Can I use a television as a presence sensor

I have a pretty extensive smart home set up and would like to think for someone with no formal programming education I am very well versed in how to manage and build my system including using IDE but I have not yet attempted to build any of my own Pistons. But this has me stumped … I THINK that the only solution is to build something custom with a smart IR emitter (discussed below)… But I figured I’d post to see if any other options already exist.

I would like to be able to use my TV being ON as a presence sensor. All my TV’s have fire sticks or fire TV cubes. A couple have Broadlink RM minis also. My thinking was if there was some way to have a Fire TV device being on that it could trigger a virtual switch in SmartThings but I have not found a way to do that. I can use a virtual sensor to turn on the TV but I want it to go the other way. So again the first suggestion was is there any way for an Amazon echo/fire device to send a trigger back to SmartThings?

My second idea and more likely solution is to replace the fore TV cube with smart IR sensors like the Broadlink where i could use IFTTT to trigger back to a SmartThings. The problem is that there are very few of these on the market and the best ones are the Broadlink which aren’t compatible with IFTTT… Someone had written code for these but it’s complex and not something I wanted to tackle unless it’s my only option. Had anyone utilized any devices that they know to be IFTTT compatible that can turn your TV on?

Lastly…I obviously know you can use Harmony for this but that’s not a viable option because I already have a Harmony in theatre room (plus I hate the harmony and how fickle it is all the time). I know I can now have more than one harmony but that’s not cost effective anyway… I would like to find a solution for 5+ TV’s.

So… Any ideas?

I’m using a smart power outlet for exactly this purpose. If power used exceeds a certain threshold, that means the TV is on - and therefore, the room is ‘engaged’ (using the Rooms Manager smartapp). I use this presence to determine, among other functions, whether EchoSpeaks will speak its alerts in a room or not.


this is awesome this is a great idea can you send me a link for an Amazon product to give me an example? I don’t have any of these in my network I haven’t really come across them before either. Maybe it’s common I don’t know I just haven’t seen them before. The only items showing as power meters in my rooms manager are switches despite having smart plugs in my network. Is there a specific brand you’ve used for this?

The Smartthings Zigbee smart plug reports power being used, as does the GE Zigbee smart plug.

GE smart plug

I just bought 6 of these…I really appreciate your help… Using Rooms Manager I’ll now be able to use motion sensors for occupancy combined with no motion if the TVs are on… Perfect.

Just a warning that power monitoring can flood the network with updates. I tried this with a couple TV’s and for the purpose of knowing when people were watcbing TV it worked well, but after a while the whole network lagged. Coming here and researching that’s when I read about the volume of updates so pulled them out. In the end I’m not sure that was actually the problem and it was not just poor ST performance . . . but just a warning to keep an eye on it.

I appreciate the heads-up. Thank you. Once I have these in place I’ll be sure to monitor for a couple months then report back to this post.

I have monitoring on two TVs, a washing machine and a dishwasher. Not seen any performance issues.