In Star Trek, Captain Kirk sometimes uses the “universal translator” device to communicate with aliens (if they don’t happen to speak English on the planet, which is strangely common somehow). Does the smart home industry finally have its own version of the universal translator to allow communication among all the various industry protocols? Perhaps.
“It’s more of a ‘universal enabler,’” comments Rodolfo Saccoman, co-founder and CEO of Matrix Labs. Saccoman is referring to the company’s Matrix Creator, a singular microchip board that enables communication between ZigBee, Z-Wave, Thread, IR, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth via an app. “It would cost manufacturers and integrators lots of time and money to build these bridges. We are reducing the go-to market expenses for the industry.”
The Creator is a plug-and-play $99 microchip board based on a Raspberry Pi designed to be used as a standalone bridge device by custom integrators on a project to communicate among various protocols. It also enables voice and artificial intelligence (AI) control. Dealers can either put the Creator inside the structured wiring enclosure or they can purchase case molds from Matrix Labs to mount it.
“We make building block platforms for hardware, IoT and AI. We leverage our technology along with computer vision to make products and apps inexpensively,” says Saccoman. “We tried to make it as affordable as possible.”
Creator incorporates a Xilinx Spartan 6 FPGA, an ARM Cortex M3 microcontroller, a range of sensors for motion, temperature, humidity, light, ultraviolet and infrared, an 8-microphone array and a 35-LED array. The board, which can be programmed in 40 different languages, incorporates integrated Z-Wave and ZigBee communications plus connectivity via a range of analog and digital input/output interfaces.
The company recently announced its membership into the Z-Wave Alliance, which Saccoman says “validates our claim that custom installers can successfully leverage Matrix Creator and our proprietary Matrix OS to build Matrix-based IoT apps that perfectly complement any home automation system, and deliver functionality that may not be available through the large-scale automation systems.”
“The reality is that integrators may not be able to satisfy all of their client’s requirements with a big-brand automation system,” Saccoman explains. “With the Matrix Creator in their toolkit, though, they can seamlessly build and add customized functionality to accommodate any request beyond the system’s out-of-box capabilities. The Matrix Creator fills in the gaps, serving to seamlessly pair with a whole-home automation system and satisfy all of a customer’s requests, no matter the ask.”
“The Matrix Creator has the ability to impact the home automation market in a legitimate way and create new solutions just as it has in the maker community,” says Mitchell Klein, executive director of the Z-Wave Alliance. “Installers can now address all client requirements – regardless of how out of the box they may be – and utilize those apps later to evolve their businesses.”
Saccoman adds, “The Matrix Creator and our Matrix ecosystem, in general, stand to transform the custom-installed and DIY automation markets, alike. When creating with the Matrix Creator, the opportunities and possibilities are virtually limitless.”