SmartThings able to trigger PC programs to run?

(Bruce) #1

I’m really close to pulling the trigger on a SmartThings setup, but have a couple of questions:

  1. Is it possible for Smartthings to trigger a PC program to run? i.e. When I trigger a particular sensor, it will run an app on the PC to speak something or run a program I’ve written.

  2. How much bandwidth does Smartthings need? How much data does it use? My only internet connection is a cellular modem hooked to a wi-fi router. I’m considering one of the satellite internet services - does the latency on them cause issues?

I’ve got an Insteon setup now that is slowly dying - I’m not replacing modules when they kick the bucket, but I have a couple of Wemo switches (which work great). My main wants are to monitor 3 doors, indoor and outdoor temperatures (and trigger conditions based on temps), monitor for fire/smoke, and I’d really like to have a driveway sensor and a couple of outdoor motion detectors.

My biggest source of nervousness about Smartthings is that it lives in the cloud. My internet connection via cellular is as reliable as cable/DSL when I’ve had them, but I’m afraid Smartthings (and me) would go flying out the door the first time my wife tried to turn something on and it didn’t work because the net was down.

Thanks for any info - Bruce

(Convinced ST will never be unbroken…) #2

Hey Bruce,

What I did a number of years ago was to write a simple http server on my HA pc (a Mac though). It acts as a bridge between anything that can make a simple http request (practically anything including the ST hub), and the shell or AppleScript.

I suppose the same can be done on windows using either the command line, batch files, and VisualBasic (or whatever they are calling it these days).

The advantage of the Mac is that it has a very rich inter-application scripting environment that most applications support. It makes doing most anything possible via a script that can be called based on the params sent with the http request.

While I don’t really know what the bandwidth is… I have to assume it is trivial. The SmartApps live in the cloud, so your simply calling them and getting a response. Wouldn’t think it is more than a handful of bytes/connection.

I share your concerns about ST’s internet dependence. But if you want to go wireless, it seems Vera is the only choice to keep it local (or wait for Universal Devices to get their Z-Wave stuff up to speed). But SmartThings is very cool, and I’m impressed with both their dev environment and their customer focus. For a $99 entry fee, I think it is worth a try. If it doesn’t work out, I buy another hub. If you stick to Z-Wave devices, you’ll have plenty of other choices.

(Chrisb) #3

The life on the cloud is a concern… but honestly hasn’t been as big of a concern as I thought it would be. Initially there was issues when SmartThings would be ‘down’ every other week for a period of time, but that’s really stopped being an issue for a long time.

I guess I sorta liken it to an old conversation I had with a website. It was a baseball team webpage and it was graphically very heavy. It was a pain to access with my old dial-up service. I emailed the webmaster and talked to him about my problem and said I really think he should consider making the page more friendly to people with slow connections. He politely refused saying that he envisioned consumer connection speeds increasing rapidly… I disagreed… but he was right.

I guess I see good, solid internet connections just being so much more ubiquitous in the future. 5-10 years from now I suspect more and more of everything we do will be cloud based and we’ll wonder how we ever though local control was the best option. Just my opinion of course.

Now, to address a few specific comments:
1a. Launch an app? As far as I know, no. I suspect there are ways to do this, but not "right out of the box."
1b. Speak something? If you get an Ubi, this is pretty easy. Sonos can do this as well I think.
2. Honestly, no clue here. I don’t think it’s extremely high, but it will be one more think taking up bandwidth. If you have a slowish connect, it’s certainly going to be an added burden.
3. (The un-asked question) Ah, the ol’ wife approval factor. Nearly everything I’ve done has been with the idea that I could still function (nearly) perfectly without SmartThings. For this reason I’ve gotten z-wave switch or outlets which physically work even if they don’t have a network connection. I’ve put in relays to open garage doors the augment, rather than replace existing methods. There are somethings (like some wireless 3-way setups I’ve created, or UBI integrations) that won’t if we’ve lost internet connection, but I (at least in my head) argue that these ‘advanced’ functions never existed before anyway, so it isn’t that she’s losing something she had.