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Nanoleaf announces the first Matter-over-Thread light bulbs

Nanoleaf announces the first Matter-over-Thread light bulbs

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New A19, BR30, and GU10 bulbs and a light strip could arrive as early as February, starting at $20. But there are still no plans to upgrade existing Nanoleaf products to Matter.

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Nanoleaf’s new bulbs will support Thread and Matter.
Nanoleaf’s new bulbs will support Thread and Matter.
Image: Nanoleaf

Nanoleaf has announced the addition of four new Matter-compatible smart bulbs and light strips to its Essentials smart lighting line. The Thread-enabled LED lights will launch in Q1 of 2023 and include a light strip and A19, GU10, and BR30 bulbs, making them some of the first to support Matter directly without a bridge.

Pricing will range from $19.99 to $99.99, and all the new products will be RGBW, capable of displaying over 16 million color options, including tunable whites with color temperatures ranging from 2700–6500K. The company made the announcement at the Matter launch event in Amsterdam this week.

“The bulbs and light strip will use Matter over Thread — with a Bluetooth fallback.”

Matter compatibility means the lights can be controlled and scheduled through any Matter-compatible app or voice assistant via Matter’s multi-admin capabilities. Apple, Google, Amazon, and Samsung SmartThings have all committed to providing Matter support to their apps and voice assistants. For more advanced customization — such as dynamic lighting scenes — you’ll need to use the Nanoleaf app.

Gimmy Chu, CEO of Nanoleaf, told The Verge in an interview that he believes these will be the first lighting products to support Matter over Thread. “There are lighting companies that are Thread and Matter enabled, but they are doing it through their bridge,” he says. “We might be the only one doing it directly with our bulbs.” The benefit here is that each bulb will act as a Thread endpoint, helping extend your Thread mesh network. 

“The bulbs and light strip will use Matter over Thread, with a Bluetooth fallback,” he explained. “So, if you don’t have a Thread border router, you can still connect to the bulb using Bluetooth directly to a phone.”

What is Matter?

Matter is a new smart home interoperability standard that provides a common language for smart home devices to communicate locally in your home without relying on a cloud connection. It uses Wi-Fi and Thread wireless protocols and, at launch, will include smart sensors, smart lighting, smart plugs and switches, smart thermostats, connected locks, and media devices including TVs. 

All this means that if a smart home device you buy has the Matter logo on it, you should be able to set it up and use it with any Matter-compatible device and in any Matter-compatible platform. Matter-compatible devices should start to become available toward the end of this year.

Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Samsung SmartThings, and Apple Home are some of the big smart home platforms signed on to support Matter, and we expect to see updates arriving on these platforms over the coming months.

Chu says he’s hoping the new products will be on shelves in February. The products have been ready to go for a while now (as The Verge reported in March), but Nanoleaf decided to hold the launch until Matter was here to avoid customer confusion. Nanoleaf also plans to announce more Matter-compatible products in January at CES 2023, says Chu, including the company’s signature lighting panels.

Nanoleaf’s existing lighting panel products — such as the Nanoleaf Shapes, Elements, and Lines — are not currently planned to be upgraded to Matter, says Chu, and neither will the existing products in the Essentials line, which include an A19 bulb and light strip.

“Our existing products already work with all the platforms, so it’s not a priority for us, as it doesn’t change much for the consumer,” says Chu. (Its Essentials line does require a Nanoleaf Thread border router to work with Google Home and Alexa.) The current Nanoleaf Shapes, Elements, and Lines will all act as Thread border routers, connecting any Thread-enabled products in your home to the internet and other wireless networks, such as Matter.

Eventually, Thread border routers from different companies will be able to form a single Thread network in your home. Nanoleaf and Eero Wi-Fi routers already do, and interoperability with the other platforms is expected next year, says Chu.

Chu is fully on board for Matter and says he’s excited by what he’s seen so far. His company has been involved in early testing, as its bulbs were one of the few devices available for platform makers to test their systems on. “There were a lot of hiccups, but they have been ironed out now,” he says. “Interoperability needed to work well with each of the partners, and we are definitely there.”