On a recent Internet of Things Podcast episode, we took a Matter question on our Voicemail hotline. Our caller is interested in the process of getting DIY devices Matter certified, which is an excellent question. To understand the answer, you need to know about the certification requirements, as well as the provisions for non-certified devices.
To get Matter certification, and the trademark on any device, you have to pay for membership. And it’s not cheap.
The lowest cost we could find is a free Associate membership and then paying $2,500 for the trademark on a product. The certification process entails a $500 annual fee for each tested product. That doesn’t mean if you sell 1,000 Matter-certified devices you pay $500 times the 1,000 products sold. It’s an up-front annual fee, per product that you certified.
And these fees don’t even account for the mandatory device certificates that are required as part of Matter’s device authentication and security.
For large connected device makers, these are reasonable, manageable costs. So Apple, Google, Amazon, and the big-name brands that support their ecosystems will pay for it. Heck, the top-tier Matter sponsors pay $105,000 a year to be promoters and active members. But if you’re a DIY’er that builds custom products for personal use, it’s certainly not appealing.
Luckily, there’s a provision in the Matter specification that allows for DIY devices without certification efforts and costs.
Certification is only required if you plan to sell devices. Indeed, Section 5.5 of the Matter spec addresses non-certified device usage, such as in the case of something you build yourself:
…[T]he Commissioner SHOULD warn the user that the Commissionee is not a fully trusted device, and MAY give the user the choice to authorize or deny the commissioning. Such a warning enables user choice in Commissionee trust on their Fabric, for development workflows, as well as homebrew device development.
Essentially, if you build your own device for personal use in a Matter environment, you can do so. This doesn’t require payment of any fees. You can even share the product with others, although they should be warned that the device isn’t Matter-certified, nor is it fully trusted. Think of this like a beta or test software title that may not be signed by the developer. It’s up to the user to accept the risk and move forward or not.
I think this framework reasonably balances security and openness from a DIY perspective. Most people will want, buy and use Matter-certified devices, of course. But the tinkerers out there are still free to build products with Matter functionality in their own homes. There are no fees involved and no certification tests are required for them.
To hear this week’s question in full, as well as our discussion on the topic, tune in to the Internet of Things podcast below.