Gavin Campbell with Matter, Does it Really Matter? – HGG601

Gavin Campbell from joins me this week and after a short catch-up, we ask the question, in home automation, does Matter really Matter? The standard has picked up a lot of support in the last few years, but is it ready for primetime? Gavin has installed a new garage door opener control and lives to tell the tale. We chat about Logitech Harmoney remotes, and clothes dryer automation and wrap the show with some fun conversation that you will not want to miss. My face still hurts from laughing so much during this episode. Thanks for listening!

Full show notes, transcriptions (available on request), audio and video at

Join Jim Collison / @jcollison for show #601 of Home Gadget Geeks, brought to you by the Average Guy Network.


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Show Segments

  • Weather fluctuations and podcast recording.[0:00]
    • Weather fluctuations in Nebraska cause confusion and unpredictability.
    • Jim Collison discusses winter weather, tornadoes, and podcasting with Tony Reiner.
  • Home automation and tech news.[3:18]
    • Gavin discusses podcast recording frequency, mentioning they’ve done multiple podcasts in a day and found it to be a good number.
    • Gavin and Jim Collison thank each other for having each other on the show and discuss the value of having TJ on as a guest.
    • Jim and Gavin discuss home automation maturity, rating it a 6 out of 10.
  • Matter, a new home automation protocol.[6:42]
    • Gavin discusses the progress of home automation technology, highlighting the improvements in protocols like Z wave and ZigBee, as well as the upcoming matter protocol.
    • Gavin explains that matter is a new standard that devices can use to communicate with each other, regardless of the hub or home assistant they’re connected to, and that it has the potential to eliminate walled gardens in home automation.
    • Gavin discusses the importance of interoperability in home automation, particularly with the emergence of matter as an open source protocol.
    • Daniel Monita, a member of the matter working group, is interviewed on Home Tech FM, providing insight into the protocol and its potential impact on the industry.
    • The interview highlights the progress being made towards a more interoperable home automation ecosystem, with tools being introduced to troubleshoot issues and improve compatibility.
  • Home automation slowing down and the challenges of installing smart thermostats.[12:14]
    • Jim Collison and Gavin discuss the slowdown of home automation progress in the last 6 months, with Speaker 2 agreeing that it’s not a bad thing and Jim expressing skepticism about the longevity of some products.
    • Gavin mentions that there are areas where new companies can step in and make a change, such as toasters and thermostats, while Jim recalls Microsoft’s abandoned Cortana-based thermostat.
    • Jim Collison’s friend, a home automation installer, is hesitant to install EcoBe smart thermostats due to technical difficulties and lack of knowledge among clients.
    • Gavin’s neighbor had a similar experience, with clients requesting an installer who could explain how to use the EcoBe, highlighting the need for proper education and support.
  • Smart home devices and their compatibility with different ecosystems.[16:07]
    • Jim Collison is skeptical of a smart thermostat, while his HVAC technician is dismissive of the idea.
    • Jim Collison asks if it’s possible to use Google-friendly lights with HomeKit, and Speaker 2 explains that the device must be matter-compatible to work with multiple ecosystems.
    • Gavin highlights the importance of looking for matter branding on product descriptions and adds that some devices, like Eve sensors, have the matter branding, making them compatible with multiple ecosystems.
    • Jim Collison struggles with multiple IoT devices and apps, forgetting schedules and settings.
  • Home automation hubs and compatibility.[21:49]
    • Gavin discusses their experience with home automation, mentioning the importance of compatibility and flexibility in a hub.
    • Gavin and Jim Collison discuss Hubitat as a competitor to home assistant, with Speaker 2 praising Hubitat’s development and power.
    • Tony recommends using Matter devices for multi-ecosystem control.
    • Jim Collison has integrated his home assistant with his car, receiving notifications on his dashboard for tire pressure, oil change, and lock status.
    • Jim has found home assistant to be a useful hub for monitoring various devices and sensors in his home, including humidity levels, temperature, and battery levels for his ring devices.
  • Smart home automation and garage door openers.[28:25]
    • Gavin found Home Assistant to be more streamlined and easy to use than Home Assistant, with less coding required.
    • Gavin retrofitted an old garage door opener with the MIROS garage door opener and set it up to automatically close after 30 minutes, but the integration stopped working and is now happy without it.
    • Gavin discusses their experience with the Rat GDO, a popular alternative to the My Queue API for garage door control, which was shut down.
    • Gavin found the installation of the Rat GDO to be easy and inexpensive, with multiple integration options available.
  • Smart home devices and garage door openers.[33:07]
    • Gavin uses his watch to open and close his garage door, but sometimes it requires a code even though he’s close to the door.
    • Jim Collison has an Amazon device in his garage that requires a code to open, but he doesn’t mind it as a security feature.
    • Gavin created a dummy switch to bypass the code requirement and use the integrated app to open the garage door opener.
    • Gavin discusses how home automation technology has improved over the past few years, with better range, speed, and battery life in newer devices.
    • Jim Collison and Speaker 2 discuss the challenges of upgrading older devices, including the cost and the desire to maintain existing investments.
  • Smart thermostats, energy savings, and utility control.[39:55]
    • Gavin is hesitant about utilities controlling thermostats during peak times, feeling it takes away customization control.
