Weekly Update from Alex - 05/27/16

I use android and you can set various notification options. You can have Smartthings and SMS from them not notify you at night , but still have messages from kids be High priority and get through.

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The progress looks great! Now can you please fix text to speech.


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Since we are talking about fixing, how about fixing the constant page refresh issue with the iOS app. The page just keep refresh if in a loop. This started a few days ago. It fixed itself and again yesterday it started.

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@alex - Your response concerns me a bit…it’s like it’s the first time you’ve heard of this. I realize, as CEO, you are not plugged into the day-to-day discussions…however, I’m discouraged that this didn’t come up in SHM discussions. It has been discussed at length in the community ever since SHM launched. Maybe someone else here in the community can correct me if I’m wrong on this, which wouldn’t be the first time!

I’m not here to question your road-map or how ST makes decisions on new features. However, with something as important as SHM, which could probably be considered a cornerstone of the future of ST, it is weird that the community and support discussions never came up.

BTW, I’m very glad you are listening, because we run into the same issue when we are on vacation and friends come over to check on our cats. A delay would be wonderful for the motion and door sensors!


The need for delays in smart home monitor was first discussed in the forums on September 5, 2015, a few days after SHM was introduced. It was then discussed extensively in the SHM feature request thread and other forum threads on security since then.

And your own post from September 20, 2015. :wink:

It has often been noted that the pre-existing community-created smartapp, smart alarm, has entrance/exit delays for each zone. Again from September 2015:


Yeah, I knew I had to have said something about this. It’s funny, when I go back and look at my old posts…some of them I don’t remember at all!!! Might be getting senile over here!


@alex please put some resources behind fixing zigbee instability. Every so often a random device stops responding and needs the battery reseated to get it talking again. SHM and other home automations are pointless if devices drop off. Adding lots of powered devices helps but it still happens. Everyone in the forum seems to accept this as a norm when it shouldn’t be.


I’m new to zigbee issues, because most of my devices were zwave and until my thermostat issue this week, worked perfectly. But now I have iris’ zigbee door/window sensors and they’ve given me some of the issues you’ve mentioned. now, that doesn’t mean I’m in agreement with you. I feel from my experience with them that the issue is actually with the device, because it seems to get stuck on it’s own. Same is true of zigbee lightbulbs but they’re easier to fix because of their power source being a lamp with a switch. I don’t know that your wrong, but my perspective has been that zigbee devices just get stuck, not smartthings fault. Is this not the case with these devices on other platforms? do they never get stuck this way normally?

Two things, we’re sold a product to do a job. If it occasionally fails to work then this needs to be fixed.
Secondly, no, in my experience (albeit limited to only one other platform) they don’t get stuck.
We have all come to a point of accepting that an ST motion sensor or contact sensor falling asleep and not responding. For ST to be accepted into the mainstream, this cannot continue. I’ve introduced ST to two other friends who are bewildered that I accept the fact that sensors fail to detect motion or a door opening on occasion. One of them quite rightfully have returned the kit as being not fit for purpose.
I’m a big supporter of ST and it’s flexibility but we must stabilise core functionality. To me, devices must work and work consistently, much like everything else ST have been trying to do recently.

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Yeah, holy cow @alex. “What do you expect to see?” – you just erased 90% of the goodwill you’ve built up with these weekly updates.

I dunno what we expect to see is what EVERY OTHER ALARM SYSTEM ON THE PLANET has.


Not at all.

One of the most popular high end home automation systems, control 4, the one typically sold to millionaire clients, uses Zigbee.

The most popular mid range security systems, which as a group have many more installations then smartthings, are the systems from the cable television companies: Xfinity, Time Warner, Rogers in Canada, etc. These all use zigbee devices.

Zigbee is used for these systems because it is reliable and has very long battery life because of low energy draw. It is also very suitable for large installations because a single zigbee network can have many more devices than a zwave network.

Its biggest weakness in a residential installation is that Wi-Fi can interfere with it. That sometimes requires careful device placement. But if Wi-Fi Interference is the problem, the result is similar to Netflix buffering. It’s not that the device gets “stuck.” The problem certainly isn’t resolved by popping the batteries in the zigbee device.

The SmartThings zigbee issue appears to be specific to that platform’s architecture.

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Most of the security systems sold in the US have exit and entry delays.

The classic example: the wallmount key pad

Say you have a key panel on the wall inside the home which is where you arm and disarm the security system. No smart lock – – you still use a regular key to enter.

So you walk to the key panel and arm the security system. You still have to get out of the house without setting off the alarms. So the security system typically has an “exit delay.” On the simplest form this is just a timer, sometimes just 30 seconds, which means there is a delay between the time when you told the panel to arm the system and the time when it actually does. Intended as just enough time for the homeowner to get out of the house.

You need the same thing when you come back home. You unlock the door with your key, but now you have to walk over to the key panel on the wall and enter the security code to disarm the system without setting off the alarm. This is an “entry delay.” This might be the same 30 seconds, or it might be a minute assuming that it takes you a little longer to enter your pin code then it did to just arm the system.

