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Smart home company Eve plans to use Matter to move beyond Apple’s HomeKit

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Eve is upgrading more products to Thread and will add compatibility with all ecosystems (yes, even Android)

Eve is upgrading all its compatible products —such as its Eve Energy smart plug — to the Matter smart home standard.
Image: Eve Home

Eve, the makers of high-end Apple HomeKit smart home gadgets for home security, energy, and lighting, has been leading the charge for the new Matter standard for a while now, specifically, its primary protocol Thread. As one of the first device makers to release Thread-based products, Eve just announced its tenth device to get the promised hardware upgrade — the $99.99 Eve Room indoor air quality monitor.

With almost half of its existing products now Thread-enabled and ready for Matter, the company is turning its attention to the rest of its portfolio. Jerome Gackel, CEO of Eve Systems, confirmed to The Verge that Eve will be launching a Thread-enabled Eve Water Guard (a leak detector) in February 2022 and an Eve Flare (a portable lamp) in March; and Thread versions of the Eve Light Switch (a hardwired wall switch) and the Eve Motion (a motion sensor) will follow shortly. These two products are getting more than just a new radio, however, both will get an entirely new design, says Gackel. The new Eve Motion will include a luminosity sensor (a digital light sensor).

Eve Room — an indoor air quality monitor with an E Ink screen — is the latest Eve product to receive a hardware upgrade to Thread.
Image: Eve Home

The company is also entering a brand-new product category: smart shades. Eve MotionBlinds are rechargeable battery-powered smart motors for Coulisse shades. They will launch in January and will be HomeKit certified alongside using a Thread radio and being upgraded to Matter when the standard launches.

Eve has committed to upgrading all its existing compatible devices to Matter when the standard is expected to arrive in June 2022, starting with its US smart plug Eve Energy and the Eve Motion and Eve Door & Window sensors. The second rollout will cover its light switches (US and European versions), the Eve Thermo radiator valve in the fall, and Eve Weather, Eve Room, and Eve Energy (UK and Australian editions) at the end of 2022.

This leaves only the company’s indoor camera out of the Thread party (at least in terms of its US products). The Eve Cam works over Wi-Fi, which is supported by Matter, but cameras aren’t part of the Matter specification yet.

The Eve Weather is one of Eve’s ten products that have already received the hardware upgrade to Thread, along with the Eve Aqua, Eve Door & Window sensor, and Eve Energy smart plug.
Image: Eve Home

However, as Gackle first told Stacey Higginbotham, some customers may not want to rush to Matter initially. “It’s a reality that when Matter launches, it won’t support every functionality of every manufacturer’s devices right away,” Gackel told The Verge. “Over time, it will. So, if a user is specifically using an Eve device for function X, Y, or Z, they should confirm it will be supported at Matter’s launch, or possibly choose to stay on HomeKit via Thread until it (function X, Y, or Z) is supported in the near future.” Gackel says he’s confident that all the functions will be supported on Matter over time.

Eve says its switchover from Bluetooth to Thread has already been “a spectacular success” for the company, helping improve its sensors’ speed, range, reliability, and battery life. “We’ve had roughly more than 5,000 emails from happy customers telling us how good it is now,” says Gackel.

And while Thread devices require a border router (such as a HomePod Mini) to communicate with each other, Gackel is confident these will quickly become ubiquitous. “We believe more and more Wi-Fi routers will embed Thread directly, as with Eero today,” he says.

To date, Eve has been an Apple HomeKit-only option due to the company’s commitment to not using a cloud-based system. This has meant no Google Home, Amazon Alexa, or Samsung SmartThings integrations. Also, no Android support. With Matter, Eve can branch out without giving up its core privacy-first, no-cloud principles, as the new smart home standard is an entirely local protocol.

With Matter, the connection to Alexa and Google will be local and won’t require cloud-to-cloud communication. “So, we will keep this uniqueness of privacy,” says Gackel. “Matter is clearly a game-changer in the smart home. In 2022 when a product is Matter-certified, you have the guarantee that it works seamlessly with all the four major platforms — Google, Apple, Amazon, and Samsung — and with whatever smartphone is in the hand of the consumer.”

Eve is already working toward compatibility with Samsung, SmartThings, Amazon Alexa, and Google Home, and Gackel says it’s been selected by each company for its early adopter program. Currently, Eve’s app only works on iPhones. Gackel says the company is still determining whether to develop an Android app or whether integration with Matter will be enough to make its products accessible to all smart home users, not just those with Apple iPhones.