our Essentials line, it was created as the first consumer lighting product line that was Thread-enabled, to take advantage of all of the incredible Thread features and deliver an elevated smart home experience. We wanted to give you as early access to these features as possible, while keeping it as affordable as possible. 

The tradeoff was that we had to make the most educated decisions based on the information available at the time when it came to the whispers of that promising future CHIP technology—that would later become Matter. We even designed and produced our Essentials Bulbs and Lightstrips with the intention of them being able to become Matter-compatible. But as Matter continued to develop and grow after the Essentials’ release, eventually it grew to a size that wouldn’t physically fit in the original design.

Nanoleaf Essentials Bulb and Lightstrip

Had we initially sacrificed the low cost and Thread technology, and instead sat and waited for Matter to reach its final form, we could be releasing Matter-compatible lights in 2023 along with all other smart lighting brands (and in fact…we will be doing that too! Our next generation of Nanoleaf Essentials lights to be released will be fully Matter-compatible, along with having their current Thread-enabled capabilities).

But if we always only did what other brands do when they do it…we wouldn’t be Nanoleaf! We wouldn’t be innovative, cutting-edge, first to the game, or just nearly as cool as we are in general. By releasing our Essentials when we did we brought you Thread when no one else could, and when Matter finally hits the stage we’ll once again be there first to lead the movement. And as a bonus, with the release of Matter, many more products will become Thread Border Routers giving your current Essentials lights even BETTER connectivity!

 Wi-Fi Products (Lines, Shapes, Canvas, Elements)

When it comes to our Wi-Fi products, you may have heard that they in fact ARE Matter-compatible—or they at least have the potential to be. That being said, you may have also heard that as of now we’ve made the choice not to immediately upgrade them upon Matter’s release.

Why?

Because when it comes down to it, for those who already have our current products incorporated into their homes, the upgrade—which would divert development time and resources away from other improvements and innovations—wouldn’t immediately make any difference, or any change in the way you currently use or experience them.

As mentioned before, Matter gives you that increased flexibility when bringing new smart products into your home for the first time, but for our current users who already have and love their Shapes, Canvas, Elements, and Lines, we want to make sure that if and when we upgrade their foundations, it’s because it offers something that will enhance your experience. Put simply, it’s still too early to know if/when that upgrade will bring you lots more value than you already have today, but if/when it does…we’ll be all over that like butter on toast.

The Future

So this is not to say we’re going to forever be out of the Matter game! Our goal is to continue creating a smarter home where everything just works. That’s why we see the value of Matter’s potential, and will therefore be releasing future products—like our future generation of Essentials lights—that will be optimized for this technology to give those just getting into the smart home space a more accessible way to ease into it, and to all users a more simplified cross-platform experience. 


As one of the brands working towards this initiative, at Nanoleaf we’re looking forward to helping forge where Matter takes the smart home world. But whether it be with the new Matter-compatible releases, or with the Wi-Fi and Thread products from our current lineup, we will always continue to light up your lives in style, and make your smart home experience a little smarter!

TL/DR FAQ

1. What is Matter?

A unifying smart home standard that will allow some products from different brands to work together.

2. If Nanoleaf promised future-proof products, why can’t the current Essentials Bulbs and Lightstrips upgrade to Matter? 

The current Essentials were built to focus on Thread, with its lightning speeds and next-level connectivity. 

Creating them early in Matter’s development meant we had to estimate where Matter would go, and try to prepare our products to accommodate it. 

To keep prices as low as possible for our customers, we selected the chip size predicted to be more than sufficient for Matter’s storage.

…Matter unexpectedly grew into quite the big boy, and the chips can sadly not hold it.

BUT the current Essentials are still “future-proof” in spite of this because they will continue to be supported by your current smart home ecosystems just the same, even when Matter arrives!

3. Why are you not going to upgrade the existing Wi-Fi products to Matter if they are Matter upgradable? 

We may in the future, but before we prioritize it, we want to be certain that it will be bringing value to you as a user.

4. When will your new Matter-compatible products be released?

Once Matter launches!

5. Will my current products be obsolete once Matter launches?

NO! They were all designed and certified to work with major ecosystems, and that won’t change once Matter is released, so they will continue to work exactly the same as they do now. 

6. What will be the biggest change to me as a consumer once Matter launches?

Short term: Nothing

Near future: You’ll be able to mix-and-match products between smart home ecosystems (to some degree)

Long term: Increased interoperability and collaboration between brands opens the doors for more innovation! Think new products, features, and generally smarter smart homes!

READ NEXT: This Is How Matter And Nanoleaf Are Leading The Way For Smarter Lighting And Smarter Homes

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