Smart Locks Simplify Integration with Home IoT

Published: April 17, 2024

Nuki, U-tec are taking advantage of Silicon Labs’ Matter-over-Thread SoCs to offer smart locking systems for keyless entry

IoT-based Thread devices are coming to front doors, designed to integrate with common smart home solutions. Several technology companies are offering smart lock products that leverage Matter-over-Thread to identify individuals and manage secure access to a home or building.

To that end, two smart home solution companies have released new smart locks that leverage Matter-over-Thread technology from Silicon Labs this spring. Austrian company Nuki and American manufacturer U-tec are both offering their locking solutions for use by home owners to provide keyless entry that integrates with other Matter-based smart home systems.

By leveraging Matter-over-Thread, both wireless locking systems do not need separate bridges or modules to operate within multiple IoT or smart home ecosystems.

Nuki and U-tec Offer New Technology

Matter-over-Thread offers a common language for IoT connectivity in the home. Both Matter and Thread are smart home standards for wireless data related to IoT devices used in homes.

Thread is a low-power, mesh networking Zigbee protocol while Matter (formerly known as Project CHIP) is the interoperable communication standard used by devices such as Amazon, Google, Apple and SmartThings. With Matter-over-Thread, the Matter application layer runs on top of a Thread network layer.

Leveraging this technology, Nuki’s fourth generation Smart Lock is designed to operate with European-style door knobs. It employs Silicon Labs’ MG24 SoC, and can integrate with products that support Matter, Thread and Zigbee protocols as well as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

In the U.S., U-tec’s Ultraloq Bolt Fingerprint Matter will be the first smart lock with a fingerprint reader to support Matter-over-Thread. It also uses Silicon Labs’ MG24 SoC, which enables U-tec to create what officials call robust and energy-efficient smart locks that are secure from remote and local cyber-attacks.

Silicon Labs SOCs Serve Multiple Protocols

Silicon Labs’ MG24 Matter-ready SoC was first released in April of 2022. Prior to the MG24, Silicon Labs supported Matter over Thread in its MG12 and MG21 SoCs as well, said Matt Maupin, Silicon Labs’ senior product marketing manager.

Previously, Silicon Labs has offered ICs that supported Zigbee technology in Smart Locks. From a command standpoint, basic Zigbee-based mesh networks operate in a similar way to Matter, and Zigbee is now the basis for the Matter application layer (ZCL).

With that in mind,smart locks are really a classic example of why Matter was created,” said Maupin.

Prior to Matter, the smart lock market was highly fragmented, with four key technologies— Zigbee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi—being used by different IoT ecosystems. In fact, none of these technologies were available on all ecosystems.

To accommodate the numerous protocols, “some smart lock manufacturers were offering the same lock in all four technologies since they wanted to serve all ecosystems,” Maupin added.

Nuki Eliminating the Fragmented Approach

Matter simplifies that effort and resolves the need for the fragmented approach by enabling a single technology to be used for major ecosystems. In recent years, key lock manufacturers have been transitioning their ISPs to Matter, “so this is a natural migration for our MG24 running Matter over Thread,” said Maupin, to be used in locking systems. In addition, Thread is can provide long battery life for locks.

Nuki’s Smart Locks can use Thread, BLE and WiFi all in parallel, thanks to the multi-protocol stack of the MG24, said Nuki co-founder and chief innovation officer Jürgen Pansy. It’s the first smart lock on the market that does that, he said, as others rely on external bridges or modules that are plugged in and enable at a maximum, two radios operating in parallel.

“In our opinion a smart lock does not require a smart home – but a smart home requires a smart lock,” said Pansy. He added, however, that many customers using the Nuki Smart Lock are integrating the lock with their other smart home devices.

“We support this with a broad selection of APIs, starting with Matter that brings Apple and Google Home to the lock, but also a native Bluetooth API and MQTT APIs for integration into virtually every Smart Home out there,” he said.

Nuki plans to bring its retrofit locks to the U.S. later this year.

U-tec Delivers Fingerprint Detection

In the U.S., U-tec’s Ultraloq Bolt Fingerprint comes with six unlocking features and multi-layered security. One of those unlocking features is the fingerprint reader.

The Ultraloq device will be the world’s first smart lock with biometric recognition technology to support Matter-over-Thread, said David Huang, U-tec’s strategic partnership director.

“A fingerprint reader is the fastest and easiest way to unlock a smart lock, and Matter-over-Thread connectivity should solve two of the biggest issues of smart locks: poor battery life and poor connectivity,” Huang said.

With the fingerprint functionality, users simply place their finger against the built-in fingerprint reader. If their fingerprint is recognized, the lock releases. Home owners can use the remote app control to manage access information and permission, receive real-time notifications, and customize settings remotely.

The device is powered by eight AA batteries, incorporating a dual-layer protection system, utilizing 128-bit AES encryption and a dynamic key.

Other Technologies in the Works

Silicon Labs offers a wide variety of SoC solutions from smart homes and smart buildings, said Maupin, including its recently released SiWx917 —what the company bills as the lowest power Wi-Fi SoC to work with Matter over Wi-Fi locks.

“We are engaging with lock manufacturers today on this device as well as the MG24,” Maupin added. “In addition to wireless, we see other technologies like HADM (high accuracy distance measurement) and Angle of Arrival being of interest to unlock doors as a person approaches.”

In the meantime, Matter can span dozens of device types, including locks.

“So Matter as a technology will definitely continue to expand in the smart home,” Maupin said. ”The CSA (Connectivity Standards Alliance) is working on defining additional device types including more appliances, cameras, and even applications for EVs in the home.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Nuki and U-tec smart home technology companies have released the first two keyless locking devices that leverage Silicon Labs’ Matter-over-Thread SoC.
  • Matter-over-Thread is providing IoT devices with connectivity over a single protocol to create smart home ecosystems.