This is the simplest form of entry/exit delay, and security systems have been using those since at least the 1960s.

Fancier systems add user options

Over the last 50 years, security companies have added many additional features to their delay option. You might be able to set the amount of time. You might be able to have different delays for different parts of the house. Most recently, delays were specific to a presence indicator, so rather than there always being a 30 second delay when the door is opened, the delay only occurs if the homeowner’s presence indicator was detected.

Many different versions of the exit/entrance delay are now offered by different companies. But I don’t know of any midrange system being advertised as a security system that doesn’t have at least an optional exit/entry delay.

The key fob alternative

There are a few systems that have a key fob device to arm and disarm, which allows the homeowner to arm and disarm while they are outside the security perimeter, and that’s certainly another option. And nowadays you do see Geopresence used in the same way.

But if as a company SmartThings wants to take the Geopresence/key fob approach (where arm and disarm is always done outside of the home) Instead of offering an exit/entry delay, then you should make that clear in your setup instructions.

Giving customers the choice

Many people prefer security systems which rely on a pin code rather than a physical device. First, the device can be stolen or lost just as a key can. And second, the use of the pin code means you can give different people different codes for different times. The code you give your housecleaner might only work Tuesdays between 9 and 11 am, while the code you give your son who is away at college works 24/7.

Other people prefer adding a physical device into the mix, considering it more secure.

It’s not that one is better than the other–it’s that different people have different requirements.

So the best systems give the customer a choice of either or both method.

But unless you tell people they can only arm/disarm from outside the security perimeter, you need to offer the delay.


I’m taking this as a really really bad sign.

This system is marketed as a home security system that will replace what you already have.

Entry/exit delays are common place in every system that I have personally seen.

Why are we having to explain to the CEO of this company about how alarm systems work and what a delay is?


To quote Apple, it may be “Think Different” syndrome.

Never assume that the way other products work is the way that SmartThings and/or its Customers want it to work.

Not sure this is an efficient design or business strategy (compared to iterative incremental features starting with “what works” in other products, but the mouse would never have been invented by Xerox PARC if they just said “every other computer system works fine with a keyboard and text screen…”).

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I’m willing to cut them some slack and assume that most of the ST decisionmakers have figured out some reliable method for geopresence at their homes and trigger all their own SHM setups off of that. If you use geopresence, it generally both arms and disarms outside the security perimeter, so the delay isn’t as much of an issue.

However, anyone who wants to use a pin pad or a smart lock or any other physical device that is within the security perimeter definitely needs an entry/exit delay, which is why most security systems have it.

It wouldn’t be the first time that SmartThings introduced a feature based on what their own staff community needed (which isn’t always representative of the wider market). That’s also true of many start-ups. It’s a mindset that needs to eventually expand if they’re to be a true general market offering, but a lot of great products have come from one particular small group wanting to solve one particular problem in their own way.:sunglasses:

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Have to agree with @a4refillpad - my sensors had been behaving quite well for the last few weeks. But since last week’s hub update it has been a real mess - may be coincidence but it is frustrating and so much time wasted when we could be adding value and using great apps like ‘Ask Alexa’.

I could give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s just replying to someone in an engaging way and asking for more details to be polite on what is (obviously) a good idea. This enhancement may or may not be on the table, he’s just trying to be an engaging ceo. (I really hope there’s some steak, and not just sizzle.)

To me, I want to be able to arm and disarm the system without using my phone (e.g. by entering a pin on a pin pad). My goal, really, is to not need a phone, rather than to be more tightly coupled to it. That’s where I’m coming from on this. And frankly, that’s required to make me pay for Scout, after the introductory seven months are up.


Yup…that’s the traditional solution that has work for literally decades and it should be considered an essential option. If folks want to use alternative or additional techniques (eg, presence sensors, retinal scanners…) they should not exclude the traditional entry/exit delay with inside house PIN pad. As a base solution, it is very flexible. The IRIS hardware pad is now available, I have written a SmartApp that allows you to use a Minimote to enter a PIN, and SmartTiles will also have PIN support added (currently just use a lock screen) … Oh, and PIN entry on a smart lock is also a possibility.

But these all start with the basic concept.


I guess I can conceive of the possibility of writing a smartapp that goes from mode Away to mode Pending Alarm to either mode Disarmed or mode Armed (and then triggers SHM to actually arm). So the alarm is never really Armed until a bad guy is in the house triggering it. But it would just be such a hack, the App wouldn’t show the “true” state in SHM… it needs to be done right.

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In the automated world of SmartThings, pin pads don’t exist. And in a true Home Automation environment, they really shouldn’t be offered. Now from theory to practice, there is a long way. I do have a pin pad hooked to my security system, but I haven’t used it in several months. When we leave the system arms through ST routine via IFTTT. If that fails, my engine arms the alarm and runs ST routine. And if both fail, then life 360 does the same thing 10 minutes later. It’s a shame that we have to use so many redundant triggers, but…at least one out of 3 fires correctly…