BeaconThings - Beacons and SmartThings

We’ve released another iOS app called BeaconThings! This app allows you to easily integrate iBeacons into your SmartThings smart home. Here’s how it works:

  • You place iBeacons throughout your home/office/wherever (we like these beacons from Radius Networks)
  • Use BeaconThings to register these beacons with SmartThings. They work just like presence sensors.
  • The app sends updates to SmartThings when it enters/leaves the range of those beacons. Everything happens in the background. Once the beacons are registered, you never open BeaconThings again!
  • Create SmartApps or SmartRules to make your home take actions based on these beacons.

The first version of the app is available now on the App Store. This version searches for beacons with a pre-defined UUID. After discussions with early users, we decided it would be better to allow each user to have their own UUID, so that update should be coming very soon. We’re excited to hear your feedback, ideas for improvements, and cool use cases.


Whoa! Wait a sec. Does this mean ST will be able to act on more precise presence triggers? From room to room?

Edit - okay, I read the description. Nice.


Yes, it does! The beacons are arranged in places (home, work, etc.) and areas within a place (Master Bedroom, Kitchen, etc.). The app creates a virtual presence device for each and reports to SmartThings whether or not you are within range of those beacons.

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This is Fantastic, im really excited to see what Use Cases people come up with for these . . .

im also eager to know what iBeacons will work with this, that have power options on them @obycode . . . so i can make a more precise locations/area . . . for instance, high power iBeacon tells smartthings im in a room, but a low power iBeacon tells SmartThings that im sat by my computer within that room . . . what iBeacon would you recommend for that with the power options of high and low etc :slight_smile:

Few use cases i can think of:

1.) Ideal for shared offices, where you could make your monitors turn on when you are sat at your desk and turn off if you walk away to keep peoples noses out of your business . . . then turn on again when you return.

2.) If you are a parent who has children who love to disobey you and get into bed and instead of going to sleep they text there friends until the early morning or play games on there mobile device, you could install BeaconThings on there device and it will let you know that there device isnt over on charge at the other side of the room as it should be but in close proximity of the bed . . . indicating they are playing on it. (very unique use case but im sure it will suit someone)

3.) if you arrive home in the car and a iBeacon is located around your gate area it will open the gate for you and then close again once you get in the house and are no longer close to the gate . . much more reliable than general presence options etc . . .

I hope we can also find a way for it to know the difference between two phones running the BeaconThings app . . that way if my girlfriend enters a Beacon area i can make it react differently to if i was to enter that area . . . it opens up some major possibilities . . .

cheers kyle

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So far, my favorite are the ones I linked to above from Radius Networks. They allow you to customize the power output, and I’ve been using mine for almost the exact use you mentioned about determining when I’m sitting at my desk. They also have a cool, small battery powered one and some rugged outdoor options. All can be configured to change UUID, major, minor, and power. My preference is the white USB ones (although they’ve been out of stock for a month or so :frowning:) because when paired with an outlet with USB ports (like this) they blend right in and you don’t even notice them, and you don’t need to worry about batteries.

I love the other use case ideas. Keep those good ideas coming!

This is a really great addition to the current functionality. Figuring out how to make this work well will go to the top of the todo list.


Super cool! It’s awesome to see new capabilities like this.

Any love for us Android users?

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Sorry, no Android love. I would love to be able to support Android users, but obycode does not have the resources. We’ll be focusing on ensuring the best experience for iOS for the foreseeable future.

If any Android developers are interested in a collaboration, I’d be happy to discuss how we might be able to make that work.

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How does this impact battery life on the phone?

I may have just peed my pants a bit… :blush:
This is AWESOME. @Ben - just hire Brice already so this can be integrated into the core app as a presence option for anything! :smile:


In my testing and what I’ve heard from some early users, very little. This was one of the major things that we focused on in designing the app. This is also the reason why we only detect “present” or “not present”, we do not use the ranging features (“immediate”, “near”, “far”). The apps that use ranging are the ones that really kill the battery. Ranging was not designed to be used in the background. There are ways to do it, but it is unreliable, inconsistent, and it definitely hurts battery life. The alternative to ranging is to use beacons with configurable power, so in an area where you want to take actions only when the device is close, set your beacon to low power, and when you want a large range, set it to max power. We feel this gives the best user experience.

With BeaconThings, after you’ve registered your beacons, the app just does its thing in the background, you never need to open it again, and because its using Apple’s efficient beacon monitoring, the battery usage is minimal.


¿dónde está el android…


Kidding aside. Very cool!

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I’ve been using Ibeacons at my house for several months, and have just recently started testing the oby version. All iOS devices.

As I’ve mentioned in other topics on this form, we found two out of three of us had no battery life issues on our phones when using iBeacons, even with ranging, but one of us did. No idea why.

What we ended up doing was reversing the set up so that the tablet that we use as the home automation controller in the house, which is always plugged in and always in the same place, became the receiving station for the iBeacons. Then we gave an iBeacon to each person. So it’s the iBeacon that comes and goes. Just like the smartthings presence fob. This solved the battery issue. It also gave us some options we didn’t previously have, like being able to essentially “turn off” beacon detection for one person.

This is becoming a more popular set up as beacons become more widely deployed for presence detection. Radius, the company that oby already mentioned, just last month released their new iBeacon “Dot” which is battery powered and desiged to be a wearable. You can get either a wristband or a keychain for it. They cost only $14 for just the dot, or $29 for the dot with wristband. And it has a turn off button. They’ve used it at some big conventions with good results. It’s actually one of the things I’m looking at right now. I’m just not crazy about the battery life.

On the other hand, we’ve been really happy with the quality of the estimote battery-operated Ibeacons, and they have a longer battery life. But they cost twice as much as the Dot and you have to buy them in a pack of three. I have one on my wheelchair, and my housemate has one in his backpack, and we’ve been very happy with them. We also have one of the Geohopper plug-ins, which is OK but we’ve preferred the battery operated ones because of the more flexible placement.

I’m looking forward to doing more testing with the Oby app once it has the ability to use the Beacon IDs we already have set up.


@JDRoberts - what a fantastic way to rejig it, id never thought of that . . . Hmm food for thought :slight_smile:

I have been playing around with the estimote (but not for ST purpose). They have been performing great, in terms of recoginition and reliability.
The ranging feature is actually pretty accurate, but has a noticeable effect on the battery life, so @JDRoberts idea is actually pretty sweet.
I’ll defintely will look into @obycode app, in the integration to ST.

Great work!!

If you already have a tablet as a dedicated dashboard, then it’s an easy decision. :sunglasses:

We already put all the home automation apps on it, so it made sense to also use it as the iBeacon receiving station.

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For my integration for ST I will definetely go that way.

For the other development is not possible, as is a project to a retail store, that want to offer customized offers to the clients considering location within the different depts.

Understood–for retail advertising/promotions, the traditional setup usually works better. But there are cases, and home automation is one of them, where the fixed base station may be a good fit. Always good to have options. :sunglasses:


How did you make your tablet an iBeacon receiving station?

I also like this technique, but it depends how you plan to use it. The problem is that you have limited the location where you detect presence to that one place. When I use my phone as my detector, I can put beacons all over the place.

Yep… IMHO beacons are a great addition to ST environment, as they provide flexibility and accuracy. Definetely first thing to use with beacons is two-stage security process for the door locks, and with @JDRoberts approach you don’t have to worry about having your phone always charged.


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