    • Gavin mentions a rebate program for purchasing a smart thermostat, which can be deleted to regain full control of the fob.
    • Gavin discussed their experience with solar panels, mentioning the potential 10-year payoff and the need to replace the roof to access the panels.
    • Jim Collison agreed, noting that solar panels may not be worth the investment in Nebraska due to low utility costs and a short payoff period.
    • Jim Collison discusses the cost-effectiveness of solar panels in Nebraska, mentioning that they are still relatively cheap compared to other states despite recent rate hikes.
    • Jim also shares his experience with solar panels on his home, including the guarantee of 10 times a year of uninterrupted power during critical times, but notes that he hasn’t noticed any difference in his electricity bill.
  • Lawn care and irrigation systems.[47:05]
    • Gavin discusses their experience with smart irrigation systems, mentioning they saved money by monitoring moisture levels and adjusting watering accordingly.
    • Gavin also shares their success in identifying and fixing issues with the irrigation system, such as broken heads, using sensors and monitoring data.
    • Jim shares a funny story about his son clearing a path for a cigar smokeout in the snow, only to have the grass survive the extreme cold due to snow insulation.
  • Remote controls for TVs and smart homes.[51:08]
    • Jim Collison: Harmony remotes still popular due to automation and integration capabilities.
    • Gavin: There’s still a market for smart remote controls, but simplified designs are preferred.
    • Jim Collison and an unknown speaker discuss the simplicity of the Fire TV remote, with Jim stating he only uses the Fire TV remote and doesn’t miss the extra buttons on his old remote.
    • The speakers agree that the Fire TV remote is good enough and doesn’t need any additional features, with Jim adding that he hasn’t thought about using a non-Fire TV remote.
  • TV setup and remote controls.[56:10]
    • Jim Collison and a guest discuss the complexity of TV remotes and how they’ve evolved over time.
    • The guest shares a story about leaving a TV outside in cold weather and worrying about its durability.
    • Jim Collison discusses his experience with outdoor TVs, mentioning he uses a 32-inch 1080p TV on his deck and has a Harmony remote for easy channel changing.
    • Gavin shares a humorous anecdote about their mother using a Harmony remote and highlights the challenges of teaching seniors about new technology.
  • Automating dryer notifications and temperature sensors.[1:02:18]
    • Gavin discusses automating dryers to notify when done, mentioning low vibration sensors as a popular option but expressing reservations due to false triggers, battery life, and signal strength.
    • Gavin suggests alternative methods, such as using a smart plug to monitor the dryer’s power usage or setting up a custom automation using IFTTT or Home Assistant.
    • Gavin has found that using a current sensing switch to detect power on/off is the most reliable solution for their needs.
    • Gavin also mentions the potential for temperature sensors to detect excessive heat in a dryer and alert the user, preventing a fire from occurring.
  • Home automation, appliances, and maintenance.[1:07:47]
    • Gavin mentions using a water sensor to detect leaks in their washing machine, and the potential for damage if not caught early.
    • Jim Collison and Speaker 2 discuss the importance of cleaning home appliances, particularly the dryer and dishwasher filters, and the potential for automation through sensors and current sensing switches.
    • John shares his experience with a Moen flow system sensor that shuts off the water in the washing machine’s water pan automatically.
    • Jim Collison and an unknown speaker discuss using too much detergent and fabric softener in washing machines, and the potential for AI to optimize energy usage.
  • AI-powered smart homes and automation.[1:13:57]
    • Gavin hopes AI will monitor their house and provide insights on energy usage and automate actions based on weather changes ([1:13:57]).
    • Gavin and Jim Collison discuss the future of AI and its potential to learn and adapt to home conditions, with the possibility of AI controlling the house and even murdering its occupants ([1:15:31]).
  • Tech projects and gadgets with a podcast host.[1:16:32]
    • Speakers discuss their personal projects and interests, including home automation and tech, and invite Seth to join their podcast.
    • Gavin discusses using Mastodon for social interaction, praising its ability to connect with knowledgeable people.
  • Using magic eraser on TVs, including frame TVs only.[1:19:50]
    • TJ purchased a 65-inch frame TV and used a magic eraser to remove smudges, with successful results.
    • The group discussed the effectiveness of using a magic eraser on frame TVs, with some members expressing skepticism and others sharing their own experiences.
  • Cleaning products and outdoor cooking gadgets.[1:23:08]
    • Gavin shares a surprising cleaning hack using a scrub daddy, which worked well in cleaning an oven despite previous attempts with magic erasers and other methods.
    • Jim Collison jokes about the magic eraser’s ability to remove paint from walls, while Speaker 2 confirms its effectiveness in cleaning stove dials.
    • Greg wants a multi probe sensor for his smoker to work with his home assistant, and Jim mentions the Thermoworks meter is great.
    • Jim is frustrated with the constant new product releases from Solo Stove, including a pizza oven and outdoor smokeless stoves.
  • Outdoor cooking and smokeless fire pits.[1:29:03]
    • Jim Collison advises against signing up for deal notifications from companies like Solo Stove, as they send daily messages with the same deals.
    • Jim Collison mentions a nuclear power plant near his home and expresses no concern.
    • Greg builds his own smokeless fire pit using a metal ring and stone, and considers purchasing a smaller smokeless fire pit for the patio.
    • Jim Collison and another speaker discuss upcoming podcast guests, including Seth, who will likely only praise them.

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