By Kevin Purdy
When the smart home compatibility standard Matter finally arrives, it promises to simplify and improve the connections and compatibility between different device brands, using Thread as its secure, low-energy backbone.
Until then, let devices like Wemo’s new Smart Dimmer with Thread serve as a warning: Matter runs on Thread, but not all Thread devices will give you a Matter experience. Belkin’s new dimmer is a prime example of a device “with Thread” that is far from universally accessible—and likely confusing to buyers.
Wemo’s new dimmer doesn’t require the onerous Wi-Fi setup you might remember from switches of old, instead connecting to your smartphone by Bluetooth or an NFC tap. To use it outside of Bluetooth range, you’ll need a Thread network in your home. But here’s where it gets tricky: This smart dimmer is controlled exclusively through HomeKit, so you’ll specifically need a HomePod Mini or second-generation Apple TV 4K within a reasonable range of the switch. Those more robust devices can act as “border routers” in a Thread network, allowing more single-purpose devices like a dimmer to connect to a Thread mesh and access the Internet.
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