Alternative to the Samsung Arrival Sensor?

So, now we know that you need a decent mesh for the system to work ok. I think the question still stands. I know the Jawbone Up can be used as a presence sensor, the benefit of this over the dongle is that you can have certain “things” doing what you want when you’re walking around your house.

Where do you set up the minimum away time? I’m not find a place to adjust anything on this sensor. I’m hoping to have it open our garage door when I pull into the driveway but it’s not sensing me until I’m pretty much in the garage. I may move one of our plugged in sensors to the garage (though it’s in a room next to said garage) to see if that helps.

This thing is great when it works. I find that often it just disconnects from the hub and wont be picked back up until some manual intervention.

I just realized that my fob has been “away” for a week. To correct the issue I didn’t remove/readd I just went to add a new device, let the discovery happen and then I get a notification that my sensor has arrived. I think this might be a bug with the hub rather than the fob considering that.

I recently picked one of these up and have noticed that it is the last presence device to “go Away”. Both my Android phone and the wife’s iPhone both trigger as away earlier then this zigbee based device. I find that really odd. I would think that the Arrival sensor would be the first to drop out…even more so with a poor zigbee mesh in the garage/driveway.
Upon arriving, it’s also the last device to be picked up, but I expect that and after about 30 seconds sitting the driveway it picks up again.

Has anyone else noticed it being the last device to drop of?

The presence sensor will always be the last, because ST uses the inactivity timeout (2 minutes) to detect that it is gone. The phone uses GPS and you could be out of range in less than two minutes and signal that to ST.

With regards to arrival, if you don’t have a powered Zigbee device near your driveway where you come it, your presence sensor could definitely take longer to find a zigbee mesh devices and trigger that you are home.

Ah, thanks for that. I did not know the PS had a 2 minute time on it. I have added a zigbee repeater in the garage now, but I’ve not had a chance to really test when the PS checks back in as my Jeep (where the PS is kept) has been in the shop :frowning:

Interesting discussion.

My wife’s iPhone sometimes has issues updating its location to the hub, as does my mother-in-law’s Galaxy S7. I installed two Philips Hue White bulbs (no bridge) in front of my garage. That should increase the detection range of the Zigbee device that is the arrival sensor.

I am ordering an arrival sensor for my MIL. Her phone has the most issues and I hate having to borrow her phone to troubleshoot the app issue. She had no interest in using the app. I only installed it to be her “key” to the house. Once I get the arrival sensor I’m removing the app from her phone. It doesn’t help that the app lacks granular permissions control.

I wish they made one with buttons or reduced its size. Maybe I will slap a picture of the kids on it so it looks like a standard keychain thing. I’m going to have to explain that it’s not a GPS tracking device.

I am living in apartment building, and the distance from the elevator to my door is just 50-60 feet. I have ST automated to unlock the door when I come back with the detection of the arrival sensor. However, I end up waiting at the door for like 10-30 secs for the ST to detect the sensor. Any idea to improve the arrival sensor detection?

Note: I have the presence timeout set to 2 mins instead of the default 10 mins.


If you have an AC-powered Zigbee device near your door, that is all you can do, as far as I know. The presence timeout only works for when you are leaving.

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Thanks Sorto!

All of my AC-powered devices are Z-wave… I will try to buy a new zigbee’s outlet and see how it goes. Last year when I had a bit of time, I wrote code on Pi to detect my phone’s BT addr but that doesnt work smoothly. For some strange reasons, my iPhone would stop bcasting the BT signal for a few minutes (or completely stopped and required restart), generating false-positive results every two to three days. I also tried iBeacon like what JD did but the iOS device took too long to pick up the signal from estimote beacon even I had my old iPhone (receiver) right next to the door. May be like what JD had said - too many WiFi interference in my apt building interfering (I can detect over 50 networks at home). My last resort may be - put tensorflow on Pi, have a camera attached to it outside my door and detect me coming home LOL.

Thanks for all suggestions in this thread :slight_smile:

Well, if you are handy with a raspberry pi, you might want to install home assistant which provides a ton of presence options that you can then send back to Smartthings via ifttt, Mqtt, etc.

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Thanks for letting me know. I will check them out later when I have time. Based on what I see, it is a combination of GPS, phone app bg ping, etc.

I am not very sure it will work. The issue is that when I am living in an apartment complex - my phone is actually disconnected to the world (no 3g/4g/lte, no wifi) while I am inside the elevator. Then it took a while to reconnect to my home wifi / cellular when I walked out. Most of time, it reconnects after I am already in front of my door. Moreover, I have a direct line of sight to my coffee shop on the street. My phone actually thinks I am in the coffee shop even though I was at home all day. Home automation is great but I think there are lots of room to improve when it comes to apartment complex. It is really time consuming to try to get the setup right…

You may just be facing a limitation of the device and your home environment. The arrival sensor sends a signal out every 30 seconds that says “I’m here.”

While a zigbee repeater close to the entryway of your home might help, from what you mentioned above it’s possible that the bigger issue is when you exit your elevator, there isn’t much time for your arrival sensor to send out another ping before you reach your front door.


Thanks Mark. I figured that was the reason but didnt know the frequency was at 30 seconds. It would be nice if there is a way for me to adjust the frequency. I dont really mind to change the battery more often and to get this to work… Thanks for the reply and info!

Am right in understanding that the ST presence sensor uses Zigbee not WiFi and that the Zigbee signal strength could be improve putting a ST smart power switch in my garage? (I have a presence sensor in my car that seems to go in/out of range.)

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Yes to both those questions.

Edit: you may have to experiment a little to get the ST plug to improve the reliability of your presence sensor by creating a stronger mesh. Depends on the layout/building materials of your house, where your other zigbee devices and the hub are, if there’s a lot of wifi interference, etc. But in general it should work.

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It looks like the majority of this thread took place at least a year ago but the question still remains, ARE THERE ALTERNATIVES TO THE ARRIVAL SENSOR?

Things from my perspective have not improved since this was first posted.

We are using both the sensor and the phone app. One person uses the phone and the other the Arrival Sensor Fob from Smartthings (V2). The phone seem to work OK for me at best, but the Fob is the only option for the other person, who is >70 so training them to use a smartphone is out of the question. Also adding outlets at $40 a throw to improve a $25 sensor’s range seems a little upside down.

So is anyone out there using some kind of Fob or other non-phone device to detect presence? DIY-Home Brew, other brand, different technology?


There’s been a new community FAQ added on presence since this thread was last active, so you might take a look at that. There are a couple of additional options in that one. :sunglasses:

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I read that. Thanks! I guess there really aren’t any new developments at this time.

You can use Ibeacons, which is what I do, an NFC tag, or a facial recognition camera, those are all discussed in the presence FAQ and would all be new since this thread was started.