How can I set virtual presence sensor with a routine?

How can I control the virtual device using my iPhone’s location?

Same way you would control other devices. The virtual devices are available for control via Routines or Scenes just like other devices.

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Don’t think you can with a routine.

I want to arm the alarm system when iPhone 1&2 leave.

And disarm the alarm system when iPhone 1 OR 2 arrive.

You can set the virtual device based on your phone’s presence. I use a 2-step approach, but you can do it in one routine.

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I have 2 virtual presence sensors.

I have 4 routines.

When phone 1 is away set presence sensor 1 to away.
When phone 1 is home set presence sensor 1 to present.
When phone 2 is away set presence sensor 2 to away.
When phone 2 is home set presence sensor 2 to present.

Then I have a routine that turns down my thermostat if both phones are away, and turns the thermostat up if either of us return home.

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Thank you both. I’ll give that a try.

Ok I’ve managed to recreate what you’ve suggested. Am I correct in thinking IFTTT is also needed to make this work?

Where is this alarm? Is it within the Smartthings system? If it is you should be able to create a routine in Smartthings.

If vpresence 1 & 2 are away
then activate alarm system

if either vpresence 1 or 2 are present
the disable alarm

People use virtual presence sensors for two different reasons.

  1. the presence detected by the smartthings app works fine, but they want to have a tile for each household member to indicate whether that person is home or not. We used to have that back in 2014, but for some reason, they dropped it from the app redesign in 2018, and it never came back. So, although you can use phone presence in a routine, you can’t see it represented in the app. So many people use a virtual present sensor, which does show up in the app and just turn it on and off from the regular smartthings phone presence. That’s what some of the examples people have been showing you are.

  2. for whatever reason, they find that the smartthings app presence just is not reliable for them, so they want to use presence from a different system and use that to turn on a virtual presents sensor in smartthings.

There are a lot of alternatives that you might use: the Ifttt app has presence, the Alexa app has presence, presence is built into Apple HomeKit, some people use connecting to their home Wi-Fi, there are a lot of choices.

So, when presence is detected in one of those other apps, you need a way to let smartthings to know about it, and then you can turn a virtual presence sensor with a smartthings routine. But the “if“ in that routine has to be something that smartthings is aware of.

If you use the Alexa app for presence, then the only thing you need is that app on your phone and you can use an Alexa routine (not a SmartThings routine) to turn on the virtual presence sensor in smartthings whenever the Alexa app determines that you arrived home.

When the smartthings/Ifttt integration is working, then you can use Ifttt to turn on the virtual presence sensor, but right now that integration is broken. :disappointed_relieved:

If you use Apple HomeKit, you can have a HomeKit automation detect that you arrived home, and turn on a device like a Meross smartplug that both HomeKit and smartthings can see, and have that plug coming on trigger a smartthings routine to turn on the virtual presence sensor. (I use this method.)

Many people with android phones find that they can use sharptools as the intermediary to get a message from some other system, and then turn on the virtual presence sensor and smartthings.

You can also use the rules API or Tasker.

USING Presence from another system

So there are lots of different ways, but it’s always a two-step process.

A) First, something has to recognize that you have arrived.

B) that something Has to be able to use the fact that you have arrived to turn on the SmartThings virtual presence sensor. This might involve an intermediary like Ifttt or sharptools or the Alexa app. Or you might use a physical device that is visible to both systems at the same time.

So you don’t have to use Ifttt for this, but if you don’t want to use the phone presence that is built into the smartthings app, you have to use something that can reliably recognize your presence and you have to have a way to get that information over to smartthings.

Did that help?

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Thanks for all the replies.

Yes it was much better in the old ST system.

I am using ST to turn my Blink alarms on when everybody leaves home and off when somebody arrives back.

I don’t think ST can control Blink directly.

@JDRoberts thank you for such a comprehensive reply.

In the interim it looks like I need something to replace the IFTTT element.

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FWIW, i switched to this once Life360 stopped working and it has worked great. Consistent and accurate so far. Seems to be quite reliable

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Sadly we are a Google Home household here

You can use the Home and Away routines in Google Home in a similar sort of way to Alexa. In particular you can create a dedicated Home for each person where only their presence triggers the Home and Away so that becomes an individual presence status.

Some users find this rock solid. I am not one of them and it can be a little eccentric. I wouldn’t use it to specifically activate anything important on arrival or departure but I wouldn’t use any geofence based presence for that. I use it as a better than nothing solution where the ridiculous size of the ST app means users don’t want it on their phones.

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I have one setup with Google Home and it’s home and away routine. It work… well however I haven’t found a way to do if person a is home do XYZ and if person b is home do abc.

SmartThings now back in IFTTT so once again I can do what I want to do and all is working.


I can confirm that this solution works well for multiple household members as long as each member has a SEPARATE SmartThings account. While you can link separate Alexa accounts to the same ST account, one will always be the active and the other will timeout.

So here is my setup:

  • Separate Alexa accounts (but in the same household) on each phone (one Android and one iPhone)
  • Separate ST accounts on each phone (but members of the same location)
  • ST Virtual presence sensors for each member using vEdge Creator from @TAustin
  • An arrival and departure Alexa routine for each individual on their respective phones that turns the virtual presence sensor on/off for that individual
  • ST Routines that react to the state of the virtual presence sensor for one or more individuals

While there are several moving parts here, I don’t think it’s anymore complicated than it was with Life360. ST also seems to receive the state change very quickly from Alexa making for a snappy SmartHome experience (I like my doors unlocked when I get home :slight_smile: ) And by using a virtual presence sensor, it will be very easy to change out the underlying detection mechanism should Life360 come back or ST presence becomes more reliable, etc, etc.

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I have set up Alexa presence to turn on/off a ST virtual presence device for both myself and my wife. I would like to do this for my kids phones but am having issues. Am I locked into just the two adult accounts? We are all on iPhones so sharptools is not an option. To make things worse, we have two locations so we have doubled the virtual presence devices, one on each hub. Life360 worked well, till it was killed off on ST.


Normally, when using Alexa presence to trigger a ST virtual presence sensor, each member of the house would need their own Alexa account and their own ST account. If you link two different Alexa accounts to the same ST account, one of them will be deactivated after a short time because it’s a 1:1 relationship of Alexa->ST account. I suppose you could play around with having the kids phones logged into each of your Alexa accounts so that two phones are reporting geo-location for one account, but I never looked into that because my GF and I already had separate Alexa accounts. Not sure if it would work or not.

Not sure what you mean by “…so Sharptools is not an option.” Sharptools is a 3rd party dashboard plus rules engine that interacts with your ST account via the APIs so there should not a dependency on what phone you are using, but in this case, I don’t see where it fits into the presence detection space.


As you note SharpTools itself works in most browsers, so the basic functionality works fine on an iPhone or iPad. Sharptools itself doesn’t have a presence tracking option.

I suspect what the OP found during research was some options for people using SharpTools with android phones, using Wi-Fi connection or Tasker to provide presence to sharptools and that’s why those particular methods won’t work with an iOS device.

It’s Tasker which has the android limitation, not SharpTools. But using the two together is a very popular set up for android phone users.