Episode 2: The smart home revolution is coming – and Infineon secures this revolution!
Guest of episode 2 is Steve Hanna, a Distinguished Engineer at Infineon and an IoT pioneer. He will introduce us to the Matter project where he leads several security teams and therefore answer the following three questions:
- What is the Matter project and how does it work?
- What is Infineon's role in this project and how will consumers and manufacturers benefit from it?
- When will the first devices be available?
Guest: Steve Hanna
Date of publication: 28 April 2021, Updated on 10 June
The potential of the Internet of Things is well known. But how do we actually implement it? How can people and companies benefit from it? In this podcast, we meet experts from infineon, partners and customers every two weeks who tell us how it can work and what it takes to Make IoT work.
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The smart home revolution is coming. Today I will discuss with Steve Hanna what that means, what's behind this revolution, and what Infineon has to do with it. Today’s guest, Steve Hanna, is a Distinguished Engineer at Infineon, an IoT pioneer, who leads several security teams within the Matter Working Group. Hi Steve, it’s a pleasure having you as guest today!
The pleasure is mine. Thanks for inviting me.
Steve, especially during the last year the demand for smart home applications increased significantly. Smart homes are cool, useful, and efficient, but smart homes can also be very complex to manage. Getting smart devices connected and working smoothly, well that can be quite challenging. I think there are many listeners who have the same experience. Spending hours trying in vain to set up and sync smart home devices with each other. But it seems like you have good news for them, right?
Yes, that’s right. Consumers love the idea of smart home but it must be easier, more compatible, and more secure. That’s why the Matter standards are so important. Google, Apple, and Amazon have come together with more than 170 other companies and formed the “Matter” working group under the Connectivity Standards Alliance. In that working group, we are creating a fully interoperable set of smart home standards that should work across all those companies and smart home devices. Consumers and device makers alike will benefit from having a single set of standards for Smart Home devices.
That sounds promising! But how is it supposed to work?
Let me give you an example. Say you buy a new coffeemaker. This coffee maker supports the Matter standards, of course. You can see the Matter logo on the box so you know that it has been tested and certified so it will work with everything else in your Smart Home.
You bring it home and you just can’t wait to have that espresso that you’ve been dreaming of all day. Well don’t worry. You don’t have to wait long. First, you use your smartphone to scan a QR code on the coffeemaker. In that QR code is the coffeemaker’s unique identity. So now your phone knows exactly which device you’re trying to connect.
Then you press a button on the coffeemaker and an automated onboarding process is triggered. Your phone and the coffeemaker connect wirelessly. They perform a series of authentication, attestation and configuration steps, and at the end of that process, your coffeemaker has been fully verified by the phone and provisioned with all the information it needs to connect into your home network and to work seamlessly with all the other devices in your home, like your smart speaker.
So you can just ask your smart speaker to brew you up a cup of espresso and you’re all set. Wasn’t that easy? Probably two minutes from plugging in the coffeemaker to brewing your espresso.
That‘s nice! And seems to be easy!
You said, that during the onboarding process a series of authentication, attestation and configuration steps will be performed. And in fact: For many customers, one of the key issues is that their devices need to be secured. Home devices handle very private information, have access to the private network and need therefore, to have a secure way to protect connectivity and data. How is Matter addressing this critical issue?
You’re right. Smart Home security is essential.
That’s why the Matter team has put a lot of energy into making security strong but easy. Every Matter device is tested and authenticated while every message is protected with commercial-grade cryptographic keys. But the user never sees those keys. Instead, Matter devices use QR codes and other easy-to-use mechanisms to establish strong cryptographic keys. So the user gets the strong security without the pain.
But all of that only works if you can keep the cryptographic keys secret. That’s where hardware-based security comes in, generating keys and storing them securely so that devices are always protected. Device makers also benefit because the hard parts of security like key generation, credential provisioning, and secured firmware updates are all handled in the hardware.
And that is where Infineon comes into play, right?
We are a leading supplier of semiconductors for smart home products – from security chips to processors, power, sensors and communications. We have decades of experience helping our customers make their smart home products more secure and easier to use.
Infineon’s hardware security is second to none when it comes to protecting user’s privacy and data security. Our customers rely on our expertise to securely and easily connect domestic life with the internet.
As part of the Matter working group, Infineon has been a leader in all of the major security teams, including those covering topics such as cryptographic primitives for encryption, device attestation and integrity, and security requirements certification of smart home devices.
Now we've talked about what Matter brings to the end customer. But what about the device manufacturers and service providers? How do they benefit from this project?
Device makers and service providers are longing for a single set of Smart Home standards. Today, we have a Tower of Babel situation where you must implement a different protocol for every cloud service. And good luck if you want to talk directly from one Smart Home device to another!
Matter solves the interoperability problem by having ONE set of standards for Smart Home and one open source reference implementation. For more information about Matter and direct links to the source code, go to infineon.com/connectedhome.
And of course the question of all questions: When will the first devices be available?
The first Matter-compliant products should appear in stores at the end of 2021. Because of the tight timeframe, I expect these will mostly be existing models updated to support the Matter protocols as well as the old protocols. Matter-only products should start appearing in 2022.
Thank you very much. This brings us to the end of this episode. Thank you very much, Steve, for your exciting insights. I'm already looking forward to the first Matter device making their way into my smart home.
Dear listeners, for more information, please visit infineon.io. We will publish the next episode soon. In this episode we will talk with Julia Fichte and Manuel Hollfelder how IoT makes buildings safer and more comfortable. Take care and until the next time.