At its developer conference SDC22, Samsung announced more details about the Matter features of the SmartThings Hub. The smarthome hub is known to receive a free software update to support the standard. Here, it depends on the model generation.
2nd generation hub: LAN / WLAN
In principle, SmartThings hubs will receive an update back to the 2015 models. However, the 2nd generation will continue to support only three wireless standards: WLAN, Z-Wave and Zigbee. A so-called border router is required to be compatible with Matter products that use Thread. It connects the young wireless protocol with the IP network at home and provides the SmartThings hub with access to Thread devices. Communication with the border router takes place via WLAN or the hub’s LAN port.
3rd generation hub: with Thread
A 3rd generation hub or the current version from Aeotec offers more possibilities. According to Samsung, the Thread protocol will be enabled on both versions. The company worked closely with chip manufacturer Silicon Labs to make this possible, the conference heard. In practical terms, this means that hubs sold since 2018 will operate in the 2.4 Ghz band in parallel with Thread and Zigbee. The hub will additionally assume the role of a border router. This means that Z-Wave, Zigbee and Thread products can be operated simultaneously without installing additional hardware.
No Zigbee bridge for others?
The situation is still somewhat unclear when it comes to passing products to other Matter ecosystems. Mark Benson, Head of SmartThings USA, recently explained on Stacey Higginbotham’s “Internet of Things Podcast” that the hub would not initially work as a Zigbee bridge for Matter environments (link). The function has been postponed to a later date, he said. Means actually: Zigbee products, which are registered at the SmartThings hub, do not appear in other Matter systems such as Apple Home or Amazon Alexa.
On the other hand, Samsung just announced an increased cooperation with Google. The multi-admin function of Matter is supposed to make it particularly easy to control devices via the SmartThings app as well as via Google Home – no matter in which ecosystem they were set up. Whether this also applies to Zigbee, Z-Wave or only Thread is not clear from the message (link). We will probably only know exactly when the software update is available and Matter has been launched.
An update on the update
Addition from November 4, 2022: After the official launch event in Amsterdam, some things are clearer: With the free automatic firmware update of the hub, which took place in October, the SmartThings hub can also connect Thread devices. And for now, only those will be passed on to other Matter systems. A bridge function for Zigbee and Z-Wave products is not planned at launch. Thus, anyone who wants to mix all three wireless standards will have to use Samsung’s SmartThings app during operation.
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