Occupancy / Presence with BTLE, iBeacons, NFC, etc


(Benjamin Ferguson) #1

Just curious if anyone has been tinkering or thinking about localized presence detection with any of the above listed tech. I’m currently locked in a logic battle between myself, ST, IFTTT and the inherent limitations of having a geofenced presence detector only, available at this time. I’ve investigated a few PIR sensors, but none of them really seem up to par for true occupancy detection, and I think there are some logic limitations within ST to even truly accomplish what I am thinking about. Here is my scenario:

I live alone (hurray! NO WAF!) so most of my automation really fits right into my lifestyle and habits. When I wake up in the morning my bedroom motion sensor uses the “something is happening” action to trigger the change from night mode to day mode. This works great. Totally hands off. However. When my girlfriend stays over and I wake up before she does, this obviously doesn’t work.

I’ve thought about using multiple motion sensors to detect foot traffic on either side of the bed, but there is no allowance for a conditional between the two motion sensors (if there is, I’ve missed it and someone please please please enlighten me) to dictate that the bedroom should stay in a night mode if one person is still sleeping. Surely someone out there has dealt with this situation and has an adequate solution. I’m hoping it’s a simple error on my part in missing something obvious. How are you handling occupancy detection on a more local level?

If not - has anyone looked into the developer kit for Estimote? iBeacons and BLTE seem like the natural solution for localized tracking from room to room, still utilizing your mobile device as a BLTE presence sensor, without having to rely upon a BT radio in the actual hub. Room beacons would just trigger your phone to set off actions, devices, etc… does that make sense?


(Geko) #2

That would require you to carry your phone with you all the times. I don’t think it’s practical, not for me at least. I can’t see myself wearing an Estimote as a pendant either. A wearable BLE-eanbled bracelet would work better for me. :smile:


(Benjamin Ferguson) #3

The beacons would not be worn, those are the room sensors, they are stationary. And yes, unless you were configuring something else, like a jawbone bracelet, your phone would be your presence sensor. I may not be in the majority, but my phone is typically on my body or in close proximity during awake hours. I would totally prefer my Jawbone Up to be my personal sense, but you get the gist of what I am saying.

At some point, there HAS to be localized tracking for true personal home automation.


(Geko) #4

Normally, yes. But you could turn the tables around and use stationary BLE-enabled room controllers (e.g. wall-mounted tablets) and wear a beacon instead with the same result.


(Paul) #5

How about Pebble? It supports BLE.


(Geko) #6

It may be possible if Pebble opens BLE API.


(Benjamin Ferguson) #7

Now we just need someone to program some stationary beacons.


(Greg) #8

I have this dream of a tool that lets you easily create a map of your home and lets you see which room is occupied and by whom. Localized tracking would obviously be most beneficial for grander and more elaborate HA, but this map thing is stuck in my head. I just think it would be cool to see that layer of presence, visually.

Wearables are clearly best suited for this. And the thing is… Wearable are not coming soon. They’re HERE. Seems a simple app on a smart watch or fitness band could report which BLE/iBeacon you’re currently near and report it back to ST. Not sure what hurdles would need to be overcome.

Additionally, perhaps the ST app itself could be made an iBeacon receiver as a stopgap for people who 1) don’t use a wearable 2) don’t mind carrying their phone with them.


(Greg) #9

Actually, I think all a beacon does is broadcasts a specific ID. Your app needs to be able to determine what that ID is and take an action on it. You can actually mimic an iBeacon with the EZ Beacon app in the app store. I’ve actually used Launch Center Pro to react to it with varying degrees of success.

So basically now we just need someone to develop an app cough cough @geko


(Geko) #10

Don’t count on me, buddy. :slight_smile:
I’m not going to take on any new SmartThings projects until there’s more clarity which way it’s going with respect to platform stability, better development tools, the app store and the new hub.