Hands-On First Impressions Of SmartThings

Saturday on the way home we stopped to check the mail, and SURPRISE, there’s our SmartThings.  I was taking the “be patient” approach and trying to stay actively engaged on the forums and social media, but the best part about the surprise was that Saturday was my birthday. Hell yes, happy birthday to me.  When I backed SmartThings on Kickstarter, I added a few extra bucks in order to get more “things” so my birthday box was overflowing with stuff.
For me, this is the busiest three weeks of the year thanks to my job, so admittedly I have not been able to play with it as much as I’ve wanted to in the last couple of days. Immediately, I opened up the app and got frustrated that I couldn’t sign in. Wait, lemme back up a second. In anticipation of this, I did borrow an iPhone 4 from a friend since we’re an Android family. So, I was frustrated with the app because the card included with the hub had this six digit code to punch in, and I couldn’t.
Oh, wait. What? The phone’s still in airplane mode? OK, nevermind. Once I got over the embarrassment and turned on the WiFi, I logged in and connected to the hub within seconds. Perfect. I’m no engineer (although the rest of the guys in my office are), but I will say getting the app going and adding things was a piece of cake because it was just plain intuitive. The steps progressed exactly how I thought they should, which made it simple to figure out.
Next step was to put the Multi Sensors on all the doors. Another lesson learned here was to leave enough room for the arc of the door as it opens. It’s a little discouraging to watch the brand new sensor fly across the room when the kid opens the door to check it. Once they were in place, again it was super easy to name the things and set parameters for them. Then came the next big test, pairing it with another device and checking it out.
I used a smart outlet on a regular desk lamp to automate it. OK, maybe not so “regular” since it’s a leg lamp from “A Christmas Story”, but you get what I’m saying. Again, I tried to test myself against the system and skipped the pre-made apps, hit the “+” and was taken to the page to write my own app. I’ve said it before, but PIECE OF CAKE. It’s all just a series of basic If/Then statements. What I put together was “If the front door senses vibration” (like someone knocking), then turn the light on and send a text to a specific phone that says “There’s Someone At The Front Door”.  Well, since it’s a vibration sensor, excited dog = "There’s Someone At The Front Door ". Kid Two on the drums = "There’s Someone At The Front Door ". Anyone running through the house = “There’s Someone At The Front Door” and it turns the leg lamp into a disco light. I may have to rethink that one.
Next was the presence tag, the first one being for my truck, just to experiment. Pull the activation tab, put the rubber collar thingy on and we’re off to the races. WHOA. I can take a picture of my truck to display in the app to know what the tag is assigned to? SWEET. Done. Again I decided to forgo the premade apps and make my own since it was so easy the first time. When my truck tag checks out of the network, my wife gets a text that “Elvis has left the building”. Raise your hand if you want another lesson learned. OK, here goes. Only write the following app AFTER consulting your significant other: When presence tag checks into the network, send the wife a text that says “Hubby’s Home! It’s Time To Get Naked!.”  It certainly didn’t work like I hoped it would.

I know I’m one of the few lucky ones that have received their SmartThings and wanted to get my quick overview to everyone on the forums. Overall, I’m most impressed with the SmartThings app and I know it’s only going to get better with time and crowdsourcing. I’m not too sure of the durability of the presence tag, so my field test is going to be one on the 11 year old’s backpack and one on the dog with ADD. Although I was able to borrow an iPhone from a friend, not everyone’s going to have that opportunity, so let’s get crackin’ on that Android app, will ya? Thanks again to Alex, Ben, Andrew, and James for putting up with me on Twitter and HUGE thanks to Garrett for straightening out my order. You guys rock.

+1 Dan! Loved every bit of this :slight_smile:

By the way, the Android App is getting very close. As an avid Android user, I’m just as excited as you. We have you on the Android Beta tester list, too, so it won’t be long now!

“very in-convenient to unlock iphone-> open app and operate light(s).”

yeah, I first thought that too. but you soon realize that its even more inconvenient to have to walk to the light switch, haha. Give it some more time in your life, and it will be an app that is open on your device, and will have a place on your quicklaunch bar! I can assure you, speaking from experience. Using a remote control to integrate with smartthings hub would be ideal, could be used as an emergency panic button, or control button in a convenient location. that way you don’t need to swipe to unlock. everything has its pro’s and cons… it will be a while before the internet of things settles on devices and sensors that are worthwhile.


Yeah I think the disappointment comes in when people think of it for a replacement for the light switch. It adds functionality to it, but in my opinion shouldn’t be used as a replacement.

I don’t understand why you would think of it as a replacement for a light switch.  That’s the whole beauty of the ST-compatible GE switches.  I have a couple of them on the way so that I can install them and set up actions for the lights (based on motion sensors or just basic things like time of day), control them manually from my phone if I’m feeling too lazy to get up from the couch, or use a good old light switch.  Plus I can check the status of lights, like when my wife thinks I left on the basement light.


I lose no functionality that I had before, but gain a lot!

i’ll be moving towards not having to touch any switches at all ideally… don’t the ST presence sensors know when there is something in the room or must there be movement?

@joel_eggenhuizen: I’m not sure what you mean by presence sensors, but the closest thing ST has at this point is a motion sensor.  Or do you mean presence using the fob?  That’s not nearly granular enough to tell which room you’re in, so not really appropriate for this use.

My proposed solution is to change switches to Z-wave and get an ubi to allow for voice control of everything.  Still requires action on my part, and can’t be done quietly…but I think it’s a good intermediate step.

Hi Gray - you’re right - I confused the smartthings motion detector for a presence detector. I’ll be using your approach as well then with UBI. Sounds good… but will get annoying i.e when you’re just running into a room quickly… having to say “Ubi”, wait… “turn on the lights”  - Ideally… it would know where you are and know what room to turn the lights on as well! Rather than saying ubi turn on the lights in the living room.

Ideally we’d have a presence sensor… as opposed to a motion sensor to detect actual presence in a room… perhaps a dumbed down version of the kinect… that would be very cool.