Beacons and Smarthings

I have search the community for a quick tutorial to figure out what am trying to do. I want to replace the iphone presence monitor that my wife and kids use with beacons. My goal is to make presence alerting a little more reliable.

IS there a step by step tutorial on how do it this with multiple family members.

@obycode is the guy with experience at this. And a product you may need, if you’re a Mac guy.

I have one iBeacon in my office. The beacon senses your phone’s presence. So if you have a beacon somewhere it will detect when you get within distance (adjustable). Then the beacon will report as present to ST. It doesn’t report that a specific person is present, just that there is “presence”. I’m not sure what your intention is as far as use case, but it sounds like you might be expecting something different. It does work great though in my case, because when I work in my home office I always have my phone. So I can tell any lights to stay on as long as there is presence, and when I leave with my phone, the lights turn off. Much better than using a motion detector which will stop detecting motion if I’m not moving much. I coupled it with a motion detector because it registers faster to turn lights on when I arrive, it can take 30-60 seconds for the beacon to know you are there.

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pointing out the diff between presence and motion gave me a big AHA moment! Thanks for that. May start using beacons and BeaconThings now, because I don’t want the house shutting down just because I’m comfy on the couch.

Thanks for pointing out BeaconThings. It’s a very simple starting point right now but it has lots of room for improvement. The current implementation is really only made to work with one device detecting any number of beacons, creating a beacon/presence device for each one. Making it work correctly with multiple devices is on the todo list, but it wont work for that right now.

It works great for the case described by @rpittser. If you have a few spread around the house (depending on size and obstructions) it can also work great as a reliable replacement for the presence fob. Just make sure all of the beacons are on the same major ID and use that to determine when you are at home or away.

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I definitely plan to get a few more, it is way better than just motion and/or built in delays from prior motion.

I think beacons are going to let me solve the problem of presence in the bedroom. Motion detectors are terrible for that, but I don’t want lights going off just because there’s no motion. And I might not want lights turning on if the room is occupied!

I bought a couple of radius beacons and the beacon things app…it’s more reliable than the presence sensor but …I want it to detect when I get to the house to open the garage door …the detection is still too slow even though I have 120 feet of driveway…is there any way to dopes this up?


Some brands of beacons can be adjusted to increase the broadcast strength, which would result in that being detected a little sooner, but this does reduce battery life. I think most of the radius models are adjustable. What’s the exact model you’re using? And what model phone is detecting it?

I have a radbeacon x4 and radbeacon usb. I put the usb in the garage and the x4 outside the garage such that I could use a combo of both to determine arrival/departure and eliminate false triggers.

Using the beacon things app - I noticed that the change in presence is detected a lot sooner than in the smart things app…

By the way both are maxed out…I guess I could move one out to the end of the driveway …but then I think j might get an arrival when I leave the garage because the signal won’t reach with the door closed…

What setup do you use?


I use Estimote beacons, but I use a very short range–I just want it to detect me when I get to the base of the wheelchair ramp at the front door. Works well for me, but most people want a longer range.

The rad x4 is adjustable, what power are you using?

I have both maxed right now…still experimenting on locations and power…but smart things doesn’t seem to pick up much faster than the
originalPresence sensor…

That makes sense. I shifted from The zigbee presence sensor to I beacons to get better reliability and a customizable detection zone, not faster recognition.

Curious. I’ve been using BeaconThings for about two months now, but don’t find them very reliable. I’ve been sitting two feet away from a RadBeacon in my office for the past four hours. Smartthings shows I left my office 8 hours ago and haven’t been back.

I thought that these “laggy” types of responses might be because I had background app refresh off for BeaconThings, but that isn’t even an option under iOS 9.2.1. If I open the BeaconThings app, select a beacon that’s nearby and hit save, BeaconThings will usually update itself to the appropriate presence (meaning, I’m not away, I’m sitting two feet away from the RadBeacon), And then sometimes after BeaconThings updates, Smartthings will also update to the correct presence status. Other times… not so much.

Tagging @obycode …

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You’ll need to allow BeaconThings to use your location when it is running in the background. It’s only detecting the iBeacons, not using GPS or anything, but Apple does not have a distinction between the two.

Settings -> Privacy -> Location Services -> BeaconThings -> Always

Hi Brice,

I do have the app enabled to update location in the background. You suggested this earlier when I was having similar issues. It seems that enabled is the default configuration for the app, so when I followed your suggestion, I found that it was already set up that way. I’ve installed and uninstalled several times; deleted points; added points back in, unfortunately it just seems flaky. Although I would really like this to work.

I have an iPhone 6, running the most recent software version, with 60 gig free.

I would suspect the hardware. Sometimes you get a bad device, it happens. Particularly with the less expensive lines. If the beacon is still within warranty, I would return it.

I use Estimote beacons and have found them very reliable for over 6 months now. But they are more expensive.

If I want to use beacons to control door locks and the garage door, how worried should I be about security? Don’t the beacons recognize your specific phone? I bought some usb beacons and they have security on them but I don’t think the security would play nice.

What can you tell me?