Aqara Announce New Matter and Thread Devices at CES

CES is always full of surprises, aside from the quirky to the downright ridiculous, but we can always rely on Aqara to pull something out of their hat to get HomeKit News talking. Putting to one side the previously reported official announcement of the Aqara hub M3, that was released officially in China just last week, the Shenzhen based company has now revealed two new products, a WiFi based smart plug that can also act as a full Thread Border Router, and another Smart Lock, with Apple HomeKey, no less.

First off is the U300, which stands out as the very first smart lever lock to use Matter over Thread, providing interoperability across a range of smart home platforms, with Apple HomeKey as one of its many selling points. Designed for both indoor and outdoor use, this new lock replaces conventional US levers or knobs with a deadbolt, making it ideal for side entries, garage access, home offices, basements, and storage rooms. the U300 offers a variety of access options, including fingerprints, passcodes, NFC, Apple HomeKey, and voice assistant integration (Siri, Google, Alexa etc).

The company claim 8 months of battery life for the lock, which is helped with the use of Matter over Thread, that is going to work very well with the forthcoming M3 Hub, due to it also acting as a Thread Border Router, a Matter Controller, and a Zigbee 3.0 hub. And speaking of Thread Border Routers…

This one will have caught everyone off guard, as we’re all familiar with smart plugs, but this new Aqara Border Router Plug signifies a groundbreaking development in smart plugs and stands out as one of the first plugs to integrate Thread Border Router capabilities. Fitted with Thread and dual-band Wi-Fi, this plug allows Matter controllers without Thread capabilities to manage Thread devices, facilitating integration of Thread devices into smart home systems without the necessity for a new Matter controller with Thread Border Router capabilities.

This plug is energy-efficient, especially in Thread-only mode, which diminishes idle consumption while extending the mesh Thread network by routing the data packets. It is also energy-conscious, delivering real-time and historical data on home energy consumption (via the Aqara app), enabling users to automate their electrical devices for reduced energy wastage. Furthermore, the Border Router Plug can detect the on/off status of the connected appliance and activate Aqara Home automations accordingly.

Expanding on the success of the Aqara Hub M2, the M3 preserves essential features such as Zigbee hub functionality and an infrared (IR) blaster, while making a significant advancement by incorporating Thread and Bluetooth protocols. This upgrade transforms the M3 into a Matter controller and Thread Border Router, establishing it as a central control hub for a local, and future-proof smart home. The M3 also features 2.4GHz/5GHz dual-band Wi-Fi and Power over Ethernet (PoE) connection for both flexibility and stability.

The Hub M3 serves as the cornerstone in the Matter-enabled Aqara ecosystem. In addition to the range of Aqara accessories, users will now be able to integrate third-party Matter devices into the Aqara Home ecosystem, providing a unified smart home experience with a single product (as long as you’re happy to stay within their own platform of course). The M3 also exposes connected IR devices to Matter, allowing users to control and automate their infrared ACs and TVs via Aqara Home or any Matter ecosystems of their choice.

Designed for decentralised operation, the M3 offers edge capabilities for local control and automation. Its large eMMC storage enables local, end-to-end encrypted data storage and locally processed automation, reducing system latency and minimising reliance on cloud services. The M3 can connect to the Aqara Home app via your local network (LAN), ensuring continuous control of the Aqara system during cloud service or internet outage. The M3 also features dynamic leadership and automatic backup. With additional M3 hubs deployed to the network, automations can be automatically mirrored, preparing the new hub to take over the network if the leading M3 fails. Ultimately, the M3 hub will support binding between Aqara Thread devices, allowing some automations to remain functional even without a hub. These features provide users with seamless connectivity – locally.

The Aqara Hub M3 has been a long time coming, but it would seem whilst it’s already shipping to Chinese consumers, it’ll arrive a little later for international users, with a Q2 2024 release date slated.

The Editor

Editor - Musician, graphic designer and HomeKit aficionado.

6 thoughts on “Aqara Announce New Matter and Thread Devices at CES

  • I don’t want any of this stuff from Aqara…I NEED THEIR CEILING LIGHTS TO BE RELEASED IN THE UK!!!!!

  • Is it confirmed that the U300 will have HomeKey? Haven’t seen that mentioned in any of the other sources.

    • The mention of the U300 having HomeKey is from Aqara’s own press release.

  • Any word on release date for the U300?

    • I’ve not seen any evidence so far of progress with this particular lock. The U200 is still being beta tested, and at a guess, should be debuting in the coming month.

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