EYE on NPI: Silicon Labs MG24 Development Kit #EYEonNPI #digikey #Adafruit @siliconlabs @digikey @adafruit

This week’s EYE ON NPI (video) is going to Matter a lot to you if you’re interested in integrating with the world of IoT devices and sensors that is converting on us, inside the home and out in the world…It’s the Silicon Labs MG24 Series of development boards – featuring the Silicon Labs EFR32MG24 series of chips, designed for use with Matter, an open-source connectivity standard for smart home and Internet of Things devices from the Connectivity Standards Alliance, formally the ZigBee Alliance.

The EFR32MG24 chips are fully featured Cortex M33’s with tons of peripherals, timers, and of course, a 2.4GHz radio that can be programmed to operate as a ZigBee device. That makes it perfect for use in designing low cost, low power, home automation devices that don’t need the power and complexity of WiFi.

Not content with just ZigBee as an independent wireless transport, the CSA has renamed itself to demonstrate that the common 2.4GHz protocol is part of a constellation of transports that can be used for home automation. One way to think about it is that there are many ‘transports’ used in the home and office: WiFi, Cellular, ZigBee and Z-Wave, Bluetooth and perhaps even other protocols such as LoRa or generic ISM band radio.

Each transport has its own pros and cons: you often have to pick between power, complexity, data-rate, range, and cost. For example, WiFi is medium range, medium cost, high power, medium complexity and high data rate: once you set up the access point, and as long as it’s plugged into the wall, it tends to work very well.

ZigBee is medium range, low power, low cost, and high complexity since you need a gateway to use.

These transports live on the lower ‘levels’ of the 7 Layer OSI Model. Each family of home devices comes with their own transport, and often they come up with their own custom application layer as well. This means that you can’t use something made for Alexa with HomeKit unless the developer programmed both. It’s caused fragmentation and utter frustration when someone buys a smart light bulb or HVAC controller just to find out that its walled off from the rest of their devices.

The goal of Matter is to unify the upper layers so that devices can be discovered and controlled by any kind of hub: from a DIY Raspberry Pi to an official device from Apple, Google/Nest, Meta, or other – much like you can use your Windows desktop or Android phone to view a website designed on a Mac, and hosted on Linux.

The biggest companies in this space, Amazon, Apple and Google, have already signed on to make sure that their products adhere to Matter’s API. Which means that you, the engineer tasked with creating the next new product line for your company should be interested in whether or not this “Matters” to you. The good news is that joining an ecosystem means you can make a small device that competes in a ‘big playground’ of sensors, voice agents, automation tools, and gateways.

But, much like real-life playgrounds, we need to play nicely with the others – not scream in kids’ ears, errr… overwhelm the share spectrum resource. We also have to let every device have a turn at commands, and not interfere with their behavior. Thus, Matter certification! Silicon Labs has a white paper on Understanding The Path to Certifying Your Matter Devices.

Moreover you can get started immediately by picking up one or two of Silicon Labs’ MG24 development kits for less than $40 and you can begin immediately with developing on the EFR32MG24, a well-documented, low-power friendly chip with built in 2.4 GHz radio.

Inside is a Cortex M33 running at 78 MHz, with 1.0 to 1.5MB of flash and 128 to 256KB of SRAM so it’s got plenty of room to handle multiple protocol stacks, security layers and any RTOS or Matter layers. SiLabs has been making radio-inclusive chips for many, many years, so you know that there will be great support and documentation.

We also have the beginnings of a CircuitPython port for this chip, although at the time of this writing there is not Matter support built in, it would still be very helpful for bringing up a development board and verifying hardware.

Want to take Matter into your own hands? DigiKey has you covered here: the XG24-EK2703A Explorer Kit is a great starting point with USB, mikroBus-compatible GPIO headers, debug port, and Qwiic/QT port. For final integration, you can also pick up raw chips such as the Silicon Labs EFR32MG24A010F1536IM48 or integrated modules that have passives and antenna wired up for quick usage. All are in stock for immediate shipment – order today and DigiKey will deliver to you Matter on a silver platter by tomorrow afternoon!

Follow it up by watching the DigiKey + Silicon Labs webinar on Matter development and certification to get your product out the door ASAP.

See the Silicon Labs video below:

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